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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 pallets 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.”


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

Me: “No.”

Guest: “EXCUSE ME?!”

Me: “No.”


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.

We’re Ready To Throw A Fit On Your Behalf!

, , , , , | Working | January 4, 2022

I worked for a family-owned company for about nine years. I worked the warehouse, managed the showroom, and eventually managed the warehouse before I moved on. I thought the work was easy but required effort. Summer days it was hot in the warehouse, so you’d sweat. It was a warehouse job.

We, the warehouse guys, had gone a couple of years without any kind of raise and word got back to the owner that some of us were a bit irritated. He opted to do a little something for us, but it would be based on performance; the better we did, the more we’d see in return.

Not counting the warehouse manager, there were five warehouse employees. Every warehouse employee had four stores that we were in charge of pulling, packing, and shipping orders for each week. The owner said that for each order we pulled without having any mistakes on it, he would pay us an extra $10 per order. So, every week, every warehouse employee had the opportunity to earn an extra $40. In the end, if you pulled four perfect store orders every week for a full year, you could earn an extra $2,080; that comes out to a dollar raise.

The idea was great. The other guys and I were excited. Do your work, make a few extra bucks. What could go wrong?

Most store orders took around three or four hours of your day to pull, palletize, and make ready to ship. I could tear through these store lists and get my store pulled usually an hour or more before the others guys finished. I’d move on to other tasks — receiving, shipping parcels, and so on. The other guys started going slower and slower with their lists to make sure they were doing it 100% correctly to earn that extra $10. Going slower meant they weren’t helping out with other aspects of the job, such as cleaning, receiving, and helping with customers. Then, it would come down to the other warehouse guys trying to all help each other pull all the orders — some attempt to work together.

After a store order was pulled, staged, and shipped, when one of the satellite branches received the order, they would send us a mistake sheet of any inventory shipped incorrectly or missed. Any mistake on that sheet we’d double-check against our inventory to make sure the mistake was legit.

This whole extra-$10-deal lasted just shy of forty-four weeks. I kept all the correctly shipped store orders I had done. Each one was put in my desk drawer. Up until the day this all ended, I had 168 perfect pulled orders out of 175 that I did. That was an extra $1,680 I had earned that year.

The next closest warehouse guy to me had about 30 correctly pulled orders out of 175. This wasn’t really the problem, though. The problem was that these guys, since they helped each other pull each other’s orders, would spend hours a day arguing that someone else screwed up the order and it wasn’t their fault and they should still be given $10. This was a constant issue for months, along with them not helping with other aspects of the job, which means I was doing a lot of extra work without help. I went to the warehouse manager multiple times about how it was becoming irritating that I was not getting help with other tasks and the other guys were constantly fighting amongst themselves about why they should be paid an extra $10.

After nothing was done from my complaints, I walked into the warehouse manager’s supervisor’s office. I shut his door and explained the situation over the past few months. I told him I was done with the crying and lack of help and I wanted the $10 bonus canceled even though I was the one to lose out the most.

The supervisor agreed with me. We walked out to the warehouse, and he gathered everyone and told us all that the extra $10 bonus was done. The other warehouse guys were pissed. They started yelling at me and I just snapped right back that I was one that lost out the most in this situation because they couldn’t get their crap together and do their jobs correctly. I took my stack of 168 sheets I had from my perfectly pulled orders and threw them at the guys.

Me: “I had 168 perfectly pulled orders — that’s $1,680 — and here you guys are crying over the handful of perfect orders you managed to do. I’m pissed at you for screwing up something good because you can’t stop fighting with each other and can’t do your jobs correctly like you’re supposed to.”

Not one of the other warehouse guys said anything else after that. They knew I was pissed. I gave up something good, the bonus money, just so I could get more help from them as they always should have been doing.

You Know That Outcome Is Worse, Right?

, , , , | Right | December 28, 2021

I am a forklift driver at a warehouse. The duty manager is telling me what needs to be done next when a guy storms up to him.

Customer: “You have way too many handicapped spaces in your parking lot! There are six spaces and there is a car in only one of them. I demand that this be changed! I mean, if they are handicapped, how much can they carry?”

Duty Manager: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but the number of spaces is determined by law. Before we opened, the Fire Marshall measured the size of our sales floor and gave us a maximum occupancy number, and that is what determines how many spaces we, by law, must have.”

Customer: “Thank you. I did not know that. I am going to go home and write my congressman right now.”

He then turned and stomped out.