AskReaders Fact List

AskReaders: What are your best/worst stories from your job?

what is your story question

We asked our regular contributors through e-mail, What is your best/worst story from your job? We got many interesting response. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way and most of the respondents have requested to stay anonymous, so no names will be published.

NutRageous bar

01. I work as a manager at a small chain of C-Stores (30ish locations). I am putting away my main order of the week when a woman comes in asking for a NutRageous bar, I told her with a smile we had some right in front of the store, as I pointed right to a blank spot on the shelf. Turns out we had sold out over the weekend, and I had just broken this poor woman’s heart and shattered her dreams with false hope. She had been searching relentlessly for weeks and couldn’t find one anywhere. I apologized for the bad fortune and said I would order more straight away, the woman sighed, bowed her head and walked out of the store like a dejected puppy.

I turned back to the order, opened the tub and right on top was a brand new box of NutRageous bars. I tear open the box and vault over the counter like a bad ass cop sliding over a car hood, sprinting out the door like I had just clocked out. I caught up to her just as she starts to pull away from my store and from happiness, most likely on her way to jump off a bridge, hoping to find a NutRageous bar waiting for her in the next life. She turned and saw me lumbering towards her holding the candy bar like a newborn child I had just delivered into this world, I had never seen someone so happy over a candy, she runs to me like she was a veteran returning home from duty and running towards their children for that first swirling embrace. I tell her to have it on the house, and have a good day.

Then just now I get a call from my district manager demanding to know if I was the one who gave away a candy bar to a customer for free. “Fu*k.” I think to myself, I do something nice for someone and this g*ddamn woman calls my boss to tell on me. So I tell my boss yeah it was me. He tells me that she called and was so happy with our company she would be choosing us for the local volunteer fire fighter appreciation gifts this year. $2,000 in gift cards $25 each for the volunteers. My boss says he is giving me a 10% commission for the gift cards, minus the price of a NutRageous bar of course.

02. So my story starts on what was a normal day taking calls on the front line for a large cable company. The job pays well and for the most part the people I deal with are fairly nice to talk to. Quite often we’ll get calls from seniors (especially in the morning) who have premise equipment issues such as “snow on screen” or “no signal” on their TV sets connected to our digital equipment.

Now my heart does go out to some of these folk because up until recently (past few years) we would supply straight analog cable to many homes (coax direct from wall to TV with scrolling guide). However most cities we service nowadays require our digital equipment to receive channels, and this has caused a lot of frustration with older people who don’t know how to operate said equipment (ie. always having your TV set on “video” or “hdmi” to get picture). So often times we get customers who are repeat offenders with long ticket histories of these types of issues.

So anyway, I get a call from an older gentleman who is quite bitter and mean right off the bat (doesn’t like that I asked for his address / telephone number to verify the account, hates that he has to speak with a machine before reaching an agent, etc.). I have some experience handling these types of customers, however this call was going to be a little different.

I spent over 45 minutes with this guy (we’ll call him Mr. Smith) trying to get his TV set connected to the digital box properly so he could receive a picture. No luck. He was getting clearly frustrated by the whole ordeal and started blaming me for not being able to do my job properly, how I was useless, etc. Whatever.

Like I said, I’ve dealt with this before so I tried my best not to take it personally, but eventually I had to ask him if we could book a service tech to the home (a courtesy call) to get his TV working correctly. Unfortunately, our booking calendar was showing an appointment 3 days out. That’s when he dropped this on me:

“Don’t bother sending a g*ddamn technician, because I’ll be dead by then. I’m 94 and TV is the only thing I have left, are you really going to make me wait for a tech?”

I instantly felt bad. I mean, I’ve heard every complaint in the book as to why people don’t want to wait for a tech but this one kind of got to me. I’m in my mid-20’s so honestly I can’t even imagine how it must feel to utter those words.

So I spoke with my supervisor, who said they’d see if we could get someone out earlier…but we couldn’t promise anything. So I let Mr. Smith know and he was predictably not very happy with my answer.

At that point it almost sounded like he started to cry and went into how he has no family left, and no friends that come visit (this was after I asked if there was anyone in his building that might be able to help). Man, I felt terrible, so I took it upon myself to ask Mr. Smith if I could pay a visit (he lived in a small city over from where I was, not very far to drive).

He was a little shocked I was willing to do this, but sounded thankful I was willing to come out and help him personally.

So I head over, get to the residence and meet him – within 30 seconds I had the cable running again (simple input change) and even brought him a simplified remote for his set top box to avoid this problem in the future.

That’s when he started crying. He goes into how he hasn’t actually spoken or really interacted with anyone for years. He gave me a hug and told me how thankful he was that I came out and helped him, and told me how sorry he was for being so mean earlier on. I said it was no problem and I was happy to help, and that was it – I left.

3 weeks later, my supervisor comes to my desk and asks me if I could come speak with her for a bit about an account for “Mr. Smith”. Turns out, he sent the cable company a letter outlining how thankful he was for helping him with his issue and how it really “made an old man happy again for once in a very long time”. The letter was framed and put on our front entrance to retail.

