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Shaken, Stirred, And Silenced

, , , , | Learning | July 22, 2021

High schools are noisy places, especially at lunchtime. It is in the early summer of 2011, soon after the huge earthquake in northeastern Japan. We are a ways south of where it happened but still well in earthquake country, which is mostly all of Japan. 

I’m walking down the main hallway during lunch. The hallway and classrooms are bursting with noise as 800 students all try to talk over each other. It is really quite deafening.

Then, the building starts to shake.

And the school is utterly silent. 

Everyone waits to see if the shaking stops or things start falling, maybe even including the school itself.

Luckily, the shaking stops after a few seconds and the noise redoubles in intensity in an instant.  

Only an act of God can make a high school quiet during lunch.

A Blizzard Of Pettiness

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: GetAgrippaThis | July 12, 2021

I work at a coffee shop in Canada. My location has this rule that you absolutely get written up if you are late over two minutes, but you do not get in any form of trouble if you call out. I live an hour each way from where I work, and the roads can be treacherous in the winter.

On one occasion, it is especially bad, and I am exactly five minutes late. I don’t even get to clock in before I am in the office getting reamed out for my terrible insubordination. I confirm the policy and refuse to sign the write-up.

About two months later, the same situation comes back around. I arrive in the parking lot and I look around to see the absolute demonic blizzard taking place. The clock shows me I have two minutes until my shift starts. Since they want to play that game, I call from the parking lot to tell them I won’t be in; the roads are just too bad. I don’t get in an amoeba of trouble for it.

Soon, everyone learns the same thing as I did, and callouts become frequent. Nobody in management has ever figured out why.

Water, Water Everywhere… And Nowhere To Put It

, , , , | Working | June 22, 2021

We had a series of tornados in town I didn’t even realize had happened as I was having a nice nap that day and it was on the other side of town. It was close enough that the seasonal greenhouse at the store where I used to work was destroyed. I am talking to my friend and former coworker after the fact.

Friend: “It was kind of scary but not bad. They wouldn’t let people enter or leave the store until the warnings were lifted. They gathered everyone in electronics, the department furthest away from the doors and glass. The power went out for most of the day.”

Me: “That seems sensible.”

Friend: “Yeah, they even started handing out bottles of water when the wait started taking too long.”

Me: “Oh, that’s so nice. Glad management thought of that.”

Friend: “Yeah, they thought of that, but they forgot that all the restrooms have only automatic flush toilets and those don’t work without power.”

Me: “Oh. So, maybe giving everyone extra water wasn’t the best idea.”

This Story Starts With A Tornado And Gets Worse

, , , , , , | Right | May 28, 2021

Caller: “Why are you advertising tours that aren’t available?

Me: “What’s the problem?”

Caller: “I booked an excursion on a boat with my wife for our anniversary, and when I arrived, they said they weren’t doing any more tours! We both took two days off work for this cruise, got up at two in the morning, and drove seven hours for nothing!”

Me: “I’m terribly sorry about that—”

Caller: “This is your fault! You advertised something that wasn’t even available! I want a refund and two vouchers for a free tour of our choice!”

Me: “Let me call the tour operator and find out what happened—”

Caller: “They even told me that they called you and specifically told you that they weren’t offering the tour anymore and asked you to remove the advertisement!”

That’s a lie. Tour vendors are responsible for the accuracy of the information posted on our portal, and THEY are responsible for removing any service that has been discontinued. Our company simply makes the booking and sends the vendor the proceeds, minus the commission.

Me: “Let me call them—”

Caller: “How about you just give me two free tours and I’ll let you keep your job?”

Me: *Flipping off the phone* “Please hold.”

I call the vendor. They called the customer to inform them that the boat trip had been cancelled because of a TORNADO WARNING, and the customer threw a screaming fit, despite being sent two tickets by the vendor on their dime.

Me: “Okay, thank you for holding. We do apologize, but these circumstances were out of our control.”

I explain the obvious safety reasons.

Me: “I’ve gone ahead and put your refund through.”

Caller: “And you have nothing to offer to make up for the seven hours I drove, and the time I took off for work just for this cruise?”

Me: “Aside from the fact that you were already given two free vouchers by the vendor for their services, I’m seriously curious as to why on earth you and your wife would take time off of work, get up at two in the morning, and drive seven hours for — according to the ticket information — a forty-minute long boat trip for $10?”

Caller: *Click*

A Blizzard Of Karma

, , , , , | Working | May 26, 2021

I’m the general manager at a recently opened sports bar. Most of the staff there are great people to work with, but the owner is a selfish woman who constantly puts her own interests ahead of everyone else’s.

