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It’s All Negative Until Papa Bear Steps In

, , , , | Learning | January 17, 2022

While at school, I had free school meals. When I started high school, they were introducing fancy thumbprint scanners for paying. I got £2.10 a day which, conveniently, was the same price as dinner with a little pudding.

When year twelve starts, I get the same amount every day, but dinner with a little pudding increases in price to £2.20. I start having a slice of toast at break time and a panini at lunchtime and save up the 10ps that are leftover. While I could just alternate between having a pudding or not each day, I decide instead to save up those 10ps and treat myself to a milkshake every couple of weeks. After all, I can’t usually have one since I’d have nothing to eat for lunch.

There are no problems with this until, one day, I’m waiting for my friend and check the machine that lets me know how much money is on my account on a whim. The balance is negative. I did not know the balance could go negative. I assumed that if I tried to buy anything costing more than I had, I wouldn’t be able to buy it. Also, there is some mild panic because I wasn’t buying anything I couldn’t in the first place, right?

Turns out the paninis had increased in price by about 20p without me noticing. I’d just assumed there were no issues because I hadn’t had any issues buying anything. After this, I mess around with what I get a bit more, always double-checking it’s under the £2.10 I get, to try and pay it off with the leftover money.

This takes a while and I have very little self-control; some days I get something more, like the £2.20 dinner with a little pudding, and tell myself it’s okay if I spend half the 20p I saved yesterday on eating this today. However, I don’t remember to keep checking the machine to watch the debt go down. 

Fairly late into the school year, I’m called to the kitchen’s office. My debt has grown to £10. I’m almost an adult, but I’m fairly sheltered and this feels like a lot of money to me. Plus, I’m a huge crybaby, so I feel like a pathetic mess as I try to explain to the lunch lady through tears that I don’t know why it’s gotten that bad.

She explains to me that I never was able to stack up my lunch money. If I don’t spend all of the £2.10 I got today, it will reset itself tomorrow. So, all that time I thought I was saving up for something extra, the extra I spent went straight into my debt. The £2.10 I got each day was for me to buy food, so it wasn’t allowed to be used for the debt.

The long and short of it is that I need to bring in physical money to pay off what I owe the school. All I can think is, “My dad is going to kill me.” This is not an insignificant amount of money, and my sister was recently grounded for stealing a similar amount to buy herself sweets, and there’s a lot of other “stuff” going on at home which means my dad isn’t in the best of moods. I’ve basically just done the same thing, and I do not want to get in trouble.

Thankfully, it was my birthday or something the other day, and my dad gifted me a £10 note. I was saving it for the next time we went to a big store so I could buy a book. My dad does not take the news well that I am going to spend it on school lunch. I listen as he lectures and lectures about how much of a waste it is to spend my money on food that is temporary when I could spend it on something that will last. It’s all stuff I already know, but this is what I’ve decided I’m going to do.

Eventually, the pressure of keeping it from him gets to me and I break into tears and explain why I need to use it on the food. He goes quiet, tells me it’s stupid that the school let me go into debt, and tells me I’m stupid for not keeping better track of my money. Then, he gets on the phone and goes full rage mode on whoever it is at the school that answers.

When he gets off the phone, he tells me that the debt I gathered was cleared. Also, I’m now able to get a dinner with a little pudding every lunch and the dinner ladies type it in as £2.10. He also tells me that if my balance ever goes negative again, I will be paying for it myself since I’ve now been warned.

It is kind of embarrassing to face the lunch ladies after that. I didn’t mean for my dad to go nuts at them. I didn’t mean for him to weaponise my disability or our family circumstances at them. Still, though, they didn’t treat me any differently other than the price adjustments. They are very nice people.

A Little Research Goes A Long Way

, , , , , | Working | January 15, 2022

We have been getting a lot of bad job applicants lately; many don’t turn up, are completely unprepared, or clearly have no interest, despite all having a great (if a little similar) CV.

It’s a massive waste of all of our time. Three of us spend a day a week not actually doing our jobs and instead doing pointless interviews and all the paperwork that goes with it.

I’m confused as to why so many people just are so terrible. That’s when one of the team members tells me that, to get certain benefits, people have to be seen to look for work. So, by showing up and wasting our time, they can falsely claim that they are actually looking for work.

Not anymore.

The next two interviewees don’t show up. I tell Human Resources to categorically tell anyone who calls that they didn’t show. (Apparently, they weren’t doing this before.)

The very next guy refuses to give any answers at all and is rude about the pay (even though it’s on the advert). To top it off, he accidentally knocks over the magazine rack on his way out and just leaves it all over the floor.

Again, I tell Human Resources to just say he didn’t show up. They get quite a few calls, but I tell them to keep to the same story.

Eventually, I get someone at the door wanting to see me. It’s the most recent interviewee, and he looks angry. I go down to see him.

Interviewee: “Why are you lying about my interview? First, you don’t give me a job. Then, you lie so I can’t claim. I mean, you lie about me not coming.”

Me: “You weren’t present in the interview; you didn’t answer questions. You have no idea what the job was even for.”

Interviewee: “That’s a lie! I would love to work here. I just don’t do interviews well.”

Me: “So, you really want to work here, huh?”

Interviewee: “Yes!”

Me: “You are interested in the company and know what we do?”

Interviewee: “Yes!”

Me: “What’s the name of the company?”

Interviewee: “Err…”

Me: “What do we do?”

Interviewee: “Err… make things?”

Me: “If you want a job like you say you do, apply again and I’ll interview you. But turn up like you did, and I will tell them you didn’t show.”

He went away, promising that he would show me and that he would apply again. He never did.

