Gotta Be Frank: Don’t Be A Frank

, , , , , , | Working | June 22, 2020

I’m a manager in a call centre. Every manager here started off at the bottom of the company and has worked their way up, earning their position through experience. I’ve been with the company for over thirteen years and have been a senior manager for a good ten years

I deal with training and compliance. Staff are spot-checked for legal compliance every day. Staff who are not performing well are, at the same time, also checked for what they’re doing wrong, so we can train them and point their efforts in the right direction.

A couple of summers ago, we had a chap working for us who I will call “Frank.” He was from the near-east and spoke with a unique accent due to a mixed heritage. He had done similar work elsewhere and evidently thought he knew better than the people training him.

We occasionally see that a significant minority of people from that part of the world have difficulty following instructions from certain groups, such as women and anyone younger than they are. I’m cis-male and a little older than Frank, but I’m baby-faced and most people often estimate my age at five to ten years younger than I really am. Beverly, the other trainer, was definitely older, but a woman.

Whenever I would train Frank, he would explain to me that I was wrong, what I had said wouldn’t work, and he would do it his own way with his experience. He would then get back on the phone and continue doing everything his way, continuing to underperform.

Beverly was semi-retired, so after a week of this nonsense, I asked her to try and get through on her next availability. Frank had the same response to her training.

We decided that we would try a different form of training; we would let him listen to call recordings of his own work and provide a critique of that work, so he could see how and why it wasn’t working for him. He continued to say we were wrong, and then he’d go and do it his own way.

Eventually, his poor performance lead to a management review of his contract. He was still in his probationary period, and he was not working out. Beverley, his line manager, the head of HR, and I all agreed that Frank must go.

The head of HR and I called Frank into a side office and broke the bad news that we were going to part company. Frank exploded at us!

“Why am I being let go?”

“Frank, your performance is terrible,” [HR Head] explained. “You’re just not getting what you need to do in this job.”

“But you haven’t trained me!” Frank protested. “You should at least listen to my calls and tell me what I’m doing wrong!”

[HR Head] stifled a laugh. “What do you think that [My Name] has been doing these last two weeks? That’s exactly what he’s done!”

Frank insisted, deadly serious, “No, that’s not right.”

[HR Head] and I broke down laughing at how ridiculous this was.

“What?” said Frank.

“Frank, if you can’t see the problem here, you’re way outside someone we can ever train to do this,” I told him.

Frank just spat, “F*** you guys! You’re just taking the piss!”

And he stormed out of the building and out of our lives forever. Crazy!

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Sounds Like They Need All Three

, , , , , , | Working | June 1, 2020

I work as a manager in an office building for a small-ish family-owned business. We are not at all corporate.

After sixteen years, the office has seen better days and we decide to refurbish. All staff are moved into the downstairs office, so we can sort out the upstairs office. It’s a squeeze, I can tell you!

This takes over a year — way longer than it should — due to a number of idiot contractors. I even have to step in and do several jobs myself when said contractors have messed it all up or missed things. At the time of this story, I am resultantly run ragged.

The first day of the month falls on a Friday. After we close on Thursday, I switch off the downstairs setup and activate the upstairs. As a result, on Friday, all the staff will be in the swanky new office.

On Friday morning, before letting them upstairs, I instruct the staff that they need to move all their belongings with them, as anything remaining downstairs on Monday will be going in the skip when I tear out the old downstairs office to start the refurbishment of that floor.

I make no secret of the fact I’m on the autistic spectrum, and I talk very literally. 

On Monday morning, I remind them that I’ll be binning everything downstairs and to take with them anything they still want. I then start taking apart the old downstairs office. There’s a lot to do.

On Wednesday, my third day of throwing everything out, one of our longer-serving staff turns up in a tizzy because they can’t find their backpack.

That they left in the downstairs office.

That morning.

Yup. Even after being told twice and seeing the downstairs office being gutted over several days and all the stuff being thrown out, they left a bag there.

