Category: Coworkers

Cancer Can Do A Real Job On You

| MN, USA | Awesome, Bosses, Coworkers, Health & Body

(We have a 24-year-old who works basically as a receptionist for our box office. She answers the phones, directs workers, and handles little stuff for us so we don’t have to. It’s clearly her first office job after a string of terrible retail jobs, and she’s confessed she’s afraid she’ll mess up and have to go back to retail. Because part of her job is answering the phone, we ask that she not answer her personal phone if it rings. She usually just keeps it in her purse until break. One day I notice she has it sitting on her desk and keeps glancing at it.)

Me: “Everything okay?”

Worker: “Oh, yeah, sorry. I’ve got an important phone call due soon. Would it be okay if I answered it? Sorry, it’s really important.”

Me: “Sure, just let [Coworker] know so she can cover the phones while you do.”

Worker: *look of utter relief* “Thanks. It’s from my doctor and they were supposed to call yesterday.”

Me: “Doctors, man. They never call back when they say they will.”

(About an hour late, I hear buzzing, and then see Worker bolt down the hallway, phone in hand.)

Me: *to Coworker* “Any idea what’s going on? I’m getting worried.”

Coworker: “She wouldn’t say. I hope it’s nothing bad. I feel really bad for her sometimes, you know? She’s told literal horror stories of having to work at her other jobs while sick, or not being allowed to call off and she sometimes acts like the smallest mistake will make her lose this job. Yesterday she told me about how she had to miss a funeral because her last job wouldn’t let her have the day off.”

Me: *shuddering* “I do not miss retail. I have no problems letting her go home early if she needs it, you?”

Coworker: “Nope.”

(Worker comes back, kinda pale, and looks like she’s trying not to cry. She goes straight to her desk and sits down, pulling up her work and tapping half-heartedly at the keys. Coworker and I exchange glances.)

Coworker: “[Worker]?”

Worker: *sniffling* “Yeah? Sorry. Hang on; I have a tissue in my purse… Sorry, sorry, would it be okay if I went home? I know it’s sudden but I can come in early tomorrow or—”

Me: “No, it’s fine, it’s fine. Are you okay?”

Worker: “I… just found out I have cancer. Um, I’m probably going to need to put in my two weeks while I get treatment—”

Me: “What?! No, absolutely not! You go home and get everything situated. If you feel up to it, come in whenever you want tomorrow and we’ll get this sorted. I’m gonna drive you home, and don’t worry about your job. Worry about your health!”

(She wound up needing surgery and a few rounds of chemo, but our parent company had no problem holding her job for her in the meantime, and even took up donations to help her pay for everything. She’s currently in remission and I’m happy to say she still works for us. I shudder to think what would have happened if she’d been at her old job when that happened…)

Stronger Together

| Minneapolis, MN, USA | Awesome, Coworkers, LGBTQ

(It is November 11th, 2016. I’m openly lesbian, and don’t “pass” for straight due to my unique hair and androgynous dress. Unfortunately, there’s a huge rise in hate crimes after the election, and I have been shoved, called names, and had my car vandalized so far. Even though I am just starting out as a lawyer, I can’t stop these things happening. I am talking about the hate crimes issue with a colleague.)

Me: “…so there’s been a lot more anti-minority and anti-gay harassment lately. People feel emboldened, you know? So do you think you could walk me out of work today?”

(Colleague #2, who is a new immigrant from a conservative south Asian country, stops after walking by and hearing this. He smiles.)

Colleague #2: “Do you know what I would do? I would… tell them ‘oh, you’re harassing this gay person? Would you perhaps now like to meet my .38 special?’”

Colleague #1: *describing himself* “Or do you want a six foot six Norwegian carrying a bat?”

(I knew they were joking, but it meant a lot that two very different people felt so strongly about protecting me!)

Fright Night Becomes Girls’ Night

, | Germany | Awesome, Coworkers, Popular

(I’m moving to Germany to study and it’s been a weird and hectic month, with me looking for an apartment in the city I’m going to. There are no rooms available on campus and every apartment I like online is only available after I visit the place and talk to the rent company personally. I finally manage to find a room in a weird private dorm that doesn’t require any of that. At work I happily share this with my coworkers.)

Me: “…it’s not very big. Actually it’s really small, but it’s already furnished: it has a bed, a table, a chair, a tiny kitchen, a bathroom, and a wardrobe, and even curtains for the window.”

Coworker #1: “This is nice, but isn’t it too expensive?”

