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Flee From The Fleas!

, , , , , | Working | November 14, 2020

I work at a recreation center — the kind of place that has public rooms for rent for parties and stuff, as well as a billiard room and gym and such. We see a lot of people on any given week.

It’s into spring, and I start to notice bug bites all over my ankles that itch like crazy. It takes me almost two months to figure out what they are and where they came from. One day at work, I go to scratch my legs and come back with a flea between my nails.

I immediately report my findings to our systems and maintenance manager, who is responsible for handling situations like this. He confirms the insect I caught is, indeed, a flea and then has pest control out to spray.

It doesn’t work, as I spend the next two weeks getting eaten alive at work. Now that I know what to look for, I catch several fleas a day trying to drink my blood. [Coworker #1] finds two mysterious bites, and [Coworker #2] and [Coworker #3] each catch a flea themselves. We have ant traps around the building. I check these, and find one or two fleas in each. I also set a water, soap, and light trap at night and catch another three fleas.

We definitely have fleas, although it’s not as if they’re visible by the thousands. However, I am BY FAR the one getting bitten the most. [Coworker #3] and [Coworker #4] haven’t shown a single bite, though they also admit they’re the least likely to get bitten by mosquitoes on family picnics. I tend to always attract mosquitoes.

I again report my findings to the systems and maintenance manager. He refuses to do anything this time because “I already did something” and say that the spray that [Pest Control Company] uses “continues to treat the carpet and kill fleas for weeks.” He also says he “searched everywhere” and couldn’t find a single flea. However, several weeks later, I also heard him say he’s the type to never get bitten by mosquitoes, either.

I start to wear bug spray every day, all day at work, and this does ensure that I no longer get bitten. However, [Coworker #3] voices concerns about me poisoning myself because bug spray is not meant to be worn constantly, and [Coworker #2] and [Coworker #4] say that it’s starting to make them choke on the scent. So I go without bug spray for one day… and walk out with half a dozen new flea bites.

Again, I report these to the systems and maintenance manager. He starts to get sarcastic with me.

Maintenance Manager: “Are you sure you’re not bringing these from home?”

Me: “I am completely certain. I’ve caught dozens of fleas here, and [Coworkers #1-#4] can vouch for it because they’ve seen me do so.”

Maintenance Manager: “You’re the only one with this problem. It all comes back to you. Your cat probably has fleas, and you’re getting bitten by those.”

Me: “I don’t have a cat. I have a chinchilla, and—”

Maintenance Manager: “Then you’re getting fleas from your chinchilla!”

Me: “And she hasn’t been outside since the day I brought her home from the pet store eight years ago. Plus, chinchillas can’t get fleas; their fur is too thick.”

Maintenance Manager: “You’re the only one with the problem. Maybe if you cleaned your house more, you wouldn’t have fleas.”

Me: “Do you want to check the traps around the room? I can prove that the fleas have come from here. [Coworker #1] has also been bitten, and [Coworker #2] and [Coworker #4] are complaining that they don’t want to bring fleas home with them!”

Maintenance Manager: “Well, I can’t do anything for another two weeks because we recently had [Pest Control Company] out.”

Getting sick of having my legs look like raspberries and the manager doing nothing, I decide to take matters into my own hands. I buy a bug bomb, and on Friday, when it’s a holiday weekend and we’re closed through Monday, I set it off, carefully following all directions on it.

Come Tuesday, I get pulled into the office by the director. They write me up for “not following policy.” The policy they produced was one about bed bugs, where we’re supposed to report everything to the systems and maintenance manager and let him deal with the issue. They insist I should have known that the exact same policy applies to fleas as well as bed bugs, despite the policy only naming bed bugs and no other pests. They also insist bug bombs are illegal, which I checked; they are not illegal in my state. Why would a major retailer sell them if they were contraband, anyway?

Director: “Why didn’t you report this to [Maintenance Manager]?”

Me: “I did. Several times. And I showed him all the dead fleas we caught. But he thinks I live in squalor or something and insists I’m getting bitten at home and bringing fleas to work.”

Director: “Did he?”

Me: “Yes, he said I’m the only one with the problem and he refused to do anything more about it.”

Director: “Well, we can’t just keep having [Pest Control Company] come out. They use harsh chemicals, and since we have a lot of children, we don’t want them to get sick.”

Me: “What about bloodborne pathogens? Do you think it’s okay for children to get sick from flea bites and diseases transmitted that way?”

Director: “We’re doing all we can. We’ll have them come out to spray again as soon as it’s feasible.”

