When Doing The Right Thing Sours The Milk

, , , , , , , | Working | March 26, 2020

About ten years ago, I got my first job in a local pub right on the seafront. It was — and still is — a beautiful location, and my best friend also worked there behind the bar. I thought I had scored the perfect job, but due to the actions of a few terrible people, it became a living nightmare. There were many things that went on that you probably wouldn’t believe, but today I’m just going to tell you about one of the milder instances.

The big boss, a giant of a man almost as wide as he was tall, wanted to train me up on coffees. Along with the usual instructions, he told me to just put the jugs of hot steamed milk back into the fridge after we were done with them. They were large pitchers, so the same batch of milk would be constantly heated, cooled, and reheated throughout the day. After the boss had walked away, my best friend quietly told me that it wasn’t safe to do that, and we should throw the old milk away as soon as the coast was clear.

Concerned, I did some research that night and found that, yeah, it’s not safe to keep steaming hot liquids in the fridge, as the repeated cooling and heating keeps the milk in the “danger zone” temperature range too often, which could lead to the growth of bacteria, as well as potentially affecting the temperature of everything else in the fridge.

Being young, naive, and on the autistic spectrum, I innocently assumed that my manager was simply unaware of these facts, and that surely he would be glad to know the truth. I printed off my findings and took them to him the next morning.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well. 

He shooed me into the kitchen, physically backed me up into a corner, and began threatening me that — in his own words — “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” and that he had been thinking of giving me a promotion but now he “didn’t think he could trust me.”

I had my hours cut, and of course I never got that promotion, which honestly I don’t think ever existed. If we were ever caught throwing the milk away, it was taken out of our pay. It was a good lesson in never trusting the bosses to do the right thing, a lesson that has been backed up time and time again in every place I’ve worked since.

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