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If Only I Had A Reason To Smile

, , , , , | Right | December 25, 2020

It is late December. My boss is upstairs working on a stock-take, and my two part-time colleagues and I are in the shop dealing with customers. Late in the afternoon, a woman comes in looking for light fittings.

Me: “Madam, it turns out the fittings you want are one of the most common ones we stock, so we have plenty in at the moment.”

Customer: “I need five of them.”

I rush upstairs to grab them and then bring them over to the till.

Me: “That will be [price].”

Customer: “What? No! That’s too much! Give me a discount!”

Me: “I have already discounted them.”

Customer: “Then give me a bigger discount!”

Me: “Sorry, madam, but I cannot give you any more of a discount. I’m not allowed to.”

Customer: “Then go and ask your boss for permission!”

I go upstairs — reluctantly, as I know what my boss will say — and ask him about the possibility of giving her a further discount on the light fittings.

Manager: “No, the profit margin on the fittings are so tight that we can’t go any lower than the price you’ve already quoted.”

I return to the shop and apologetically tell her that I won’t be able to give her a further discount. She takes this really badly, launching into a verbal attack on me, complaining about how awful my customer service is.

Customer: “It’s Christmas! You should show some festive spirit! I’m always in the shop so I should at least deserve a discount!”

I find this last one strange because I’ve been working there since May and have never met her before now.

She pays for the light fittings, still complaining and being genuinely unpleasant. I stand there trying hard not to cry and just wanting her to get out of the shop. I hand her the receipt and she snatches it and glares at me.

Customer: “Oh, and by the way, it’s Christmas! A f****** smile wouldn’t go amiss!”

She stormed out, and I stood behind the counter, fuming.

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Essentially, You’re An Idiot

, , , , | Working | December 18, 2020

I work in a hospital as an IT technician. My colleague told me this story. A few years before I started working there, the Estates department declared a cap on “unnecessary expenditure” within their department. This basically meant they wouldn’t do any work that they considered to be “nonessential.”

Around the same time, the Chief Executive of the Health Trust to which the hospital belonged declared that “all departments must do their utmost to reduce waiting lists” and that “resources would be made available to facilitate this.”

My colleague was contacted by the leader of a small nursing team who had determined that waiting lists in her department could be reduced by the addition of three new staff members. She had recruited the staff and now just needed three new PCs and monitors. My colleague ordered the PCs, got them set up, and then visited her department to see where the new machines could go. He realised that, while there was ample desk space for the new employees, there weren’t enough power sockets and network points in the office to connect the computers.

My colleague put in a request to Estates Services to get three new network points and six new power sockets installed in the office. That afternoon, one of the Estates people rejected the request as “unnecessary expenditure.” Furious, my colleague phoned the head of the Estates department.

Estates Head: *Arrogantly* “Power sockets and network points are not classed as essential maintenance, and would thus incur unnecessary expenditure.”

Colleague: *Calmly* “Okay, fine. But when [Chief Executive] asks [Nursing Team Leader] why she hasn’t done enough to reduce her department’s waiting lists, I’ll make sure she tells him that it’s because your department won’t do their jobs!”

The following day, my colleague got a call from a delighted [Nursing Team Leader], who informed him that Estates Services had just been in and installed six new power sockets and three new network points.

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This Hospital Is Really Going Down The Toilet

, , , | Healthy | December 1, 2020

When I am a student, I take a summer job working as a temporary admin person in a local hospital. The first week or so involves just sitting in a file room sorting through old files, but then I am taken off this job and put on the outpatients’ reception, as the regular receptionist is going on holiday.

A couple of days into my stint as receptionist, one of the medical secretaries comes to see me. 

Secretary: “[Gastroenterologist] is off sick today with gastroenteritis and his clinic has therefore been cancelled. I’ve phoned all his patients and told them, but one or two slipped through the net due to their contact details being out of date. If any patients do turn up for [Gastroenterologists]’s clinic, please explain that the doctor was off sick, apologise for the inconvenience, reassure them that they will be given a replacement appointment when the doctor returns to work, and then try to update their contact details.”

The first couple of patients who arrive for this clinic are really understanding. They accept my apology, acknowledge that “these things happen,” and happily allowed me to take their up-to-date contact details. Then, I have THIS patient.

She is an older lady, probably in her early to mid-seventies, and she turns up with her daughter. She hands me her letter, and when I see she’s arrived for the gastroenterology clinic, I begin my usual spiel.

Me: “Ah, I’m very sorry, but we’ve actually had to cancel the clinic today. The doctor has phoned in sick, so he’ll not be back to work for a couple of days at least.”

Daughter: “Oh, dear!”

Her mother looks crestfallen. I apologise again for the inconvenience, reassure her that we’ll be giving her a replacement appointment as soon as the doctor is back to work, and explain that the reason we didn’t tell her about the cancellation was that we were unable to get hold of her. She gives me her up-to-date address and telephone number, which I put in her file, and then she starts complaining about being badly treated.

Woman: “I don’t understand how you people can do this to me! I’m an elderly lady! I can’t just travel up and down to the hospital for appointments!”

Me: *Staying calm* “Yes, I really do understand. To be honest, if I was in your position, I’d be upset, too, but unfortunately, there isn’t anything else we can do.”

The daughter still looks completely calm.

Daughter: “We’re getting another appointment though, right?”

