Hostile Beguile

, , , , , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

I work in a grocery store deli. We hire in a new employee, [Coworker #1], who seems nice enough and is a good worker. Three weeks later, on a Friday, [Coworker #1] calls in say she’s going to be late because she has to pick up her kids from school. It’s only the two of us closing the department that night, and the last person from the morning shift has to leave when she was meant to arrive. I shrug it off, figuring I can handle a little while alone.

A half hour passes and I start to get nervous, and slightly frustrated. In my few years of being at this job, no one has ever been this late. A total of fifty minutes passes before [Coworker #1] comes in.

In concern, slight panic, and mild frustration, I ask what caused her to be so late. She only says she had to pick up her kids and leaves the immediate area to clock in. Satisfied, I return to work and wait for her to come back.

A half hour passes and [Coworker #1] hasn’t entered the department since she arrived. I ask  [Coworker #2] from the prepared food department, who also can work the deli, to go look for her while I take care of the customers at the deli.

Eventually, [Coworker #2] comes back and says she can’t find [Coworker #1]; she’s nowhere in the back. We decide to flag down a manager and ask what to do. He uses the speaker system to call her back to the department. Ten minutes pass; no [Coworker #1]. The three of us conclude she has left the store and not told anyone. The manager says not to worry. [Coworker #2] thankfully has [Coworker #1]’s number, so she texts [Coworker #1]. [Coworker #1] does not respond for the rest of the night. [Coworker #2] decides to help me close during the last two hours of my shift, as closing the department is something one shouldn’t have to do alone. I ready myself to talk to her about this calmly tomorrow.

Tomorrow rolls around, and one of the Managers in Charge, who are manager when the official store manager is not around, calls me into her office along with the Union Representative. The MIC tells me that [Coworker #1] has filed a complaint against me, saying that my question had created a ‘hostile work environment’ and [Coworker #1] went home because of this and has not shown up for her morning shift that day. She gives me a talk about how much hiring people costs, gets my side of the story, tells me that this will go to corporate and a full investigation may ensue, and then sends me back to work. [Coworker #2] helps me calm down, as the conversation made me upset. I got in trouble for asking one simple, understandable question.

I still hang on to hope I can talk to [Coworker #1], as we’re scheduled to work together the next night, Sunday night. Our busiest day.

Surprise, surprise, [Coworker #1] doesn’t show, so she was officially fired for having two ‘no-call, no-shows’ during her first ninety days. I was a nervous wreck that I was going to close alone on the busiest day of the week. [Coworker #2] was working in prepared foods again that day and told me directly that she would help me close up, and did so. Despite all of this happening, I’m still confused. Which one of us was in the wrong?

The Contrarian Vegetarian

, , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(The office where I started working a few months ago decides to have a corporate BBQ. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade and, by now, try to avoid barbecues. Even though it probably would’ve been nice for networking I decide not to go and tick that I can’t attend on the response card. My boss, a rather nice guy, asks me about this.)

Boss: “Hey, I just saw that you can’t attend the BBQ. Is it something with the date?”

Me: “Yeah, I’d really love to come but… well, I don’t eat meat and I really don’t want to inconvenience somebody. Besides I wouldn’t feel comfortable needing some kind of special treatment. However, I’d be happy to attend the next corporate event.”

Boss: “Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad?”

Me: *laughing* “Well, to be honest, from my experience I could come wearing a clown’s costume and only talk Swahili and still only be reluctantly talking about my diet the whole evening… only to be subsequently seen as a ‘missionizing vegetarian.’ It’s fine, though; I just don’t feel comfortable at BBQs. I don’t want anybody to feel like he has to justify why he’s eating meat and I don’t want to justify myself. Sadly, BBQs provoke a massive amount of both.”

Boss: *reassuring* “Nonsense! It will be fine. Just write that you are vegetarian on the response card and I’ll let [Coworker who organizes the food] know. She’ll organize something.”

(I comply and, after a while, even start looking forward to the BBQ. The day rolls around and, when they call for dinner, I start looking around only to find that there’s nothing marked as vegetarian and, in fact, even the salads all have bacon in them. I decide to ask said coworker since I think she might have stored the vegetarian options separately.)

Me: “Hi, [Coworker]. Ehhm, did [Boss] talk to you? I can’t find a vegetarian meal.”

