There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here, Said the Joker to the Thief

I promise I’m not turning this into a work blog. I think I learned my lesson this time around, and I’m not friends with any co-workers on Facebook so we should be okay for the time being. That being said……..

I really despise Fridays. People at most jobs are all jazzed about the weekend and blah blah blah, but to me, Friday is almost as bad as Monday. Where I work, it’s a guaranteed 12 hour shift that can never seem to go fast enough, and with employees antsy to get their work done they create more equipment problems than usually actually physically exist. Usually they’ll involve forklifts, in which I’ve already had to clamber around the dusty and grimy indoor maintainance yard unscrewing the back of a fork computer while searching for the S/D card to re-image it because for some reason some incompetent crashed the computer or disjarred the card from the back to corrupt the files. Or if I’m low on corded scan guns for forklifts, I’ll wander aimlessly in the hot and muggy maintainance area searching for forklifts to steal equipment off of in hopes that they’ll work for the immediate problems I have.

I’m sure that today will be no different. One of the jobs I do is run the room that hands out, records, and does basic troubleshooting on all the handheld electronic equipment. Basically, I’m the first line of defense before problems escalate to IT, which on my watch usually never happens. It means however, that anyone who needs a flashlight, radio, walkie talkie, voice headset, scan gun, fork gun, ID badge, or reward stickers comes through me. And because I work in a grocery distribution center that has more than 1.5 million square feet, I see quite a lot of employees a day. I couldn’t put an exact number on it, but on a typical Friday it probably falls in between the 300 and 400 range for individual employees. My job is a lot like being the principal of an elementary school. If you’re a member of the DC proletariat, and I know you by name (or employee number in this case), it’s traditionally a bad thing. There are some who are genuinely nice and polite people who I in turn am kind to, and are patient and understanding when the electronics don’t work or are slow, as is wont to happen. Then there’s the other group of people who I have little patience for, who simply think that their little world of percentages is all that matters, and common courtesy be damned to everyone else.

These are the kind of people who really irk me. One of them happens to be a foreman who comes into my domain every morning to pick up a scan gun. Here’s a little background information. The normal protocol for signing out a receiving gun is you come to the window, say what you need, give your employee ID number, as I log it and make sure it works as I hand it out. This way the expensive (upward of $1000) equipment is always accounted for to ensure it doesn’t disappear or get damaged. After months of basic repetition, I know who about 80% of the people are that use the equipment and what they need, so they just need to appear at my window and I will hand them whatever they typically request. If you’re an employee that recently has had a lot of issues with equipment or works in a part of the warehouse with sometimes spotty wireless signal, I will try to find one of the newer or better electronic tools to help you out. On most days, I will keep the very best equipment back with myself, and only hand it out to employees that are consistently running into problems with their equipment as to appease their pain and frustration.

However, on most days when said foreman works, she just bypasses the window and barges into the office and grabs whatever scan gun (typically the best one) she so pleases. On more than one occasion I’ve attempted to ascertain which gun she has (they’re all numbered) so that I can log it and follow procedure. But, it’s gotten to the point where I have just given up trying to do that, making myself resort to other methods. The thing is, in all of her 10 hour shift (which my shift always completely encompasses), she never comes back for a battery change, and she works in the area of the warehouse with the best reception. Which means, not only does she not use the gun very often, but it isn’t even necessary to have the best gun at all. I’d much prefer that those guns were kept in my back pocket to help out employees that really need them. So this morning, I hatched a plan.

Instead of trying to fight her every morning and get on the mainframe to hunt down whatever gun she’s on to log it, I thought to myself, why not just hide all the good guns before she even comes in? I took every gun that she was known to pilfer and hid them in the back of the room buried underneath some empty boxes and bubble warp. As the early morning wore on, she hadn’t shown up yet so I was wondering if all my efforts were in vain because of her schedule. But sure enough, as I was making an ID badge for one of the maintenance supervisors, in she walked. And like a high schooler listening to Dave Chappelle in the middle of class, I stifled my laughter as best possible as she stared at the gaping hole in the middle of the gun rack where I had absconded with all the quality equipment. In what seemed like a bit of a huff, she grabbed an inferior gun and walked away, securing the victory for myself. I couldn’t care less which gun it was at this point, the victory of it not being one of my babies was more than enough to keep me momentarily happy.

Unfortunately, not everything is as easy to set up as this. In another instance, there’s one rather notorious employee (at least in my world) that annoys the living crap out of me. Despite the quality of the equipment I give said employee, she manages to mess something up and then instead of asking for help, she’ll grouchily jump right from the frying pan into the fire. For example, yesterday I handed her what is usually a solid gun. It’s not fantastic, but it certainly isn’t a piece of garbage. One of the problems these guns can have is that if they have a bad battery or loose connection or some issue or other, they’ll reset back to the main menu which is past the sign on screen. And if you’re already logged onto a gun, you can’t log back into it and have to have someone as myself get on the mainframe to manually log you off so you can get back on. If a gun starts having this problem, most employees will exchange it as quickly as possible so they can go about their business. It might happen two or three times a day to different people, so it’s known to happen.

This woman seems to have this problem every day. The only feasible way this can be real is if it is simply user error. Except yesterday, she called me from her position in the warehouse six times to log her off her gun because it rebooted. Six. Even the thickest people can figure out that there’s a problem after half that many times. And each time, she proceeded to get more and more hostile, becoming shorter and terser with me every time. It got to the point where when the phone rang, I merely ignored it and brought up the mainframe and logged her out. The fact that she took time out to get off her forklift, find a phone, and call me six times to log her off the gun is mind-boggling. Obviously the thing isn’t working right, so use that time to instead get me to fix the problem or to get new equipment. I was ready to throw the phone through the wall, but thankfully it was the end of my shift so I turned her pathetic raging warpath over to him and washed my hands of it as I got out of Dodge. Part of me wants to hand her that same exact gun, totally unfixed, today. But the other part of me says to just give in and let her have working equipment so she can take her place as a woman, seen but not heard (I’m getting slapped for that comment soon I’m sure).

Anyway, I should hop off my high horse and do something actually useful at work today. There are cables to be repaired and stuff that needs organized, so off to the land of boring I go for the next 10 hours. -____________-



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