I guess the moral of this story is no matter how nasty someone is to you over the phone, sometimes they’re not always a terrible person and just going through a lot. I still think about Mr. Smith occasionally when I get those nasty customers and it makes me feel a little better.

Anyway thanks for reading just thought I’d share how this one call changed my outlook on life.

03. This happened a while back but it’s still the best thing that ever happened to me at work. True story. So, i was hired by a big defense company (upgrade tanks, naval weapons, etc.) with over 3500 employees. You can imagine this was a very big company. We were in building 34 and if you needed to go somewhere quick you took a bike or an electric car.

I usually did 2nd line support, but they had a couple of people call in sick and asked me to do first line support. It was a Friday and not much was happening, besides the usual email problems and tech guys turning off Unix machines that needed a checkdisk command with admin rights. The phone rings.

Yes hello, this the secretary of the CEO. We need you to come over NOW! We have a big problem.
ME: What seems to be wrong?
Her: Mr. CEO is trying to open a file in Word, but every time he does this, scrambled text is showing up. I THINK WE ARE BEING HACKED!

(This was a big issue, since a couple of weeks before this a group of activists broke into the company and climbed on top of our radar tower).

Me: I’ll take a look from here and take over your screen. Hang on.

So I take over his screen this is what happens: File, open: JKAHSFHJKHJHJJJJJJFJJJJJSAKKKALALLLALLALLALALLALUUU*JJJDKJKJASLKLKSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

HER: I don’t know what this is. You see?!? This is so weird…
ME: Uhuh. I’ll be there as soon as possible!

Now, I knew what was wrong at this moment, but i wanted to see in person. You don’t just walk into the exec office every day. So I grab this electric car, drive over and 5 minutes later I walk into the executive building. A very nice building, totally different from the rest of the offices. They even had their own dining room and bar. The security guy sees me coming and waves me through, he was informed of my coming and understood the importance. I get out of the elevator at the top floor and am greeted by the secretary, a manager and some other assistant, all a bit panicked. “Come over, have a look at this!” The CEO says. He shows me: File, open: JKAHSFHJKHJHJJJJJJFJJJJJSAKKKALALLLALLALLALALLALUUU*JJJDKJKJASLKLKSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

So I look at him. I look at every single person in that room. You could feel the suspense. I look back at the computer. I pick up the newspaper that was on top of the keyboard and ask: “Try again please?”

The looks on their face: Priceless. (Got a free lunch with the CEO)

04. I had a person come up and say that they have been transferring some files for hours and it’s only at 61%. I have a look and find that they are not transferring files at all. All they’ve done is plug their video camera in to the computer and the 61% is the level of battery remaining on the device. The person has been watching the battery drain for hours.

05. So I work at a pet store, my family owns it. We do boarding, daycare, training, grooming and retail.

I had a regular come in a few months back he wasn’t doing too well financially since becoming disabled. He brought in his dog for grooming and I noticed he had large amount of fleas, I called and informed him. I let him know that I would give his other dog a flea bath for cheap so he could take care of it. Once he got there he tried to pay with a care credit card that the state had given him. Unfortunately, we don’t take that card. So he gave me his card information so I could charge him when he got paid. I sent with him with some flea and tick topical we sell over the counter.

Well the day came for me to run his card; he called me to remind me. I thanked him, got off the phone and didn’t charge him. A few weeks later he called realizing he hadn’t been charged, I told him I didn’t plan on charging him and was happy to be able to help. He couldn’t talk for a bit, trying to compose himself. I got off the phone knowing I had made someone’s day better.

I know how hard it can be living on disability, my mom is on it. Sometimes even the littlest of things can help.

Heavy Grocery Bags

06. I worked as a bagger at a small, family owned grocery store while I was in high school. One day a man came through the checkout with a full cart of groceries.

Me: “Paper or plastic?”
Customer: “I’d like double bagged paper and I’d like you to make each bag as heavy as you can.”
Me: “Sure thing!”

A bit of a strange request, sure, but anything that broke up the monotony of the day was welcomed. I managed to load his entire cart into three fairly heavy bags and bring them out to his car.

Customer: “In case you’re wondering – I just had a fight with the wife and it’s my turn to pick up the groceries.”
Me: “Uh-huh.”
Customer: “It’s also her turn to unload the car.”

07. So I work in a store where we use short range radios with headsets to communicate with each other. It’s a huge help to us and helps us be more efficient. Earlier today my boss sends me next door to the grocery store to buy donuts for the crew. While I’m waiting in line a young boy (maybe 7-8) is shooting daggers at me. I’m wearing my sunglasses inside with my earpiece still in as well. As I’m leaving he yells to grab my attention. Here’s the conversation we had:

Little kid (LK): Hey!
Me: uhh, yeah?
LK: What’s that for? (pointing to my ear piece. By now I know where this is going).
Me: (I cross my arms) I use it for work.
LK: Come here, I have another question. (Mom looks at me with an eye roll because her kid is eccentric and that seems to annoy her. Not me, weird kids always give me a laugh. I bend down to his level to hear then he whispers)
LK: Do you work for the government?
Me: (I put my finger over my ear piece) Eagle this is condor! Cover blown! I repeat eagle, our cover us blown!