Apparently, they deliberately left his bag there so as to not “mess up” the new office with it.

They thought it wouldn’t count against my previous instructions as it wasn’t there yesterday, and had thus been “put” there rather than “left” there.

I’m assured by my fellow managers that this was not a dream, I’m not losing the plot, and this actually happened.

Not sure if I need a new job, better staff, or a stiff drink!

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Irony Is Spreading

, , , , , , | Working | May 15, 2020

I was in a major supermarket two days after the government announced travel restrictions due to the recent outbreak of illness and advised that no one should travel to any other country.

A message came over the PA system saying, “Going on holiday? Get your foreign currency from [Supermarket] travel money.”

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Humanity Hasn’t Completely Checked Out

, , , , , , , | Right | May 11, 2020

It is my fifth shift on the job and, as such, I am spending a large amount of time manning the checkouts. It is a quiet period in the store and two people approach the tills at the same time to pay. One is an old lady with a large number of reduced items while the other is a young woman with her infant with a basket full of what seem to be “top-up” shop items for restocking a home fridge and such.

The old lady places her basket next to the till.

Old Lady: “Could you ring me up slowly? I’m not too sure what I have the money for today.”

Me: “Sure, would you like a bag?”

Old Lady: “Please.”

I ring up and bag most of her items and tell her the total as I go along. It gets to about £6 or so and she takes out her purse and pulls out a £5 note and 50p explaining that this is all she has.

Me: “If you want, I can take the muffins off for you, and it should take the total down.”

Old Lady: “That would be great, thank you. Could you put the rest of my items behind the till, please? I might come back for them later.”

Me: “Sure.”

I go and place all the rest of her items behind me in a box and have her pay for the stuff she can afford. The young lady, who has been very quiet, speaks up as the older lady is turning to leave.

Young Lady: “Put the rest with mine, please.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Young Lady: “Yes.”

I rang up the rest of the old lady’s items and she left with a smile on her face, seeming so happy that someone else was willing to help her. I am happy to have served both those people today.


This story was included in our May 2020 Inspirational Roundup.

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This Employee Gets A USB-F In Customer Service

, , , , , , , | Working | April 7, 2020

(I am in my early fifties, but I have been involved with technology for a long time. I have need of a USB-C flash drive so that I could connect it directly to my phone and download the photos to it. So, I hie myself off to the local supermarket. I locate the USB flash drives, but not having my glasses on me, I am having problems identifying which are USB-C and which are the older USB-A style.)

Me: “Hi, can you tell me if this is USB-A or USB-C?”

Pimply-Faced Youth: “It’s a flash drive.”

Me: “Yes, but is it a USB-C connection or a USB-A connection?”

PFY: “I’m not sure what you are asking. It’s for connecting to a computer.”

Me: “Or any other device with an OTG host built in. But what is the connection type?”

PFY: “What are you after?”

Me: “A USB-C flash drive to connect to my phone.”

PFY: “You mean a USB cable.”

(He fetches a USB-micro to USB-A cable)

Me: “No, I mean a flash drive, with a USB-C connector.”

PFY: “No, you need a sync cable.”

Me: “Just tell me, does this have a USB-C connector or not? Let me decide if it is what I need.”

PFY: “That has a USB type C connector on one end and a USB type A connector on the other.”

(He put a lot of emphasis on the word “type” each time he said it.)

PFY: “But I’m not going to sell it to you; it’s the wrong thing and you will just be bringing it back later. Why not send your son or grandson in and I will sell them the correct item?”

Me: “Why you– I want your supervisor now.”

PFY: “No. I won’t waste their time.”

(I made a complaint to a department manager whom I found a few aisles away. He had a word with the PFY, who made dagger-eyes at me but sold me the item in silence and then stomped off into the back. The kicker was, when I got home and dug out my reading glasses, it even said on the packaging, “USB-C, USB-A, ideal for mobile devices,” and it works perfectly for my purposes.)

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