Don’t Tell Me To Be Mellow Yellow

, , , , , | | Working | August 19, 2019

(In my department, we have four flavors of rotisserie chicken: traditional, lemon pepper, barbecue, and a seasonal flavor. We identify and often refer to them by the colors of the strings they come tied in: white, yellow, red, and blue, respectively. A normal cook consists of eight birds, two of each color, but we run out of some flavors faster than others, and sometimes the flavor proportions are wildly unequal.)

Coworker: “Can you print me some price tags for these bad boys?”

Me: “Sure. What flavors you got?”

Coworker: “Seven yellow and one white.”

Me: “Seven yellow and one white?!”

Coworker: “Yup. So, it’s like the student body at Harvard.”

Me: *disbelieving Pikachu face*

When Even The Alarm Bells Have Alarm Bells

, , , , , | | Working | August 19, 2019

(I’m hunting for a new job and manage to land an interview at a local company. They give me the address, and I’m pleased to see it’s a street name I recognize. I know that part of town very well, but just to be sure, I make sure to print off directions and set my GPS. On the day of the interview, I leave early so I should arrive with 20 minutes to spare. I arrive on the right street and start looking at numbers, but none of the numbers are even close to what I have been given. I drive back and forth several times, checking beyond intersections, and still cannot locate the business. My GPS says I have arrived; the map directions say I’m at the right place. But the business is nowhere to be seen. It’s now ten minutes until my interview, and I call them. The receptionist explains that there’s a second street by that name in one of the remotest parts of town. She gives me completely different directions. I explain I’m an interviewee, and I’m on my way, and I’m doing my best to get there in time. However, since I had to go all the way across town, I wind up being five minutes late. The receptionist is understanding and explains that this happens all the time. She adds that the interviewer is still dealing with the previous interview and directs me to a small meeting room to wait. I make use of my waiting time and re-read the printouts I made from their website, including their clientele, mission statement, and company history. The interviewer still hasn’t arrived, so I study the room. I make note of various plaques, photos, and periodicals. About twenty minutes later, the interviewer enters and we make basic introductions.)

Interviewer: “Thank you for coming to [Company]. Can you tell me a little about yourself?”

(I pull out the job description.)

Me: “Well, it says here in your job ad that you’re looking for someone who knows [Software #1], with which I have three years experience. I also have five years’ experience with [Software #2], which is similar. At my previous job at [Company #1], I—“

Interviewer: “Oh, I know [Company #1]! I had an uncle who worked there. He was in [department]. He worked there until he retired. Do you know [Uncle]?”

Me: “No, I don’t remember anyone by that name.”

Interviewer: “I guess that’s no surprise; he worked for [Company #1] in [State halfway across the country]. He actually is the godfather of my oldest child.”

(She proceeds to ramble about her children and family for fifteen minutes. I listen politely and try to find a way to steer the conversation back to the interview, but she’s completely enraptured with her own voice.)

Interviewer: “Now that you’ve told me about yourself, let me tell you a little about our company. We were founded in [year] and serve many businesses across the state. [Company #2] is our biggest client, but we also work closely with [Company #3] and [Company #4]. We print [Magazine] in house, which informs our customers about all our services.”

(As she rambles on about the company, I again look around the room. All the information she’s providing I already know and is within eyesight. There’s a wood plaque mentioning the year they opened, a photograph of them with the director of [Company #2], and an entire stack of their periodicals on the shelf. I also have all this information printed on my own clipboard.)

Interviewer: “What I’m really looking for is someone who will work closely alongside [Owner] as his personal secretary.”

Me: *nod* “I saw in the ad that you’re looking for someone who also knows [hardware], and I—“

Interviewer: *interrupts* “I’ll let you know, [Owner] is a crotchety old man. He should have retired a decade ago, but he just can’t give up control of this company to his kids. I mean that in the nicest way possible. He is very cranky, and very set in his ways. He likes everything done a very particular way, and if you don’t do it that way, he’ll let you have it. Don’t get me wrong; [Owner] has a heart of gold. If he got sick, I would wipe his a**. I mean that– I would wipe his a**. But he can be hard to deal with a lot of the time.”

(This sets off an alarm bell, but I badly need a new job, so I keep a smile and try to focus on the interview.)

Me: “So, [Owner] needs someone who can also run [hardware]? I have…”

Interviewer: *interrupts again* “I’ll give you an example. During meetings, you’ll have to sit right beside him and hand him the highlighters. He’ll want them uncapped, and he’ll just snatch them out of your hand. Then he drops them on the table, and he’ll just expect you to know to pick them up and recap them. But don’t hand him a highlighter with the cap still on. Remember to take it off before handing it to him or he’ll smack you on the shoulder and demand, ‘What’s wrong with you?!’ But underneath it all, he’s a huge teddy bear. When I was pregnant with my youngest child…”

(She spends ten minutes talking about her previous maternity leave.)

Interviewer: “The last person we had in this position was shaping up really nicely, too. I try to filter things between [Owner] and his secretary, I really do. But I took a week’s vacation, and she couldn’t handle dealing with [Owner] all by herself. She quit in tears, so now we’re trying to replace her. So, what I’m looking for is someone who can handle working for a crotchety old man even when I’m not around. Do you think you can handle that?”

(The warning bells are getting louder because this owner is starting to sound abusive.)

Me: “Well, I…”

Interviewer: “One thing you must know: I simply can’t stand people who are always late. Punctuality is very important to our company.”

