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ALWAYS Trust The Experts

, , , , , , , , | Legal | November 9, 2022

Many years ago, I worked for a contracting firm in New York that specialized in Lexan glass windows. We were contacted by a very well-known jewelry firm near Wall Street about replacing their aging front display window with an extremely large panel of Lexan. By “extremely large”, I mean two inches thick, six feet high, and fourteen feet long! This panel was literally going to be bulletproof! The owners wanted to get rid of the “jailhouse ambiance” of having huge vertical bars all across the display window.

They and we agreed upon a price for the installation — almost astronomical considering it was just a big window. As we removed the old window and the bars, we realized that the framework surrounding what would be the new window badly needed beefing up for better security. We recommended a couple of other contractors to perform that work as that was outside the scope of our knowledge and experience. The owners, already unhappy about the amount they were having to spend, declined to do so even after we practically begged them to and required them to sign off on an agreement holding us harmless for the framework holding the new Lexan panel.

A week after we completed the installation, we got a frantic phone call early in the morning from the owners of the jewelry store. My boss and I arrived at the store’s location to find that the thieves had come very well-prepared. They had drilled two holes in the Lexan panel, installed collapsible grappling hooks on chains through the panel, and apparently simply hooked the chains to a tow ball on the back of a large vehicle. The entire Lexan panel was laying on the sidewalk — completely undamaged except for some minor scratches and the two drilled holes — along with the chains and grappling hooks, having been completely jerked out of the storefront.

We all — the police, the store owners, my boss, and me — stood there gazing at the now-empty display window and cases in the store. The store had lost close to a million dollars in jewelry and expensive watches.

The owners immediately tried to blame our company for the failure of the Lexan panel to protect the store. We took the position that the Lexan had done exactly what we’d promised and that its mostly undamaged condition was a testament to that.

Our insurance company and their attorneys argued with their insurance company and attorneys in arbitration for months until the judge hearing the case finally found completely in our favor. His analogy and the lesson: when the plumber putting in your new toilet says you need to replace the floor under it, and that’s out of his scope of work, LISTEN TO HIM!

Sometimes The Simplest Solutions Are The Best

, , , , , , , | Working | July 6, 2022

This is going to sound weird, but I’m working on the set of a science-themed television show for a major network, and we need samples of water from hotdog vendors. We’re filming a segment about the cleanliness of the water the hotdogs are sitting in, so we’re performing a somewhat-scientific test by collecting water from as many carts as possible and running a few simple assays for coliform bacteria and other things you wouldn’t want your hotdog floating in.

Or, at least, that’s the goal. The problem is that no hotdog vendor is willing to give us a sample of their water. Although we’ve assured them that we’re just going to report generally on our findings and not identify or even show any vendors (it’s all filmed in a studio), they’re understandably reluctant to involve themselves in the project.

So, now we have a problem. We have a script, a shooting schedule, and lots of set pieces related to hotdog water, but we didn’t anticipate such difficulty getting the actual hotdog water.

I’m called away to something else, and when I come back a couple of hours later, I see that the production assistants have somehow collected water from something like twenty different carts; before, we had zero! I ask them how they were able to do this, and apparently, the secret was sending an attractive female production assistant to collect the water. From what I understand, most of the interactions went like this.

Production Assistant: “Hi, can I have some of the water from your cart?”

Vendor: “Uh, why?”

Production Assistant: “Because I like it.”

And that was it. Every single vendor she approached gave her a container full of water, no other questions asked.

Enjoy Your Really, Really Long Vacation

, , , , , , , | Working | May 24, 2022

My company hires from all over the world and requires travel almost constantly. We also offer “home time off,” which is exactly how it sounds; it is in our hiring contract that we can take a four-day weekend every other month to go home to see our families.

I receive a job assignment in a different country, so my contract states that I get a full week off to accommodate the longer travel time. I get tired of going back and forth, so I ask my supervisor if I have to go home during this time off or if I can use it to tour US attractions like Disney or just relax and rest for the week. He agrees that the time off is my own and if that’s what I want to do, I just have to arrange the appropriate travel.

