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Sleeping Smarter, Not Harder

, , , , , | Working | April 14, 2022

This takes place about twenty years ago. I’m in my early twenties and working a basic warehouse job — driving a forklift, shipping/receiving, packing orders, and so on. There’s nothing special about it.

The owner of the company is a decent guy. He’s always walking about, interacting with employees, and being generally light-hearted.

One of the lazier employees finds out that we have a warehouse opening, and he talks to the warehouse manager about hiring him to help in the warehouse. So, the manager sets up a meeting, conducts an interview, and then eventually hires the guy.

The new guy is decent. He seems to be hardworking and can follow instructions. The guy is diabetic; it runs in his family. This shouldn’t be a problem for anyone that is diabetic and they work on following proper guidelines to ensure they’re healthy. However, this guy wants zero to do with it. He doesn’t monitor his blood sugar; he just carries around candy in his pocket and eats it if he feels lightheaded. He loves to party and just doesn’t take care of himself.

After maybe six months of [New Guy] working, we’ve noticed he’s hard to find at times. We look for him outside (since he smokes) and we check all entrances, but we can’t find him. We check the bathrooms — sometimes he’ll sit in a stall for an extended period of time — but we don’t find him. We wander the warehouse, checking every corner, checking up in spots we store packing material to see if he’s found a place to nap — past employees have done this — but we don’t find him.

We double-check the parking lot to see if [New Guy]’s car is gone. Nope, his car is still in the parking log. We wander the warehouse again, yelling out his name, rechecking outside of the building and the bathrooms, but we cannot find him.

We’ve now spent forty-five minutes looking for [New Guy] and he’s nowhere to be found. The warehouse manager tells us to just get back to work, and if he shows up, he shows up. I continue to work on my tasks.

About half an hour later, one of the other warehouse guys tells me that [New Guy] was seen climbing down the racking from a pallet and that the warehouse manager caught him in the act. The manager took the pallet down from the top of the rack and found out that the new guy had hollowed out the inside of the pallet to sit inside of it and sleep. The pallet had forty-eight boxes on it; [New Guy] had taken out the boxes in the center except for one to act as a seat to sit on and built up the outer layer taller. He had then put the pallet on the top of the rack.

Aside from thinking that that’s pretty impressive, I also know the owner will be pissed about it because he was even out helping us look for [New Guy].

[New Guy]’s punishment is none of my concern. All I know is that the warehouse manager doesn’t fire him on the spot.

I go to lunch and I am sitting in the break room when in walks the owner. He gets his lunch out and starts making small talk with me.

Owner: “Did you ever find the new guy?”

Me: “Yes. Apparently, he hollowed out a pallet and was sleeping inside of it up on the top rack.”

Owner: “What? He was sleeping?”

Me: “That’s what I was told.”

His face turns bright red and he takes in a deep breath and yells.

Owner: “DID YOU FIRE THE F***ER?!”

Me: “Sorry, that’s not my call. You’d have to talk to your warehouse manager about that.”

The owner stood up and marched out to the warehouse.

Surprisingly, the new guy wasn’t fired, but I never asked why they kept him. But it wasn’t too far down the road that the guy ended up getting fired for not coming into work for three days straight without calling in.

So Not The Time And Place

, , , , , , | Right | March 30, 2022

I had a customer’s order get messed around by our warehouse, so I bent over backward to sort the issue. Then, they cancelled the order after a week of my running around to please them.

Six weeks later, I recognised the customer while I was in labor. She proceeded to ask me what had happened and what had gone wrong. 

Not quite what I wanted to hear from the doctor after twenty-four hours of labor when I was about to be brought in for an emergency C-section.

When You’re Good At Your Job, People Take Notice

, , , , | Working | March 22, 2022

The summer before my last year of college, I sign up with a temp agency to make some extra pocket money. I make it very clear that I’m still in college and I’m only interested in working during holidays or weekends. I’m not desperate for money and I’m not putting my education in jeopardy over temp work for minimum wage.

Three weeks before the start of the academic year, I’m sent to work in a warehouse. What’s meant to only last a couple of days ends up becoming open-ended — not permanent as I’m still working through the temp agency — but when my contact at the agency calls me to let me know, I remind her that I’m only available until [last Friday before term starts].

The place is dysfunctional.

Example #1: Despite being a warehouse for a major Spanish clothes brand, there’s zero security. No one checks our bags (which we just pile up wherever we like or carry with us) and there are no cameras. Personally, I find this brand’s clothes ugly, especially those for men, and I seriously wonder whether that’s their deterrent.