Me: “Today was a fluke; it isn’t like me at all! I’m usually early to everything I go to.”

Interviewer: “I know. I have ten interviews today, and I know eight of them will be late. Google Maps always misdirects people. I understand.”

Me: “Again, I’m sorry. It would never happen again now that I know where you are.”

(I’m not sure I believe her about still being an eligible candidate despite being five minutes late, but I’m not going to argue and further sabotage my chances.)

Interviewer: *scoffs* “That’s why I tell everyone we’re right next to [Adult Toy Store]. Everyone in town knows where [Adult Toy Store] is.”

(I know I would have remembered such creative directions if I had been told, so I’m certain she forgot to mention that fact on the phone.)

Me: “That wouldn’t have helped me much. I had no idea where [Adult Toy Store] was.”

Interviewer: “There’s nothing to be ashamed about. I shop there all the time. Everyone goes there.”

Me: “I don’t; I’ve never been there.”

Interviewer: “I said you don’t have to be embarrassed about it.”

(I usually don’t advertise this fact about myself, but her patronizing attitude is wearing on me.)

Me: “I don’t shop there; I’m completely asexual.”

Interviewer: “Okay, if you say so.” *winks knowingly at me*

Me: *yet another alarm bell rings*

Interviewer: *starts gathering all her things and is halfway out of her seat* “Do you have any questions for me?”

(I actually have several questions prepared on my clipboard, but she’s a couple of steps towards the door at this point.)

Me: “No, none.”

Interviewer: “Thanks for coming today. We’ll call you if we’re interested in a second interview.”

(They never called. I know I dodged a bullet. I feel sorry for the person they did hire.)

When There’s An At-Will…

, , , , | | Working | August 19, 2019

(I work in an office building. I have just clocked in when my manager calls me to her office.)

Manager: “You’re fired, [My Name].”

Me: “What? Why?”

Manager: “I’m having a bad day and I needed to take it out on someone. Lucky you.”

Me: “Very funny.”

Manager: “No, I’m serious.”

Me: *pause* “Wait, you’re not actually firing me for that, are you?”

Manager: “Maryland’s an at-will state. I can fire you for whatever reason I want.”

(She handed me a termination slip and, no joke, she actually specified,”I needed to fire someone to take out my frustration; lucky you,” as the reason for my termination. Although the manager was technically right in that her decision to arbitrarily fire me didn’t violate any employment laws, the firing, unsurprisingly, did not go over very well with the union. Upon hearing what happened, they demanded my reinstatement, and the business owner later backed up their demands. Defeated, my manager gave in and gave me my job back, along with back pay. She was fired sometime later when she got caught using the company credit card to make an unauthorized reservation at a popular amusement resort in Florida.)

Physics-ally Wearing A Shirt

, , , , | | Working | August 19, 2019

(My boyfriend works as a researcher at a physics lab. As such, he works with people from all over the world. Most of his coworkers have met me and know we’ve been dating for several years. One of those coworkers is a very sweet woman from the UK who loves to compliment people. Another aspect of his work is that the dress code is very lax, of which my boyfriend takes full advantage by wearing graphic T-shirts and shorts to work pretty much every day of the year. On this occasion, however, he is at a conference giving a talk about his findings and so is in a nice dress shirt.)

British Coworker: “Oh, [Boyfriend], you look so nice! I like it when you wear a shirt!”

(Other coworkers give them weird looks.)

Boyfriend: “I… I think I usually wear a shirt.”

British Coworker: “Oh, does that mean something different here?”

The Forbidden Salad

, , , , | | Working | August 19, 2019

(My store has a space upstairs that we rent out for corporate events. Between the coffee shop in the building and leftovers from those corporate things, it’s pretty common for us employees to end up getting free snacks. One day, I’m working a half-shift as a greeter when a man in a suit comes up to me holding two prepackaged salads.)

Corporate Guy: “Hey! We’re renting, and we just let out for the day. Do you want a free lunch?”

(I’m pleasantly surprised, both by free food that hasn’t spent a few hours on the break room table and the fact that he walked halfway across the store to deliver it.)

Me: “Sure! Thank you so much!”

(The guy wanders off towards the checkout area, leaving me with my salad. About half an hour later, my replacement comes and I head to the customer service counter to clock out for my break.)

Coworker: “Are you going on lunch, [My Name]?”

Me: “Yep! And look, I have a whole meal this time!”

(I show him my salad, and he frowns.)

Coworker: “Where did you get that?”

Me: “One of the corporate rental guys. It was a leftover.”

Coworker: “You’re not allowed to take that.”

Me: “What? We get free food all the time.”

Coworker: “But that’s from the managers. This is a tip. We’re not allowed to accept tips.”

Me: “It’s not a tip, dude. This is just leftover food. It’s exactly the same as if they’d given it to the managers to give to us.”

Coworker: “But we’re not allowed to accept tips. I’m going to have to report you.”

Me: “Why? [Coworker], you’re overthinking this, seriously.”

(At this exact moment, the customer service supervisor happens to walk by.)

Supervisor: *checking schedule* “Hey, [My Name]. Did you go on your lunch break yet?”

Me: “Not yet. I was just about to go eat this free salad.”

(I show him the salad, while my coworker draws breath to speak.)

Coworker: “[Supervisor], she took a—“

Supervisor: “Nice choice.” *points to the employee shelf, where the other salad box is sitting, and winks* “You’ve got good taste. Enjoy your break!”

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