Done in by corporate cuture (aka When in doubt, don’t pledge the Delta House)

This happened over 20 years ago.

I was hired as a receptionist at a very well known commercial construction company. Their company headquarters was 2 blocks from my home.

Donna the office manager interviewed me. As I recall she spoke to me for about a half hour and then I was hired.

Donna requested that I come in on Black Friday, “just to get used to the phones.” I couldn’t see how very many clients and such would be calling, being most people were off on that day so I said okay.

About 10 people were in the office that day. They dismissed us at noon and told me I’d be paid for the whole day.

As I had a look at the company directory (it was posted there in front of me) 3 names caught my eye: these were real a-holes that I knew in high school — the real JD types. I started to worry and I didn’t know why.

I came in on Monday and Cheryl (she was now at an admin slot upstairs with some engineer or other — that’s why the receptionist job was avalable) was helping to train me. I did some paperwork got the phone and that was it. Tuesday was more of the same. (I knew Cheryl slightly in high school — she was a year or 2 behind me — and I graduated with her sister — I was never crazy about either one of them; they were always part of “That” kind of crowd — see where this is going?)

At no time did  Donna come up to me to ask me how I was doing, did I need anything, etc. I thought that was kind of odd.

I came in the next day and sitting at my receptionist desk was Cheryl; she was on the phone with somebody.   “I don’t know now when I will be going upstairs….” she said into the phone.

The office manager came up to me at about 10 or so and said “Mr. Nixon wants to talk to you.” Mr. Nixon was an estimator; I didn’t even know him — never met him prior to Wednesday —nor did I know why he wished to speak to me.

I went into his office and he said “It’s not working out. It’s just not working out what can I tell you. What can I say? Not working out; if we needed a secretary youd be great but what can I say….”

He handed me my check and said “You can go now.”

I went outside and opened my check.

I was paid for Friday, Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday (the current date). They were also paying me $2 less an hour than what we agreed on and the check was dated December 5. Today was December 3. These bastards knew in advance that I was being shown the door and they knew on Friday, possibly after the try out time was over. Generally, that is when payroll paydates end and that’s  when their paydate ended.

We all know that it takes at least 2 days in advance of payday to run paychecks — the checks have to be examined,  signed and they have to be put into envelopes and then distributed to each department. No paychecks are generated at a random time in a sole run for ONE SOLE PERSON — not if they were coming from an outside payroll company, which is where this bunch got their paychecks. They were not done in house.

So yeah, these people knew I was going to be gone and they decided this as of my performance on Friday…yeah, my four hour performance where the phone rang perhaps 15 times the whole time I was there.

They should have paid me out of petty cash, to make it look good. What a rotten bunch.

The thing here is this: I swear that I “didn’t fit” in with the crowd — this was a very rough-edged crew; four letter words and ugh the word “unladylike” comes to mind.  They dressed like they were going to some club or other; I was also thinking that that a-hole I mentioned said something about me and maybe that’s why I got the axe (I did not see her on any of the dates I was there, though…who knows???) I can only guess.

To this day, I still say it is dirty pool.

Roughnecks? Try this one on for size:

The desk I sat at –and this is the same one that the former receptionist sat at — had a sticker on it that said “Caution: working with assholes can give you AIDS.”

Not only is this something you do NOT put in a work cubicle — it can also be seen by somebody who is a visitor — Cheryl also has a brother who was out of the closet at age 12 — my brother graduated high school with him. Don was always openly flamboyant and girlish, even in kindergarten (I’ve seen this for myself, over the years) . Considering you have a gay brother, this is cool to post???

And awfully odd that nobody in management told her to take it down. Maybe somebody in management wants to make a quick phone call and rather than head back to his desk, he grabs the receptionist’s phone real quick. So, he’s not going to see that profane sticker???

Any manager coming in after hours or on a Saturday can see that sticker. This is a disgrace and nobody said “Cheryl, take that sticker down” or better yet, removed it himself???

They don’t want anybody conservative?  You didn’t ask the right questions when you spoke to me: you can find out exactly where it is at with a person if you say “So what do you like to do in your free time?” If I mention things like reading or art or gardening or cooking chances are I am kind of conservative.

I still swear to this day that somebody said something about me, plus I really didn’t fit in with this crowd. The real roughneck types that still think they’re in high school and they’re on their way to another drinking party in somebody’s basement or “the woods.” Ugh.

And even if I am extremely conservative and not like “one of the rest” what damn difference does it make? Can I do the job? Am I good at the job? Am I prompt? Do I get along well with others? That’s all you need to know, not whether I am “one of them” or not. And what’s it to you if I am not “one of them”?? This isn’t  right and this isn’t fair.

3 thoughts on “Done in by corporate cuture (aka When in doubt, don’t pledge the Delta House)”

  1. If this was the early 1990s, sexual harassment cases at the workplace were in the news, and one of the ways that a company can be liable is by creating a ‘hostile work environment.’ Even if nobody is actually harassing an employee, that employee can still sue because the environment seems hostile. Things like profane bumper stickers would definitely fall into that category. This company clearly had a rough-and-tumble kind of culture, which is not surprising for a construction company. The management was probably entirely OK with the profane bumper sticker.

    You may not have said anything, but it was probably clear to them that you were not comfortable there. If you had stayed there, you might have ultimately discerned the company as a ‘hostile environment’ and sued them. If they thought you were likely to sue them, it would be the Kiss of Death.

    As far as the payroll company, they could have decided to let you go on Monday when they submitted the payroll, and issued you the check when they received it from the payroll company. Or they could have run a special payroll just for you: it’s not that expensive, and the payroll companies are happy to oblige.

    1. There were many places I wasn’t down with but wow, life ain’t perfect. Take the place or leave it.

      The trucks for that company used to be seen everywhere in nearly every road construction job. I haven’t seen one of their trucks in years. I wonder where they even have jobs these days; the 2 big names out here in this state have all the jobs for every highway that is under repair.

      I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if I ever did try to sue them. That’s my thoughts on that.

      No women held any of the engineering jobs or any of the jobs that managers held. The “girls” were relegated to desk jobs. This isn’t 1953; this is 1993. Sure figures.

  2. The places that don’t give a chance really annoy me. This reminds me of the temp job I took where I replaced someone on Tuesday (and they complained about the previous two people who were replaced)and Thursday afternoon it wasn’t working according to them. Considering they never gave me much training and expected me to figure out the various accounts payable keys on my own they were too stupid.

Leave a Reply