I reassure her that her mother WILL be getting another appointment because it isn’t her fault the clinic was cancelled and it is up to us to make sure she gets the treatment she needs. The daughter seems satisfied, so she thanks me for being so understanding and turns to her mother.

Daughter: “Let’s go, Mum.”

The elderly lady turns to walk away and then changes her mind and stops. She turns to face me again.

Woman: “So [Gastroenterologist] is off sick today, is he?”

Me: “Yes, unfortunately, he is.”

She looks around and then leans in close to me and screams.

Woman: “WELL, HE F****** DESERVES IT!”

And she stormed out!

I worked in the reception for another two weeks and then was moved on to other duties. I really enjoyed working in the hospital, and years later, I still vividly remember this elderly lady leaning forward to scream, “WELL, HE F****** DESERVES IT!” all because her clinic was cancelled due to illness.

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Once You Left The Room, You Had ONE JOB

, , , , | Legal | November 29, 2020

I have a colleague who was selected for jury service. He reckons the case will be interesting, as it relates to quite a high-profile incident that was in all the local papers. On his first day of the trial, he is in court most of the day, coming into work in the late afternoon for a few hours. My other colleague is full of questions, but of course, he won’t answer them because he isn’t supposed to discuss the case. Throughout the week, he falls into the same routine: court in the morning and work in the afternoon. On Thursday, the penultimate day of the trial, he comes in.

Colleague: “The verdict will be tomorrow, and then I’ll be free to discuss everything and answer all your questions.”

On Friday, our colleague arrives at work a lot earlier than anticipated.

Colleague: “Well, that was unexpected!”

It turned out that on Thursday afternoon, before dismissing the court for the day, the judge had reminded the jury that Friday would be their big day, and that until then it would be PARTICULARLY important not to discuss the case with anyone — not colleagues, not friends, not even other jurors.

One of the other jurors had been shopping in town that evening, saw the defendant, and in spite of being told not to discuss the case, decided to discuss the case with him, in full view of everyone in the shop! Word got back to the judge, who, on Friday morning, went ballistic. He declared a mistrial, held both the defendant and juror in contempt, and explained that now there would have to be a new trial with a new jury.

My colleague couldn’t believe how stupid and careless the juror had been, and was gobsmacked by how much time and effort had now gone to waste, all because the defendant and juror decided to have a chat in a shop.

The defendant was tried again six months later. The juror who’d breached protocol had charges brought against him. My colleague never got to see the new trial as he was no longer eligible for jury service.

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Not Handling The Mechanics Of This Business

, , , , , | Working | November 13, 2020

I have several bicycles that I maintain myself. Sometimes, I will visit my local bike store and ask the mechanics for advice on a problem or which tool to buy. The mechanics are well qualified and very helpful. It is a huge international store which also employs sales staff.

Unfortunately, a pattern develops. I ask to speak to a mechanic, and some of the sales staff tell me they are mechanics. However, they are unable to answer simple questions. It has happened several times, and I am tiring of it.

This time, I walk in carrying a bicycle wheel.

Me: “Hi. If you don’t mind me asking, are you a mechanic?”

Employee #1: “Yes.”

Me: “Great! Can you tell me which tool I need to remove the cassette from this wheel? I don’t think it’s a standard Shimano spline.”

Employee #1: “I’m not sure. Let me check the workshop.”

I follow him to the workshop.

Employee #2: “Let me try this tool… I’m sorry I’m not sure.”

Employee #1: “Do you want to leave it with us and I’ll ask [Head Mechanic] tomorrow?”

Me: “No, thank you. Wait… I asked if you were a mechanic. Which Cytech level do you have?”

Employee #1: “I don’t have one.”

Me: “Then why did you tell me you were a mechanic?”

Employee #1: “Well, basic stuff.”

I leave and return the next day. [Head Mechanic] is working. He is amazing. He can do everything a bike mechanic would ever need to do, including building wheels.

Head Mechanic: “Hey, [My Name]! How’s that bike build coming?”

Me: “Getting there! I need this cassette off, but the cassette remover doesn’t fit.”

Head Mechanic: *Lifting something off a shelf* “That’s a freehub system, but you’re holding a Shimano spline tool. You need one of these. Slide it in and turn anti-clockwise, like this. It’s £12.”

Me: “Thanks. By the way… are the sales staff entitled to call themselves mechanics?”

Head Mechanic: “No. Why?”

Me: “It’s happened a few times. I ask to speak to a mechanic because I have a complicated question. They then tell me they are a mechanic and they get confused by whatever I’m asking.”

Head Mechanic: “Really? We haven’t hired any new mechanics.”

Me: “A few sales assistants seem to think that because they can fix a puncture, they are professional mechanics. It’s also really disrespectful, because you have paid thousands for formal training. Would you tell the manager you have had a complaint?”

Head Mechanic: “Yes, sure. When did it happen?”

Me: “Yesterday. I don’t mind speaking to sales assistants if they stay within their limits. If someone who doesn’t know what they are doing works on a bike, someone could get hurt. All this because people don’t have the guts to say, ‘No, I’m not a mechanic but why don’t you try me and I’ll do my best?’”

I also complained by Facebook private message. [Head Mechanic] still knows the answer to anything I ask. I now ask for a mechanic by name, or I ask if they have completed a course in bike mechanics.

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