We had a crew of five, counting me. All of the others were older than I was and probably much more qualified. While I was a fairly responsible and dependable person, at sixteen, I obviously wasn’t mature. Evidently, my boss didn’t think that mattered.
Even stranger, was that none of the crew had a problem with my age. We all got along and each of them followed directions without complaint or question. The freight got unloaded off the truck, put on the shelves, the shelves faced, and everything cleaned up—and on time. I doubt it had anything to do with me, I think they just made me look good.
Then, as good things usually do, that all came to an end. One of the crew quit his job and the boss hired a new guy. For some reason, this new guy didn’t think much of me. He wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t follow directions, and pretty much didn’t want to work. And, he repeatedly let it be known that he wasn’t going to be bossed around by a teenager.
I didn’t argue, or yell at him. Didn’t try to force him to do anything, which meant I usually ended up doing his work and mine. (A great experience for a few years later when I managed a fast food restaurant). This went on for a month or so—until the boss showed up early one morning and hid out in his office, watching and listening.
When the new guy started mouthing off, the boss made his presence known—by calling me into the office. Apparently, someone (the crew would never admit which of them) had tipped him off about the attitude of the employee, which is why he’d come in early. He then wanted to know why I hadn’t said anything. I told him I figured that’s why he had me there—so he didn’t have to put up with difficult employees. I saw it as my problem and not his.
After informing me that if I faced similar behavior in the future I should let him know, the boss grabbed an envelope from his desk and went to find the disgruntled worker. Handing the guy the envelope, he said, “You’re right. You don’t have to listen to a teenager.”
Yep, the guy got fired. But me, I got a raise!