Me: “It’s all right. [Amount] per month, but the furniture, electricity, heat, and Internet are included. And even TV, which I won’t be needing. It’s cool. And after some time I can always find something better, if I don’t like that.”

Coworker #2: “Where is it? Do you have to travel to the university a long time?”

Me: “No. It’s nearby. That’s what I also like about this place. Aww, wish me luck!”

Coworker #2: “How are you going to find it, though? Do you have any idea where it is?”

Me: “I’ll have to improvise, won’t I?”

Coworker #3: “Oh, I have an idea!” [Coworker #4, who is from the same city I’m moving to] is visiting me next week. You two should talk! Maybe she could help you out!”

Me: “Okay, I’ll ask her for some pointers…”

(I’m not that optimistic, since I’ve seen the lady a couple of times, but she wasn’t assigned to my project and we just said hi to each other every now and then. Fast forward to next week, when Coworker #3 is off work, but calls me on my cell right after clock-out.)

Coworker #3: “Hi, [My Name], we won’t be able to go out so you could talk to [Coworker #4]. She’s not feeling so well and we have to get her back on her feet so she’ll get home safely on the weekend.”

Me: “Oh.”

Coworker #3: “Wait, she asked to talk to you on the phone!” *hands over the phone*

Coworker #4: “Hello, [My Name]? Are you moving to [City] in about a week?”

Me: “Hi, yes, I am, and I was hoping you could show me around once I get there… Please?”

Coworker #4: “Oh, please, I’ll meet you right at the central station when you come in, and I’ll help you find everything! No problem at all!”

Me: “Wow, this is so nice of you, thank you very much! And you don’t even really know me…”

Coworker #4: “Nah, I’m sure we’ve met. I just can’t place your name with a face right now, but this is all right. We’ll work it all out when you get there!”

Me: “Thank you! And many thanks to [Coworker #3]! Safe flight back home and I guess I’ll see you in about a week!”

(Fast forward again. I catch my very early flight, somehow manage to catch a train from Berlin to the city I’m moving to, and when I somehow get reception, I text Coworker #4 the time of my arrival. Even though she’s at work, she gets out two hours early and meets me in front of the station, where we greet each other, I thank her for meeting me, then she asks me my living situation.)

Me: “This is the thing… I just spoke with the rent office. They can’t give the room today, because all of their agents are fully booked. They asked me to come in at three pm tomorrow.”

Coworker#4: “Ah, these idiots. Why didn’t they give you an appointment when you rented the thing?”

Me: “No idea. I tried to set one a couple of times, but no response. I don’t know what to do now. Do you know any place where I can stay for tonight and tomorrow? But not too expensive…”

Coworker#4: “It’s pretty easy, isn’t it? You’re coming to my place and you can crash on my couch, if you like.”

Me: “But, but…”

Coworker #4: “I don’t bite! Come on, you can relax a bit, tell me where your room is so I can find it on the card, and then we’re going out to find it. Then I’m showing you the city! And later we’re watching a movie! Girls’ night for your first night here!”

Me: *teary-eyed* “You’re literally one of the best people on the planet.”

(We found the building the room was in, she showed me the city, and we ate at a neat tiny noodle place that is now one of my favourite places. The next day I went to fill the huge protocol for the room, then I made a list of things I needed. She fished a bunch of stuff out that she didn’t need — like old tea mugs or dry food jars — then she called her boyfriend to ask him to do the same. Both of them gave me a huge carton full of dishes, cutlery, and a bunch of crap I still use to this day. Then they drove me to a big supermarket so I could get some of the other things I needed plus some food. Finally, they drove me to the apartment building and helped me get all the stuff inside. The next day she brought me a prepaid mobile card. To this day they are one of my best friends here. They are still together and now have an adorable little boy. And a couple of months ago she heard accidentally that I didn’t have enough cups and brought me another box full of kitchen stuff. I’ll never be able to pay her back, not just for the things, but for all the help and for her warm heart.)

Food For Thoughtfulness, Part 3

| Awesome, Coworkers, Food & Drink, Popular

(My fiancé has lost his job. I am bringing in the only household income, working full time while also attending college. Bills are piling up and I get to a point of sacrificing meals and other things to make ends meet and support us both, eating maybe once a day and usually after work. I have gone more than 24 hours without a meal and my shift is incredibly stressful, but looks up when I find a dollar in my bag so I stop by the cafeteria where you pay by machine. I should note that I work in a large office building and have never before met this particular employee as we work on completely separate sides of the building.)

Coworker: *noticing the cheap snack I am scanning into the machine* “Is that all you’re getting today?”