Okay, whatever, I get written up. But at least for two weeks, we are flea-free until someone from the public brings them in again. So, once more, I go back to getting eaten alive at work and capturing fleas off of my legs. My coworkers catch two or three, but I’m the one dealing with this issue the most. At the end of the next month, the systems and maintenance manager FINALLY calls in another round of pest control, and I happen to be scheduled that day. So, I start to ask questions.

Me: “Do fleas ever single out one person?”

Pest Control: “Oh, yeah. I see that a lot! Sometimes they’ll only bite the wife and not the husband or vice versa.”

Me: “How do you get rid of them?”

Pest Control: “You have to vacuum everything daily and clean the vacuum out outside.”

It’s worth noting that [Maintenance Manager] cut back on the janitorial budget, and we only get cleaned thoroughly once a week. The daily tasks the janitors have are basically cleaning the bathrooms and taking out the trash.

Pest Control: “It’s best if you can steam the carpets. Then, you have to spray everything regularly. It’s best to hit it several times so you get the eggs, larva, and adult bugs. And, of course, treat any pets that have fleas so they don’t bring them back in.”

Me: “So what are you using to kill them today?”

Pest Control: “This is a mixture that’s mostly water with about a 33% rubbing-alcohol-like substance and then a third ingredient that helps it store better and disperse from the nozzle evenly.”

Me: “So it doesn’t soak in the carpet and stay there for a while?”

Pest Control: *Proudly* “Nope! [Maintenance Manager] asked for the gentlest stuff we have so that the kids who come here won’t get sick. But don’t worry, I’m spraying it really well today. Though I do recommend follow-up treatments. Like I said, you want to get the eggs and larva and adult bugs.”

Me: “Uh-huh.”

I now have zero hope of being flea-free.

Sure enough, there was no follow-up treatment and I continued to get bitten all summer unless I wore bug spray. One of the staff members outside of my immediate coworkers DID wind up with a flea infestation inside her own — pet-free — home, which they traced back to her car, and by logic, our workplace.

However, [Maintenance Manager] continued to insist that I was “the only one with this problem” and did nothing else.

Only when winter came did the buggers finally die. And then, after four months of bite-free bliss, the suckers came back with the spring! I wound up quitting.

All Rent Out Of Shape, Part 2

, , , , , | Right | August 15, 2020

This might be an “Am I The A**hole?” moment.

I work in the office of an apartment building. Due to recent events, we have several of our renters “on hold” as far as rent is concerned, with plans to work out payment options as things get back to normal. The apartment owners have been very understanding about the whole thing and are very willing to work with renters in this troubling time.

However, one of the precautions we’ve taken is that we are only fulfilling emergency maintenance orders — things like sudden leaks, sparking outlets, or other issues that would be actually dangerous to leave untreated. All others we are holding off on until it is safer.

I answer a call.

Me: “Hello, this is [Apartment]. How can I help you today?”

Caller: “When is the maintenance guy getting here?!”

I vaguely recognize their voice.

Me: “I’m so sorry; I don’t think we have anyone scheduled as coming out today. What was the emergency?”

Caller: “My door!”

This jogs my memory a bit, and I page through to an email that came in over the weekend.

Me: “Mrs. [Caller]?”

Caller: “Yes! When is he getting here to fix my door?!”

Me: “Unfortunately, as we stated in our response to your request, a squeaking door hinge is not considered to be a valid emergency at this time, and so is not something that we can have someone come out to fix. You could—”

Caller: “Unacceptable! That’s is not acceptable! I pay you [slurs] a lot of money; you should be jumping to get this fixed!”

Me: *Not really thinking* “Oh, really? I didn’t know you’d started paying rent again.”

There was dead silence on the other side before she followed with an angry wordless shout and then hung up. I feel somewhat bad for calling her out, but on the other hand, she really isn’t paying anything to stay here right now, so I don’t think she really has grounds to be demanding that people come and risk exposure for something like a squeaky door.

All Rent Out Of Shape

Air-Dry Obsessed And Airheaded

, , , , , , , | Working | August 6, 2020

This takes place while I am in college, living in an apartment affiliated with the university. This means it’s not run by the university like a dorm but only students can live on this property. This also means we have a real apartment, with a kitchen, washer, and dryer, our own bedrooms, etc.

When we move in, however, our dryer starts smoking like crazy the first time we use it. We discover it is jam-packed with dryer lint as if the previous tenants had never cleaned the filter, and it is clogging the entire line. We get maintenance to replace the smoky dryer easily, but they’ve forgotten to flush the line. There’s no airflow and our clothes aren’t drying.

I have a chat with maintenance about this.

Me: “The new dryer seems to be working great; we just need all the lint flushed out.”

Maintenance: “This is a brand new dryer we just gave you! It can’t be broken.”

Me: “Oh. It isn’t. It heats up totally fine; we just need the rest of the vent flushed out.”

