Reaching Breaking Point

, , , , | Working | October 5, 2017

(In the fall, our store hires seasonal help. We hire a cashier who has a decent work ethic, but eventually he starts to have an attitude with the younger supervisors. This includes me, as I am in my early 20s, and he is in his 50s. All cashiers are expected to check the bathroom; it’s marked on the schedule sheet, and it’s supposed to be checked once every hour. When everyone is trained, they’re told to clean it sometime within 45 minutes after they’re marked to do it. The new hire happens to be scheduled to take his 15 minute break at 6:30, and he’s assigned the 6:30 bathroom check, meaning he can do it anytime between 6:30 & 7:15. After doing some stuff on the floor, I come back to the registers and see the new hire turning his lane light on, so I check the time.)

Me: “Oh, good, [New Hire]; you’re back from break.”

New Hire: “Oh, I didn’t take my break. I was just cleaning the bathrooms.”

(Since he’s new, I let it slide, but explain how breaks take precedent over the bathroom checks. Then I reach over and turn his lane light off.)

Me: “I have to find someone to cover you, because [Coworker #2] has to take her dinner break right now. That’s why it’s important to stick to the break schedule. Go take your break.”

New Hire: “Oh, no. I’m okay. I don’t need one.” *he reaches up and turns the light back on*

Me: “You realize it’s a paid fifteen minute break, right? It’s not like you’re gaining anything from not taking a break. Anyway, [Store] is legally required by state law to give you breaks. You need to take one. Turn your light back off and take your break.”

New Hire: *he stares at me like I’m an idiot and walks away* “Oooookaaay.”

Coworker #1: “Did he seriously give you attitude because he gets a PAID break for working four hours?”

Me: “Yeah, he did. Where did he work before this? Has he never worked somewhere that was compliant with state labor laws? Can you take over for [Coworker #2]? She’s going to be on meal compliance if she doesn’t clock out for her meal. I’ll handle the service desk until I get someone from the floor over here.”

(After the new hire comes back from break and I let the sales floor coworker go back to their area, I go into the bathroom to find that it REEKS of bleach, like someone scrubbed every surface and then mopped with it. I am pregnant at the time, and I’m already sensitive to the smell of cleaning products, anyway, so I immediately get nauseous and have to step outside for fresh air. When I finally feel better, I go inside and approach the new guy.)

Me: “[New Hire]! Did you use bleach to clean the bathrooms?”

New Hire: *as if I asked a dumb question* “Well, yeah.”

Me: “Seriously? You know we have specific bathroom cleaner, right?”

New Hire: *again, he speaks down to me like I’m dumb* “Well, it was empty.”

Me: *I’m trying to be the better person and not give him the same attitude* “Next time, ask someone how to refill the bathroom cleaner. If nobody is able to help, just clean the best you can; fill the bottle with water to dilute whatever is left in there. Bleach is awfully harsh to use in a public bathroom. I know there are vents in there, but there’s not enough circulation.”

New Hire: *looks at me like I have three heads* “Oooookay.”

Me: “You’re on the schedule for bathrooms at 7:30, too, right? I’ll do it and refill the cleaner. Make sure you check in with me before you clock out.”

(Surprise, surprise, since I was cleaning the bathroom, he didn’t tell me when he clocked out at eight, and he didn’t clean up his register. There were other issues with him, like taking breaks that were too short or too long, and giving us attitude. Even when he was talked to about those things, he still didn’t listen. Somehow, he wasn’t quite bad enough to fire, but he wasn’t one of the seasonal workers who got hired on year-round. A few days before his last day, he just walked out on another manager and we never saw him again. Thank goodness!)

It’s A Deli-cate Matter

, , , , | Working | October 5, 2017

(Our deli has struggled for months with an increasingly bad staffing issue. We are just about to get a new assistant manager. The scheduling on this particular day, a Sunday, is so awful, that our last coworker, an elderly lady, is forced to stay by herself and take care of all the cleaning while still dealing with customers, since we’re not allowed to stay late, and everyone else leaves too early for any major cleaning to be done. As I’m just about leaving, the deli’s phone rings.)

Me: “[Deli], how can I help you?”

Manager: “Hi, can you cook a pizza for [Manager #2]?”

Me: “I’m so sorry, but I’m about to leave making, [Coworker] the only one back here, and she’s busy with customers and all the cleaning, too. I really don’t think she’ll have time.”