Me: “Oh, yeah. I’m not feeling particularly hungry.”

Coworker: *while rubbing at his round stomach* “I’m jealous! I’m always hungry… obviously!”

(We share a laugh on his behalf and I put my crumpled dollar bill in the machine. Unfortunately, the dollar is too wrinkled for the machine to process. After several attempts it keeps spitting the money back out.)

Me: *I fake a laugh and step back, but really want to cry knowing I won’t get to eat now* “Oops. Here, you go ahead. No need to make you wait longer.”

Coworker: “These machines these days. Too picky. Money is money, right? Here, grab me one of those Lunchables, would you? And put your snack up here. The machine won’t take it no matter how much you iron that dollar out and we don’t want you to go without.”

Me: “Oh, no, it’s okay. I’ll figure it out.”

Coworker: “I’ll stand here all day if I have to. C’mon, let me get it.”

(I reluctantly hand him the snack, which he quickly pays for and hands back to me, along with the Lunchables pack.)

Coworker: “You might not be very hungry now… but you could be later. That’s for just in case!”

(I barely managed a thank you and he refused to take my dollar. I called my fiancé, who didn’t even know I wasn’t eating, in tears. I haven’t seen him since, but think about him often. Thanks to him I was able to eat that day and not long after my fiancé found a job!)

Related:
Food For Thoughtfulness, Part 2
Food For Thoughtfulness

Broke Up But Not Broken

, | Bulgaria | Awesome, Coworkers, Love/Romance, Popular

(I have a long-distance boyfriend in Germany and I am working on moving there to study and be near him. It’s all going well until he suddenly stops talking to me, doesn’t pick up his phone, and doesn’t answer any messages. I am worried sick that something’s not right, that he can be ill or something similar, until one day I accidentally discover he has someone on the side and his not talking to me is his method of breaking up. I am so thrown away that I can’t react adequately, aside from sending him a message to tell him I know. A few hours later, I text my friend in southern Germany, telling her about what I’d found out and asking her if we can Skype soon. I don’t get a reply all day, so I get even sadder. Later I have to go to a tiny second-hand boutique with my coworker, but I am so numb I don’t even know how to tell her.)

Coworker: “Oh, look at this dress! I can’t possibly fit into it, but you should try it!”

Me: “Oh, come on, [Coworker]; it’s pink. I don’t like pink…”

Coworker: “Yes, I know, but you know how hot you’d look in it? Your boyfriend will love it!”

Me: “No, he won’t; he’s not my boyfriend anymore.”

Coworker: “What?”

Me: “Found out today he’s with someone else over there. Didn’t even have the guts to tell me he wants to break up.”

Coworker: “…but you just got accepted into [University].”

Me: “I know. And I’m going. It’ll all get better. But right now shopping with you is what’s keeping me together, basically.”

Coworker: *looking at me disapprovingly* “This won’t do. Come on, take this dress. I don’t care you don’t like it; you’re trying it on. And whatever else you want.”

(I hated the dress, but I tried it on anyway; didn’t buy it, though. I tried on a bunch of clothes and got myself some really nice things.)

Coworker: *cheerfully* “How about it? Those jeans you got are really awesome! I really don’t get your thing with olive green tops, though, but I guess olive green is to you what pink is to me. How are you feeling?”

Me: *trying to sound as cheerful* “All right, I guess…”

Coworker: “This won’t do at all! Come, there’s a [Chain Supermarket] across the street and they’re having an American week.”

Me: “Huh? What’s that got to do with anything?”

Coworker: “Chocolate chip cookies.”

(I got three packs of cookies and also some nice mustard and Spaetzle (noodles from the south-west of Germany). My mood got a bit better, because … well, cookies can do that for you sometimes. My coworker chatted with me about the city I was about to move to, because she had visited for a short time, and kept reassuring me I’ll feel all right there. Much later that day, as I was about to go to bed, I got another text from my friend in southern Germany, whose phone had been off and she had gotten my text just then. We Skyped the next day, decided collectively and with some help from her mom that my ex was a spineless swine, and chatted about a hundred things that actually cheered me up. I nearly broke out in tears, because this was her only day off and instead of chilling with her boyfriend, she spent five hours Skyping with me! A week later I got a care package from her, her boyfriend, and her family, full of sweets and eco-friendly cosmetic products and even some jewelry! It’s been more than two years and I’m still overwhelmed whenever I think of it. I’m living in Germany now and this friend gets small presents from me regularly. I’m still in touch with my old coworker and I’ve promised her that she’ll be my maid of honour whenever (and if) I get married. I love my friends.)