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What The F***? (Sorry, It’s Contagious)

, , , , , , | Working | December 1, 2022

Some years ago, I worked a warehouse job, and I covered many positions during my time at the company. My position at the time of this story was warehouse worker and showroom backup. For the showroom, I worked when the showroom manager was on break, so that means I handled the walk-in customers, kept the showroom clean, stocked, and took care of any other tasks that fell to the showroom.

It’s lunchtime and the showroom manager is out on lunch, so I’m covering the showroom. In comes a customer. He’s in need of grout for a tile job he’s doing, and he specifically needs the color black. Black is not a common grout color, so we don’t carry much of it, and I just happen to know the spot on the shelf in the warehouse for black is empty as I was over there a short while before. However, sometimes things get moved, and maybe the one bag our inventory system shows is stuck in a stack of another color.

A bit before this customer showed up, I was doing my normal warehouse work and I saw that one of the other warehouse workers was stocking the mortar and grout shipment we got in that morning.

I head out to the staging area for the mortar and grout, and I begin my search by going through hundreds of twenty-five-pound bags of grout to see if the lone bag of black grout can be found hiding in the wrong spot. As I’m digging around, the warehouse guy that stocked the mortar and grout earlier goes out of his way to walk over to me and ask what I’m doing.

This coworker is very loud when he talks, so his voice is always booming, and most people avoid confrontations with him when he has little spats because he’s so loud and comes across as intimidating.

Coworker: “Hey… Uh, what are you doing?”

Me: “I’m looking to see if we have a bag of black grout like the inventory system says we do for the customer in the showroom.”

Coworker: “I put the grout away correctly; I rotated stock.”

Me: “I know. I saw you out here doing it earlier. Things look good.”

Coworker: “I said I did it right. I rotated stock — old stuff in front and new stuff in back.”

Me: “I never said you didn’t do it right. You did a good job putting things away.”

[Coworker] kind of stares at me for another minute or so as I’m still looking for the elusive black grout.

Coworker: “I said I put things away right.”

I feel that a slight irritation is coming up in my voice, but I repress it.

Me: “I know. You did a good job. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Coworker: “Well, f*** you, then!”

I don’t know what his deal is and why he cussed at me. I didn’t accuse him of doing the work wrong, and I even told him multiple times that he had done a good job

I stop what I am doing, stand up, and get right up in my coworker’s face; we are touching noses

Me: “F*** me? F*** me?! F*** YOU! I didn’t criticize you, I didn’t cuss at you, and I even told you that you had done a good job putting things away, and you tell me to f*** off?”

Coworker: “Why are you swearing at me? I never swore at you!”

Me: “You said, ‘Well, f*** you, then!’”

I almost hit him… almost. I unclench my fist so if I did strike at him it would be an open-handed slap, but I resist.

I turn around and calmly walk into the showroom. (I’m quite certain the customer heard the outburst, but he never says anything.) I tell the customer that I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find the one bag our computer system shows we have in inventory. The customer leaves.

I go to the warehouse manager and tell him that all my work for the day is done and, once the normal showroom guy gets back from lunch, I’m leaving for the day due to [Coworker] cussing me out for no reason.

Warehouse Manager: “I heard the whole thing. I have no issues with you leaving early for the day. I’ll talk to [Coworker] about his behavior.”

The next day at work is Friday; I just have to get through one day of working with my jerk of a coworker and I won’t have to see him for a few days until Monday rolls around.

I get to work on Friday and [Coworker] approaches me.

Coworker: “I just wanted to say sorry for what I said yesterday.”

I stop what I am doing and look him in the eyes.

Me: “Apology not accepted. I can work with you, but I don’t like you. Anything work-related I’m okay with between us because it’s our job to do the work. Don’t speak to me about anything else.”

The rest of that Friday went normally; we got our work done and that was it.

I showed up to work on Monday, unlocked the warehouse, turned all the lights on, clocked in, and started my day. About an hour later, I noticed that [Coworker] hadn’t come in for his shift yet; he usually started thirty minutes after I did. The warehouse manager came in an hour after me, and he stayed an hour later than I did. Once the manager came in, he told me that he’d fired [Coworker] for how he’d treated me and for a handful of other reasons. He said [Coworker] was on the fence and his outburst at me had been the last straw.

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