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How About We Let People Do The Work We Hired Them For?

, , , , | Working | October 20, 2021

I create designs for a print shop and have a very frustrating boss. Here are a few examples of how she manages our department.

I was tasked with creating a sign to mark the Employees Only area of our shop. I made a simple design with a red circle with a line through it next to the words, “Employees Only.” My boss made me change it to a text-only design because:

Boss: “The circle with the red line through it is hostile. It’s like we’re saying our clients aren’t welcome here. You should make the sign more welcoming. I went to college for this. I got my degree on this matter.”

It’s true my degree isn’t in Marketing; it’s in Business… but so is hers! I also feel it’s ridiculous, as the red circle with a line through it is a universally recognized symbol, and I feel that maybe, just maybe, the people who don’t read signs would recognize the symbol and stop before entering. Regardless, her version must have been “welcoming” as people did keep barging through the back door.

In a different case, I was tasked with designing a business card for a client. I came up with a design that met all of the specifications and showed it to my boss for final approval. She suggested one change, which I implemented immediately, and then she approved it without further comment. The job was sent to the printers. Before it was shipped out two days later, I happened to pass by the printer area and see it. The graphic I chose had been completely removed, leaving the card as just plain text. I asked the boss about this.

Boss: “The graphic made it hard to read the text.”

I disagreed — I wear glasses and had taken my glasses off to proofread the business card and could read everything just fine — but since she’s the boss, if she wants no graphic, then there’s no graphic. This client had no strong feelings about that particular design choice. I just couldn’t understand why my manager wouldn’t tell me when we were going through the approval process so I could correct it. I can’t understand why she felt the need to go behind my back to remove the graphic herself without even telling me at any point in time!

Speaking of “hard to see,” she claimed that a lot; I know for a fact, though, that my vision is worse than hers. I would look at the things she would nitpick over, claiming that the position of words and graphics were “hard to read.” I never had the problem reading what she said was impossible to read. If anything, it boiled down to stylistic differences. I preferred one strong graphic to interact with the text. She preferred repeating the same graphic in a tile pattern, which resulted in a series of smaller graphics and a lot of white space. I also felt that I was her least favorite designer, as she perpetually commented on my use of fonts — which were always on the list of approved fonts for any given job — while she never commented on my coworkers’ designs. One such coworker went as far as to use a bubble letter font with googly eyes — not requested by the client — and the boss said nothing and didn’t go behind that coworker’s back to change anything.

But through it all, I just swallowed my thoughts with, “I’m being paid regardless and she’s the boss.” However, the most recent incident caused me to post here. 

I worked for half a day on a new job: a series of advertising fliers for a local client. I had a pile of photos the client wanted to use, and this client had spoken to me about which images were the best of the bunch. I worked hard, laying out everything with the approved colors and fonts. I kept everything to no more than three graphics per flyer so that they would all be large enough to see at a distance. Most flyers only have a single client-given photo; a few have two. My boss approved my designs.

The next day, I went through our shared folder looking for an unrelated assignment when I noticed the “recently edited” date on my flyer project was only a couple hours ago. I opened it and, sure enough, my boss had again gone behind my back, except this time, she had absolutely and completely and totally butchered everything. She crammed upward of six graphics on a single flyer, choosing the busiest graphics and putting frames around each image, so each image would be all the smaller when printed. The frames even had the original creators’ watermarks on them, so she just took images from the Internet! She ignored the client’s preferred photos, and she associated photos together on the same flyers that were supposed to be on different flyers. She also butchered a couple of the layouts, resulting in one flyer with the images literally stacked on top of each other like a deck of cards and a different flyer cut in half, size-wise. She didn’t even make a copy of all the work I had done initially. She overwrote everything, leaving behind nothing but her versions with her edits. This meant I had to take another half-day remaking the flyers up to the client’s actual specifications.

The thing is, if she wanted edits, she could have simply not approved my initial designs and given me feedback on what to change. She didn’t have to lie about approving things and then go behind my back to butcher everything.

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If You Want To Keep It Private Then Ship It Yourself

, , , , , | Right | August 31, 2021

I work at a print shop/office supply store that serves as a shipping and drop-off location. I’ve finished typing in the sender and receiver information and I’m moving onto the security features. Every shipping has this.

Me: “Would you mind giving a declared value of the contents? We need to know for insurance purposes.”

Customer: “Why do you need to know?”

Me: “For insurance purposes.”

Customer: *Hesitantly* “Let’s say… um… a thousand dollars.”

Me: “All right, and could I get a description of the contents? Just to make sure we aren’t shipping anything illegal or hazardous.”

Customer: “I kind of feel like this is an invasion of my privacy.”

Me: “Well, I’m sorry, but I can’t ship it unless I know what is inside. If it’s documents, you can just say documents; you don’t need to be specific.”

Customer: *Hesitantly again* “Let’s put down… computer.”

We couldn’t ship the computer anyway because of the lithium battery, but I want to ask the third security question.

Me: “Before we can ship this out and have you pay for this label, I’ll need to see a valid ID. We use this for legal purposes and making sure customers are liable for the contents of the package.”

Customer: “Oh, you know, I left my wallet in the car. Could you ship it without my ID?”

It’s suspicious to not bring money in for something he knew he was paying for.

Me: “Sir, we can’t ship this package out unless you pay for it and show me a valid ID.”

Customer: “You know what? This was a s***ty service today. I’ll just go somewhere else for this. I hate my privacy being under attack.”

Me: “Um… okay… You can leave, then.”

I kind of wonder why he was so hesitant to say both $1,000 and a computer. It didn’t even weigh that much, and the size of the package wouldn’t have had room for a desktop or laptop.

