Don’t Tell Me What to Do
I had another contender for the Darwin Awards at work last week.
On Wednesday, I tried to book an induction appointment with an electrician. He was due to come in at eight a.m. the following day, so I told him what he needed to bring. Basic information, such as banking details, qualifications, and a birth certificate or passport.
“I’m an Australian citizen,” he protested. “I’ve lived here all my life. Why do I need to bring a birth certificate?”
“I’m not saying you’re not Australian,” I calmly explained. “We just need to see proof.”
“I’ve got a tax file number,” he shouted. “Surely that proves it?”
“I’ve got a tax file number,” I said. “I’m not a citizen.”
“It’s all a bit suss,” he finally said. “No. I’m not doing it.” Click.
His resume went straight into my shred pile and I cancelled the appointment on my calendar.
The next morning, I got a call from the receptionist.
“John Smith is here for your eight o’clock appointment,” she said cautiously. “Do you have an eight o’clock appointment? I don’t see it on the calendar.”
At that stage, I didn’t remember the phone call, but I did have a vague memory of an eight a.m. induction and figured I had just forgotten to schedule it.
“I’ll be right out.”
I walked around the front desk to where John was waiting in the reception area. Most of the time, when people see me and I say hello to them, they stand up and greet me. Not John. He remained seated, avoiding eye contact until I got right up to his knees.
“You can come with me to the flex screening room,” I said.
“Oh, you have an office, do you?” he said, gathering up his backpack and still avoiding eye contact.
I actually thought he had vision problems for the first few minutes of our conversation, because of the way his eyes were wandering blankly about the room and he wasn’t looking at me.
As I asked him to go through the steps of the flexibility screening, he was less than compliant. Each movement was accompanied by eye rolls and sighs, as though I was asking him to juggle bowling pins and balance a ball on his nose.
“With your palm facing the ceiling, lock your elbow and slowly raise your right arm as high as you can without bending it,” I said.
John flipped up his forearm from the elbow, palm facing the floor.
“Let’s try that again,” I said, re-demonstrating what I had asked for. Reluctantly, he completed the move.
“One last thing,” I told him at the end of the five-minute screening. “I need you to do squats.”
Most people do give me a crazy look when I ask this, but kind of a that’s-funny-and-unusual-but-I’m-happy-to-do-it-because-I-want-a-job look. John gave a gargantuan eye roll and let out a long stream of angry breath.
“I squat 300 pounds,” he muttered to himself, then raised his hands as if holding a fake bar and bent down into a lazy squat. He stood up, released his imaginary bar, and glared at me.
I was on the borderline of losing my temper, and had already decided that John was not getting a job out of this.
“OK,” I said. “Put your arms out parallel to the ground do five more.”
John closed his eyes.
“Is there a problem?” I said, angry now.
“It’s all a bit much,” he said. “I shouldn’t have to do this.”
“This is a safety assessment,” I explained. Again. “Everyone has to go through it.”
“No,” he said, grumbling.
“I’ll tell you what,” I said. “You can do five more squats, or you can leave.”
He picked up the imaginary bar and considered.
“You know what,” I said. “I don’t think this job is for you.”
If he had been holding a bar, he would have thrown it at the ground.
He stomped past me and grabbed his backpack.
“Don’t get on with women anyway,” he spat at me. “Don’t like them telling me what to do.”
I opened the door and he made a beeline for the exit.
Yes, we crazy women sure are ballbusters. That’s the problem.