Then I take me and my donuts and run out of the store as fast as possible while the mom is dying of laughter and the kids jaw is on the ground because he just met a secret agent. Highlight of my day.

08. I was working a late shift, and it was rather quiet. I had only been working at the store for only 5 months or so. A man came through my line, and he was about 6 foot tall covered in Tattoos, and not the nicely made tattoos you see from a good tattoo shop I mean the kind that looks like he had them done in the cellar of a seedy biker bar type. He was heavy built, and wore a leather biker vest. He did not seem the type to feel guilty about shanking you on the street. He bought a few items, but had beer. I of course ID him, and he shows it to me, and I total everything. He pulls out a check book, and writes a check. The check had a basket of kittens on it, and this seemed like one of those Facebook posts of bikers look mean, but have a heart of gold type things. Well I look at the check his name is nowhere on the check. It has a girl’s name on it, and I tell him that I could not accept it because it is not his check, and does not have his name. He claims the girl is with him, and he would go get her real quick. He leaves, and left the check on the counter.

As soon as he is out of sight I call for a manager, and they take the check, and what I did not know was that about half an hour before an amber alert was released, and being the fact this was about 11 years ago very few people had SMS alerts for things like this, and only because our company is a certified safe place we receive faxes which had amber alerts, and such. The manager recognized the name, and contacted police. Minutes later we had a few cops show up, and they asked me what the guy looked like, and everything said. They even finger printed the stuff the guy was buying. Security gave them the footage of the guy, and were lucky to get the guy’s plate number. A few minutes later all the cops left, and I mean in a hurry.

Apparently the guy was spotted, and pulled over they found the girl tied up in the back of the SUV he was driving, and luckily she was not hurt. She was kidnapped from where she worked after school, and her co-worker called the cops when he got back from his break to find the place a mess, and her missing. The whole thing occurred within an hour, and half time. She was taken to a local hospital where she was kept just in case over night. The man was of course arrested.

09. I love my Cousins (oi, not in that way) but they’re often thick as mince. So it was with no shock to me when I get a text from one of them saying that he can’t connect to the internet. Oh, and someone’s changed the name of his WiFi to “Stop stealing my WiFi”.

Having been to his house before – and connected to his Wifi – I know for a fact he has a wireless router, and a password set up by his ISP. I go through basic troubleshooting (turn it on and off, it is plugged in etc) and eventually say he should look at the label on his router and connect to the SSID written on it. He says it’s not on the list and asks me to come round and have a look (I’m a 30 minute train journey from his house so ‘come round’ feels more like a day trip).

Anyway, I get there and sure enough, the SSID on his router isn’t there. I try the ‘Stop stealing’ SSID, tried the password written on the router and it didn’t work. I ask him if he’s changed the wifi password. He of course said he didn’t have one. That he went into the admin controls and turned it off a week ago because he got a new phone and forgot what the password was. I go back to the router and show him the label with the SSID and the password. It’s at this point I noticed that all the lights on the front are blinking rapidly.

And then it clicks. He made his wifi public. Someone nearby accidentally connected to his, and thinks it’s their own wifi. Yet they had enough computer knowledge (or Google-fu, or luck) to get into the admin page and lock it down.

So I look up the default admin credentials on my phone turns out its “admin” with no password. I reset the router to factory settings, log in to the admin console, set up a secure admin password (of my choosing) and set up WPA and a password of his choosing and told him not to remove it, and changed the SSID to “No, it’s not your Wifi.”

10. Got a priority request from a corner-office executive, her new laptop was broken. A minor fix, easily corrected by system restore. While the restore was going on, Ms. Senior Executive was having an epic rant “We waste both my time and yours by purchasing these unreliable off-brand laptops! Whoever heard of “dɥ” laptops anyway?

I was mystified for a moment and then silently turned her laptop around so that she could see that ‘dɥ’ was actually ‘hp’ upside down. She turned bright red and then started laughing. Then she gave me a glare that could freeze ice and said “if I find this story posted on Facebook your employment with this company is over”. I nodded and solemnly agreed this episode was absolutely inappropriate for Facebook.

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  • Aw man, I just had possibly the worst day. I was supposed to help train a new idiot at work today. We’re supposed to log in under our own numbers, but he kept ending up taking orders under my name. And he kept making mistakes. I got written up, yelled at by the boss, and made to do scut work for the rest of the shift because “I” (Read: He) cost the store almost $200. I didn’t remember taking this order, but it was under my name. The little sh*t didn’t say a /word/ until after work. I had offered to give him a ride home. After he confessed, as we were the last ones to leave because I was made to stay after for more scut work. I left him there. I told him I suddenly couldn’t take him home and got in my car. I don’t care if he’s still there. He could have gotten me fired.

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