June 5th, 2009


05 of 30 - Firing People

   Two people got fired at work yesterday. And we only employ seven people!

   Well one won't know he's being fired until tomorrow, but we made the decision today.

   So as I arrive yesterday morning boss Dave and junior technician Bob are already having a heated argument. It seems Bob is sick and Dave wants to send him home but he adamantly doesn't want to be sent home. I think he must have been saying that if he goes home Dave is going to hold it over his head or something because somehow Bob managed to escalate getting sent home for the day rapidly into getting sent home permanently. Dave confiscated the keys to his truck and everything and told him to call someone to come pick him up (since he'd drivin the company truck to work).
   Bit of an awkward moment: while Bob was out waiting to be picked up it came time to do the coffee run (Dave buys everyone coffee every morning), so I have to ask "um... should I ask Bob if he wants anything?" ("yes").
   By the time I returned Bob had been unfired (typical), and gladly took a sickday and went home for the day.

   Shortly it came time for new guy Mike and I to go out to the bees to finish what we were doing yesterday. I was looking forward to enacting my plan of subjecting him to progressive talk radio, but I was waiting till he tried to put on Rush Limbaugh before putting it into effect and he never actually tried today (see here for why I planned to do this). But the drive to work was good, I was actually in a pretty decent mood and he seemed to be as well and was yammering about shit I didn't care about and I was politely pretending not to be entirely disinterested in his thorough analysis of how great metal bands are.
   Just around the corner from the bee yard he said "Hey let's stop here and put the suits on before heading up to the bee yard." To which I responded "No the bees shouldn't be riled up yet we'll be fine putting them on up there, I don't want to make a big production out of it."
   Arriving up at the yard I parked in the middle of the yard (we have bees on three of four sides of a relatively square plateau that's maybe 50 yards to a side) and jumped up on the truck to get the suits. He's standing just outside the passenger side door and almost immediately hollers "Man I'm trying to piss here and I'm already getting stung!!!"
   Naturally, my reaction was: "You're trying to piss RIGHT THERE?! ON THE TIRE?!? Why didn't you go to the bushes on the edge of the yard?!? I don't want the middle of my bee yard to smell like urine!!!!"
   Anyway when he'd finished desecrating the vicinity I tossed him his suit and he jumped in the cab to put it on away from the bad bad bees. Meanwhile I took my time putting my suit on standing on the flatbed.
   Finally he emerged and commenced lighting his smoker. I had to wait for him to finish with the lighter so I was just idling about for a moment. I turn around and there's a fire in the brush at his feet ... AND HE HASN'T NOTICED!!!
   Granted this could theoretically happen to anyone.. well, no, because of the seriousness of the consequences I would expect anyone using a smoker near brush to pay extreme attention to whether or not anything is catching fire. And further, due to the overwhelming gravity of the potential consequences (recall if you haven't already that this area is routinely ravaged by national emergency level wildfires), it ain't no small thing to accidentally start a brush fire.
   Anyway, this story is only just getting started.
   So THEN, he has his smoker lit, so I ask for the lighter so I can light mine.
   "No." he says "Tomorrow if you stop before we get to the yard so we can put our suits on you can have the lighter, but because you didn't I'm not letting you have the lighter today." (!!!!!)
   I promptly turned on my heel and called Dave. "Um... we have a problem." had a short convo in which I mentioned that the guy had already almost started a brush fire and was now refusing to give me the lighter, then had to dissuade Dave from coming out there immediately. While I was having this short conversation Mike left the lighter on the truck bed and went over to the hives to start working.

   Awhile later my smoker had gone out, as it is wont to do, so I needed to relight it. I went to the truck but the lighter wasn't on it. Went over to Mike and asked for it.
   "Bring it back to me when you're done though"
   "I think it would be better to leave it on the truck where I don't have to go through you every time I need it"
   "No bring it back to me."
   "Is it... your personal lighter?"
   "Is there a company lighter on the truck?"
   "Well we should get one on it"
   "Yeah you should get one
" (but of a background, I ask him every day before we head out if everything is on the truck, since he's the one that cleans the equipment and such, so he's basically responsible for making sure it's all ON the truck. If the only piece of a critical item of equipment on the truck is something of his he's gonna be a weiner about, I don't consider it "on" the truck, and if he's going to give me attitude about how _I_ should make sure it's on the truck, well he's talking like he's fired already)

