Not to be too “old man yelling about the youths” but it can really suck having a co-worker who doesn’t do their job. Even if your job is super fulfilling, some days of work can just be a drag. Regardless, you still have to at least somewhat do your job. Especially if it’s something where the consequences of not doing so can become rather apparent quickly. Deciding, “I’m not feeling it today,” and not doing your job in one of these positions can really impact your co-workers.
Our friend, “Dylan,” knows this all too well. Dylan works in the grocery pick-up department of a “major supermarket in the online grocery department.” You know, the people with the gigantic carts blocking the aisle who look more miserable than you are to be there. Regardless of misery levels, it becomes very apparent when these employees are behind on their pick-ups. It typically results in a bunch of angry people in cars lined up outside of the store pick-up zone.
As a result, Dylan understood the importance of staying on top of his work. It wasn’t fun but at least staying busy made the time pass by quickly. Dylan’s co-worker, “Aaron,” didn’t quite see the consequences of letting the orders pile up. Aaron could often be found in the home area for the grocery pick-up team on his phone. Dylan had just graduated high school and Aaron was even on his phone a lot for him. His screentime must be truly outrageous. Thankfully, Aaron was a newer employee which meant he was in charge of less consequential tasks.
Unfortunately for Dylan, Aaron would soon try his luck at doing even less work and the consequences quickly showed themselves.
One day, Dylan showed up to work for a full eight-hour shift. Typically, there was a mixture of employees with varying experience levels working each shift. However, this shift only consisted of Dylan and relatively new employees, including Aaron.
Their manager for the shift also forgot to post the sheet of paper assigning roles for each employee.
Dylan had to think on his feet. He decided since he was the most tenured of the employees working, he would handle taking orders from customers on the phone and preparing orders to take out to cars, as it required additional training the newer employees had not received.
Just as Dylan had finished delegating the roles to his other team members, Aaron approached him.
Aaron said, “The manager actually assigned me to work in the home area. They requested you collect grocery items for the shift today.”
Dylan immediately knew Aaron was full of it. He thought to himself, “Very convenient as it’s a lot easier to be on your phone working in the home area than it is out gathering groceries.”
He responded, “You haven’t had the training to work in the home area yet. I’m also more tenured so I would be assigned here for the shift regardless.”
Aaron retorted, “No, I have had the training. Please go and collect the items. Our manager said they don’t need you staying here with me answering calls or processing customers for the rest of the shift.”
At this moment, Dylan simply could have disproved Aaron by going to find the manager, wherever they were in the massive store, and confirming the employee policy he already knew. Or he could let Aaron crash and burn as he was often dead weight for everyone else on the shift to carry.
Chaos Creeping In
Changing his tune, Dylan asked, “Are you sure? All of the order slots are full for the rest of the shift so it could get pretty hectic in here.”
Aaron responded, “Yes it’s fine. Please go and collect the items.”
Dylan responded, “Okay,” and went out to collect items to fill the orders.
After about an hour, Dylan returned to drop off the orders he had collected and grab some empty containers.
Aaron “seemed to be doing fine.”
Dylan didn’t disturb him and went out for his second run.
When Dylan came back after another hour of gathering orders, Aaron stopped him.
Aaron asked, “Can you take over this customer phone call? They’re arguing about something trivial.”
Dylan smirked internally and thought to himself, “If you need my help over something that small, I have bad news.”
He vocally responded, “You told me you don’t need me to stay here for the entire shift so I’m going for another run.”
After a third hour, Dylan came back and to his delight, chaos was slowly creeping its way into the home area.
Aaron was on the phone with a customer and there were seven post-it notes with orders frantically scribbled on them waiting to be collected. “Post-it notes were used when there wasn’t enough time to print off proper order summaries.” On top of the post-it notes, the wait time for customers to pick up their orders was thirty-five minutes. The maximum wait time allotted for grocery pick-up customers was typically five minutes.
As soon as Aaron saw Dylan walk into the home area, he stormed over to him.
Flying Directly Into The Sun
Aaron asked, “Will you please take some calls and grab some of the containers needed to take out to cars?”