For my next home time off, I decide to take a five-day cruise with my husband. Upon return, I have a slew of emails, voicemails, and texts from [Coworker], who is from the USA. I go through them all and I am just floored. [Coworker] heard (though he didn’t say how) that I was not using my home time to go home, and he threatened to report me to Human Resources for abusing my privilege.

When I return to work the next day, he is sitting at my desk.

Me: “Good morning, [Coworker].”

Coworker: “How was your trip home?”

Me: “Oh, we—”

Coworker: “Or should I say, ‘How does it feel to steal from [Company]?’”

Me: “I didn’t steal anything. I—”

Coworker: “It is in our contract that we have to go home for that time off, not go globetrotting.”

Me: “Not my contract. Please move. I have work to do.”

Coworker: “You might as well write your resignation letter. Once HR finds out what you did, they’ll send you right back to your dirty, third-world country you didn’t want to go to in the first place.”

Me: “Okay, then. You go do that. Just get out of my space. Please and thank you, goodbye!”

[Coworker] did go to HR to complain that I hadn’t gone home. When questioned about why it mattered to him, he said that he had tried to extend his home time off to go to Australia for two weeks and it was denied. By his logic, my request should have been denied, too.

After that, I put in a complaint with HR, showing all the texts, emails, and voicemails from [Coworker] when he knew I was on vacation, as well as his insult to my home country. He was suspended for a performance review and quit before they could finish.

Zero Respect At Ground Zero

, , , , | Right | May 6, 2022

I wanted to give my fiance, who had never been in NYC before a quick tour of Manhattan before we finished packing up my home and moving halfway across the country.

One of the places we wanted to go to was the 9/11 Memorial. I passed it daily on my way to and from work, and had never gone. Having vivid memories of that day, and knowing people who had been killed in the Towers, it was a somber self-guided tour. There is a room that has small plaques of each victim that light up and a short announcement made of the person’s name, where they were from. There had been eight people from my tiny hometown village killed, including one of our councilmen. I wept, not just there, but in several other areas.

My emotions were raw, and flashbacks to that day were hitting. We entered a large room where there were mangled fire trucks, police cars, rescue vehicles, etc. Most had scorch marks, interiors grey with ash, etc. They were all behind rope barriers, with multi-language signs saying ‘Do Not Touch.’

Ahead of us was a tall man with a small six-or-seven-year-old child, appearing to be father and son. The child scampered off ahead of the father, ducked under one of the ropes surrounding a mangled police car – a door was missing, the front hood caved in, and the trunk popped open. The child climbed right onto the car, and started playing on it like it was a playground jungle gym.

The father not only didn’t say anything, but encouraged his son, and started taking photos. They were talking and laughing with each other in some European-sounding language. I wanted to smack the father, but my fiance dragged me out of there and found a security guard to go extract them out of that room (hopefully out of the Museum altogether).

I was appalled at the disrespect shown to the memories of the 2736 people killed at that very spot.

“I Don’t Want To” Is A Valid Reason!

, , , , , , | Friendly | April 20, 2022

I am a woman who is not interested in having children. For whatever godforsaken reason, the idea that I am happy as a childless adult does not sit well with others.

I was scrolling through social media on the bus when an elderly woman sitting beside me leaned over and saw a picture of a toddler on my screen.

Woman: “What a cute little face!”

I smiled politely.

Woman: “Is she yours?”

Me: “No.”

Woman: “Do you have little ones of your own?”

Me: “No, I’m not interested.”

She patted my arm gently.

Woman: “Don’t worry. sweetheart. It will happen.”

Me: “I hope not.”

The woman looked as if she had smelled something terrible.

Woman: “But women are supposed to be mothers!”

Me: “I’m not.”

We stared at each other for a few seconds before she shifted and looked away. I heard her take a deep breath as if she was going to say something else, but she never did. I could have just said, “No, I don’t have any,” and left it at that, but she also could have minded her own business in the first place.