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Bad boss and coworker stories

Further Train(ing) Is Required

, , , , , , | Working | September 13, 2021

I worked for a while at a railway company. We had a big, busy office where customers could call in for help. Our network covered the Norfolk Broads, a National Park of rivers, waterways, marshes, and large, shallow lakes created by peat digging in the middle ages. Like all National Parks, the Broads is a popular summer tourist destination but has many fewer winter visitors. The result of this was that we had a summer timetable with more trains that stopped at more stations and a winter timetable with fewer trains and fewer stops. Unfortunately, that meant that sometimes visitors would be caught out when the timetables changed.

That was what happened one evening in September. An elderly couple had been out bird-watching in the reed marshes, and on returning to the station, their expected train had not arrived because the timetable had changed. They called our office and asked for help.

We called the head office since we had no one from senior management in. The problem was explained to the senior person at head office.

“Just tell them to walk along the tracks to the next station; there’s a train that calls there in just over an hour,” they said complacently.

Apparently, they didn’t think of the fast-fading light, the rising tide — yes, the river was tidal! — and the fact that, although no more trains would be calling at [Station] that evening, there would still be trains using the line!

We called a taxi for the couple and told them to send the bill to the rail company.

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Well, SOMEONE Is Gonna Learn A Lesson

, , , , , | Working | September 13, 2021

I am a new employee at the craft store where I am supposed to be a stock person. Like every company I’ve ever worked at, I have to read the “newbie” stuff that summarizes safety and company expectations. It is on a computer, so the manager sets it up for me and leaves me to read it.

I start on the first “lesson” and am treated to a massive page of information in small font, most of which looks like legal jargon on laws involving my range of authority.

Me: “[Manager], I think you gave me the wrong lesson.”

Manager: “I gave you the same lesson that everybody else is required to read, [My Name]. Just read it.”

Me: “No, I really think you gave me the wrong—”

Manager: “Stop arguing with me and read it! You have an hour, which is plenty of time!”

Me: “…”

I do my best, but I’m struggling. While I am proud to admit that I can read quite well, this massive pile of text is nothing short of legalese usually found in the small print explaining how a company is in no way responsible for your stereo opening a portal to an Eldritch plane of existence.

I fail to complete even the first “lesson,” get an earful from my manager, and then get chewed out AGAIN trying to explain that I really do seem to have the wrong lesson.

I am given a second hour the following week in an attempt to complete the lessons, and again I fail to complete even the first one.

Finally, the store manager pulls me into his office.

Store Manager: “[My Name], it really is ridiculous that you’re so far behind in your lessons. It shouldn’t even take you fifteen minutes to go through the first one. They’re not complicated, and you really need to read faster than that.”

Me: *Frustrated* “[Store Manager], I can read a Harry Potter book in less than a day. The lessons [Manager] gave me are nothing but complicated legalese and jargon.”

The store manager frowns and goes to bring up what I’ve been reading on my little online account and his jaw drops.

Store Manager: “This is what she gave you?!”

Me: “Yes.”

Store Manager: “These are definitely the wrong lessons! This is information that a store manager is required to know in order to avoid breaking the law while running the store! This takes months and several very expensive company classes to complete! Did you tell [Manager] that she gave you the wrong lesson?!”

Me: “Several times. She kept interrupting me and telling me to stop arguing and that my lesson was the same as everyone else’s.”

Store Manager: “I’m very sorry about this. Let me give you the actual lessons.”

The actual lessons involved a slide show about knowing where the fire extinguishers are and common-sense advice for things a regular employee would need to know about safety. I finished it in fifteen minutes.

This incident was just the first of many such encounters with [Manager] until I finally quit that job.

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No Nonsense, No Cut Corners, No Worries

, , , , , , , | Working | September 11, 2021

To put myself through college, I worked fraud protection for a retail store’s credit card. We would call out to people with suspicious charges or take calls from people we had blocked and basically try to confirm that the person on the other end was who they said they were and that their purchases were legitimate.

The job jumped between hectic times of non-stop calls and complaints, during peak hours, and extremely boring times later in the day leaving messages on answering machines. To try to alleviate the boredom a little, I made a game out of figuring out how to be as fast as possible, and I came up with lots of tricks to try to make myself a little faster.

At one point, our manager was dragged away on short notice to work on a new team, leaving us without a manager. We went a good five to seven months without a proper manager. The employee with the most experience on the floor acted as a quasi-manager when customers inevitably demanded to speak to one.

Eventually, we got a somewhat strict woman who had just retired from the military. Others complained about her no-nonsense approach, but I’ve had enough military friends to recognize it as pretty standard officer behavior and didn’t take offense. That being said, I did get an odd feeling that she didn’t like me whenever I talked to her, more than just her usual no-nonsense behavior, but too ambiguous for me to place exactly what it was or if I was imagining it or not.

A few months after she started working, I noticed this new manager standing a bit behind me. I glanced back, but she didn’t ask me for anything, so I went on with my business at first. When she didn’t move, eventually, I asked her if she needed anything, but she insisted she was fine and I should just go back to work. I tried to do so, though I couldn’t get past the odd feeling of being watched with my manager hovering behind me for so long, even if she claimed everything was okay.

