So… Wait… You Want What Now?

, , , , | Working | March 31, 2020

(It is the middle of the recession and jobs are extra hard to find, and if you do find something it is probably temporary. A detachment agency I worked for before contacts me for a job. Let’s call it a lab technician level one, for sake of ease, while my education would put me at level three, and with experience at level four. I would be receiving a level one salary and job title, but hey, it’s a job. I would be allowed to look for something else, provided the agency got “dibs/first pick” if it was a position through agencies, and failing that, they would keep me on the payroll to find something else afterwards. Not a bad deal, so I adjust my mindset and go in for the interview. Instead of boasting about my experience, I emphasise that I am excited to work with a new product. Instead of saying that I am looking for a stable position, I say that I am curious to see what opportunities for growth might come in the long term, etc. Then, they wrap up with some questions about my personality, which is not uncommon.)

Manager: “How would you position yourself in a team?”

Me: “Initially, I tend to be a bit quieter, observe, and learn first, but over time I’ll become part of the group.”

Manager: “Are you headstrong or more go with the flow?”

Me: “I’m not one to start a fight; I know when to let things go, but I’m not going to lie or hide my opinion.”

Manager: “So, a lot of people in this team are a huge fan of [Sports Team]; would you feel comfortable saying you support the opponents?”

Me: “Well, I don’t care about sports at all.”

Manager: *laughs* “Okay, that’s a good, honest start.”

Me: “But if I favored the opponents, sure, I would say so.”

(I end up getting the job, and in this field, it’s very common that no matter what your education or experience is, you go through a phase of training with your hand being held — almost literally — so the company can check off and certify that you’ve been trained. Mentally, I roll my eyes, but I take it in stride. This period lasts pretty long in this job, though, and at some point, the training starts to scale down, but I hardly get any real work to keep me busy. What little work I do receive is very easy so I do it pretty fast, yet I get fairly limited access on the software systems, leaving others to “finish” my work for me. I start asking my trainer and manager for more work, but they brush it off or refer to the posted schedule. Said schedule uses all kinds of color coding and descriptions which are far from immediately obvious. In fact, when I ask about it, it seems everyone knows just enough to do their own job, but all the other information on the schedule is a foreign language to them. I end up talking to the planner and he only knows that when job A comes in it’s yellow, job B is blue, C is yellow, etc., but when I ask why A and C are yellow even though they are very different tasks, he basically shrugs. I go through several weeks and more phenomena like this, along with some odd bits. A coworker tries to sell a phone he found on the street, and when I point out to management that he is essentially selling stolen goods, the response is, “Yes, we will discuss with him that he shouldn’t do this at work,” and my motivation takes a hit, to say the least. I get called to the manager.)

Manager: “So, it’s clear that you aren’t really making improvements to the department.”

Me: “Do you mean I should work harder? I want to, but nobody will train me.”

Manager: “No, not like that. We hired you because your education and experience put you on a higher level than the rest of the team and we’re expecting you to take the team to a higher level.”

Me: “I thought I was hired as a level one technician, so that’s the job I’ve been doing. I’ll be happy to give you feedback on any shortcomings I see; I just didn’t want to be too critical as a newcomer.”

Manager: “Yes, you’re a level one technician. We specifically asked during your interview if you would speak openly and address things you would disagree with. So, when you see things not going well, we expect you’ll take the initiative and improve them, not just report them to management.”

Me: “So, I should develop myself into something like a team leader?”

Manager: “No, I’m the manager; you’re a technician just like the rest. But you should make things go better.”

Me: “O… kay… So, I should use my experience to see where you can reduce costs or make tests go faster?”

Manager: “Don’t think in terms of specific metrics. You’ve attended several team meetings now and heard the criticism we get from upper management. You also should have noticed that things aren’t going as well as they should.”

Me: “Sure, for one thing, it seems nobody fully understands the schedule.”

Manager: “Yeah, don’t mess with that; the planner takes care of the schedule.”

