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    And After They Labored Over The Schedule

    | Japan | Coworkers, Crazy Requests, Family & Kids

    (I am an American living in small town in Japan working as an English language assistant teacher. In one of the schools I work at a Filipino family has moved into town within the past year with three kids in the school system. The mother is currently seven months pregnant. They are fluent in English, but sometimes require a bit of translation for Japanese. I’m often called in to help explain paperwork, school procedure, or to be a go between the parents and the Japanese teachers. They have one child with special needs and the school has organized to have them tour a special needs school nearby. The day they are scheduled to visit the pregnant mother calls the school. They hand me the phone.)

    Me: “Hello?”

    Mother: “Hello. This is [Mother]. I’m calling to say we won’t be able to make it to the meeting today. I’ve gone into early labor.”

    (Concerned as the baby is so early and trying to get her off the phone as quickly as I can so she can get back to it.)

    Me: “Oh! I’m sure it will be fine. I will explain everything to them. Just focus on yourself and the baby and I hope it all goes well!”

    Mother: “Thank you!” *hangs up*

    Administration: *in Japanese* “Well? What did she say?”

    Me: “It looks like she has gone into early labor and they will not be able to make it to the school tour today. I hope everything goes well. She’s not due for another two months.”

    Administration: “WHAT?! She’s not going to make the tour?”

    Me: *thinking maybe my translation was off, I try explaining again* “No, she’s in labor… The baby is coming… right now!”

    Administration: “They can’t do this! We made arrangements! There was a schedule!”

    Me: *one last ditch attempt* “She’s in the hospital. She can’t come. Her family is with her.”

    Administration: “They can’t do this!”

    Me: *walks away*

    Service Is Not Up To Scratch

    , | Aberdeen, Scotland, UK | Employees, Extra Stupid, Musical Mayhem

    (In this record shop, they put empty CD boxes on the shelves and store the CDs in cardboard wallets behind the till. I took a box to the counter, and told the assistant how happy I was to have found it, a rare CD that I’d wanted for a while. She rang up my purchase, found the cardboard wallet, SHOOK OUT MY NEW CD ONTO THE COUNTER, PRINTED SIDE UP, AND SLID IT OFF THE EDGE TO PICK IT UP. When she gave it to me, I opened the box, looked at the disc, and sure enough, it had several deep, parallel scratches.)

    Me: “I’m sorry, but… I don’t want this now that you’ve scratched it.”

    Assistant: *looks at disc* “Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

    Me: “…”

    (Her manager refunded my money, but I never did get a copy of that CD.)

    The Supervisor Needs To Stop Projecting

    | Winnipeg, MB, Canada | Bad Behavior, Bosses & Owners, Ignoring/Inattentive, Overtime

    (I work as an IT consultant for a well-known company. I have just finished a four-month assignment out of town, and it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. Shortly after I get back I get a call from my supervisor.)

    Supervisor: [My Name], I heard you just got back from your assignment. How was it?”

    Me: “Honestly? It was terrible. The project was mismanaged. Half the time I sat around with nothing to do. Flying to and from the customer’s location was a nightmare, because the only airline I could use was constantly cancelling flights and leaving me stranded. I missed my husband and two little daughters terribly. I never want to do anything like that again.”

    Supervisor: “Good to know. Since you’re back now, we’d like to put you on another project.”

    Me: “Okay!”

    Supervisor: “This one will be in New Jersey.”

    (Note: I live in Canada.)

    Me: “But… that would be out of town again.”

    Supervisor: *brightly* “That’s right!”

    Me: “For how long?”

    Supervisor: “I’m not sure. At least six months, though.”

    Me: “Please don’t make me do that!”

    Supervisor: “Why not?”

    Me: “Because of all the reasons I just gave you?”

    Supervisor: “Oh, right. Okay, I’ll find someone else.”

    Me: “Thank you so much!”

    (A short time later, my phone rings again.)

    Unknown Caller: “Hello, [My Name]! My name is [Client]. [Supervisor] called me and gave me all your information. Welcome to our project. We’ll be expecting you in New Jersey next Monday.”

    Me: “I’m terribly sorry, but there must have been a mistake. I told [Supervisor] that I couldn’t be part of your project.”

    Client: “Oh? That’s not what she told me.”

    Me: “I’m so sorry. There must be some confusion somewhere, but I won’t be able to come to New Jersey.”

    Client: “That’s too bad. Thanks for telling me.”

    (Less than five minutes later, my phone rings again.)

    Supervisor: “HOW DARE YOU TELL [CLIENT] THAT YOU WOULDN’T BE PART OF HIS PROJECT!”

    Me: “But I told you that I didn’t want to do it, and you said that was fine!”

    Supervisor: “IT’S NOT FINE! YOU EITHER TAKE THAT ASSIGNMENT, OR WE’LL SERIOUSLY CONSIDER LETTING YOU GO!”

    Me: “Do what you have to do.”

    (Not surprisingly, I was laid off less than a month later. The good news is that I got a great job with a great company, and best of all, there’s no travel required!)

    Insanely Caffeinated

    | Boston, MA, USA | At The Checkout, Awesome Workers, Bizarre/Silly

    (On the way into work I go to the local coffee shop for some coffee. The clerk behind the counter is friendly and efficient.)

    Clerk: “Can I get you anything else?”

    Me: “A large dose of sanity would be helpful.”

    Clerk: *without skipping a beat* “I’m sorry we do not keep that stocked behind the counter. All orders for sanity must be places at least 48 hours in advance.”

    Me: “Ugh, thanks. I will keep that in mind for future reference.”

    (Off I go. A few days later, I return to the same shop and the same woman is behind the counter.)

    Clerk: “Good morning. What can I get you today?”

    Me: “Did you get that order for sanity that I placed a few days ago?”

    Clerk: *again without missing a beat* “I am really sorry. I completely dropped the ball on that one.”

    Me: “Sigh. In that case I will have a large coffee.”

    Clerk: “Excellent substitute. I hope that you find some sanity.”

    Sadly Just A Flash Fire

    | WA, USA | Bizarre/Silly, Bosses & Owners, Coworkers

    Manager: “We’re going to have a fire drill during the meeting today. Some of you will be acting as staff and some of you will portray customers.”

    Coworker: “Can I be someone’s unmarked service animal?”

    Me: “Can I be the fire?”

    Manager: “No, we only have 10 minutes for this…”


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