A major snowstorm expected to bring upwards of two feet of snow is headed our way, and the day that it is forecast to hit our area just so happens to be the same day that the owner is holding a mandatory meeting for all staff. Still, considering how serious the storm is — a state of emergency has been declared, in fact — I decide to talk to the owner about it near the end of my shift before I go home.

Me: “Are you sure you want to hold the meeting on Saturday? Aren’t you worried about the blizzard?”

Owner: “So what? It’s just a snowstorm. I’m holding the meeting as scheduled, and everyone is expected to attend.”

Me: “It’s not just a snowstorm; it’s a blizzard.”

Owner: “Same difference.”

Me: “It’s expected to bring over two feet of snow! Can’t you hold it on another day? It’s going to be too dangerous to drive through those conditions! H***, they even declared a state of—”

Owner: “You’re lucky that I like you enough to not fire you for insubordination right now. The meeting is going to go forward; I don’t care what the circumstances are. No more questions, no more talking. Finish what you were doing and then you can go home. I expect to see you here Saturday.”

I know I’m not going to win this argument so I just finish my duties, clock out, and leave. The fact that the owner is refusing to reschedule the meeting despite the imminent blizzard is bad enough. Even though my car is more than capable of handling the snow, the six-mile commute is too much to go through in the coming conditions for a one-hour meeting. Then, on Friday, the day before the storm, I get this email from the owner.

Owner’s Email: “Attention all staff: the upcoming staff meeting will take place as scheduled at 7:00 am on [date of the storm]. Attendance is mandatory, and anyone who fails or refuses to attend will be fired. No exceptions, no excuses. Period.”

Great. Now I have no choice but to risk it if I want to keep my job. I make sure to get up and leave earlier than usual the following morning. The snow is already several inches deep by the time I get out the door and is still coming down heavily, so I have to drive extremely carefully. The drive ends up being a nightmare; not only am I driving at much less than the normal speed, but visibility is minimal, to say nothing of the numerous road closures forcing me to take several detours, some very far out of the way.

Miraculously, I arrive less than a minute late, despite all the snowy shenanigans. When I walk in, the only other people there are the owner, five servers, two bartenders, and the cook. Out of twenty-five people on the staff roster, only ten showed up to the meeting.

The meeting itself? It ends up being just an hour of the owner essentially patting herself on the back for a “job well done” during the high volumes we got for the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, without ever mentioning our efforts. After the meeting ends, the owner pulls me aside. She has a writeup in her hand.

Owner: “Sign this.”

Me: “What?”

Owner: “You have a lot of nerve talking to me about this meeting the way you did the other day and then showing up late for it.”

My jaw drops.

Me: “You’re kidding me! I was only a minute late! You’re lucky I even made it here in the conditions outside!”

Owner: “Doesn’t matter. Late is still late. Any other employee would have been fired. Sign the writeup. Now.”

Me: “I don’t get it. I literally risk life and limb driving through a blizzard to sit through a whole hour of you taking all the credit for the hard work we did, and you seriously have the audacity to write me up for being one minute late? One minute?

Owner: “You watch your mouth, young lady, or you’re gonna be out of a job!”

Me: “Then I will save you the trouble: I quit! I’m not going to continue working for an egotistical, narcissistic b**** who cares more about her image than she does about her employees!”

I then tore the writeup in half, handed her my nametag out of my purse, flipped her off, and walked out the door. I would have driven home, but the road conditions by this point were simply too dangerous. One of the bartenders who attended the meeting and was good friends with me ended up offering to let me stay at her apartment just across the street until the storm died down. I agreed, and we watched movies together for about eight hours until the roads were cleared enough for me to return home safely.

According to my bartender friend, the owner really did carry out her threat in the email and fired everyone who didn’t show up. This included most of the bartenders, the assistant manager, and the entire kitchen staff except for the cook. When the cook brought this up with the owner, she simply fired him, too, for questioning her authority. This resulted in the bar closing down temporarily because there were not enough staff to open it.

Before she could even start hiring replacements, the assistant manager, the cook, and several of the other fired employees brought a lawsuit against her for wrongful termination. Not only did they win their suit thanks to the owner’s email, but the cook also brought to light the fact that she never paid any of the people who did attend the meeting. Suddenly, the Department of Labor took an interest in her business practices.

I don’t know what they dug up in their investigation, but whatever it was proved to be the killing blow, and by the time hockey playoffs started, the bar’s temporary closure had become permanent. From what I heard, the owner had to sell several of her possessions and move out of her house to cover the legal fees and damages from the lawsuit, the fines from the Department of Labor, and the back pay she had to give to everyone who went to the meeting. I haven’t seen or spoken to her since then, but if she would’ve just taken my advice to postpone that stupid meeting in the first place, she could’ve avoided the whole avalanche that came down on her business and reputation.