This Lesson Really Stings, Part 3

, , , , , , | Legal | April 17, 2021

I have submitted a few stories about my father-in-law, including this one. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really values him.

My father-in-law is tasked with transporting a rather large piece of construction equipment to another part of the state down an old highway. It has to be loaded on a heavy-duty tractor-trailer; it’s huge, tall, wide, and expensive. My father-in-law prefers traveling late at night where there isn’t as much traffic and there’s a lower chance of ending up in an accident. Because of the size, he is required to contact the state Department of Transit (DOT) and get permission to go down the highway so as to make sure it can safely pass under the bridges on the way. My father-in-law takes time to measure the height and width at least three times.

So, he starts off. About four hours in, around 2:00 am, he comes upon one of the lowest bridges on the route. The bridge has a sign on it saying the height is 13’6″, which is about 6″ higher than the equipment he is hauling. He knows it is going to be a tight fit but feels confident he will make it. You already know what happens. Yep, he crashes right into the bridge. He calls the state police who show up with a DOT inspector, who just happens to be an old friend of my father-in-law.

Inspector: “Man, [Father-In-Law], you did a number on that old bridge. I am awfully sorry, but I am going to have to hit you with a number of fines and this could affect your license.”

Father-In-Law: “No, no, don’t apologize. This is my fault. I screwed up. You gotta do what you gotta do. I just don’t understand it. I measured carefully and I usually don’t mess up like this. Thank God there weren’t any other cars around. There is at least $20,000 in damage to the equipment and I don’t even want to think about the damage to that old bridge.”

As they are inspecting the damage, my father-in-law notices that one of the state troopers almost falls off the side of the road because it is high up. He begins looking up at the bridge and down at the road. He turns to one of the state troopers and asks him if he would mind measuring the height of the bridge from the road.

He does, and it comes out as 12’11”, a whole 7″ shorter than the measurement on the sign and the paperwork the inspector has. My father-in-law points it out. The state police begin measuring all along the road under the bridge. It comes out the same. The inspector is completely confused. My father-in-law calls him over to the edge of the road.

Father-In-Law: “I think I know what happened. Look at the road here and the layers of asphalt.”

The inspector comes over.

Inspector: “Looks like fresh asphalt. Yeah, they just repaved the road, but that doesn’t add 7″ to the road.”

Father-In-Law: “Yeah, but how do they normally pave a road?”

Inspector: “They scrap up the old pavement and…”

He trails off, rolls his eyes, and lets out a cuss word.

State Trooper: “Could y’all let us in on it? What’s the problem?”

Father-In-Law: “The way you are supposed to pave a new road is you tear up the old pavement and then put down the new asphalt. It’s what they do on the interstates, but this is an old highway that’s been here for over seventy years and they tend to not be as thorough.  They just lay down new on old and…”

State Trooper: “…build up the height of the old road.”

Father-In-Law: “Yeah, it’s not uncommon on these backcountry roads and this one has about seventy years’ worth of layers on it. I just have never had an issue before now.”

The inspector and state troopers stated that my father-in-law was not at fault. However, from then on, my father-in-law sent a lead vehicle two hours ahead of him to measure every bridge he had to go under to make doubly sure that it was safe.

Related:
This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2
This Lesson Really Stings


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

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This Lesson Really Stings, Part 2

, , , , , , | Working | April 2, 2021

I submitted this story about my father-in-law. My father-in-law is a pretty smart man, especially when it comes to anything construction, and the company he has worked with for several decades really values him.

The construction company teams up with another company to do a very big and lucrative highway job. My father-in-law has a lot of experience with repairing big machines, so they send him to the site to work on the big and incredibly expensive machines. 

The mechanic from the other company, for some unknown reason, takes great offense that my father-in-law was put in charge and is just a jerk the whole time; he argues with him every chance he gets, even over things as simple as putting the correct type of oil in the machinery.

My father-in-law gets a call and has to go home for a family emergency. He instructs the mechanic and the helpers from the other company that he is in the middle of changing the oil on a piece of equipment and asks them to finish it.

He gets an urgent call the next day to come in to the job site, which he quickly does. In the office, the owners of the construction company and some big wigs from the other company are arguing, with the other mechanic sitting in the corner with his arms crossed and a smug look on his face. Apparently, the piece of equipment’s engine froze, which resulted in something worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars being worth nothing but scrap. The company blames my father-in-law because he was working on it, and they are demanding that the construction company replace it.

