Breaking: Impatient Customer Still Manages To Be Kind To Workers

, , , , , | Working | August 4, 2020

When a customer orders groceries online at my store, they have the option to get their prescriptions filled provided it isn’t a controlled substance. Extra steps are taken to make sure we don’t violate HIPAA laws. However, we partner with a popular online grocery company to offer delivery. Prescriptions are not available through delivery for a variety of reasons.

One of my customers has asked to have his prescription filled on a delivery order. I call him to explain his options.

Me: “Unfortunately, we cannot give you your prescription through delivery.”

Customer: “Why not? We get all our other meds delivered through a service.”

Me: “It’s because it would violate all sorts of HIPAA laws. The [Online Grocery Company] drivers aren’t certified and can’t sign for it. If you want, I can get everything prepared for you, and you could come in and get it from the pharmacy.”

Customer: “I guess we’ll have to, but can I pick it up tomorrow, instead? Will it be ready then?”

Me: “Yes. I’ll have the pharmacy get it ready, and I can add it to your order today so it’s already paid for, so all you have to do tomorrow is come by and pick it up.”

Customer: “Could I come through the curbside pickup lane and get it? We’re in the age group that’s not supposed to be going outside right now, so we’d rather not come inside.”

Me: “Yes, that’s fine.”

I end the call and think nothing of it. A few hours later, the customer calls again. No one has come by to pick up his groceries and he’s wondering what’s going on.

Me: “We actually have nothing to do with the delivery part. We partner with [Online Grocery Company]. I can give you their customer service number to call. I find issues are resolved faster when they talk to the actual customer instead of us.”

Customer: “Have you had other problems with delivery orders today?”

This is in the middle of the current health crisis thing, and so many people are trying to get groceries delivered that it’s causing backup both on our system and with the online grocery company.

Me: “Yes, we’ve been having some problems all weekend. I think the main problem is that they don’t have enough drivers right now. But like I said, if you call them, they should get someone out here to pick your order up. The number is [number].”

Customer: “I hope my perishables aren’t going bad.”

Me: “Oh, no. We have coolers and freezers for the cold stuff, so nothing will be spoiled.”

Customer: “Thank you for your help.”

I hang up, and he calls again five minutes later.

Customer: “So, they aren’t taking calls from customers right now. Could you please call them? Maybe they’ll listen to you.”

Me: “I can try, but we have to call the exact same number, so I’m not sure if I’ll get any further.”

Customer: “If you can’t, that’s fine. We can come to pick it up tomorrow if we don’t get the groceries delivered today.”

I hang up and check our dashboard for delivery orders. The dashboard lets us see if someone has claimed an order, or delete a delivery if we need to, but nothing else. I see his order is still open and call the online grocery company. I am on hold for a good fifteen minutes listening to the most upbeat hold music I’ve ever heard, when the customer calls me back again.

Customer: “So, my wife doesn’t want to wait, and she wants her prescription today. Could we just pick it up today? Is the prescription ready?”

Me: “Yes, the prescription is ready. You are welcome to come to pick your order up at your convenience. I’m sorry about this.”

Customer: “It’s not your fault. It’s [Online Grocery Company]. You guys are doing your best. I’m sure you’re swamped right now, and half the shelves are empty right now. My wife just doesn’t want to wait anymore. She’s on her way now.”

I cancelled the delivery online. Not even five minutes later, his wife showed up for the groceries. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve had people not get their groceries within their delivery time slot, but this whole outbreak situation certainly has multiplied the number of people left waiting for their groceries.

At least this customer was understanding about everything. Too many people have yelled at us for deliveries being late and the store being out of everything, fights have broken out in the store, etc. We even had a customer steal a roll of paper towels that a coworker was using to clean the shelves. We really appreciate the understanding people right now.

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Calling Out And Taking Out The Trash

, , , | Working | August 4, 2020

I live at the top of a hill with houses on either side. It’s not very steep and rounds out across my large yard, but it is a noticeable incline.

One day, after the trash is collected, I notice that the can has been moved from one side of my property to the far side of my neighbor’s yard. Our trash cans are labeled with the house number, so I don’t think someone thought it belonged to them. I push my can back to where it was before, but the same thing happens the next week, this time going to the far side of my other neighbor’s yard. I move it back again, wondering if somebody is playing some bizarre prank on me.

The third week, I am home when trash is collected. I see a young man with a distinctive tattoo on his arm and another on his neck hop out of the truck idling in front of my neighbor’s house, pull my can to the truck, empty both cans, and get back in. The truck then drives by my house and stops at my other neighbor’s house to collect. I try to flag him down, but he either doesn’t see me or he doesn’t care.

I decide to call the sanitation department to see what is going on.

Receptionist: “Sanitation.”

There is silence… and then I realize that was the entire greeting.

Me: “Oh! Hi, um, someone keeps moving my trash can off of my property and—”

Receptionist: *Sigh* “You have to put your trash can beside your mailbox before collection. Otherwise, they won’t pick it up.”

Me: “Yes, I know. That’s what I’ve been doing, but one of the guys collecting is putting it in my neighbor’s yards.”

Receptionist: “Who is it?”

Me: “I didn’t see a name tag.”

I describe the man.

Receptionist: “Doesn’t sound familiar. Is it beside your mailbox?”

Me: “It is now.”

Receptionist: “Then they’ll pick it up.”

Me: “I’m asking why my can was moved off of my property.”

Receptionist: *Another sigh* “I don’t know.”

Me: “Then who does? Because it’s kind of annoying to have to haul it back to where it’s supposed to be.”

