A Sudden Volunteering Clearing

, , , | Right | July 19, 2018

(I work for a small company that often deals with government programs or contracts. One of the kid-centered programs we often work with is very popular in our fairly small community, and lots of people, including all but one member of our staff, also volunteer with the program. Thus, we have many employees who work a shift with one part of the program, but will show up early or stay late to volunteer in other positions. In this particular case, the event is being held by a school, but the school doesn’t want to pay the company for the company’s product.)

School Rep: “Is there any way you can come down on the price?”

Coworker: “Since you are requiring we purchase additional insurance to complete this contract, no. If you are willing to forgo the additional insurance, the price will be [lower price].”

School Rep: “Well, we don’t want to pay any more than [roughly half the price].”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.”

(My coworker goes on to list several other options that will allow the rep to still use some of our services, but will be much closer to the price range mentioned.)

School Rep: “No, no, no, I want all the usual stuff. Can’t you just cut me a deal?”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, but we can only go so low. We already offer [services] at a discounted rate, because it is for a community program. We simply cannot charge less than that.”

School Rep: “I can’t believe you won’t do it. I know! What about if you don’t worry about [lists every possible volunteer position], and do it at [their earlier, ridiculously low quote]?”

Me: “[School Rep], those are all volunteer positions. Company employees sometimes choose to volunteer to fill those roles, but the company is in no way responsible for that.”

School Rep: “But… I can get other volunteers to do that! Why can’t you just make them not do it?”

Me: “…because our company has absolutely no control over what our employees do on their own time? We can’t tell them not to volunteer, and even if we could, it would not change the costs of the contract.”

School Rep: “But why not?”

(The school rep spent the next week emailing and calling us, asking us not to let employees volunteer with the program, and insisting that if we did so, we could do the program at the lower rate. She never seemed to get that the company cannot tell employees not to do volunteer work, although she has succeeded in souring most of us on the idea of volunteering for anything taking place at her school.)

This Office Is Under A-Salt

, , , , , | Working | July 18, 2018

At work, the staff lunchroom is a little small. The main table can seat about ten, and in one corner of the room is a small table with a microwave and other items on it. In the middle of the main table is one of those large, transparent, acrylic salt shakers.

One day while on break, a coworker picked up the salt shaker, looked at it, and noticing that it was empty, made a face and put it back on the table. Note that they were sitting at one of the two chairs where they could reach the salt shaker on the table and the box of salt on the microwave table without getting up — they just had to lean from side to side. I thought about filling it myself, but not being a salt user, and full of curiosity, I decided to watch to see how long it would be before someone in an office of 75 would break and fill the salt shaker.

Break after break, day by day, week in and week out, I watched the salt shaker picked up, face made, and put back down. Finally, one day, after seven weeks had gone by, someone finally cracked and filled the salt shaker…

So That’s How Scotty Does It!

, , , , , | Working | July 18, 2018

(I am a database engineer in the late 1980s. My company has an application that requires about 24 hours to run a weekly report. One day my boss comes up to me and asks if I can make the report run faster. I look at the code and realize the report is written in an incredibly inefficient manner. I go back to the boss:)

Me: “I’ve got good news. I’m pretty sure I can make it run in 12 hours. It will take me about a week to get it ready.”

Boss: “That would be great. Please do it.”

(I spend about two hours and redo the report function and get it to run in 15 minutes. I then build in a timer that delays delivery for 12 hours. I use the week to get caught up on everything I never have time to do. My boss is delighted with the results. Six months later, my boss comes to me again:)

Boss: “We are really happy with your excellent work on speeding up the reports. Can you possibly make it go any faster?”

Me: “Maybe. It would take about a week to know for sure.”

Boss: “Please give it a try. This is your top priority.”

(I spent the week getting caught up again on a backlog of tasks I was never given time for, and on the last day of the week, I removed the timer and presented the new and improved report function to my boss, who was absolutely thrilled to get reports in 15 minutes. The boss never found out and considered me a miracle worker.)