Example #2: Zero security extends to control over who comes in or leaves. A guy disappears halfway through a shift and reappears a day or two later.

Manager: “Hey, did you leave early the other day?” 

Employee: “Oh, I had a doctor’s appointment.”

Manager: “Okay. Let me know next time.”

Example #3: Another guy disappears halfway through a shift. A couple of days later, I hear the manager say:

Manager: “Hey, didn’t we hire one more guy?”

I just show up every day on time and go about my duties at a reasonable pace, which means I’m soon detected as the “responsible temp” and I’m “promoted” regularly. After a couple of days, they start asking me to do slightly more complex stuff than moving boxes around. By the end of my second week, I’m doing admin rather than manual work.

On my last day, I say goodbye to the people I’ve worked most closely with and disappear into the night to enjoy my last weekend before classes restart.

The following Monday, while I’m on campus, I look at my phone and I have missed calls from the temp agency and a text from my dad, saying the agency called home. This is all like thirty minutes after my shift would have started if I’d continued working there.

I call the agency.

Agency Rep: “Why are you not at work?”

Me: “I told you I would only be available until [last Friday].”

Agency Rep: “But since you were doing so well, we thought you’d stay! They really liked you!”

Sure, like I’m going to choose a minimum-wage temp job that could be terminated at any time with zero notice over completing my final year of university education.

The thing that surprised me the most is that I’d seen guys just vanish from the warehouse and no one seemed to notice until a day or two later, whereas within half an hour of me not showing up, they’d even called my dad. If I was such an essential worker after only three weeks, maybe they could have tried negotiating with me and offering to work around my schedule rather than expecting me to just keep showing up. It probably wouldn’t have worked — I soon found part-time work in my field — but at least I could have stayed another week or two while they found a replacement.

A Signature Solution

, , , , , , | Working | March 16, 2022

I worked at a package warehouse about ten years ago, and part of my tasks at the end of the day was processing successful industrial pickups on palettes that had been completed. These people would sign a paper confirming pickup of their wares, and the papers would be added to a stack for me and a colleague to enter into a computer and work on before going home.

For some odd reason, there would never be any business names on the pickup sheet to look up, nor would there be a barcode for me to scan; I would have to enter an annoyingly long alphanumerical reference number, which would pull up the relevant information. Making it worse was that the number was printed small, and it would be easy to make a mistake and have to retype it again after an error was produced.

Now, Germans are locally notorious for using bizarre “emblems” for their signatures that look more like pictorial logos rather than someone’s name signed in a unique manner. My colleague and I came up with a witty solution to help speed up our process.

Me: “You remember this signature here? The one that looks like a Mexican hat combined with a taco?”

Colleague: “Yeah, that’s [Person #1] from [Business #1]” *Pulls it up* “Yep, they were due a pickup and this is it! What about the rook chess piece signature?”

Me: “Oh, that’s [Person #2] from [Business #2].” *Pulling it up*

Colleague: “The Oreo cookie in the grass…” *Pulling it up and working*

Me: “The pi riding a surfboard…” *Processing*

Colleague: “This one looks like a Sigma with a lightning bolt through it?”

Me: “Look up [Person #3] at [Business #3].” *Continuing working* “I don’t think I’ve seen this one. It’s an M with a curly tail and a record player with a star next to it.”

Colleague: *Without even looking* “[Person #4] at [Business #4].” *Pauses* “What the h*** is this?! It’s like someone gave the pen to a toddler and—”

Me: “Look up [Person #5] at [Business #5].” *Hearing the keyboard clicking* “Am I right?”

Colleague: “Yup!”

And so on!

This Guest Is REALLY Outstaying His Welcome

, , , , , , , | Legal | February 28, 2022

I work security for an office building that includes its own warehouse. The setting is similar to what you would see in “The Office”: a moderately-sized warehouse used for company product and supplies, just big enough to warrant having a forklift and a loading dock.

While viewing the cameras, I watch as an Audi SUV pulls into the dock. Obviously, we don’t want normal-sized vehicles in there since the area receives shipments pretty randomly all day. I watch to see if the individual driving it has large items in the back to unload, and he doesn’t, just a singular bag that looks like a Christmas gift.

I call the phone on the dock from our security line, but he ignores it as he is allowed access to our kitchen by one of the line cooks.

That’s fair; he’s not an employee after all.

