You may recall the short story, “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. A British Army officer returning from India stops to see his friends the Whites. He has an old monkey’s paw that a friend got from a fakir which is able to grant the bearer three wishes. The officer, having had a bad experience with the paw, attempts to throw it in the fire.
Mr. White see it as a means to get the funds to pay off his house. He does receive the funds, but pays an extremely high price for the money. The moral being that we should not attempt to interfere with fate.
I have always loved that story. I was reminded of it last week at work. You may (or may not) recall that we lost our deli stocker to an unfortunate incident involving a bagel. Instead of being immediately terminated, he was placed on indefinite suspension.
My theory was that they were waiting to see if they could get someone to replace him. When dealing with the company, it’s always best to assume the most cynical, mercenary motives.
Sure enough, a few weeks later someone was hired and he was officially terminated. Hopes were high.
The new guy (NG) is very sweet and works extremely hard. He also seems to have a bit of trouble processing new information, which makes him work very slowly.
The team leader (TL) has trouble with people she perceives are not working as quickly as she thinks they should be. Or cannot learn all facets of a position immediately. She practices motivation by volume.
The intolerance is rather ironic given the number of things she still cannot do after a year in her position. Perhaps no one has yelled enough.
The NL quickly decided that NG would not work out. She wanted to hire someone else and move NG to a different position (preferably in a new department).
Moving to a new department would probably increase his productivity immensely. I had him with me for a day over in cheese and just left him alone. He did great work, and we were both happy with the arrangement. (Do not expect a happy ending here.)
Now they have found a guy to replace NG; the new new guy (NNG). Once again, he was greeted with great fanfare and high expectations.
That lasted for about half a day. The first day he was on the floor, they were teaching him the basics of stocking. He was rather slow, but that was to be expected, right? Although I’m not really sure how he explained all that time he wasn’t on the floor.
The next day, I was supposed to show him how to unload the stuff from the truck and get it into the deli. It was worse than unloading all of those stupid chickens.
After about a half hour, I told the TL that NNG was either dumber than dirt or lazier than a pet hound dog (I love the expressions I got from my grandparents). She thought it might be both. (Told you she has a low threshold for the learning curve.)
The first thing he had to do was move a few cases of chickens from one cart to another in the cooler so we could finish filling the first cart with salsas and hummus. I explained it to him. He asked me to explain it again. I did. I went to leave the cooler and he followed me. I then explained that he had to do it right then. He asked me to repeat the instructions.
In the meanwhile, NG had started to move things from the pallets to the carts.
NNG looked at the pallets and asked how often he was expected to do this. I told him it would be part of his job. Did that mean every day? No, just Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. He kept staring at the pallets.
I told him that he needed to learn how to sort the boxes to the various carts. He wanted to know how he could tell what went where. I told him that was what he needed to learn.
NG continued to move things onto the carts. Slowly buy continually.
NNG started to unload only those things that he had to stock. No meat, no dairy, no bakery, no deli salads, no specialty cheese.
I told him again that he needed to learn to sort things. He continued to unload his stock. Finally, I told him that he had to learn it because I wasn’t going to be there to help him after a few days. He looked at me then looked at the pallet. He slowly began to work through the load.
The next day he called off. NG unloaded the chickens and put them away. I don’t think NNG knows about the chickens yet.
I can hardly wait.