Didn’t Take Your Explanation Into Account

, , , , | Right | July 16, 2018

(I run all the returned check chargebacks for my company — anywhere from 500 to 1000 per week. I’ve been doing this for about eight months now and pretty much know what I’m doing backwards and forwards. About a third of the bad checks we get are fraud, a third are legitimate customers who just don’t want to pay their bills, and a third are customers who make mistakes with their checkbooks and are embarrassed and eager to pay off their debts immediately. That last group, I like. One day, I get a call from a man who belongs in the last group.)

Caller: “I don’t understand why I have a bad check. I have a special deal with my bank, that I pay extra each month and they cover my checks if I bounce. I can’t bounce checks.”

Me: “Well, sir, your check didn’t come back as ‘insufficient funds.’ It came back as ‘account closed.’ Is it possible that you wrote the check from an old check book?”

Caller: “Absolutely not. It’s not possible. I haven’t changed banks in years. This is unbelievable. I don’t understand why this is happening.”

Me: “Like I said, sir, this isn’t an insufficient funds check. The account is closed, and that’s why the check was returned.”

Caller: “But I can’t have a bounced check!”

(This goes on for another few minutes.)

Me: “Sir, could you take out your checkbook, and let me read to you the MICR information we have on this check to see if there’s a discrepancy?”

Caller: “I don’t see why there would be.”

Me: “Just humor me for a moment… 1-0-0-0—” *provides the rest of the MICR numbers*

Caller: “No, there’s supposed to be four zeros. Oh, I know what happened. I ran out of checks, so I went into my safe and got an old check-book from an account that I closed a few years back. I’ll go down to the store and pay today.”

Not Quite Excelling At Her Job

, , , , , , | Working | July 16, 2018

(We have a new person in the office who claimed to be an Excel expert when she applied. While her role doesn’t require using the software, one manager decided to take advantage of her skills and have her redesign an allocation sheet for one of his divisions. She agrees to help and spends an entire day working on it instead of doing her actual duties. I go up to her, asking if she wants a cup of tea. However, she looks quite stressed.)

Me: “Is everything all right?”

Colleague: “Yes. It’s just this allocation sheet. It’s very complicated and demanding. I think someone is going to have to pick up my work until I’ve finished.”

Me: “You should only be doing that once you’ve finished the work you are required to do. I think [Manager] would understand.”

Colleague: “Clearly you don’t understand anything. This requires a lot of concentration! I can’t just do an odd hour here or there.”

Me: “What are you trying to do? I’m quite good at Excel myself. Maybe I can help.”

Colleague: “No, it’ll be way above your head.”

Me: “Try me.”

Colleague: *sighs* “In this column here, I’m making all the boxes write in bold.”

Me: “Okay.”

Colleague: “And that’s very time-consuming.”

Me: “You’ve spent a day making all the cells in that column bold?”

Colleague: “Yes.”

Me: “And how have you been doing it?”

(She then selects a single cell, right-clicks it, clicks on “Format Cells,” then the “Font” tab, and then “Bold,” before clicking “Okay.”)

Colleague: “Understand why it’s taking so long?”

Me: “And you’ve been doing that one cell at a time? Why don’t you just select a group of cells at a time, or better yet, just an entire column?”

Colleague: *confused* “What?”

Me: *pointing at the column head* “Click there.”

(She does and her eyes practically bulge when the entire column changes colour. I then navigate her to the “Home” tab and tell her to click the “B.”)

Me: “Everything in that column will be in bold now.”

Colleague: “I… I need a break.”

(She gets up and turns. The manager she was making the sheet for has been stood behind us long enough to understand what’s just happened. He says he won’t be needing her help anymore, and she leaves for the kitchen.)

Manager: *whispering to me* “Even I know how to bold a f****** column.”

(This revelation spread like wildfire in the office, and while no one is outright bullying her, no one trusts her with a PC, resulting in her no longer being needed.)

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