Bad boss and coworker stories

Pulled That Cake Out Of The Oven Way Too Early

, , , , | Working | May 7, 2021

I work as a decorator at a bakery. It isn’t a chain place but it turns out to be a great place to exercise my decorating skills. Eventually, I plan to go back to school for more advanced decorating classes. I have been helping my boss interview for my replacement.

The candidates are two ladies around twenty-five and an older woman. The two younger ladies are lovely and make a really good impression, while the older lady acts really arrogant. At the end of the interview, she seems to be convinced that she has already gotten the job. My boss, sensing the same vibes, makes it very clear that no decisions will be made right away.

A few days later, before the boss man has made a decision about who to hire, the older woman calls back. She manages to speak to one of my coworkers, who was not part of the interview process. 

Coworker: “Hello?”

Older Woman: “Hi! I’m phoning to talk to your boss. He hired me a few days ago and I want to know when he wants me to come in.”

Coworker: *Oblivious* “Well, he’s not here right now. I’ll take a message so he can call you back.”

Older Woman: “Okay!”

[Boss] comes in, gets the message, and tells [Coworker] that he hasn’t hired anyone yet. [Older Woman] phones back before [Boss] gets a chance to call her.

Boss: “I’m sorry for the confusion, but you have only been in for an interview—”

Older Woman: *Interrupting* “Oh, no, I’m not confused at all. You hired me. Just tell me my starting date.”

Boss: “There is no starting date yet. I haven’t decided to hire anyone yet.”

Older Woman: “Don’t you remember me? I was here with my fiancé and you hired me.”

Boss: “Um, no, I didn’t.”

Older Woman: “Yes, you did. You shook my hand and told me that you would call me with my starting date, but you seem to have forgotten. Just tell me when to come in on my first day of work.”

Boss: “Ma’am, no one has been hired yet. Not you and not any of the other candidates. You’ve only had an interview. You still have to demonstrate your decorating abilities before you can even be considered for hiring.”

[Older Woman] gets very irate and hangs up. The boss puts NAGF (Not A Good Fit) in red ink on the woman’s resume and puts it away.

Later in the day, the woman’s fiancé calls. He’s basically screaming with rage, and it takes [Boss] a bit to get the guy calmed down enough to even understand who the heck he is and why he’s so peeved.

Fiancé: “You know you can’t do that, right?! You know it’s bad business practice to tell someone they’re hired and then not hire them!”

Boss: “No one has been hired. Your fiancé hasn’t gotten far enough in the hiring process to join the team yet.”

Fiancé: “Oh, I get it! You’re discriminating against her! You know it’s illegal to refuse to hire someone based on age! Let me lay it out for you: either you hold up your end of the bargain and tell my fiancé what her starting date is or we’re going straight to the labor board to report you!”

Boss: *Coldly* “You go ahead and try that.”

He hung up on the fiancé. Nothing came of their threats, and in the end, we hired both of the younger ladies, who passed the decorating tests with flying colors. I went back to school feeling glad that we had made the right choices for the bakery.

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Doctor’s Notes Are Powerful

, , , , , , | Working | May 7, 2021

I have chronic back issues that may flare up quite unexpectedly. My team leader is aware of that. After a few years working in the factory, with increasingly poor ergonomy, my back begins to act up more often. Permanent workers can get a sick day or two just by letting the team leader know.

A few months go by. I call or message the team leader if I have a really bad day, and I don’t go to work that day.

Team Leader: “I can’t let you take any more sick days without a doctor’s note.”

Me: “So, even if it’s one day — like it’s been this far — I need to visit a doctor and get a note?”

Team Leader: “That’s right. I hope you understand.”

Me: “All right.”

From then on, every time my back flared up — not talking about a minor twinge or muscle cramp here — I called the occupational healthcare clinic, got an appointment, and got a doctor’s note. Those notes ALWAYS prescribed at least three days of paid sick leave, sometimes a week!

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This Cashier Has Baggage

, , , , , , | Working | May 7, 2021

I am shopping at a large grocery store during the health crisis. Some cashiers want you to bag your own groceries, some don’t. Since there is no clear policy, I try to just watch what the cashier does and follow along.

This cashier has an issue with the register she is on and has to bring me over to another lane, so I can tell she is irritated from the start. She scans my items but collects them behind the plexiglass barrier so I can’t reach them to bag. I keep my reusable bags all inside one for easy carrying. As she bags, the other bags tend to expand out onto the counter and I can tell she is flustered by this.