Receptionist: “I don’t know. Ask the team next time. Have a nice day.” *Hangs up*

So, I wait until the next trash collection day. When the truck comes down the road, I step outside to watch. The same man jumps down from the truck and begins dumping cans. When he gets to my neighbor’s house, I walk out and stand beside my trash can. He starts walking toward me, looks up, and pauses before turning around to get back in the truck. I wait for him to pull up to my house before saying anything. He gets out, looks me over, and pulls the can toward the truck.

Me: “Hi. Could you—”

He spits in my direction.

Man: “Yeah?”

Me: “Could you tell me why my trash can keeps ending up in my neighbor’s yards?”

Man: “It’s not.”

He puts the can back where it was.

Man: “See?”

I give a short, annoyed laugh.

Me: “I saw you move it over there last week.”

Man: “And?”

Me: “Please don’t do it anymore.”

Man: *Sarcastic tone* “Okay, then.”

Me: *Overly cheerful* “Great! Thank you!”

The next week, my can was left where it was supposed to be. I could understand if I lived at the end of a road or if there was some rule about it, but I don’t and there isn’t. I still have no idea why it kept getting moved but I’m glad it stopped.

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This One Sure Doesn’t Measure Up

, , , , , | Working | August 4, 2020

As a contractor, I need some day labor to assist in a project, basically manning a shovel. I am talking to some of the prospects because if I find someone with good qualifications and experience I might consider hiring them after their contract with the day labor business is complete.

I am talking to one young fellow who looks to be just out of high school.

Me: “And how are your math skills?”

Laborer: “Math skills? I don’t need no freaking math skills; I’m gonna be a carpenter!”

Me: “…”

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This Is Enough To Make Anyone A Germaphobe

, , , , , , , | Working | August 4, 2020

During the recent health crisis, the bakery I work at has actually gotten a lot more orders and we end up hiring two new guys. One of them is turning into a problem case, seemingly having no common sense about working with food.

I’m working with him one day, showing him how to bag/pack some of the more delicate pies and pastries we make. I leave to take a phone order for a few minutes. I come back and notice he’s licking his fingers every time before grabbing a fresh bag.

Me: “Hey, go wash your hands and stop licking your fingers.”

New Hire: “Well, I can’t open the bags right.”

Me: “Then prep them before you start. Don’t lick your fingers while you’re bagging again; it’s not sanitary.”

I toss the few bags he did while I took the order and go back to my work. Ten minutes later, I go back around to check on him and now he’s blowing hard into every bag to get it open before starting.

Me: “Are you kidding me? Don’t blow into the f****** bags!”

New Hire: *Looking genuinely confused* “Why? I’m not licking the bag.”

I tossed out another dozen bags and called over my boss. Even after a solid five- or ten-minute conversation trying to explain contamination and basic hygienic practices, nothing seemed to stick. My boss decided, in the end, to stick him on delivery duty for the next few weeks while we needed the help.

The strangest thing is that he wasn’t some conspiracy theorist who didn’t believe the outbreak was real; he just genuinely didn’t seem to get that blowing into a bag you’re going to pack with food or licking your fingers every minute while handling food was a bad idea.

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At Least We Can All Agree On What NOT To Say

, , , , , , | Working | August 3, 2020

Forty years ago, I worked for a small microfilm publishing company as a newspaper indexer. While the company filmed the paper, the indexers read the articles, choosing subject headings for the article and writing a short sentence describing the content.

I had recently been promoted to assistant editorial which basically meant that, yes, I got a raise, but it also meant I did a lot of leg work when the big bosses decided it was time to fix things that weren’t actually broken.

The bosses, upon looking at the index, felt that African-Americans reading the index would be offended if the words “race” and “racism” were in an alphabetical list with the words “race track” because it was disrespectful to black people. From then on, anything about racing, the sport, was under the name of the item being raced — cars, horses, greyhounds, jumping frogs, etc. We could not even put in a “see” reference from racing to the new terms because that would be so hurtful.

The discussion of race then put them in mind that using the phrase “African-American” didn’t sound right, either. It was going to sound offensive and they didn’t like it.

So, it became my job, the vice president decided, to call every black cultural group on every college campus in the county until I got some kind of consensus. 

In what was one of the strangest little projects, I called the three closest and largest colleges. The first two “African-American Cultural Centers” were, oddly, run by white people. They told me this up front. Number One said she had no clue as she wasn’t African-American and had no one to ask, but she felt sure that the term “Afro-American” was preferred over “Black” or “African-American” because it sounded “hip.”

Guy Two was some kind of didactic intellectual who went off on a long diatribe about how “Afro-American” and “African-American” were somehow insulting — he did not explain why — and it was much better to refer to them as “Black” which was descriptive and therefore preferable.  

Then, I hit Number Three. The gentleman who answered had a deep James Earl Jones voice and what seemed a sour and disinterested manner. I explained my dilemma and I finished with, “And so, I am embarrassed to ask this, but my boss insists I ask exactly this: do African Americans prefer to be called ‘African-American,’ ‘Afro-American,’ or ‘Black’?”

There was a long pause and then he said, “I prefer ‘Steve,’ actually,” before he burst out laughing. He went on to say, “Your bosses aren’t very bright. We are people of African background who were born and raised in the U.S. We are African-Americans. What the heck else would they call us?”

We talked for a bit and he assured me that as a professor of Black History, he was pretty sure he knew his terms.  

I went back to my boss with my findings and she took it to the big bosses.

And, despite what Steve said, they went with “Afro-American” because they agreed with the idea that it sounded hip, happening, and now.

Consequently, an entire year’s work had to be redone because a bunch of people who were so not equipped for their big important jobs needed to meddle in the work of their employees who knew what they were doing and how to do it.

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