This Story Alllllmost Checks All The Boxes

, , , | Working | January 4, 2021

I am working as a trainer in an establishment in Saudi Arabia. My colleagues and I have devised a series of training courses and tests which, over a period of three years, we are to ensure that all our trainees pass, no matter what.

We will leave aside the question about the ethics of making sure everyone passes, whether or not they are actually competent to fill the position for which they are ostensibly being trained.

As an end product of this, we are then to record the overall results of these training courses in a folder by means of checkboxes where we are to enter ticks in the appropriate fields. And on final completion of all our forms, we then pass them on to our superiors in the establishment, who then stamp them as “approved.”

The years progress, and we manage to achieve our aim of getting our trainees through the training courses as required. We submit the forms and wait for feedback.

All are returned as “rejected”. We are told we have failed as trainers, and we will not receive the credit for having achieved our aim.

We go ballistic, as you’d expect. We demand to be told WHY the forms have all been rejected.

We are led into the office of the superior who issued the rejections where we have this meeting together with his boss. They look at the forms with faces that look as though they are inspecting sour milk for the presence of insect life. The superior gives us a verdict.

Superior: “Unacceptable. The ticks have not been placed neatly enough in the boxes.”

It turns out that some of the ticks had been allowed to stray a millimetre or two outside the boxes assigned for them. For such an outrageous breach of regulations and protocol, we all have been deemed to have failed our task, and the three years are all for nothing.

Naturally, our ire is incensed, and we raise the matter with our line management at our firm who contracted us out. Colourful language is employed, as would be expected. The question is escalated.

In the end, the director of the entire management structure was sent in, complete with his entire team of support staff, to the establishment to which we were assigned. A top-level meeting was held with the trainers, together with the gentlemen whose job it had been to approve our training reports.

The verdict was that the Saudi nationals who were trying to get away without paying the consulting firm for their work were instructed sternly not to turn this business into a “pissing contest.” The decision to mark the reports as non-compliant was overturned, and we were offered official congratulations from the REAL movers and shakers of the establishment for having achieved our aims of having trained the team to the required standard.

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Unfiltered Story #94366

, | Unfiltered | September 19, 2017

(We’re actually German, but for a time my father had a job with a company located in Saudi Arabia, so that is where we lived at the time this occurred.)

I was about 7 or 8 years old, and went to a German international school, located within the same walled off compound my family and I lived in. There were a lot of other Germans and Europeans living there too, along with a bunch of other kids, who attended the same school. I would pretty much play with whoever I met at the playground, and there was this girl I befriended, who I soon found out went to the same school and lived just a few houses down from me.

Eventually, we became regular playmates and her mom and my mom started meeting up over coffee, shopping trips…etc. My mother started to get a little concerned, because of behavior both my new (friend) and her mother were exhibiting.

After a while, (friend’s) mother convinced herself she was my mother’s best friend, and my mother was therefore not allowed to be friends with any of the other women, who lived in the compound (several of whom my mother happened to be very good friends with), and would actually instigate arguments with my mother, if she saw her so much as talk to another woman.

I didn’t know about any of this, of course, that is until (friend) behaved in ways that surprised even myself as a child.

She would explore each room and part of our house, even after I told her what rooms she shouldn’t go into, and what things to leave alone. Once, we were playing in my room, and I went out to get something to drink, when I got back, I found she’d disappeared, cue me checking each room to find she’d gone into my parents’ bedroom and ransacked my mother’s make-up kit! I was horrified that she had been playing with my mother’s things (which I at that age looked upon as practically sacred), and had to physically drag her out of there, and tried helping her wash off the eyeliner she’d scrawled all over her eyelids. We weren’t successful, and my mom was angry about the mess and that (friend) never asked permission for anything and would do as she pleased in someone else’s home.

But things didn’t get really bad until the Barbie-incident. I’d played at her house one afternoon and some time after going home, we get a phone call, and it was (friend’s) mother yelling at my mother saying that I had stolen (friend’s) Barbie doll. My mother didn’t even pause, and defended me immediately saying that I would never steal, and that I had plenty of toys and several Barbie dolls to want to take one belonging to another child.

This didn’t satisfy her though, and both of them came over to our house to “inspect” my dolls, lined up neatly on a shelf in my room. “Friend” actually reached out to grab one of them, but I caught her wrist with my hand and told her firmly that, no, that doll is mine, not yours. Thankfully, she didn’t argue the point, and they left, but her mother seemed unconvinced.

A few days later, we get another phone call, and it turns out, they found the doll under her bed, and “friend” had accused me of stealing it because she didn’t want to admit she’d “lost” it. We stopped playing together after that, but it wasn’t the end.

We had many more encounters, and her lying got much worse as the years wore on. She would accuse me of calling her all kinds of swear words (which I at the time had never heard of, and I actually had to ask my mom what they meant, which in turn horrified her, and left her demanding to know where I’d heard them) to make me look like a “bad” person in front of random people living in the compound. She started making up stories at school as well, but by then, she had a reputation and no one bothered believing a word she said.

The ultimate act that ended up alienating her from everyone else was when during the age of Pokemon on the gameboy and gameboy color, the silver and gold versions had just been released. One of my brother’s classmates had a birthday coming up, and my brother decided to split the costs with another friend of his to buy her the gold version.

(Ex-friend), who was also at the party, saw it, and as her birthday was coming up right after, convinced herself that my brother would get her the same thing. She kept dropping obvious hints, but considering the history and no-longer-existing friendship between us, our family had no intention of doing that. Especially since the “presents” she gave were old VHS tapes of random shows and movies her parents recorded off of the TV.

My mom bought a nice blouse to give as a present instead, and she didn’t even bother saying “Thank you.” when she received it. No one got her the Pokemon game.

A week later, I was hanging out in my brother’s classroom during recess, (it was a small school and were just one year apart and friends with people from other classes) when the girl he had given the Pokemon game to, panics, because the game is missing, and they start searching the entire classroom.

Having experienced a case of theft in my own class once, I ask if they’d checked the drawers yet (we had drawers instead of lockers). They hadn’t, and when they did, found the game in the drawer of my brother’s friend, who helped buy it in the first place, already had his own copy, and was therefore highly unlikely to be the thief. Without anyone saying anything, we all turn to look at “ex-friend”, who doesn’t say a word.

She later confessed to the girl in private, that yes, she had taken the game, and begged her not to tell anyone. But the girl was so angry, she pretty much told everyone in the entire school, and the teachers had a meeting with “ex-friend” regarding her behavior.

She was mostly by herself from then on, no friends at all.

But, as angry as the things she said and did made me, I also felt extremely sorry for her, as I found out her mother was actually her father’s second wife (much younger than him), and that he hadn’t wanted anymore children. So, he basically ignored her, and most of their contact/communication consisted of him yelling at her.

And her parents were thought of as crazy, as they would go out of their way to pick fights with children, who they felt wronged their daughter. I.e. I was walking home from school with another friend once, and (ex-friend’s) mother walked up to us to call my friend “a stupid cow”, because (ex-friend) decided to hate my friend and make up stories about her to her parents, and (ex-friend’s) father actually ran up to us on the playground and screamed at my friend until she cried and he left. So, given her home-life, I can’t say her behavior was excusable, but it made things a little more understandable in hindsight.

Her family moved away to Spain in the early 2000’s and I have no idea what’s become of her since, but I do sincerely hope she got some help along the way and was able to make a change for the better.

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