Me: “So, you don’t want me to train the rest of the team, nor will you give me any form of authority. You want me to make improvements, not to share critiques with you but to fix it on my own. I should not change the way the team is run and I shouldn’t be thinking of any measurable efficiency like costs, time, accuracy of results, etc.?”

Manager: “I’m glad you understand. Now get to it.”

(After a few weeks of mutual frustration, they kicked me out for failing to meet expectations. Initially, the agency was pretty pissed, but once they confirmed my story of the contradictory role, they became more sympathetic and admitted that there had been a big miscommunication on what kind of person the company was looking for. I ended up doing some headhunting for the agency until they found me a position that worked out a lot better.)

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Fake Gamer Girl Strikes Again!

, , , | Working | March 19, 2020

(I’m female and a frequent customer at a local video game store. I know the manager well between my constant trips in and having worked over the holidays a couple of years back. He uses me as a training customer for new hires since I know the system and am known for being patient. I get a text from him one day.)

Manager: “Hey, we have a new hire and it’s been slow. Wanna swing by?”

(I’m not busy, so I head out. When I walk in, the new guy gives me a bad look.)

New Hire: “Oh, hi.”

Me: “Hi there! Do you have [New Game]?”

New Hire: “We have it for [System #1]. Do you know what your boyfriend has?”

Me: “My… what? I own a [System #1]. It’s for me.”

New Hire: “Sure, whatever. We don’t do returns on opened or used games.”

Me: “I’ll just look around for a minute.”

(I end up finding a couple of other games I want. I bring them up to the register, where the new hire is still glaring at me.)

New Hire: “You know these games are for [System #2], right? They won’t work on [System #1].”

Me: “Yes, I know. I own both.”

New Hire: “Do you want to call your boyfriend to make sure?”

Me: “No, because these are for me. I don’t have a boyfriend.”

New Hire: “I can’t return them–”

(At this point, I’m done with his attitude. I know the manager tends to watch the cameras in the back room.)

Me: “[MANAGER]! I’m gonna need your help!”

(He comes out with a MASSIVE grin.)

Manager: “Oh, [My Name]! What’s the issue?”

Me: “I apparently need to call my non-existent boyfriend before buying video games.”

New Hire: “I’m just trying to help her! I told her she can’t return them!”

Manager: “All right, that’s three complaints in one week. First of all, while it’s nice to let them know about our policy, you don’t have to keep repeating yourself. Second, not every girl who comes in here is shopping for their boyfriend. Third, I know she owns the consoles for those. I sold them to her. Actually, when it’s busy, I sometimes pay her to test consoles we get in for repairs or to sell. You trying to talk down to her is both useless and embarrassing.”

(He ended up being let go.)

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Talk About Getting The Run-Around

, , , , , , , | Working | March 18, 2020

I’d had a slight run of bad luck and had lost a previous job. After being without a job for a month, I was unfortunately in a spot where I needed to accept whatever came my way. So, I’d been applying all over and had gotten called in for an interview with a third-party IT company. The role I was interviewing for was an onsite support tech at one of our clients’ offices. Due to being jobless, I’d let some issues with my car slide because I had no money to fix them, something I asked about in the interview. They told me that it was fine, and I’d mainly be based out of a location about ten minutes south of Seattle and only have to travel to the peninsula occasionally, usually around the first of the year. I was okay with that as I knew the area I was supposed to be based in fairly well.

The interview finished up and the next day I received an offer. This job was a problem from the start. I should have known when I fell on my face heading into the interview. Anyway, I showed up for the company meeting — there were only eight people in the company, so we met at a coffee house in north Seattle — on my first day, busted my butt to get there an hour early, like they’d asked, only to find that A, the computer they’d ordered — and the reason I needed to be there early — wasn’t supposed to arrive until the next day and B, no one else was actually there!

Then, during the meeting, my boss looked me straight in the eye and said that the next day, I was supposed to meet two of our techs at the client location that was about an hour south of my house, in an area I was totally unfamiliar with. I was not really comfortable going when I had a car that wasn’t behaving. I asked if someone would be willing to give me a ride and my coworker said sure, as long as I was willing to come to meet her at the coffee house — which was about an hour north of my house. I tried to get her to come to me, but she maintained that the only way she’d give me a ride was if I met her at the coffee house. I said no, I’d drive, and then had to force them to give me directions and an address where I was supposed to go!