My father-in-law figures out what happened pretty quickly. He tells them he will be right back, and he returns with a box and a scared-looking helper. He dumps out the box of parts onto the table. They are bluish in color, which is what happens to engine parts when they are run without oil. He gives the poor helper an angry look and growls, “Tell them!”

The helper stammers that they restarted the engine without any oil because the other mechanic told them to. At that point, the mechanic in the corner looks scared and starts getting angry looks from his bosses.

Before storming out, my father-in-law yells, “It won’t run without f****** oil, dumba**!”

The outcome was the mechanic lost his job and was blacklisted from several other construction companies as word got around, and the company apologized to my father-in-law and had to pay over $200,000 to replace the equipment.

The owner of the construction company took my father-in-law out for a steak dinner.

Related:
This Lesson Really Stings

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Cart Yourself Off To A Better Job

, , , , | Working | March 29, 2021

I have been working in a retail store for years. I am twenty-five. My job title is a maintenance worker, though I am also cross-trained in other areas of the store due to having been there a while and job-hopping to “ensure job stability.”

The cart associate is going on his lunch and lets me know, as pushing carts falls to maintenance on such occasions, along with helping customers with bigger items that need to be loaded and unloaded into their cars. About twenty minutes later, a page goes out for “LCart customer assistance in electronics” so I head over there to help. Upon arriving, I spot who I think are the ones needing help, as they’re the ones staring at the huge TV wall. It’s two middle-aged women.

Me: “Hello, are you the ones needing some help?” *LCart in hand*

Woman #1: “No, we’re just looking.”

At this, she turns and whispers something inaudible to the other woman, and feeling it’s none of my business, I go around the department; not seeing anyone else, I start to head back into the back room when an assistant manager stops me.

Assistant Manager: “What are you doing?”

Me: “They paged for LCart help in electronics, but no one I asked said it was them, so I’m going back to what I was doing.”

Assistant Manager: “It’s not your job to do that.”

Me: “Maintenance helps when cart pushers are on break. [Cart Associate] is on his lunch.”

Assistant Manager: “I am aware of that!”

She waves her earpiece for emphasis, as managers and maintenance workers have walkies for all such reasons.

Assistant Manager: “Just get back to work.”

I head back to what I was doing. Not even two minutes later, another page goes out.

Assistant Manager: *Paging* “Will a man with an LCart head to electronics?”

I cringe at this obvious attack to me. I am a woman, and this particular manager has singled me out on more than one occasion. I continue what I’m doing, wanting to go help but afraid of what might happen if I do, when another page is made sometime after. Knowing it is a decent amount of time to get from anywhere in the store to the back, grab an LCart, and head out there, I figure everyone else that could possibly help is either busy with someone else, on lunch, or just not working, so I grab the LCart and head back out there. This time there are more people out there, but I see familiar faces: the two women from before.

Me: “Excuse me, are you two needing an Lcart?”

[Woman #1] looks over at me and winces.

Woman #1: “I thought they were sending a man?”

Me: *Irked but still smiling* “I guess they’re helping other customers, but what can I do for you?”

She points out the TV that she wants, and I load it onto the cart with ease.

Woman #1: *Mumbles* “You sure you aren’t a man?”

[Woman #2] promptly smacks her on the back of the head.

Woman #2: “Where are your manners, girl? I raised you better than that!”

[Woman #1] starts to look sheepish but doesn’t apologize.

Me: *Still smiling* “Well, if you’ll follow me up front, we’ll get this checked out.”

They follow me, they check out, and we get it loaded no problem and they leave. I go back inside to finish my supply inventory and get confronted once again by the assistant manager.

Assistant Manager: “I told you not to do that! You have to listen to what I say! It is not your job to help them!”

We’re in retail, where customer service is supposed to be a very big deal, and if we’re not supposed to help customers, what are we there for?

Me: “I understand that, but no one else seemed to be coming and they needed help.”

She continues to fuss at me adamantly, but I go about my work. I don’t like bullies and it is becoming very clear to me that she is one.

Maintenance does have a set “schedule” of when to do things. In all of our job descriptions, no matter which position you’re in it clearly states what your responsibilities are followed by whatever other task is deemed necessary.

On a different day — July 4th weekend — there are three of us in maintenance on shift. I have finished my rounds when the other two maintenance staff come in, both guys. I know doing our tasks at the same time is redundant and unnecessary, so I head over to the frozen section. The department manager, who is the only one working frozen right now, asked me earlier to help stock the ice freezers up front. I told her I would when I got caught up, since the assistant manager had already been breathing down my neck that day.