Almost at the end of the transaction, the cashier mumbles under her mask to me. All I can catch is the word “two.”

Me: “Oh, yes. you’re right. I do have too many bags there. I could bring in just two next time to make it easier.”

Cashier:No! I said you could help by bagging, too!”

Me: “Oh, okay.”

By that time, she had finished bagging so there was nothing I could do. What did she expect me to do? Reach around the plexiglass to get the items and put them in the bags she had tucked away beside her, all while somehow keeping the proper distance between us? I realize she was irritated from the beginning, but she could have said something if she wanted me to bag my own stuff!

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What A Load Of Bull

, , , , , | Working | May 6, 2021

I’m a biologist at a small startup biotech company, small enough that we don’t have a human resources department, only an HR consultant who shows up once a week. As such, in addition to our regular jobs, the scientists are in charge of reading resumes, interviewing candidates, etc. Frankly, it’s kind of a fun break from our lab work, and it’s helpful for us to have a hand in identifying the candidates who would be easiest to work with.

My lab work involves the cryopreservation of an experimental vaccine, which means finding ways to keep it stable at extremely cold temperatures. (No, it’s not one of the vaccines for the current health crisis.)

One of my colleagues has just finished interviewing a candidate for a Research Associate — entry-level — position. It’s my turn to interview him next, even though the candidate wouldn’t be working in my department. My colleague smiles at me in the hall and hands me his information.

Colleague: “This will be interesting.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Colleague: “You’ll see.”

I enter the interview room. The candidate is a typical guy just out of college, wearing a nice suit, and he has the most smug look on his face I’ve ever seen. I introduce myself, tell him a little about my department’s goal of cryopreserving a particular vaccine, and start to ask questions about his experience. After a while, he interrupts himself.

Candidate: “By the way, I know how to solve your problem.”

Me: “What problem?”

Candidate: “Cryopreservation.”

This is essentially the primary research goal of my whole department, so I’m curious to hear what someone who just walked in our doors might think is the way to “solve our problem.”

Candidate: “Bull semen.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Candidate: “Bull semen. It helps with cryopreservation.”

Me: “Are you saying… we should add bull semen to our vaccine?”

Candidate: “Yup!”

He sits back, smiles, and crosses his hands behind his head, and then he says something I’ll never forget.

Candidate: “But I’m not going to give you all my good ideas today. First, you have to hire me.”

I was somehow able to keep a straight face through the rest of the interview. Discussing it with colleagues later, we concluded that he must have Googled “cryopreservation” before arriving and read that cryopreservation is often used in the cattle industry with bull semen. He then decided that this tangentially related thing he just learned must be the solution to our problems and that he could use this as a bargaining chip to get hired.

We did not hire him. And we did not add bull semen to our vaccine. But “I’m not going to give you all my good ideas today” became an inside joke around the lab for a while.

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The Kids Are Kinder Than Your Complaining Coworker

, , , , , , | Working | May 6, 2021

We are a multinational company, with coworkers from the UK, Germany, and France. Everyone seems to get on really well and most of us socialise outside of work, as well. Part of this is sarcasm and banter. Some of the German guys struggled to understand, but after a few months, they are joining in with everyone.

We’re discussing our kids and families. One of my German coworkers is talking about how great his kids are. It’s all normal parenting stuff.

Me: “Well, you know what they say about German children?”

German Coworker: “No. What?”

Me: “They’re all kind-er.”

German Coworker: “I don’t get it.”

Me: “Kind-er, you know, like kinder. That’s German for ‘children,’ right?”

German Coworker: “Oh, yes, very good. English joke. I get it now.”

We laugh more at how bad my humor is and finish our break. I am dragged into Human Resources that afternoon.

HR: “There’ve been reports that you have been using racially insensitive and bullying language.”

Me: “News to me. What did I say?”

HR: “Err…” *Checking paperwork* “Something about berating one of the German workers about his children.”

Me: “I said German kids were kind-er. Did you actually speak to [German Coworker]?”

HR: “I, err… no. He is next.”

Me: “I suggest you do that, and maybe to the person making these allegations.”

I caught up with my coworker later that week to make sure that he wasn’t actually offended . Surprise, he wasn’t, and he said he felt more part of the team when we treated him like the English workers. The anonymous complainer was spoken to about exaggerating complaints. Hopefully, they got the hint.

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