Look y’all, I love a good “management fucked up” story, but I’ll fully admit that I’ve posted a few that aren’t that epic in scale. Because let’s be honest, the bigger the fuck up, the more entertaining the story. Which is why I’m proud to present the tale of how a supervisor fucked up to the tune of six figures, on top of instantly losing his job.
All because he didn’t listen to one man who knew exactly how bad it would all turn out.
Several years ago I worked as a local delivery driver for a steel processing plant. We would take stock units of plate and structural steel and process them into parts out customers could use. Some processes, such as painting, would go to a third party vendor and then come back to us for shipment to the customer.
I worked on a set routine. Deliver to the paint shop in the morning and bring back the orders painted the day before. While that trailer was being unloaded, I would hook another trailer and deliver finished orders to a customer about 70 miles away from the shop. This delivery had a hard appointment time of 2 pm. and I could not miss it. When I returned after making that delivery, I would finish the day with short deliveries or pickups as needed and then go home.
It was an easy, stress free job as long I stuck to routine and made my appointments on time. Communication between departments was poor though, and it disrupted the entire process. For example the scheduling department might think a certain production run had been finished and was gone for outside processing when in reality the production department hadn’t even started the order yet.
I spent a lot of afternoons driving around in an empty truck chasing phantom orders that I knew I had never delivered because some office drone wanted me to “check and make sure,” or running “hot” orders out to vendors that were overlooked during my morning trip.
Enter my main antagonist, one of the first shift production supervisors. I was constantly butting heads with him because he forever tried to hold up my truck for last second add-ons. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except that they almost always interfered with my 2 pm delivery, the one I had to be on time for. I kept explaining that I could do his errands in the mornings or afternoons, but he couldn’t mess with the middle of my day.
He was arrogant and condescending with everyone, but he took a special dislike toward me because I wasn’t in his chain of command and wouldn’t bend over backwards to accommodate his wants. It didn’t help that my direct superior was a milquetoast little man that avoided conflict at any cost. I ended up taking a lot of heat from this production supervisor even though he couldn’t really punish me for meeting my other work obligations.
Things finally came to a head when the supervisor came up to shipping with a large order that needed to go to paint. I was about to leave for my 2 pm customer and told him so, but I had room left on the truck. If he wanted to load his parts on, I would deliver them on my way back from my primary delivery.
This wasn’t good enough for him. These parts were behind schedule and had to get painted immediately. If I delivered them in the afternoon they wouldn’t get painted until the following day which would put him further behind.
To top it off, this order required a special marine grade paint that had been mistakenly delivered to our company location instead of the paint shop and it all needed to go ASAP. We began our usual back and forth. I had a delivery appointment. I could do what he wanted, but I couldn’t do it on his schedule. After a heated conversation where he devolved into rudeness and name calling of a nature unbecoming of his position, he said “Fine. I’ll take it myself in the other truck!”
In addition to the tractor-trailer that I drove, we had a smaller delivery truck on hand for occasional use. He decided to drive it on the down low, loading up and heading out without telling our shipping department. This would have been a grand idea, but driving either truck requires a commercial driver’s license which this supervisor did not have. I pointed this out to him, to which he replied that he was “only going up the road,” and everything would be fine.
I pointed out that he didn’t have an hazardous materials endorsement to transport the paint. Again, he was “just going up the road,” and I needed to shut the hell up, write him out directions to the paint shop, and get out of the way since I was “f-ing useless anyway.” So did just that and wrote him out a perfect set of turn by turn directions.
How is that malicious compliance? Well, this paint shop was about 30 miles up the road. But I knew, and he didn’t, that about 15 miles up the road was a DOT weigh station that always had at least two state troopers inside, and at least one of them was a commercial enforcement officer.
The truck this supervisor wanted to drive wasn’t equipped with an EZ Pass transponder that would allow him to bypass the scale, and I knew given his already demonstrated ignorance he wouldn’t know that he was required to pull in. I figured he would blow right past and that one of those troopers would put down his coffee long enough to chase him down and find out why.
To my great delight, that is exactly what happened. The troopers saw him drive past and pulled him over. Then they escorted him back to the weigh station for a thorough inspection. For those unfamiliar, the transportation industry is highly regulated. Some might say it’s overregulated, but anyone that makes it a career knows it’s best to follow the laws or face some serious consequences.
The supervisor didn’t know any of this, and was like a lamb to the slaughter. The DOT inspector ripped him to pieces. Among the biggest infractions he was cited for:
-No CDL. $2500 fine, up to $10,000 to the company. Misdemeanor charges, 90 days suspended driver’s license.
-No hazmat endorsement, no documenting paperwork for the hazmat. No placards identifying the vehicle as carrying hazardous material. $50,000 fine to the company, more if it results in illness, injury or death to another person.
As a bonus, when the trooper escorted him back to the weigh station, the scalemaster saw him talking on his cell phone. The dude was making a panic call to the company manager. Using a handheld device is also an big no-no.That’s another $2500, $10-11,000 dollars to the company.
The truck was put out of service at the weigh station until it had the proper bill of lading, hazmat paperwork, and a driver with a valid license. The supervisor wasn’t allowed to leave himself until someone came to get him. Needless to say, he lost his job immediately. I suspected that would happen, so I hung around the shipping office after my afternoon delivery. I got to witness his walk of shame as he was escorted out of the building.
I was never officially told just how much his fines were, but an educated guess puts it at thousands to him personally, and potentially close to $100,000 to the company. I do know the company tried to sue him in civil court to recoup their losses, although I don’t know the outcome.
I left to take another job shortly after. I figured that even though I wasn’t the one at fault, my role in the fiasco wouldn’t be looked upon in kind fashion. The best part though, was that after months of watching him swagger around wearing a big hubris cowboy hat, I was the one that got to swat it off his head.
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