Something happened at work today. Though I was aware it was going to happen, I wasn’t there to witness it. One of my co-workers got fired. For cause. And it was most definitely avoidable.
Joshua (*not his real name) wasn’t exactly what I would call an exemplary worker. If anything he was fairly typical of his generation, at least from what I’ve observed over the past month or so. While he was able to show up to work on time, once he got to work, he needed to be led. Always. He honestly did not appear to have any ‘get up and go’ or the ability to think on his own. He expected someone to tell him what to do, and if he didn’t do something correctly, once it was explained to him he merely said “Ok” and it was never seemingly clear that he either understood what he did wrong, or was interested in changing it.
It was my responsibility to train him to be my backup. To work on my days off, and when it came time, to do my job while I was on vacation. From the beginning, I wasn’t really certain he was going to fit in the job. Even so, I did my very best to give him the ‘bones’ of the job, explain how to do things, the order they needed to be done and so on. When it came to the technology aspect of things, he was all ears. When it came down to nuts and bolts, to the physical side of the work, he wasn’t so much interested. His lack of enthusiasm was immediately apparent, but he seemed like a good kid (he’s 19), and I did my level best to train him appropriately.
As time went on though, there were things that he wasn’t doing correctly. He’d be called on them, corrected, he’d say ‘Ok’ and then go ahead the next time and do it wrong again. When asked why he did it wrong, his stock answer was “I don’t know, I just wasn’t thinking.” Too, he had a routine I could have set my watch by. During a six hour shift, within an hour of first arriving, he’d need to use the bathroom. And his bathroom breaks would last 15-20 minutes. Midway through the shift, he’d have a 20 minute break. Early on in his employment, he’d be gone only about 22-23 minutes. Over time, he’d manage to stretch it out to almost a half hour. And on off days, he’d disappear for large stretches of time, then without warning or asking ahead of time, he’d leave for the day anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. One of the meat cutters mentioned it the other day. He had work for him to do, and he just wasn’t there. He’d left without saying anything. Which is absolutely both irresponsible and against company policy.
For me, the last straw was this past Wednesday. On the day previous, we had a load come in, I’d done most of the work that needed to be accomplished and left him with the remainder to put up and enough work to keep him occupied. One of the responsibilities in the job is to mark down product that’s close to it’s throw out date. Typically, Joshua was never good at recognizing these items, would miss a lot of them, and that would constitute loss for the department, as they’d have to be marked down at a greater degree the day of, rather than less so on the day before. I’d mentioned that many times to him, attempted to impress upon him the importance of why it needed to be done, but either he didn’t care, or just expected me to get it for him the next day. The other part was that he just didn’t bother putting out the product that was empty on the sales floor. He would wrap the meat that was freshly cut (and occasionally mark it inconsistently) and then wander around the store doing nothing instead of his job. The meat cutter that was working with him isn’t the sort that likes to chase after people for not doing their job. If they’re not, he just lets them fail, and shrugs his shoulders expecting them to hold up their end.
The store manager got involved yesterday when I had a long talk with MY department manager about Joshua. I was pretty adamant about the fact it wasn’t fair for me to be busting my keister to get things done and on my off day for him to drop the ball and expect me to fix everything the next day. I quite honestly had had my fill of it, and he agreed it was time to do something.
My department manager spoke to the store manager about it, after having had a chat with the assistant store manager the day before. Originally, it was going to be a ‘write-up’, where Joshua would be counseled and informed that he was still employed, but he needed to really pay attention, buckle down and do his job. The fact that he’d been leaving work without permission (far too many times) sort of put the whole thing over the limit and the decision was made to separate him from employment. He wasn’t yet a member of the employee union (he hadn’t worked there long enough) so that wasn’t an issue.
No one likes to see someone else fail. But when they don’t seem to care one way or the other, I can’t even fathom what that’s like.