The Devil’s In The Details

, , , , , | Working | April 2, 2019

(I work as a manager in a tutoring center. At first, the owner makes it very clear how much she values me, but as time goes on, she begins to micromanage and scapegoat me whenever she feels stressed about the state of the business — it isn’t doing well. She writes me up for putting a pen in the cup next to the one designated for pens, one of the rugs having a corner folded over, and a canister of wet wipes being left slightly ajar by someone else.)

Manager: “If you were detail-oriented, you would have noticed and closed it.”

(She writes me a schedule for the day broken into thirty-minute increments with every individual task allotted a certain amount of time. She does this because I “need structure,” but she often completely ignores the appointments I have set with parents or school officials when she puts the schedule together. Also, she has a very limited understanding of our computer system, so her time breakdowns are often completely arbitrary. I do my best to complete the tasks set, often staying an hour or more after closing, but she isn’t satisfied. She demands that I give her a detailed written explanation of what I have done — and why it has taken so long — because I obviously am not being efficient with my time. One of her favorite things to do is to tell me that she is looking for someone more organized to help take over some of my duties, because she knows that isn’t my strong suit.)

Manager: “You know I want to make this work, but I need to have someone who’s detail-oriented.”

(One day, she lets me know that she’s hired someone who she hopes will be able to “pick up the slack.”)

Me: *cheerily* “I think that’s actually great timing since I am giving my two weeks’ notice.”

Manager: *gulps and stares at me* “T-two weeks?”

Me: “Yes, my last day will be on [date]. I’ll be happy to help train the new staff member.”

(She gets up and walks out of the office for several minutes before coming back and saying:)

Manager: “I— I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack.”

(She proceeds to beg me to come back and help, even if only for an hour at a time, after the two weeks are over. After a moment’s thought — and the offer of a considerable raise — I decide that I’m not opposed to pitching in every so often. First, though, I plan to take several weeks off after my official “last” day. When I come back from my vacation, she says:)

Manager: “Thank you for coming, [My Name]. We were lost without you!”

(She wasn’t exaggerating; they were failing to collect tuition, missing meetings with parents, and under- or overbooking teachers’ schedules. And the new person she hired? She showed up late, begged off early, and demanded a vacation one week into working for the center. But at least she was detail-oriented.)

Marked For Death

| St. Louis, MO, USA | Learning | May 25, 2015

(A student takes a marker from another student and hides it under the table.)

Me: “Put that marker back.”

Student: “I don’t have it.”

Me: “I saw you take it.”

Student: “No, you didn’t.”

Me: “Yes, I did. I’m a teacher. We see everything.”

Student: “Well, can you see death?”

Me: “Yes. And yours is coming very soon if you don’t give me that marker.”

(The student quickly handed back the marker.)

A Very Sing-Song Approach To Teaching

| Taipei, Taiwan | Learning | April 10, 2015

(I teach a small class of middle school students. Today, they’re particularly rowdy and are singing popular songs throughout class.)

Me: “Okay, [Student], could you please sing question one?”

(The class bursts out laughing.)

Me: *laughing as well* “No, no! I meant read! I meant read!”

Don’t Be A Slave To History, Part 3

| NY, USA | Learning | September 15, 2014

(I am tutoring a 17-year-old student. He graduated from high school, but didn’t receive his diploma because he didn’t pass the U.S. History Regents. We’ve had a few interesting moments during various sessions. After reviewing a practice essay…)

Me: “What did you mean when you wrote that ‘Abraham Lincoln was shot by J.F.K. for independence and stuff.’? Did you mean J.W.B., John Wilkes Booth?”

Student: “Who is he? Our 60th President?”

Me: “Umm… we are only on our 43rd President. Also, when you say independence, are you referring to the liberation of slaves?”

Student: “Wasn’t that Washington and Jefferson?”

 

Can’t Win The Name Game

| Sacramento, CA, USA | Working | August 29, 2014

(I work at a math tutoring room at a community college and three of my coworkers are all named Alex. I am a male in my early twenties. One day, I arrive and see a rare site of all three Alexes here at the same time standing outside the door to the tutoring center talking.)

Me: “Hi, Alexes!”

All Three Alexes: *various eye rolls and grumbles at my apparently unamusing joke*

(I go to sign in and get my name tag on when another coworker arrives. She is a rather pretty woman in her mid-twenties and is completely unaware of my previous joke.)

Coworker: “Hi, Alexes!”

All Three Alexes: *smiling and laughing at her apparently very amusing joke*

Me: “Wow, really?”

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