Maintenance: *Condescendingly* “You know you have to actually turn it on, right? Your clothes won’t dry unless you turn it off of ‘air-dry only’.”

I look at the dryer, currently NOT set to air-dry.

Me: “Yeah, I know how to do laundry. Again, it works great and is heating up, but nothing will dry properly because it seems like it’s blocked.”

Maintenance: “Look. This is the air-dry setting. You don’t want it on this. Watch. To dry clothes, we set them to this setting or this setting and turn the knob. Then we…”

The maintenance man continued to explain how to operate the dryer to me patronizingly and ignored me when I kept trying to explain the issue. He probably spent fifteen minutes giving me a demonstration! He marked the ticket as fixed and didn’t do anything further.

After I complained to the front office, they finally sent someone to do what we’d asked for in the first place. 

Surprise! The dryer worked perfectly after that.

Enough To Make You Hit The Ceiling

, , , , , , | Working | March 31, 2020

I work cleaning and maintaining water tanks and systems for various properties. I was supervising a group of coworkers on site, even though at the time I was the lowest ranking as a Casual.

Monday – Day 1

I had a two-man team cleaning a pair of tanks in a block of flats when one put his foot through the floor of the loft space to the flat below. As the “ranking” worker, it was up to me to get photos, take measurements, and fill out the paperwork for the insurance, etc.

I asked a coworker to get my laptop from my van parked in the flat’s car park. He went and got it and I started to sort out the mess.

Then, I asked my coworker for the van key… and he couldn’t find it. We searched all round and there was no sign of the key. It was getting late, so I called the office to get them to send the spare key and I got a lift home from the other team.

Tuesday – Day 2

Luckily, I had access to another van, which I used to get back to the main van… only to find that the parking permit was missing. Yes, someone had used the missing key to steal the permit and then relocked the van. I called the police, and while waiting for them, I got the call from the office: there was no spare key. And then, the other team I had working told me they’d put their foot through another ceiling.

Wednesday – Day 3

I was told the main van would be picked up and towed to the office, but I needed to be there to arrange the pickup. I was at the van from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm waiting for the pickup. Finally, they arrived, but the low loader couldn’t manoeuvre in the car park, and since I’d put on the handbrake and the steering lock — as you do — there was nothing he could do.

Thursday – Day 4

I was told that they were going to get the AA “Kerbside Key Service” in that Friday to replace the key and get the van back. Great, I thought. I could concentrate on the job, which had now moved to another area… until I got the call that there was an AA member and a towing guy heading to the van to break in, break the steering lock, and move it — damage I’d be liable for.

I drove over and headed this off and explained that the AA was going to get a key sorted the next day.

Friday – Day 5

I got a lift to the van, and bright and early the AA guy arrived. Within 30 minutes, he’d made two brand-new keys and programmed the locking.

Opening the van, we found that the only thing missing was the Parking Permit. All my tools in the back were untouched and they even left a fully filled-up [Restaurant] coffee card.

And yup, my manager blamed me for the whole mess, and I was threatened with the sack at least four times. 

I’m glad to be working elsewhere now.

What A Lazy (Gl)Ass

, , , , , , | Working | March 6, 2020

I am working in a department that relies heavily on speed. It is one of those newer ones that takes online orders and gets customers groceries for them so they don’t have to enter the store. 

On one of these days, we all are rushing trolleys to meet our next deadline and one of the aisles ends up having a broken light bulb shoved onto a lower shelf, spilling shards on the floor. This causes me to stop immediately and radio for someone to call over a janitor. To ensure no one gets hurt, I have to wait there now and warn people about this, so I turn off my system to avoid being timed.

When I turn around, I also note that there is a large puddle of water and radio them about that, as well. So now, I’m standing here warning everyone about water and broken glass, waiting for help. The entire time I watch, the time we have to get this order ready slowly dwindles away. They definitely called for the janitor; it was over the intercom several minutes ago. 

Normally, this would be okay; maybe he was doing something more important. But over ten minutes later, he shows up casually facing items at the other side of the aisle. I attempt to call him over so I don’t leave the area. It doesn’t really work, so I walk over to alert him.

He seems surprised that there is any mess at all and follows me over to the water and glass. I point them both out and he grabs a mop and starts cleaning the puddle. Thinking it’s over, I go back to getting my items, only to see him go back to facing immediately after dealing with the puddle. I have to ask him, “What about the glass?” and show him the glass again. 

He gets that cleaned up and I see shards on the floor still, not even very far from where the glass was. He only swept the immediate area. I have to walk over with my time on and ask for his broom to do it myself. He ends up following me and watching as I sweep up the remaining shards for him.