Dylan responded, “You told me not to stay here and do any of the home base’s tasks. I’m going out for another run,” and left Aaron to manage the chaos by himself.
After another hour, Dylan came back to the home area. He saw a line of twenty-three post-it notes for customer orders. On top of the massive list of orders, the customer wait time was up to two hours. Meaning there was likely a massive amount of angry customers waiting outside in their cars to pick up their orders. All thanks to Aaron.
As soon as Aaron saw Dylan, he grabbed his arm to stop him. Aaron asked, “Will you please help me answer calls and process orders?”
Again, Dylan refused, grabbed a few post-it notes, and went back to gather more groceries. Halfway through his next run, the manager on duty stopped Dylan.
The manager asked, “Will you come with me to help out on home base? Apparently, customers are waiting three and a half hours just to get their orders brought out to their cars.”
As they walked back, the manager asked, “Wait aren’t you supposed to be in charge of home base during your shifts?”
Dylan expected he would be faced with this question at some point during his shift. He told everything exactly how it happened, mainly how Aaron and Aaron only had allegedly been assigned to work in the home area.
Needless to say, the manager was less than thrilled. When they brought it up to Aaron, he completely denied what he said to Dylan.
Then Aaron doubled down and said, “I even asked Dylan to help me multiple times and he refused.”
Some People Never Learn
The manager responded, “We don’t have time to argue about this. We have to get on these orders.”
Dylan added, “I empathize with them for having to wait so long. I’ll help clear the backlog then I’m going back to collecting grocery items.”
By the end of Dylan’s shift, they had managed to make a decent dent in the massive backlog of orders. He “did end up staying about thirty minutes overtime to reschedule the customers scheduled later in the day to the next day’s morning slots. As a courtesy, he gave each of the forty-four rescheduled customers a twenty-dollar voucher.” Of course, Aaron went home already.
As he clocked out, he ran into the manager. They ranted about the complete and utter disaster the shift had been for a while. As Dylan was leaving, he said, “You may want to look at the CCTV from the home base for earlier in the day. Have a good night.”
It just so happened to have been the final shift for Dylan before he took two weeks of leave. When he returned, he learned the manager on duty had reviewed the CCTV footage and heard verbatim what Aaron had said. Aaron had his administrative permissions removed from the order processing computer and received a written warning.
Apparently, Aaron didn’t get the message because he tried the same exact move he pulled on Dylan with another employee. The results were almost the exact same. He received a “second and essentially final written warning. Plus, he made it on the frequent monitoring list of every manager.”
“The days and shifts after were very pleasant. There wasn’t a single peep from Aaron. When he came into work, he just started collecting orders without bothering anyone.”
Thoughts From The Author
Aaron really played himself on that one didn’t he? I’m sure he thought, “Oh, I can just sit in the home area all shift on my phone instead of having to walk around the store collecting groceries for eight hours.” Unfortunately for him, it turned out working the home base was an important job he wasn’t even remotely prepared for. Maybe just do the job you were actually trained for next time? I feel like that’s usually a pretty good rule of thumb.
On another note, it must be really hard to get fired from this major supermarket. At most jobs, pulling a stunt like Aaron did once would get you out of there. I’m sure customers were rightfully furious for having to wait three and a half hours to pick up their groceries. While rightfully angry, you know at least half of them took things way too far and accosted an employee who had absolutely nothing to do with the problem. Somehow Aaron got away with doing the same thing with the same consequences twice. I’m sure the frequent monitoring list for managers is full of winners like Aaron who amazingly haven’t been fired.
Dylan honestly handled things perfectly. He knew what Aaron was trying to pull the entire time and just let him suffer the consequences for his actions. Dylan didn’t have to do anything spectacular, he just had to let things play out how they would with an untrained employee in charge of something important. Since it was a major supermarket, he probably had a feeling the store would survive if he let Aaron absolutely derail the grocery pick-up system for a shift. I have the feeling if Aaron had shown even a little bit of promise as a competent employee Dylan wouldn’t have let things go so far. Unfortunately for Aaron, it seems he had burned any bridges with his co-workers who could bail him out by constantly being on his phone and making everyone’s job more difficult.