Help Wanted?

By: TK

They called me the dish-Nazi. They said I made everyone else feel bad because I worked so hard. I was always the first one out of the breakroom. That was 17 years ago. Since then, I have been through the ranks and worked my way up to site manager.  I lost that job—call it bad timing—and have returned to hourly pay. I’m sure this past summer has given me the most on-the-clock hours of my life; I hit over 90 hours in 6 days for my first time ever and must have averaged 75+ per week. It must be the dairy farm upbringing, but work has always seemed easy as long as you don’t stop to complain and keep moving forward. But, that was MY perspective on MY work. As a site manager, I had to hire people. I hired people, not workers… workers appear too hard to find. Even in upstate NY, where unemployment is high and poverty rates are higher, it can be difficult finding people who can, or even want to, excel at a job.

They hired two new guys at work. Both needed the money; one for multiple kids, and the other was getting married soon.  One knows how to work, but has a hard time looking away from his phone and Facebook updates; the other struggles with the work, but he needs the money, and you want to help him because he is a recovering addict. Both ask to leave early. Both have had days where they showed up more than 4 hours late. Four Hours!! Yes, we start early, but it’s nearly the same time every day. These aren’t college age dopes. They are nearly 30 years old. Can you even fathom showing up to work four hours late and barely batting an eye?

I recently bought a pallet and a half of pavers from a home improvement store. Their name rhymes with “owe” as in they owe me an apology. My truck is a half-ton, so the eager, seemingly helpful employee looks up the numbers, does the math, and finds they should break it up into four pallets.  He agrees to do it, so when I return the next day, they can load, and I can go home to unload. He thinks one will be ready later that day around 6pm. When I made a return to the store for another project at 6:30, nothing was ready. Not a problem, I’ll return the next day. The next day nothing has been touched. I take the near half pallet home, and they will split up the other stack before I return. When I return 2 hours later, it was still untouched. So, they decide to “hand load.” Apparently, that is what they call it when three schleps hand me pavers for me to stack on my truck, so I can go home and unload solo. When I return for round three, the pick-up desk is closed. I don’t even sign the paper. I just go and start loading solo. The department manager comes out in time to apologize and say they were so busy because someone tried to walk out with an armload of DeWalt tools.  My assumption is they probably stood in line so long that they forgot they had not paid yet (one to two registers open during a holiday weekend should be criminal as well). During the last trip, I even had to walk in the back gate to exchange a few cracked pavers. The manager had agreed to do it, but she was called to spot for a forklift. The schmuck who said they would split it to four pallets did not happen to be around that day. I’ve, unfortunately, come to expect this poor service, so I did not even try to speak to a manager. Looking back, I wish I would have.

How many times have you been at a restaurant where you notice that the server has stopped paying any attention to your table? When you see what they are up to, it often tends to be chatting with other employees or staring at their cell phone. I remember one new bartender who was way better at phone staring phone than paying attention to the room. Being new, and never having done it before, why not study up on new drinks… or any drinks, and try to drum up your tips with paying attention to the customers?

My father was angry a few weeks ago; they instituted a new policy where he works. It’s an incentive program because they keep being left shorthanded, especially on nightshift. Employees on-time, without missing a shift for a month, get a $50 bonus. Six months on-time without missing a shift and you get another $100. A full year, leads to an additional $400! My father says the $50 bonus is not enough to keep someone from skipping a shift. If they miss too many shifts, then fire them. If the night shift supervisor cannot cover one employee calling out, then fire them as well. A bonus should be a bonus for doing a job well, not the incentive to just show up for a job.

I am worried for the future of industry. Many employees don’t care to work and/or do not care to learn new skills at work. There also seems to be a sense of inappropriate entitlement. I hope my stepson and unborn child do not fall into the traps. Will I have passed all the important skills to get them off into the work-world safely? I have always believed I should try to be the best at any given job I hold. You should think you are good at your job. If you don’t think you are the best, is there a way you can get better? If not, what are you doing? Are you just passing the time, waiting for something to change?

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