My next call goes to the kitchen. I inform them that their guest needs to move his vehicle if he is planning on being here long-term or if a truck arrives. They tell me that he will be fast, but before I can even hang up the call, a forty-foot flatbed loaded with pallets of product appears out of nowhere. I quickly tell the person on the phone that if the individual isn’t loading or unloading, he needs to move his vehicle to allow our warehouse to utilize their forklift to unload the truck.

No one comes out.

I call the kitchen again and I am informed that the guest has gone to the restroom. After twenty minutes, I call them again. Now, they don’t know where he is. Apparently, he has gone up into our office spaces to talk to a friend while this truck is outside. Displeased with this news, I ask the kitchen staff to get the make, model, and license plate number down for me, and once the information is provided, I use our building PA system to make a general announcement to the building, asking the driver to return and move their vehicle to our guest parking lot.

No one comes out.

It has now been thirty minutes. I make a second announcement, and as time goes on, a third. Now there are two trucks in our lot which are backing up our parking traffic.

It is time to make “The Call”.

I pick up the phone and summon the lot shark, a spotter that we use to tow vehicles when need be and, unfortunately for the driver of the Audi, not only is he already IN our parking lot but he has preemptively dispatched their tow truck which is almost to the property.

Utilizing the PA, I make another announcement, calling to the driver of the SUV and informing the building that the vehicle will be towed shortly.

The driver doesn’t make an appearance until the second truck is almost done being unloaded, a full two and a half hours after his initial arrival.

He is absolutely pissed that his car is gone and shouts abuse at our warehouse workers before making his way to security where he demands that we bring the vehicle back, telling us that we had no right to tow him from private property.

Now, I don’t know where this poor, poor man learned the law, but it takes a concentrated effort to keep my customer service face on.

Me: “Sir, we made several announcements. Were you able to hear them in your area?”

Guest: “Of course, but towing from a private lot is illegal! You can’t do that!”

Me: “I can assure you that it is perfectly legal, sir. The loading dock is clearly marked as not only a no-parking zone but a tow-away zone with several signs. In compliance with state law, we also have signs clearly displaying the company information for our towing contractor.”

Guest: “You can’t tow from a private lot! I need my car back now or I am calling the police!”

Me: “I am sorry, sir, but I do not work for the towing contractor. Once they have your vehicle, I can’t make them surrender it unless it was towed in error, as they have generated a bill that needs to be paid.”

Guest: “OF COURSE, IT WAS TOWED IN ERROR! YOU CAN’T TOW FROM A PRIVATE LOT! BRING ME MY F****** CAR! I’M NOT PAYING FOR S***!”

I have to admit, at this point, my resolve slips a little bit.

Me: “No.”

Guest: “EXCUSE ME?!”

Me: “No.”

Guest: “I AM CALLING THE POLICE!”

Me: “Let me know how that goes for you.”

The police show up about five minutes later. I’m not sure what he told them to get them to arrive that fast, but they do. The Audi driver wastes no time shouting at the officer and waving his hands around exaggeratedly almost as soon as the officer gets out of his patrol car.

Whatever it is he says strikes a nerve.

The officer takes one casual look around from where he is standing and seems to take a deep breath before holding up a hand, stopping the Audi driver’s shouting.

I watch on the cameras as the officer literally takes this man to every. Single. One. Of our no-parking signs and points them out individually, very obviously going over every word on them and reading them off loudly. He then shows him the red curbs, the stripes on the ground, and the signs within our loading dock itself. The best part is that, while our cameras have no audio, the officer’s body language strongly suggests he is breaking down every single parking control implement as if the man he is speaking to is two years old.

The officer then pulls out a small red book, flips it open, and reads from a page. Once he puts it away, the Audi driver stalks off, taking out his cellphone as he starts reading the information on one of the signs.

The officer shakes his head and comes upstairs.

Me: “Good morning, Officer!”

Officer: “Not when you have to deal with people like that right at the start of a shift!”

Me: “Are you going to arrest me for illegally towing a car off of private property?”

Officer: “Don’t… don’t do that. Would you like to trespass him?”

Me: “No, sir, I don’t believe that will be necessary.”

Officer: “You’re nicer than me.”

Me: “Unfortunately.”

Officer: *Sniffing the air* “Can you let me in through the lobby gate so I can get some of that coffee?”

Me: “I’d be glad to.”

Our kitchen staff gave the officer a full breakfast and a company travel mug of coffee for free, probably out of guilt that their guest had caused such a scene.