OK, so this is more about working life (I guess), but it happened in a call center, so-hey. I’ll post it here and see what happens. If someone thinks it belongs in a different sub (TIFU or AITA, maybe?) please let me know in the comments and I’ll take it on over there.
I met my friend Mika when I worked for a cellphone call center. Our cubicles were right across from each other and we just hit it off. She was one of those spunky and outspoken girls who never meet a stranger, and her girlfriend (Stacy) was an artistic and sweet girl with a biting sense of humor. I worked there for two years and we got to be really close friends. Mika and Stacy would come over to hang out after work and eventually we became inseparable.
I left cellphone company to work for a large online retailer (you know the one…it sells everything from A to Zsmile). Online retailer always hires a bunch of people as temps for the holidays. Then, after the first of the year they keep the best ones and let the rest go. It’s technically a temporary job, but at the time they were keeping most of the temps every year. I got really lucky and was made a permanent employee before Thanksgiving.
That was when I got Mika hired on.
One cool thing about working for retailer was that we all had our own desks and we were allowed-even encouraged to personalize our workspace. We brought in posters, pictures, mood lighting, plants…some people’s desks looked almost like little apartments. I even kept a pair of house slippers and a blanket to cuddle in at my desk.
Mika was a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan, and she had a bunch of memorabilia at her desk. Part of that memorabilia was a complete set of vintage figurines that had been given to her as a kid. Her favorite turtle, Raphael, help pride of place on top of her monitor.
Since it was holiday season we were very busy, with calls coming in at a pretty brisk pace. With all the new people it made things pretty hectic. Retailer gave a few seasoned reps a position as a “holiday helper” so they could assist the newbies; leaving the team leads and supervisors to take escalations and do all the supervisor-y things they usually did.
That year they gave each rep two solo cups: one red and one blue. If we had a question or needed basic help, then we put the blue cup on top of our computer and a helper would come. If it was an escalation or we needed a password for a credit that was over our limit, we put up the red cup and a supervisor would come. The cups were not supposed to be on the monitors unless you had an issue.
As I mentioned, I was very excited to be working with Mika. She was excited too, but also very anxious. Being new at a job can be nerve-wracking anyway, but she was really nervous about the temporary status of the job. We didn’t get to hang out at work much, because we were on different sides of the buildings and our shifts-although overlapping-were different (she was evening, I was morning).
I’m a very silly and sentimental type of person, so I decided to find Mika’s desk and leave her a note to lift her spirits. She was so pleased by that little note that I got into the habit of stopping by her desk a few times a week before she came in and leaving her some kind of surprise. Usually it was a silly note, but sometimes it’d be a silly toy from the Dollar Tree; sometimes I left candy, sometimes I’d make something. I had fun with it. I kind of felt like Secret Santa or something.
One day I got the bright idea to put little signs in her turtles’ hands. I decided that putting signs on all seven turtles was overkill, so I attached a little silly message to a toothpick and put it in Raphael’s hand. Then I took the solo cup and put it over him on top of her monitor. I figured she would come in, see the cup on her monitor (where it was NOT supposed to be), pick it up, and there would be her turtle holding a “Good Morning” sign.
She always had such a positive reaction to my surprises, I thought this one was really creative and fun.
Later, she mentioned it to me, and kind of chuckled and said it was clever, but acted kind of standoffish. I was a little hurt, but I kept it to myself, figuring maybe she was just feeling down or in a bad mood.
That evening, my friend Tammy called me and told me that Mika had nearly gotten fired that day.
Apparently Mika had come in, immediately seen that her favorite turtle was gone and had a complete meltdown.
She ransacked her belongings and emptied out her backpack.
She emptied out her trashcan and then took the bag out and shook it, after looking UNDER the bag and into the can.
When she didn’t find him there, she accused her coworkers of stealing him, and even went to her supervisor and demanded that he do something about it.
Eventually, the site manager had to get involved, because she had a very strenuous-and loud-argument with her lead about whether one of her coworkers would steal a plastic figurine. She soon realized that she was on the verge of losing her job and went back to her desk in tears. A few minutes later, a helper who had noticed the cup on her monitor came over, thinking that Mika needed help. She picked up the cup and Raphael was found.
She ended up getting a final written warning. Next step-termination for her behavior that day
Needless to say that my little morning surprises became alot less frequent after that, and I never tried to get creative again.