   Anyway, we went about our work. He had a tendency to every so often go get in the cab of the truck to take off his veil because there was a bee in it or something (note I went through the day with about ten bees in my veil, never felt the need to empty them out). As the day went on he started spending more and more time in the cab of the truck until for the last hour or two he was spending more time in the cab than not.
   Around 3:30 I was working on a hive he had already been through but hadn't found the queen, and he was sitting in the cab of the truck. He rolled down the window and hollered at me "the bees swarmed up and killed the queen!" while making urgent hand motions that I should just get on with it. Well that makes no fucking sense that the bees would do that so I just kept on looking for the queen, but it did explain some things.
   Namely, in the past two days I've found and killed 10 queens and not been able to find the queen in 5 hives. He's reported killing 19 and not finding her in 2. At first I was feeling very concerned that he was so much better at finding queens than me, but after hearing his ridiculous explanation for why this queen should be declared dead I'm more confident his higher numbers are just the result of being more careless ... and no longer confident in the quality of his work at all.

   About ten minutes later I missed a call from the office. I waited ten minutes for him to finally get out of the cab and then I got in to call the office back (can't operate phone with leather gloves on, can't take them off out there). Notgonnalie I was planning on venting to the office about him, but was going to at least say we should return because he's not working any more, BUT ... he hopped back in the cab almost immediately. So I just told the office I was returning their call and we were still working. Then I hopped out and went back to work.
   He sat there for a few minutes I think trying to decide what to do now since he had been assuming it was time to go home but had just see me say it wasn't. Then he rolled down the window and shouted at me "Hey man I'm getting really stung up here we need to go!!!!"
   "Dave told us to stay until this job is done. I wouldn't call it a day if I was getting stung either. If you want us to go home you need to call the office and convince them to tell me to head back."
   A few minutes later I get a call from a rather confused Amy in the office. I walk down the hill so I can talk to her about the whole situation. Do end up saying we should go back due to the fact that he's no longer functioning (and the only remaining hives are hives we've already been through and the queen is probably just in a corner somewhere right now and we'd have better luck another day when she's on a frame). Also I right off the bat noted that it is my recommendation that he be terminated (and she said Dave agrees and they've already prepared his final paycheck).

   Now I try to look at it from his point of view, and he probably thinks I'm a crochety hardassed asshole, BUT, I would never ask him to do anything I wouldn't do:
   (1) He acts like its a crime I wanted to put the suits on in the bee yard, but I did that myself (and of course the appropriate thing for him to do would have been to just have me give him the suit in the cab and maybe go over my head and ask Dave to ask me to stop outside the yard first);
   (2) really, I wouldn't have stopped working myself until either the job was done or it was somehow impossible to continue (such as darkness was setting in, it started pouring, or I got I dunno 220+ stings).
   ?(3) He apparently told Amy he had holes in his suit and had 40 stings (first of all because I think he's a weiner I'm going to go ahead and assume the holes he's talking about are the openings at the front and back of the zipper that every suit has that bees can sometimes get in (also he had specifically wanted THAT suit), second of all I'm gonna assume 40 is an exaggeration). I once got 130 stings on a job and did I stop working for a moment until the job was done? No I did not. I'm pretty sure any of our lads in the bee control side of the business would keep on working for the rest of the day if they got 40 stings. It may seem like a lot to a non-beekeeper, but if you're going to be employed as a beekeeper you need to be able to suck it up and not be stopped by 40 stings.
   Additionally, the APPROPRIATE thing to do would have been for him to immediately inform his supervisor (ie me) that he had holes in his suit. He never told me this. If he had, I would have immediately traded suits with him. When we had only one pair of good gloves yesterday I let him wear them and wore the rubber ones bees can sting through. I've been using the janky smoker. I may apparently be a hardass but I won't ask anyone to do something I wouldn't do and I'll always put myself in the more precarious position than my subordinate.

   So yeah. Today he finds out he's out of a job ... and I'm back to beekeeping directly with crazy hardass Dave.

Totally Unrelated Picture of the Day

Some Guy tries to shoot a plane.</center>

Oh speaking of that downed Air France jet, some Air France life vests washed up on the beach near Dave's house. This was months ago, but it was still kind of eerie.