And that was just the second day. Things went downhill from there.

I found out after my first full week that the company meeting I attended was actually a weekly thing, but no one bothered to tell me that. And this meeting was at the location an hour north of my house, forcing me to go through Seattle to get there, so my hour-long drive turned into two or more hours.

Then, they asked me to be at a location in Everett — which is north — at 8:00 in the morning, but again, I had to drive through Seattle to get there, and traffic to Everett is never good. I flat-out refused to try and be there by 8:00; I told them I’d get there when I got there because I was not willing to leave my house before 5:00 in the morning.

Things continued in that vein the entire time I was there. They did everything from making me go to locations outside of my “home” one — locations I hadn’t known about until they told me I had to go there the next day — to not covering my mileage because I didn’t have a company card and they never gave me one. Whenever I was with another tech, she always had to buy me lunch and a tank of gas; I didn’t let her leave without those two things.

It took me about nine months, but I finally found another job that doesn’t treat me like that. It’s a strange feeling.

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Always Overstocked With Nuisance Customers

, , , , | Right | March 17, 2020

(I have recently started working at a toy store close to where I live. I haven’t been fully trained on how to do everything yet, but I have had to deal with a few stock requests, so I feel confident enough with the system to address customer queries. A man in his late forties comes up to the service desk.)

Customer: “I’m looking for [Dollhouse]. Could you tell me if you have any in stock?”

Me: “Certainly. Is it [Full Name of Dollhouse Brand]?”

(He nods.)

Me: *after double-checking I have read the number correctly* “Six hundred.”

Customer: “Six hundred?!”

Me: “That does seem quite excessive, but that is what it’s telling me.”

Customer: “Erm, well, I need six hundred… and one.”

Me: “You need exactly six hundred and one dollhouses?”

Customer: *laughing awkwardly* “Yeah, that sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?” *runs out of the store before I can say anything else*

(A manager who was processing a return bursts out laughing.)

Manager: “Never mind him. He’s a nuisance regular we put up with. He usually comes in and asks for one or two above what we have in stock and complains when we don’t give him a discount.”

Me: “Oh…”

Manager: “For future reference…” *points to my screen* “If you tap the ‘Store’ tile, it will show you the stock we currently have here, instead of the regional stock.”

(I guess I should wait until my training is finished before taking any more queries.)

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Of Callers And Communists

, , , , , | Working | March 12, 2020

(I work as a supervisor in a small local bakery. On Fridays and Saturdays, I have two teenagers in the shop to help out and, while they have a lot of promise, they still have a bit of learning to do. This all happens within about ten minutes. The phone rings.)

Me: *busy prepping orders* “[Teenager #1], hon, can you just check the caller ID for me?”

Teenager #1: “It’s the ordering company.”

Me: “Ah, brilliant. Can you just pick up and tell them we don’t need anything until next week?”

([Teenager #1] picks up the phone and, without saying the name of the bakery or even, “hello,” he says…)

Teenager #1: “We don’t need anything until next week.” *hangs up*

Me: “Uh, okay, we’re going to work on your phone manner, hon.”

(Two minutes later, I’m coming into the kitchen from the shop front.)

Teenager #2: “Oh, [My Name], where is Stalin from?”

Me: “He was from Russia.”

Teenager #2: “Oh, yeah. So, [Teenager #1], Stalin was this really famous Nazi…”

Me: “Erm, he was a communist and a Soviet leader.”

Teenager #2: “Are they different?”

(At this moment, I notice a customer in the shop front and go through to serve them.)

Customer: “Can I get the doughnut with the um… ah… millions and billions?”

Me: “Oh, hundreds and thousands!” *what British people call sprinkles*

Customer: “Oh, yeah! Sorry, you must think I’m a right idiot.”

Me: *smiling wanly* “Not at all, sir. In fact, do you want a job?”

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