A week later, one of my fellow employees was escorted out of the building. Management wouldn’t say exactly why she was escorted out, only that she wasn’t coming back. About the same time, the strange hostility I had been sensing from my manager disappeared; in fact, now she seemed to really like me, though I still didn’t know why.

That is, until our monthly team meeting came up. During that meeting, the new manager suggested that there were a number of steps she thought everyone should learn to help improve their speed at handling calls, and she suggested that I could potentially give tips to other employees. Eventually, she even had me do a brief twenty-minute visit with each of the slower team members to give suggestions for helping them to improve their rate at handling calls.

It was around then that I finally put together what had been happening. During the time we were unsupervised, two employees had noticeably higher metrics for their number of cases handled compared to everybody else: me and the woman who was escorted out of the building. I realized the manager likely suspected that both of us had taken advantage of the lack of managerial supervision to find a way to cheat the system to get our numbers high enough to earn rewards associated with high call volume.

In the case of the woman escorted out of the building, I’m quite sure she was “cheating.” She would publicly announce that she didn’t want to handle some of the more annoying — and thus slower to process — accounts and was going to skip them. In her defense, I don’t think she realized how much skipping them was artificially inflating her metrics or why that was such a bad thing. Surely she wouldn’t have been quite so blatant at admitting to everyone what she was doing if she had?

In my case, my high numbers were warranted. My tricks gave me a decent boost to the rate I could handle accounts in the later evenings. As an accidental side effect, my ability to make calls out so quickly resulted in my rarely getting the much slower to handle inbound calls during the evening, further inflating my metrics.  

I assume it was only after my new manager watched me working for a while that she saw what I was doing and generally decided that I had earned the numbers my metrics showed fairly. Thus, I got to stop being a suspect to her and instead became a manager’s pet that could help boost team productivity by sharing my “secrets” with the rest of the team.

I left only a few months after that to focus more on school work, and I got a much better paying job once I completed my degree, but after my many years’ — and managers’ — worth of work experience since then, I still occasionally find myself wishing that I could have that no-nonsense woman, who made sure that employees who met standards were rewarded and those that slacked off punished, as a manager again.

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Copying And Pasting This Response To Print On A Future Occasion

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: BushcraftHatchet | September 10, 2021

I work in tech support. We have all had it happen. We are the technology janitors and should always be available to clean up ALL messes having to do with technology at any time of the day or night.

At about 11:30 pm, my mobile phone goes off, waking me from a very well-deserved slumber. I see that it is a work number.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name].”

User: “Hey, [My Name], this is [User] down at the office, and I just wanted to let you know that the main printer is out of ink. Can you come fix this?”

Me: “Okay? Is the backup printer on the other side of the department broken?”

User: “Well, no.”

Me: “And this is an emergency because…?”

User: “Well, I was told to call this number.”

Me: “This number is my mobile phone, and while I will respond to emergencies after hours, it is to be used for emergencies only.”

User: “Well, this is an emergency to me. I cannot print.”

Me: “Okay. Since you are declaring an emergency, I will call [Her Manager], wake him up, let him know, and be down there in about twenty minutes to change the toner cartridge out for you.”

User: “Wait. Why would you call my manager?”

Me: “Because you said that this was an emergency and are requiring me to respond to this immediately. I am required to inform the manager of the department when emergencies happen.”

User: “But—”

Me: *Cutting her off* “Oh, it is not such an emergency to wake your boss over, but waking me up is fine and dandy? Tell you what, then. You have two other options that I have painstakingly planned for to handle just such an occasion. Either you can, one, print to the backup printer on the other side of the department, which I requested purchase of and your manager approved the cost of for this exact reason; or, two, you can look in the cabinet labeled supplies under the printer and find and replace the new cartridge into the printer yourself. It was placed there four weeks ago by me when I changed out the last toner cartridge during the day, during normal business hours, just in case the printer needed one when I am not around. I will leave this choice to your professional expertise. Good night.”

I hung up the phone.

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Offloaded A Couple Hundred Pounds Of Rubbish

, , , , , | Working | September 10, 2021

[Employee] works for me; that is to say, he sometimes does some work… if I can get him motivated enough. The problem is that he has a particular very specific qualification. While it’s simple to do, there are so few people that can train others, and it’s a very rare skill to employ.

[Employee] knows this and thinks himself invincible. He does what he wants when he wants, he’s rude, he’s often late, he makes mistakes, and he’s aggressive to staff. He makes my life difficult. The team resents him, and they resent me for not doing something about him.

Everyone is unhappy, but to get rid of [Employee] is to lose our biggest customer.

Me: “[Employee], can I see you for a minute?”

Employee: “What about?”

Me: “In the office, please.”

Employee: “Let’s see what this d**khead wants now.”

Me: “Sit down, please.”

Employee: “What now? You tell me off, I go back to work, and we do this again next week? Tell you what. I’ll skip to the end right now, shall I?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we have to let you go.”

Employee: “You can’t let me go; you can’t do the [Customer] contract without me!”

Me: “I have that sorted. We have an agency.”

Employee: “Yeah! And they will charge you double!”

Me: “Yes, I know. After I spoke to [Senior Director] and explained, he gave me his blessing.”

Employee: “And that’s it, is it? I’ll collect my stuff, shall I?”

Me: “The team already collected it for you. Security will help you to the car.”

Letting anyone go isn’t easy, but this one time, he did try to make it so.

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