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Maybe If The Restaurant Had A Pirate Theme…

, , , , | Working | May 13, 2022

One fine summer, when I was still a student, I was in the dreaded process of sending out applications to as many jobs as possible in hopes of securing a summer job. I would take my cover letter and resume from the previous job, change the details, and tailor the content to the job I was applying for. Lather, rinse, repeat. I had been at it for a while and was starting to feel tired.

One application was for a water tour company that gave tours around the harbour. The official job title was “Boat Captain”. I did my resume and cover letter and sent them off. The next was for a server position at a local restaurant. I changed the details and sent that off, too.

When I came to the next application, I read over the cover letter I had just sent out to the restaurant and discovered, to my horror, that I had left the last line unedited from the previous application. 

The last line of my cover letter to this restaurant read: “I believe these qualities would make me a successful boat captain.”

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, but I can only imagine the look on the person’s face as they read my cover letter.

It’s All Bun And Games Until It Isn’t

, , , , , | Right | May 3, 2022

I’m working at a semi-fast food burger chain, where all the food is prepared fresh and takes a little time. At this time, I’m in charge of cash — taking orders in person and on the phone, as well as taking payments. I get an angry phone call.

Me: “Hi, [Store] at [Location], this is [My Name] speaking. How can I help you today?”

Customer: “I got no burger buns!”

Me: “Oh, no! What do you mean?”

Customer: “I ordered bowl buns and I got no buns!”

I can tell this customer’s first language isn’t English, and I totally understand where she’s coming from, but…

Me: “Where did you place your order, ma’am?”

Customer: “[Delivery Service]! And I got no buns! I wanted bowl buns!”

Me: “What’s the name on the order, ma’am?”

Customer: “[Customer].”

I check the order. It’s a pretty standard order: three burgers and a large fry. But she ordered all her burgers in our BOWL option. Burger bowls, for those of you who don’t know, is a tinfoil or paper containers that some stores use instead of buns. It’s a gluten-free option, like Lettuce Wraps, but much more of a hassle.

Me: “Ma’am, I can see you ordered three burgers in bowls.”

Customer: “Yes! Burger bowls! And I got no buns!”

Me: “Ma’am, burger bowls are a gluten-free, bun-free option that we offer. They come in tinfoil bowls—”

Customer: “No! It is meant to be a bun bowl! Burger bowl has buns!”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but we gave you your order exactly as you ordered it. For next time, burger bowls are bun-less. Have a great day!”

That’s still my favourite phone call I’ve taken to date. I think she might have gotten them mixed up for those taco shells that double as bowls, which would be weird to me for a burger, to be honest, but to each their own.

When It Rains Coffee, It Pours Coffee

, , , , , , | Working | April 14, 2022

At Christmas 2020, one of our sons gifted my wife and me a monthly subscription from a fancy coffee roaster business near his home in Toronto. According to the card he gave us at Christmas, it was a six-month subscription for two bags of their specialty roasted coffees per month, with the first delivery in time for Christmas.

Like many businesses in 2020, this coffee roaster had to pivot to incorporate and/or ramp up more online sales for the Christmas season. Based on what happened to us, it seems they had some challenges dealing with the volume of orders for these subscriptions.

The first hint that this was not going as planned was a delay in the first delivery. Christmas came and went, but there was no initial delivery until New Year’s Eve day when a box showed up on our doorstep with not two but twelve bags of coffee: two different flavours, with six bags of each.

We contacted our son to let him know the gift had finally arrived, but not exactly as he had described it. He apologized, and we all wrote it off as an error when placing the order on their webpage. No worries, we said, we got what was intended, just all at once.

Fast forward to the third week of January. Another box from the coffee roaster company showed up, but there were only two bags of coffee this time. There was one of each flavour — the same two flavours as had arrived in the initial box of twelve. We mentioned the shipment to our son and he said he’d look into his emails about the order and sort out what had happened.

February rolled around, and… another box arrived. We got the same two bags of the same flavour coffee. We found that two bags a month matched our caffeine consumption, so we had only made a modest dent in the first box of twelve. As you might imagine, our pantry was slowly being overrun with coffee. Again, our son was surprised that they were still shipping more bags, but at that point, he basically told us not to worry about it and that if they billed him for the extra bags, he would take care of it.

So… lather, rinse, and repeat through March, April, May, and June. Each month, a nice little box of the same two flavours of coffee arrived. By now, the “bottomless coffee subscription” was a running joke within the family as we waited to see how long it would take for them to figure out the mistake, stop sending the coffee, and contact my son. But they never did.

We certainly enjoyed the coffee, but we confessed that we were getting tired of the same flavours and resorted to giving some bags to other family members as well as our son when he came by for a visit. At that point, we figured the original monthly subscription was done and that was it. But no.