Word must have gotten around because, while we got a lot fewer applicants, we only got people that actually seemed to want to work here. We filled the vacancy less than a week later.

Lying Is The Lazy Way Out

, , , , , | Working | January 14, 2022

Out of the blue, one of my team members (rather dramatically) announces to me that she is leaving. 

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Any particular reason you want to talk about?”

Employee #1: “I’m just not progressing. I’ve been here two years and I don’t see any way forward.”

Me: “Oh, really? You never said that you would like to progress. You’ve never applied for any other positions that I’m aware of.”

Employee #1: “Well, yes, but sometimes you expect a bit of help from… people.”

I’m guessing she means me, but I am always really open about helping anyone who wants to progress. I’ve never stood in anyone’s way, and I’ve helped arrange training, etc. [Employee #1] has regularly said she didn’t need anything when we’ve talked about her development.

Me: “Well, I am sorry you feel that way. How much notice are you giving?”

Employee #1: “I want to leave as soon as possible. I’ve told them I could start next week.”

Me: “I don’t think I can allow that. You have a notice period for a reason. We need time to find a replacement and train them.”

Employee #1: “But I’ve already told them!”

Me: “I’ll do what I can, but next week leaves us in a massive hole.”

She stomps off angrily. I get it, but this isn’t a new thing. Everyone has the same thing in their contract. A month’s notice is pretty typical.

I ask around and see if anyone is looking for a change in role, anyone who could pick up the job at least for the short term, but I get nothing.

I ask [Employee #1] to spend the rest of the week detailing her role and to share what training notes she has. It takes several attempts to get anything from her.

The next week:

Me: “Has anyone seen [Employee #1]?.”

Employee #2: “No. She left, didn’t she?”

Me: “No, she has three more weeks.”

Employee #2: “Are you sure? She was telling everyone that she starts her new job today.”

I get Human Resources to call and call and email, but they get no response. At the end of the day, [Employee #1] replies that she has started her new job today, so she won’t be back.

This is annoying. Everyone has to pitch in, and we scramble to get a new member of staff up and running. It takes a few weeks, but we seem to level out.

I’m in Human Resources talking about how the new starter is settling in.

Human Resources: “Oh, [Employee #1] called asking for you.”

Me: “She can have the basic job reference, I guess.”

Human Resources: “No, she was asking if we were still struggling for staff, and she said could come back if we discussed her pay.”

Me: “How much does she want?”

Human Resources: “Well, let’s just say I think she is after your job.”

Me: “Wow. Tell her thanks, but we are okay, and good luck with the new job.”

[Employee #1] eventually applied back at our company and got a similar job to her old one. Someone told me that she had lied a bit to get a more senior job and then couldn’t do it. Again, I sat with her to help her train, but she just wouldn’t commit to anything.

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | January 14, 2022

Back in the 1990s, my IT college tutor was regaling the class with a story about his time working on a helpdesk for his old company.

One client, in particular, kept phoning to complain that he couldn’t get the floppy disks to work. At the time, the huge 5.25-inch actually-floppy floppies were the height of sophistication.

After taking several calls about the same issue, sending and resending batches of the disks to the client, and being unable to make any sense of it, my tutor got permission to visit the client and try to work out what was going on.

When he got there, he asked the client to show him what he was doing when the issue occurred.

To his utter amazement, the client took a brand-new disk from the packet, proceeded to peel the thick protective cover off the disk, and then try to insert the round, thin, magnetic storage part into the drive.

Apparently, the client had wondered why there was so much “packaging” around the disk, and on pulling one apart the first time, decided that the magnetic storage looked so fragile that the additional “packaging” made sense.

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy

A Fun Twist On “Cheeseburger With No Cheese”

, , , , , , , | Working | January 14, 2022

My restaurant offers table service, and staff takes orders on tablets. We choose the food but can type instructions to the chef, eg “fish & chips”, “no salt,” etc.

Customer: “What’s the soup of the day?”

Me: “Carrot and cumin.”

Customer: “No, I don’t like carrot or cumin, but I love the bread that comes with it. Can I just have the soup of the day, but only the scone, please?”

Me: “If you like. That will be out shortly.”

The soup of the day comes with a scone. However, I can’t find the scone separately on the tablet, so I enter it exactly as he asks. Our chef, from France, comes to me waving the docket that printed out.

Chef: “Hey, [My Name]? What is this h***? Is there something wrong with my English?”

He’s waving the docket from the kitchen.

Me: “Huh? Oh, you mean, ‘What the h*** is this?’ What’s the problem?”

Chef: “‘Soup of the day, no soup’? You wrote this? He wants an empty bowl?”

I speak a little French.

Me: “Nan… Ils veulent juste le pain qui reste après avoir emporté la soupe.” *Take away the soup, and they want the scone that is left.*

The chef is still confused but understanding.

Chef: “Okay, if that is what he wants.”

The boss has heard the commotion.

Manager: “What did you do this time, [My Name]?”

Me: “Guy at table seventeen just wants the scone from the soup dish. I entered it as a soup without any soup.”

Manager: “Let me check with him.”

Me: “I’m not kidding.”

To be fair to the boss, it’s exactly the sort of prank I would play if I knew the customer.

Manager: “I’m in charge, and if he doesn’t get what he asked for, I’ll have to deal with it!”

The boss comes back.

Manager: *To the chef* “All right, give him a scone.”

Chef: “‘Soup of the day, no soup.’ This is brilliant! I will keep this docket for my fridge at home.”

The customer got his scone. The bill got discounted, so he didn’t have to pay for a soup he didn’t order. Our tablets now list “scone” as a separate option.