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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!

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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.)

Tattoo Are You?

, , , | Right | October 6, 2019

(For a short while, the shop I work at has four workers — including me — who have similar distinguishing features. This kind of interaction happens often, but only once when all of us are working at the same time.)

Customer: “Hi. I’m here to proof an order. I can’t remember the person who helped me, but she wears glasses and has long brown hair.”

Me: “Well, that could be any of us. If you let me know what name your order is under, I could complete it for you.”

Customer: “Umm, I’d rather continue working with the person I placed the order with. There are some details I wanted to make sure were done correctly and we had already started talking about that.”

Me: “Okay. Was there anything else that would help let me know who it was?”

Customer: “I think she had tattoos.”

Me: “Well, that eliminates one of us. It can’t be [Coworker #1].”

([Coworker #2] walks by with a stack of paper in their arms.)

Me: “[Coworker #2], did you happen to help this gentleman with his order?”

Coworker #2: *takes a moment to jog her memory* “I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. Did you check with [Coworker #1]? She was working yesterday.”

Me: “No, he says it was a woman wearing glasses with long brown hair and tattoos.” *addressing the customer* “Excuse me for a moment and let me check with [Coworker #3].”

(I head into the back and ask [Coworker #3] to take a glance and see if this was their customer. They, too, do not recognize the customer and I’m starting to be at a loss. As a last resort, I go into the break room where [Coworker #1] is eating their lunch and ask them to take a glance at the customer through the break room’s door.)

Coworker #1: *sighs* “Yeah, that’s him. I can take care of it now.”

Me: “Don’t worry. I’ll let him know that you’re on break and that if it’s absolutely necessary that he can either wait for you or I can complete the order.” *whispering* “He seems dense enough that I could convince him that I’m you.”

(I head back to the front where the customer has been waiting while mentally face-palming about this whole interaction. I show them the proof, and he reviews the spelling, for which I have to point to each item and ask if it is correct because he only seems to be glancing at the text and saying it looks fine. He also becomes very dismissive of the details he was fretting over previously. I mark down the corrections and complete the transaction.)

Me: “I’ll have [Coworker #1] finish up your order, but—” *out of morbid curiosity* “—do you mind me asking why you said that the person who started your order has tattoos? She actually abhors them.”

Customer: “All of your coworkers, and yourself, have tattoos, so I just assumed she did.”

Me: *pause* “Okay, we’ll see you tomorrow.”

(When my coworker came back from break and I told her about the interaction, we joked about having to do a police line-up for future customers like that.)

Dirty Behavior Is On The Cards

, , , | Right | September 16, 2019

(I work in a print shop. I’m bringing a customer his order to the front counter, where another order for a different customer was left by my boss. When I get to the counter, I see that he’s manhandling a custom playing card deck, trying to keep the rubber band in place while folding over the cards to look at the back.)

Me: “Excuse me, that’s another customer’s order. Could you please not do that?!”

Customer: “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.”

(I gave him a look, reconsidered losing my cool with him, and swapped the cards out of his hands for his actual order. That’s when I noticed that he had the dirtiest hands I’d ever seen. I simply walked into the back and let my boss deal with the rest of the transaction. I had to reprint the other customer’s order because he had creased the cards and put oily smudges all over them.)

Customers Can Wear You Down More Than An Old Photo

, , , | Right | September 2, 2019

Customer: “Hi. I’d like you to print this photo I took on holiday in Italy on glossy paper.”

Me: “Not a problem. That will be $5 and you can pick it up this afternoon.”

(The customer comes back later on.)


Me: “I’m not following. Like what original?”

(The customer hands me an old, faded photo taken in the 80s when he was on holiday there thirty years ago.)

Me: “Well, it’s the same framing. I’m unsure of what you want.”

Customer: “It looks too new and shiny and bright!”

Me: “Well, unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘faded, bad-quality 80s photo’ button on our machine. I’m sorry. We can photoshop it for you to look old, but that will cost more.”

Customer: “I don’t have that kind of money to pay you!”

Me: “Maybe leave the photo out in the sun for a few years?”

(Yes, that’s right; the customer was complaining because our machine printed his file too well.)