Manager: “But it’s for [Manager #2]. Can you just write that down?”

Me: “Uh… sure.”

(I put the phone down and relay the request to my coworker, who just confirms that there’s no way she’ll have time to cook and prepare a pizza. As I’m walking to the time clock, I see the manager that requested the pizza. Since she isn’t the one who called for the pizza, I decide to tell her my coworker will be unable to cook the pizza.)

Manager #2: “What? I don’t understand! Why can’t she just cook a pizza? I’m the customer, here. All she has to do is cook it; why is that so hard?”

(Suddenly, the our new assistant manager turns the corner.)

Assistant Manager: “Maybe because they only scheduled THREE people in the deli, all day, ON A D*** SUNDAY!”

(With that, [Manager #2] quieted right down. Suddenly, I had faith that maybe, with a new understanding leader, things might be okay.)

Have Recourse To Use The Resource

, , , , | Learning | October 5, 2017

(It’s finals week, and we’re English majors in a 200 level class.)

Professor: “You may bring any notes or texts you wish for the final; it’s open book. I’m not here to make you memorize random facts. I’m trying to teach you how to find the answers you’re looking for. Anything in the room is fair game.”

Classmate: “Can we use the Internet?”

Professor: “That would not be in the room, so no. Review your texts, take notes, and feel free to help each other out. Anything in the room can be used. See you tomorrow for the test.”

(I go home and do a quick review, tabbing a few pertinent facts in my book, and come to take the test the next day. Most of the test is fairly simple, or at least easy to look up with over 20 people working together. Then, we hit a snag.)

Classmate #1: “Anyone got 23, yet?”

(There is a chorus of “No,” after which we all start searching for the answer, with no luck.)

Me: *after a good five minutes, and realizing that we won’t have time to finish if this goes on much longer* “Hey, [Professor]?”

Professor: “Yes?”

Me: “You said we could use any resources in the room, right?”

Professor: “I did.”

Me: *screwing up my courage* “Well, you’re in the room. So, what’s the answer to number 23?”

(The whole room falls silent, with everyone staring at me while I blush and fight to maintain composure. The teacher blinks a few times, as if she had never considered that possibility, and then looks down at the book in her lap, turning the pages. I figure she’s not going to answer, and go back to hunting through the text.)

Professor: *after a minute* “Page 143.”

(I immediately flip to said page and start skimming; the answer is in the second paragraph, barely mentioned and without a single other reference in the entire book. You’d have to go page-by-page to find it, if you didn’t already know where it was.)

Me: “Thanks, [Professor].”

Professor: “Don’t make a habit of it. I’m administering the test, not taking with you.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. Thank you.” *to the class* “Twenty-three is [answer].”

(We all passed, and yes, we got number 23 correct. The professor now specifies that she and her TAs are not testing resources.)

It’s All Saigon Crazy

, , , , | Working | October 5, 2017

(I’ve stopped by the store two blocks from work to pick up some groceries. On my way out, I notice the twenty-something door greeter has his arm in a sling. No stranger to incapacitated arms myself, after surgery a few years ago, I ask what happened.)

Greeter: “I got in a car accident.”

Me: “Oh, no!”

Cashier: *closest to us* “YOU TOLD ME YOU GOT HURT IN VIETNAM!”

Greeter: *nods solemnly*

Me: *bursts out laughing and plays along* “Oh, gosh! That’s terrible! What happened?”

Greeter: “Well, me and Forrest Gump, we got trapped in the bunker when they started bombing us…”


Greeter: “That, too!”

(I laughed so hard I almost dropped my groceries. They made my day! Best of luck for the greeter’s recovery after such noble service!)

Weathering The Customer Storm

, , , | Right | October 5, 2017

(It is springtime, and it has been raining for a month. At eight am this Saturday morning, the sun comes blazing forth!  The news server has crashed and indexes have to be rebuilt, so it’s down for a while.)

Me: “Thanks for calling [ISP]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “I’ve been trying since six am to get my newsgroups, and nothing is happening!”

Me: “Are you nuts?”

Customer: “What?”

Me: “It’s been raining for weeks. It’s nine am on a Saturday, and it’s warm and sunny out. What are you doing inside?”

Customer: “Holy cow, you’re right!” *click*

Coworker: “How the h*** do you do that?”

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