Great Moments in Employment History


Welcome to a new regular feature here on the Abyss. It will allow me to talk about work without actually talking about my job. That’s a true win-win! For all of us.

I recently hit the wall. Hard. Every time I sat down to write, nothing would happen. If I did write, it was pure crap and went to the Drafts folder to die. I had lost it.

But then I realized there was a bountiful cornucopia of blog posting ideas already inside of me: My personal employment history. So I’m back, motivated, and ready to bring you this ongoing series I have decided to call, “Great Moments in Employment History.”

I hope you enjoy…

When babies are born, they are so pure, so innocent. Naturally our urge is to shield them from the ravages of life on this planet and the true nature of the universe. We lovingly protect them and nurture them until they are old enough to face what they must, even if we wish that wasn’t necessary. Our work done, we then send them out into the real world to get a job and go to work.

That’s when the shit goes sideways. Sorry, mate. Now the real education begins.

I once worked at the same company for 16 years. I started out working part-time on the night shift on the dock loading vehicles. Our shift was 11pm to 4am. The following scenario was not uncommon:

The supervisor would let everyone know that when the work was done, rather than clocking out and going home, we were to meet by the telephone in front of the loading dock for a “meeting.” So there we gathered, at four o’clock in the fucking morning, loitering and waiting. When all of the stragglers finally arrived and we were fully assembled, the meeting was on.

“You can all be replaced,” the supervisor told us. This was my humble introduction to the concepts of motivation and inspiration in the workplace. I remember it vividly as if it was only yesterday. “We had to wait around for this?” I knew I had latched on to something good. That must be why I stayed 16 years.

Later, after I had worked my way up to supervisor, it was time for my education to continue. Our clients paid us big money to process their things. (I’m deliberately being vague to protect the identities of the evil.) These things were not cheap. There were big machines we owned that did this processing. The nature of our business was such that the things were time sensitive and our processing was decidedly not verifiable by the client. They had to trust us. All we had to offer was our integrity and our word. (Ha!)

One night, one of my fellow supervisors fucked up. The shift was over and the crew was already sent home. He then discovered shitloads of product that he had failed to process. This was an extremely common occurrence, although it was not usually of this magnitude. (When this happened in small quantities unreported disposal was routine.)

While I did my end of shift duties, wrapping up the logs and producing reports, the supervisor waited until the coast was clear. He had fucked up. He had two choices: Admit the mistake and fix it later and make it right which would involve an admission of guilt and some form of future compensation to the client. Or he could hide the whole thing and cover his ass.

Anyone willing to place bets on what happened?

I saw him throw all of the forgotten product into a giant garbage bin. For once in his life he didn’t bark orders at some minion. He actually did the deed himself. Furiously he worked at it until all of our client’s product has been tossed into the bin. He then took the bin around back and found other stuff to dump on top to hide his handiwork.

This guy was good. After all, he was a supervisor, right?

So the client had paid twice. Once to create the product, then once again for us to process it. If our service was “destruction” then we had done an admirable job. In the end, the whole thing was a fucking joke and the client got absolutely nothing for their money, although they never even knew it. And for what? So some incompetent idiot could avoid a black mark on his record.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. If I try really hard, I just might be able to think of more memorable moments from my personal work history to share. Perhaps we’ll explore this wonderful topic from time to time. Do you have any of your own? I’d love to hear them.

8 responses

  1. As I used to work for the government, I have oodles of stories to share. I’ve pluck one from the Employment Tree of Shame to share:

    There was a government program set up to find jobs for new immigrants. After the new arrivals paid their x amount of money to actually enter the country, the government then paid businesses to hire them. Taxpayers money went into this program and many people were hired. A few years later, it was discovered that the companies took the money and while some DID hire and train the new employees, many took the money and told these people not to bother showing up for work. It wasn’t until one of the new immigrants went to the press years later that this government department a) admitted there was a problem, b) admitted they never once followed up with the business/new employee to see how things were going and c) did not try to get the money back from the businesses involved. It was a scandal of epic proportions and not once did I hear anyone apologize. The level to which the department rationalized their behaviour was unbelievable and made me realize that 20% of government employees work to correct the mistakes made by the other 80%. It was around then that I decided I was too honest for government work. It was the best day of my life when I quit. Since then, I haven’t patronized any of the businesses nailed in the scam and some of them are now out of business. Can I get an amen, boys and girls? Thank you. 🙂


    1. There ya go again. “Shame” was this close to being promoted to a tag for this post. Wow. 🙂

      What a story. I’m proud of you for quitting. Unlike the story above where I went slip-n-slide down the slippery slope. /fail

      My personal theory is that public sector jobs are “fear-based” in that they don’t want to bring attention to themselves or their department, so they mostly operate in CYA mode.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment. That is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for.


      1. Wow, that’s a shame. 🙂

        Can’t wait for the next edition! I hope you’ll break your own rule and feature the cow orker in at least one future post. We need to know more about her… 🙂


  2. What I want to know is whether when you became supervisor, you would regularly assemble your crew to remind them that they are, in fact, replaceable.

    My stories are pretty common, I think, and most involve some sort of scientific fraud. Usually, it’s some technician who hears his boss say, “I really hope compound X produces some good data…” and regardless of what the experiment actually shows, the create some “data” to make Compound X look good. It’s actually pretty easy to snuff out crap like that and those folks get shit-canned and moved onto their lives as pharmaceutical sales reps.


    1. Unfortunately, no. I’m so busy trying to live by the golden rule that shit like that completely escaped me. Opportunity lost.

      Of course, I have something that my boss didn’t. Actual leadership training. He’s only the “boss” based on the fact that he owns the company and thus has money and power. And that is exactly how he acts.

      Don’t sell pharmaceutical sales reps short. That’s apparently a great stepping stone to get on the reality TV show “Survivor.”


  3. I like this new section, and I think you should keep it up.

    What always amazes me is how many people are really, truly, shit-in-pants-variety scared of admitting that they fucked up. Seriously. I feel like I should receive a medal or something for the amount of times I’ve come clean about making mistakes. Is it so weird to think that (*GASP*) it’s actually easier to admit you fucked up, make amends and keep going in life? Seriously?

    On rereading my comment, I realize that it seems to imply that I make mistakes a lot. Well, maybe I do, maybe I don’t, I honestly don’t know. But I’m not so afraid of making them or even of being told off for them. I think that in general bosses are much nicer to people who admit they’ve fucked up than to people who try to hide it and get caught at it later.


    1. Thanks. I plan to keep at it.

      I have two philosophies regarding mistakes. The first is, if it is truly my mistake, then I own up to it and try to do better. I’m harder on myself than any jerk off idiot boss ever could be.

      On the other hand, if I’ve proposed fixes and procedures that would reduce errors and the boss used my suggestions to wipe his ass, then I literally couldn’t care less when the shit goes sideways. That happened today at work and I know the boss was angling to say a mistake was my fault. I was like, “Whatever, dude. Talk to the hand.”

      Back in the beginning I gave him the ideas and tools that would have prevented what happened today. The decision maker, aka The Boss, wanted none of it. In fact, he stamped around the office like a three-year old saying, “I want what I want. I just want it. Whaaaaaa!”

      I could really give a fuck if things go wrong now. There is no way in Hell I’ll accept it as my fault. If he tries, I’ll throw it back in his face. Stupid motherfucker.


  4. […] is another piece in our ongoing series, Great Moments in Employment History. These are true stories from your guru’s personal resume. We hope you […]


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