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Taking Ownership Of Your Job

, , , , , , | Right | September 27, 2021

Back in my college days, I worked in a hotel chain’s kitchen as a dishwasher to pay my rent and bills. Most people would think that Joe Schmoe in the back of the kitchen running dirty dishes through the mechanical washer was probably the absolute last on everyone’s list of priorities. However, within the first week that I started working there, I noticed a casually dressed person — not wearing any kind of uniform or name tag — who would come through checking different food items and writing on a clipboard.

He would always give me a friendly smile and ask if everything was okay. I assumed he was some manager from a different department, especially since he would occasionally ask me something like, “Hey, when you find time, could you sweep out (wherever)? That would be awesome! Thanks, buddy!”

I spotted a cook picking dropped food off the floor and putting it back on the plate to be served. I protested to her about it — only to be told, “Mind your own business!” — and then reported the incident to the kitchen manager. I was later approached by said manager.

Kitchen Manager: “Thanks for bringing that hygiene issue to our attention. Just to let you know, if you encounter any problem — any concerns, no matter how petty they are — you can come to my office at [floor]. What goes on here in this hotel is everyone’s business, including yours.”

Me: “Oh, are you the general manager?”

He chuckled.

Kitchen Manager: “I’m here to make sure things are running smoothly.”

He stayed true to that; any concerns I had — like the mountains of unsold food that I was throwing away every day! — I could go discuss with him, and I would immediately see changes happen. I would always be greeted with, “How’s it going, buddy?” and he would make small talk, ask questions about me, the whole bit.

After a while, I asked the kitchen manager what exactly his position was. This man was not just the general manager; he was the OWNER of not only that hotel, but four other hotels in the region!

That was fifteen years ago, and out of all the people in management I remember, he’ll always stand out as the true example of what being a leader and manager is all about.

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Sometimes The Helpline Needs A Little Bit Of Help, Too

, , , , | Right | September 27, 2021

Things looked rough a few years ago. I almost lost a close friend of mine to alcohol and drugs, was being harassed at work for months, and was constantly in need of medication because of flu symptoms and throat infections, which I later found out were stress-related.

I heard of those phone helplines where you talk to strangers about your life. I tried it out, and WOW! Multiple times I had someone to talk to for what felt like hours. 

A year later, things weren’t that grim anymore and I felt the need to thank them for their support, so I called the line. 

Contact: “[Phoneline], happy to help, this is [Contact].”

Me: *Stuttering and nervous* “Yes, this is [My Name]. I got helped by you and your helpline multiple times these years and… and I simply wanted to say thank you. You are all doing great work and I felt the need to say it out loud.”

There’s a prolonged silence on the other end of the line. Then, she responds, with a trembling voice.

Contact: “Wow. In all my years of working here, I haven’t had someone call to just say thank you. That was very sweet, and I want to thank you in return.”

That felt good!

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I Wanna Be The Very Best, Like [Employee #1] Never Was

, , , , , , | Right | September 27, 2021

My brother and I have been crazy into Pokémon since it came out. We basically grew up with it. When I was fifteen and he was thirteen, [Toy Store Chain] used to host official sponsored Pokémon League events each Saturday morning from 9:00 am to noon, and we always went. My brother and I even started showing up early to help the organizer — a designated [Toy Store] employee — in setting up. It was easy: go into the back employee-only room, grab tables, chairs, pens, promo cards to pass out, badges to award, and new badge books for the newcomers.

[Employee #1] didn’t know s*** about Pokémon, but my brother and I were super used to the League from when we attended at card shops, so we let him know what was what when he didn’t know what to do. He quickly just pushed more and more of the tasks onto me, and I was happy to take on the duties. Pretty soon, my brother and I were kind of running the event, and [Employee #1] would disappear for most of the three hours. No one seemed to notice or care though, since I was doing a great job and all the kids were having a great time. Also, I was d*** near unbeatable, and in the world of card games, that makes you the boss. That’s just how it works.

At one point, my brother and I noticed that [Employee #1] hadn’t shown up in about three weeks —not that we really cared. We just went into the back room by ourselves, carried the tables and chairs out, passed out the promo cards to each attendee, stamped their badge books, presided over matches, gave awards, etc. Then, at noon, we cleaned up, took the tables and chairs back, neatly stacked everything, and hung around until our mom came to pick us up.

So, on the third week after noticing that [Employee #1] hadn’t shown up, another employee found my brother and me as we were putting stuff away.

