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The Bottom Rung Of Customer Service

, , , | Right | August 12, 2021

I need to change some signs at work so I have to get our tallest ladder out. The three-metre-high ladder is not tall enough for me to work safely on but, unfortunately, I am forced to do so by stretching as high as I can to reach the bar holding the sign without having to stand on the second rung. As I get the ladder into place, I see a customer at one of our displays.

Me: “Hi, is there anything I can help you with?”

Customer: “No, thanks. I am just looking.”

I start climbing the ladder, noticing that the customer is watching me from near the display. I get to the top and stretch up to get the bar holding the sign to incline it. I need to use both hands — a huge safety risk as you are supposed to always have three limbs in contact with the ladder. I have my legs braced against the ladder, trying and hoping not to fall, when I hear the customer calling out.

Customer: “Excuse me, I need some help.”

I am thinking, “You waited until I got all the way up the f****** ladder.” I step down to a safer rung.

Me: “Okay, is it just a question I can answer from here?”

She picks up the smallest thing on the display.

Customer: “How much is this?”

Me: “The price ticket is on the shelf; it should be right in front of where you got that from.”

Customer: “I can’t work out which one it is. I need you to help me.”

I have to get off the ladder, fully knowing she did this on purpose, and go to point out the price ticket that was directly in front of the product. She puts the item back then moves away but keeps an eye on me. I am positive she’ll do the same thing, so I wait until she finally leaves the store before going back to my task.

On a side note, management will do nothing about the ladders being too short. After coming close to falling, I refuse to use them, so they resort to having taller staff placing signs. I am only 158 cm — about 5’2” — tall. A few months later, all of our stores are given platform ladders that we can use safely due to being able to stand on a platform at the top that has a waist-high safety rail.

Manager: “Oh, [Corporate] must have finally listened to all of the complaints. There was a message to say that we were to stop using the other ladders immediately.”

Me: “You know that someone had to have fallen off a ladder for them to finally acknowledge there was a problem.”

Manager: “Yeah! I know, but I am trying to believe that someone somewhere in the head office actually has some brains.”

Me: “I bet not. I just hope that whoever fell didn’t get badly injured.”

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At Least You Know You Have No Standards

, , , , | Working | August 11, 2021

I work for a company that produces bridge bearings and structural protection systems. One day, a call is forwarded to me.

Caller: “Hello, I am [Caller] from [Small Town Council] with a question about elastomeric bearings.”

Me: “Sure, how can I help you?”

Caller: “The local canoe club of [Town] has its clubhouse under a bridge, which is fitted with your elastomeric bearings. Now, they want to install a kitchen in the house, which is why we must now evaluate the endurance of the bearings in case of a fire.”

Me: “We strongly recommend replacement of the bearings if they have been exposed to fire!”

Caller: “I know, but tell me unofficially: how long can they survive a fire?”

Me: “The relevant standard says that they may be exposed to 70°C for a brief period of time without impairment of function. Any higher, and they should be considered damaged and must be replaced!”

Caller: *Now irate* “Don’t hide behind standards! In my twenty years in this position, I am proud to say that I have never cared about standards! They coat the rolls of asphalt rollers with rubber, so it must survive much higher temperatures!”

I told him that I could not help him further and to seek the help of a fireproofing professional. It eventually turned out that everyone else at his office had told him to do so, as well, but he didn’t want to bother and just hoped for me to absolve him of responsibility.

I still don’t know what he expected. There’s a potential danger of massive loss of life when bridges are involved, so if I didn’t “hide behind the standards,” I’d be personally liable and might even face criminal charges if an actual fire happened!

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, , , , , , | Learning | July 24, 2021

I attended elementary school — kindergarten through fifth grade — from the early to mid-1990s. Every year for Halloween, and the three days leading up to it, our entire school became a haunted house. The ticket sales went to various other school programs and activities. This being an elementary school, you might think it was more of a kid-friendly haunted house. Nope, it was an actual haunted house. The different rooms didn’t change much, but it was pretty gruesome and people really got into it. A lot of parents would help out and the high school even gave extra credit to the students who volunteered to help. Considering how conservative the little town we lived in was at the time, I’m surprised they were even allowed to start this, let alone keep it going for nearly twenty years.

The final scare at the end of the haunted house happened when you reached the cafeteria. A man, usually one of the coaches from the high school, popped out in a Jason mask while revving a real chainsaw (with the saw chain removed) and chased you through a wooden maze that had been built in the cafeteria.

By my fifth grade year, my friends and I weren’t really scared by the haunted house anymore, since most of the scares were the same every year. We were part of the first group to go through and were mostly giggling and goofing around. We made it to the cafeteria, but we weren’t sure when or where Jason would pop out.

We made it nearly to the end of the maze when Jason appeared, revving his chainsaw. The people at the front of our group screamed and ran out the door to the school lobby. One of my friends thought he’d be funny and decided to dart through Jason’s legs on his way out. Jason lurched back, sending the chainsaw over his head and into one of the maze walls. We all froze when we heard the sound of wood splitting and the chainsaw choking as it got stuck.

A teacher who’d been monitoring the area came running in and turned the lights on. There, stuck in the maze wall, was a chainsaw that most definitely still had the blades on. Coach Jason had forgotten to take the chain off.

The teacher herded us out of there while Jason tried to get the chainsaw free. They shut the haunted house down for about an hour while all the teachers met and talked about what to do. Different volunteers dressed as monsters, zombies, etc., switched in and out of the cafeteria for the rest of that Halloween season. They kept doing the haunted house for several years after I graduated on to middle school, but they never had Jason back again.

This story is part of our Best Of July 2021 roundup!

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Talking Turkey About Food

, , , , | Right | July 13, 2021

Customer: “I bought a turkey a couple of days ago. I’m looking at your thermometer; it says, like, thirty-three. Does it have to stay at that temp?”

Me: “My cases run really cold. You don’t have to do that; you just need to keep it refrigerated.”

Customer: “Crap. Really?”

Me: “Um… yes. It needs to be kept under refrigeration.”

Customer: “I’ve just had it sitting on my kitchen table.”

Me: “For two days?!”

Customer: “I put it in a freezer bag.”

This story is part of our Best Of July 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of July 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of July 2021 roundup!

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Shockingly, You’ve Just Been Schooled

, , , , | Legal | July 8, 2021

A friend of mine used to be an electrician for a school district. One day, he was doing routine maintenance and noticed that someone had wrapped a pin around the prongs of a plugin. He called this to the attention of the teachers, telling them that this was sabotage, and that, going forward, they should check all plugin devices after each class. He also told them that if a student plugged in something that had been tampered with, injury could occur.

His advice was not heeded, and sure enough, a student was burned when they plugged in a tool and it shorted out. The parents sued. As the electrician, he was called on to send in a written statement. His report included the warning he had issued that was ignored. Since the school had been warned, it made the school’s position much worse.

Shortly afterward, he got a phone call from the ministry’s lawyer.

Lawyer: “Why did you put that information in your report? It lost us the case.”

Friend: “Because it’s what happened.”

Lawyer: “Couldn’t you have left it out?”

Friend: “Are you suggesting I should have falsified my report?”

Lawyer: *Click*

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