On a Sunday in the middle of July, I was out packing the car with my wife in preparation for our departure on a two-week vacation. A small car rolled up to the curb in front of our house and a young woman on delivery stepped out and walked up the driveway with — you guessed it — another box of the coffees we had been enjoying for the last six-plus months. I thanked her, and we wished each other a nice day and tossed the box in the house before locking up and leaving.

To our muted relief, that was the final delivery. A total of twenty-six bags of coffee for the price of twelve was a good deal for us, and our son never heard a peep from the coffee roasters.

I hope that for Christmas 2021, they improved their internal controls and had better-trained staff picking orders!

Not Participating In Anything Here Ever Again

, , , , , , , | Working | April 13, 2022

Back in 1997, we were developing a web application for the government. We were on the verge of missing the deadline, so we were in constant “war mode” and working nights and weekends.

[New Hire] joined the team. Right on his first day, he posted on the wall a development methodology we should all follow. It was not in his job description to rearrange our work.

The same day, our manager called an ad-hoc meeting for everyone on the team to attend. Everybody was there except for [New Hire].

When we got back from the meeting, we all had an email from [New Hire] saying that he did not participate in ad-hoc meetings and that meetings had to be scheduled twenty-four hours in advance.

Not ten minutes later, he was terminated and security had to escort him out of the building while he was screaming that we were losing a valuable resource.

We met the deadline in the end.

Calling Is Not Their Calling, Part 4

, , , , , , | Right | April 5, 2022

I answer the phone.

Me: “Good afternoon [Company], how may I help you?”

Caller: “I need to speak to [Owner].”

Me: “He is unavailable at this time.”

He’s actually sitting at the desk on the opposite wall to me, but I am paid in part to screen calls.

Me: “Is there anything I can help you with or would you like to leave a message?”

Caller: “That is not the right way to handle this call! If [Owner] is unavailable you are supposed to offer callers an appropriate time to call back, or give them an alternate means to contact him.”

Me: “I apologize, I am not sure what would be a good time to try to call him. I can give you an email address if you like.”

Caller: *Very sarcastically.* “I guess, if that is as close as you can come to actually doing your job, you should give me the email address.”

I provide the company email address.

Caller: “No! That is not his email address, it is a generic email address that someone like you reads, and that is not the appropriate way to give out someone’s alternate contact details. You provide the private, personal contact information for people, so that they can conduct their business properly and professionally!”

Me: “Well, that is the email address we encourage people to contact us on. If you would like to speak to [Owner] personally the best option would be to leave a message and he could call you back. Would you like me to take a message for him?”

Caller: “I told you, that is not appropriate! You are being extremely difficult and not doing your job properly. Now, tell me, at what time will I call back when [Owner] will be able to speak to me? I guess I need to make an appointment now to phone people as well as tell you how to do your job!”

My boss is in the background gesturing at me to just hang up.

Me: “I am unable to provide a time when [Owner] will be available by phone. If you don’t wish me to take a message—”


My boss is of course the owner, who I am not supposed to get to the phone until I know who is calling and why, and he agrees to talk to them. Normally I would hand over a complaint to him, but not when it’s obvious this caller won’t give me their name or purpose for calling.

Me: “I am sorry you feel that way. I am handling this call as I have been instructed. If there is nothing else I can do for you I am going—”


My boss, having heard the last two interjections through the phone from the other side of the room comes over and grabs the phone from me:

Boss: “This is [Boss]. I’m sorry my staff didn’t get your highest priority memo for how conversations are going to go. If you want to send me a transcript for approval you can send it to [Company email address], because that is the only email address we give to people who we DON’T WANT TO DEAL WITH! GOOD BYE!”

I later found out the caller was the new site supervisor for one of our best clients, and he had a legitimate and pressing need to speak to the owner to get a change order approved ASAP so the materials could be ordered and the project wouldn’t have been delayed.

 He could have gotten the owner’s direct cell and email from 1) any of the quotes that had been sent, 2) the side of the truck that was sitting on his site at that moment, 3) any of his workers he directly supervised, most of whom had called the owner or the manager (the owner’s brother) many times for previous issues or 4) any of our employees who were currently working on his site.

 Or he could have just said who he was when he phoned, I would have put him on hold for a second, told the owner who was on the phone and the owner would have taken that call.

Instead, he threw a giant tantrum.

When his boss called my boss to complain about the delay in the change order, my boss explained what happened with the phone call. It was the end of the new site super’s short leash, as he had been causing problems with his personality from day one, and he ended up lasting less than a month at his new job.

The first time his new replacement called he said “Hi, it’s [Name] from [His Company] calling. I’m looking after [site] now and have to ask [owner] about some additional work. I don’t seem to have his cell number, could you text it to me?” Which I could, and did, and it took almost thirty seconds.

Calling Is Not Their Calling, Part 3
Calling Is Not Their Calling, Part 2
Calling Is Not Their Calling