Coworker: *snarky* “He did. And that’s because there’s no vegetarian option. Honestly, I’m sick and tired of you vegetarians always trying to force your beliefs on us normal people! It’s unfriendly and unnatural! You’ll eat meat or leave!”

(The irony was somehow lost on her. I apologized to my boss and left.)

Needling Past The Obvious

, , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(One of my friends needs to have her blood drawn for a medical analysis. My friend wears a lot of piercings on her face.)

Me: *to my friend when she gets out* “Was everything okay?”

Friend: “Oh, yes! But something funny happened.”

Me & Girlfriend: “What?”

Friend: “The nurse saw my face, and still asked me if I was afraid of needles.”

Common Sense Not Included

, , , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(I work in the souvenir shop at a museum. Aside from sales, our responsibility is to be knowledgeable of everything inside the museum, both exhibits and the products we are selling, which isn’t hard if you make the effort. Generally, everyone I work with is enthused by the museum theme and knows a lot about it but in the last year or so my line manager has been hiring people don’t know anything about what we do and don’t want to learn, which is pushing down targets and satisfaction. One day one of the recent hires and I are serving a group of people at the tills and I overhear the following exchange.)

Coworker: “Hi, how can I help?”

(Coworker begins ringing through the customer’s goods.)

Customer: “My daughter wants to know if she needs to buy batteries for this products or if they are included?”

Coworker: “I don’t know; I’ll just ask my colleague.”

(Coworker refuses to acknowledge large obvious ‘batteries not included’ signage.)

Coworker: *to Customer* “I’m so sorry, I’ve only been here three months!”

Customer: “What do you mean? You work in a toy shop don’t you?”

Me: *pointing to battery information signage* “[Coworker], it’s right here. Batteries not included.” *to Customer* “Did you want to by some batteries with this today?”

Customer: “Yes, please!”

(I hand batteries to my coworker; the transaction goes through and the customer departs.)

Coworker: *to me* “Wow, you’re really brainy. How do you know so much about products?!”

Me: “We’re supposed to. It’s our job.”

(This isn’t the only example. Another one of our coworkers who used to work with her has been working with us for over a year. When I supervise them I frequently get tales about management ‘being mean’ to them; not allowing them to have access to drinking water, for example. It turns out management caught both of them leaving open cups of drinking water right near electricity outlets, putting the whole workplace at risk, and they construed this as an attempt to deny them human rights. I shouldn’t have had to explain the risk to 30-somethings but not only did they not get it, they told me it was ridiculous.)

The Number One Problem Here Is The Manager

, , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(We’ve had a little accident with a five-year-old who has wet himself. He’s crying quite a bit as his mum tries to sort him out. We have a cleaner sorting out the mess. After he is tended to, he and his mum come out and see our manager glaring at them. He speaks to the boy first.)

Manager: “You should be ASHAMED OF YOURSELF! HAVE YOU NO SELF CONTROL, YOU ANIMAL?!”

Mother: “Excuse me; that’s my son. He’s only five!”

Manager: “AND HAVE YOU ANY PRIDE, WOMAN?! BRINGING AN UNDISCIPLINED MAGGOT INTO MY SHOP, PISSING EVERYWHERE. GET OUT NOW, BEFORE I HAVE BOTH OF YOU ARRESTED!”

(The mother looks horrified as she rushes her son out of the store, while our manager follows her out, screaming louder with every sentence. After they leave, he addresses us.)

Manager: “That is how you handle white trash. The lowest most despicable vermin of our society. In future, if you ever see people like that again, you have my permission to drag them out.”

(I’m too petrified to speak, but am eyeing the door and considering just leaving and never coming back. The feeling seems to be hanging on everyone’s head, but a head supervisor is the first to speak.)

Supervisor: “I may as well pack my bags now then.”

Manager: “What? But you’re my best!”

Supervisor: “I also have a maggot who also wets himself. Yes, I said it. WETS HIMSELF! I hope your mother wasn’t too harsh on you to think it is all right to scream at a five-year-old for an accident. I’m off!”

(This is what broke the silence and we all voiced our disapproval before leaving. The manager sputtered out an attempt at back-pedaling, but it fell on deaf ears. He had to call HR and explain why he needed replacement staff, and according to the other management, got a stern talking to from his manager, who just so happened to have a son around the same age as the boy.)

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