The frozen manager is thrilled as she is falling behind with some of her work and is glad for the opportunity to catch up. The freezers don’t take too long to do once started but she is shorter and has average arm strength at best, and the ice is about ten pounds. I’m taller and stronger. I have just put in one layer out of about twenty ice blocks when the assistant manager walks up.

Assistant Manager: “Did a manager ask you to do that?”

Me: “[Frozen Department Manager] asked me to help once I got caught up.”

Assistant Manager: “This is not your job, nor your responsibility. You need to be cleaning the bathrooms!”

Me: “[Maintenance Worker #1] and [Maintenance Worker #2] just came in and should already be doing them. We all don’t need to be doing the same thing.”

Assistant Manager: “I have told you this before! Don’t talk to anyone, don’t help anyone, just go back to your area and do your job! I’m going to go talk to [Frozen Department Manager]!

I finish what I am doing, take the empty pallet to the backroom and promptly “have a breather” in the bathroom.

The assistant manager then very promptly has all her “coworker friends and family” turn on me. I can’t handle this every day. I dread going into work as things seem to be escalating in this “no retaliation” workplace. I change departments, hoping to get them off my back.

I am now working in consumables, stocking the shelves. I have a very sweet and nice supervisor, but lo and behold, the managers change shortly after and the assistant manager becomes my new manager. I think nothing of it, as I’m in a department where I can’t “wander and laze about” as she wrongly accused me of doing.

This particular day, both the assistant manager and my supervisor have gone on break. A vendor comes in, and as I’m both able to stock and do mods, it seems the most logical choice to help her out with what she’s looking for. She has a sheet with the UPC; it’s just a matter of putting it in my handheld and it’ll pop out a location with aisle number, shelf, and spot. In the middle of me walking her to her items, the department manager comes back.

Assistant Manager: “What the h*** do you think you’re doing? You’re not the department manager — I am — and you don’t know what you’re doing!”

Me: “I was just helping her—”

Assistant Manager: “It’s not your job!”

About this time, the realization that this is one of the assistant manager’s buddies sinks in.

Assistant Manager: “I will help her, go back to what you’re supposed to be doing!”

She tears the paper out of my hands and I walk off, close to tears. Sometime later, the vendor lady approaches me.

Vendor Lady: “I am so sorry that happened to you!”

I shrug.

Me: “Things like that happen all the time.”

Vendor Lady: “I won’t ask you for help when she’s around because I don’t want to get you in trouble, but I’d prefer it if you helped me since I’ll be in here a lot.”

Of course, I smiled and agreed as she wasn’t the first to tell me something like that, and helping people has always been in my nature. It’s one of the reasons I wanted that job in the first place.

Things escalated way too much after that. Even my supervisor told me to do whatever the assistant manager asked and to keep my head down. It got so bad for my health living daily in that toxic environment that I finally quit. I took with me the memories of good coworkers who I missed.

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Should Give Him Five Just For Asking

, , , , | Right | March 10, 2021

Customer: “How many fingers come with the six-count meal?”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Customer: *Becoming exasperated* “The six-count meal! How many chicken fingers come with it?”

I think he must be joking with me.

Me: “Sir, can you say that one more time, but slowly for me?”

Customer: *Now irate* “How many chicken fingers come with the six-finger meal? Are you deaf? I’m speaking English!”

Me: *Pauses* “Six, sir.”

Customer: “Jesus, how hard was that?!”

He sped up to the window before I got a chance to tell him his total.

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Brace For Impact!

, , , , | Healthy | March 6, 2021

I got braces a week ago. It’s a rather boring day, so my friends and I decide to goof off on the trampoline. While doing a flip, I fall and faceplant, and my braces get caught in the mesh.

We’re all laughing like idiots until it becomes apparent that I cannot free myself. One of my friends runs and grabs a pair of wire cutters and uses it to remove the wire from my braces, freeing me. In the process, a few brackets pop off, but it’s far better than having to call emergency services for help.

A few days later, I’m at the orthodontist, getting the wire and brackets put back on.

Orthodontist: “Good lord, what did you eat?”

Me: “Uh, actually, I got my face caught in a trampoline.”

Orthodontist: “What?”

Me: “Yeah. My friend was doing flips and I tried to copy them and landed on my face. And, uh, we had to get me free somehow.”

Orthodontist: *Laughing* “That’s a new one.”

There was no permanent damage and my braces ended up working out perfectly. But I wonder if anyone else has ever had that happen. I can’t be the only mega klutz that’s had to be freed from a trampoline.

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