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Counting Counts

, , , , , , | Right | CREDIT: The Cheeseman | June 27, 2021

I work in a drugstore that also has photo printing services. During the peak holiday season, a lady and her husband come in to use the self-service photo kiosk and print off 173 photos. While they’re printing, the lady shops around and picks out a single Chapstick.

Once her photos are done printing, she brings the pictures plus her Chapstick up to the counter and hands me a coupon for $1 off healthcare items.

We’re really busy, and the way our system works, you have to scan a barcode for the photos and enter the quantity to make the system calculate the total. The max you can enter is ninety-nine. If it’s more than ninety-nine, you have to scan it a second time and do the math manually to calculate the difference. There’s a huge line, so I really don’t feel like taking the extra five seconds to figure it out. Usually, when I do this, I err on the side of caution and intentionally undercalculate by a couple of photos to avoid someone coming back and saying I overcharged them.

I scan it once for ninety-nine and then a second time for like forty. I admit, this is my mistake, but it is the holidays and I am feeling generous. Shouldn’t have done that.

I scan the Chapstick and the coupon. The coupon rejects because Chapstick doesn’t qualify as a “healthcare item” I explain that we can’t use that coupon, and her husband immediately says, very aggressively:

Husband: “I AM A LAWYER! IF YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE COUPONS LIKE THIS, THEY NEED TO SPECIFY WHAT QUALIFIES AND WHAT DOESN’T!”

And so on and so forth.

Me: “Okay, no problem. We’ll override that for you.”

I void the transaction and re-ring it. But this time, I take my time to make sure I ring them for exactly the number of photos they got. I override the coupon and I tell them the total, which is now four or five dollars MORE than their previous one. I explain what I did on the previous transaction and that I did that because I was in a hurry, but for the sake of accuracy, I’ve done everything correctly this time.

They huff a little bit and leave, and I go on about my day.

About an hour later, the wife comes back and says her total doesn’t seem right. I offer to take a look at the receipt and we go over it together.

Me: “Okay, you got 173 photos. They’re 39 cents each.”

I punch it into the calculator,

Me: “That equals [amount]. Plus your Chapstick which was $3.29, minus your one-dollar coupon. That makes your total [total].”

Lady: “HA! But you charged me more than that! See?”

She points at her total.

Me: “Yes, ma’am, that’s tax, which is calculated at 7%.”

I enter that into the calculator, and we get the exact amount on her receipt. She’s looking really confused. She frowns.

Lady: “Hmmm… that still doesn’t seem right.”

Sorry. Can’t teach you math. But let me tell you, I will never cut corners to help someone out again.

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I Was A Teenage Beowulf

, , , , , , , , | Working | July 27, 2020

I’ve just started an after-school job at a print shop. My job involves cleaning, making sure the machines always have paper and ink, and clearing jams. My trainer is showing me around showing how to check the paper and ink levels and explaining what the machines do. Soon, we get to the biggest machine.

Trainer: “And now we get to the banner printer…”

Suddenly, the machine starts making this ungodly grinding noise.

Trainer: “And the beast awakes; that, dear squire, is Grendel’s Mother. When she roars like this, there is but one solution. One must take up Hrunting and strike at the beast’s head.”

I look at her like she’s crazy.

The trainer grabs a Nerf sword with the word Hrunting written on it from beside the printer and whacks the printer with it. The grinding stops.

Trainer: “Seriously, she’ll do that every now and then; just smack her. Right here, not over here, and don’t hit any buttons when you hit her. The old hag is older than both of us and replacing her would cost more than we make off her in two years. Percussive maintenance has proven effective. Just don’t use Naegling on Grendel’s Mother; he’s just for getting paper to fit into the compactor.”

“Naegling” was written on the back of the yardstick, which was indeed useful for getting things into the compactor.


This story is part of our July 2020 Roundup – the best stories of the month!

Read the next July 2020 Roundup story!

Read the July 2020 Roundup!

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They’re A McDud  

, , , , , , | Working | October 7, 2019

(I’m the supervisor of a little retail print shop, and the store manager has recently hired a new employee against my better judgement. Her only qualification is that she sometimes uses Photoshop at home. However, her cousin works in a different part of the store as a cashier and put in a good word for her, so the manager assumes it is worth a try. Unfortunately, she can barely function in the role she is given. Despite my many attempts to walk the employee through the basics, even leaving printed directions and the phone numbers of other stores in the chain so that on-duty associates can help her if she gets stuck, she never improves. My store manager even sets her up with some online training courses to complete, to no avail. One day, while I am trying to find a customer’s order form so I can quality check it…)

Me: “Okay, so, up next we have Mr. Mc[Customer]. Let’s pull up his order.”

(I head to the filing cabinet — yeah, this print shop is slightly behind the times — and look for the document under M. There’s no form. Then, I look for it under N and L just in case it was off by one letter on accident. Still no form.)

Me: “[Employee], you filled out a form for this customer’s order, right?”

Employee: “Yes. And I filed it under his name.”

Me: “Can you show me, please?”

(The employee walks over, opens the cabinet, and pulls the form from the C folder.)

Employee: “Under C for ‘Mc[CUSTOMER].’”

Me: “Okay. For future reference, if a customer’s last name starts with ‘Mc,’ ‘Mac,’ ‘O’,’ or similar, that first portion of the last name counts, too. So, you’d file a Mc[Customer] under M, and an O’Sullivan would be filed under O, and so on.”

Employee: “Ooohhhhhhh.”

(Unfortunately, my attempt to explain didn’t help. This sort of conversation was a regular occurrence. I always tried to be super polite when explaining these things to the employee, but there were times I really wanted to lose my temper. She was still working there by the time I quit because the store manager felt too guilty to fire his cashier’s cousin, even though she was still struggling to handle her four-hour shift duties after almost a year on the job.)

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