Employee #2: “Are you the ones that have been running the Pokémon thing for the last few weeks?”

Brother & Me: “Yes.”

The employee got an, “Oh, s***,” look on his face, like he wasn’t sure what to do now. He stood there thinking for a bit.

Employee #2: “How old are you?”

Me: “Fifteen.”

Employee #2: “Okay, don’t go anywhere.”

He left and came back and got basic information from me, like my name, address, etc. Bless my naive little heart, I answered everything. Then, we left.

The next Saturday was business as usual. The following Saturday, [Employee #2] showed up after we got done putting away all the stuff and handed me an envelope. Inside was a paycheck for like $130. It was back-pay for all the hours I had “worked.” It turned out that [Employee #2] was the manager and he’d been getting so many compliments from the parents about their “employee that ran the Pokémon League” that he’d been trying to find that employee for weeks, but all his employees kept saying, “It’s not me.”

Apparently, it was a complete mystery to everyone how the tables and chairs were being put out and being put back and who was actually running the event. Remember, my brother and I were just another pair of kids in a crowd of over twenty-five people aged six to thirty. As far as the [Toy Store] staff was concerned, it was a ghost running the events.

And that’s how I accidentally got my first job. I never found out what happened to [Employee #1], but I never saw him again. To this day — I’m thirty-eight now — I still have it in my resume that my first job was as a Pokémon Master. The strange thing is that not a SINGLE employer has ever questioned it.

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Don’t Grill Them Over The Chicken

, , , , , , | Working | September 27, 2021

While living in the DC Metro area, we have out-of-town visitors in to see the sights. We spend one day shopping and gawking in the Georgetown area. When lunchtime arrives, we find an out-of-the-way bistro that doesn’t have an excessive wait time and where the prices (as compared to many upscale Georgetown eateries) are not outrageous.

We all order drinks, appetizers, and full-sized meals. I select a grilled chicken breast. As anyone who has ever grilled chicken knows, the thickness of a chicken breast varies, so it is hard to get the main part fully cooked without the thin outer edge becoming overcooked.

I clean my plate but leave a small amount of the charred edge of the chicken.

Waitress: “Was the chicken not cooked to your liking?”

Me: “No, it was fine. I’d rather have the main part well cooked, even if the edge was overdone.”

Waitress: “I’m terribly sorry for that, sir. I’ll speak to the chef to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Me: “Please don’t. Everything was delicious, and I wouldn’t have expected anything different. It really wasn’t a problem.”

Less than two minutes later:

Manager: “I’m the restaurant manager, and I’d like to apologize for your meal not being served perfectly.”

Me: “Think nothing of it! Everything was excellent and all of us were completely satisfied with everything that we had. We have no complaints or concerns about anything.”

Manager: “You’re being too kind, sir. We strive to meet very high standards here, and we won’t accept anything less for any customer’s experience. I’ve removed your lunch charge from the bill, and I’d like to provide your entire party with dessert as a way to make amends for this problem.”

Me: “Honestly, that really isn’t necessary. Everything was wonderful and we’re all really happy that we found this place. There is no need for you to make adjustments for something that we didn’t see as a problem.”

Manager: “Thank you for your kindness. I hope that you’ll come back again sometime so we can prove that we can do things properly.”

When the check came, ALL of my charges — drinks, appetizer, and main meal — had been removed from the bill. That restaurant became our go-to location for visitors, special occasions, and even for business meals. I recommended it to my sales team for their use with customers. By the time I was transferred to a new location, I’m sure that their $100 fix to a non-existent problem had netted them over $10,000 from my business alone.

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Because The Vikings Were Well-Known For Their Veganism

, , | Right | September 27, 2021

The Viking Festival is a great excuse for Norse and medieval reenactors to get together, and the general public is fascinated by the market stalls that sell modern-day replicas of period items.

Our friend’s stall specializes in cooking items reproduced as closely as possible to historic finds. The most popular items are the drinking horns and horn tankards. None of his goods are plastic or resin.

A lady has been at the stall for some time, examining every horn available.

Customer: “They’re not very well made. None of them match!

Stall Keeper: “No, each one is slightly different. It reflects the life of the animal it came from.

Customer: “What do you mean? You said these were natural horn?

Stall Keeper: “Yes, real horn from real cattle.

Customer: “Eww, no! That’s disgusting! Where are your vegan ones?”

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