This series of events happened to me back in 2003 when I went to work for Coca-Cola as a product merchandiser. A product merchandiser is basically the guy who goes to the grocery stores and puts Coke products on the shelves and fills their vending machines. (I honestly have no idea why I'm writing this in 2011. Maybe I'm bored.)
Anyway, when I first started, they told me that I would have a very erratic and unpredictable schedule. For example, I'd start working one day at 1 AM, the next day 3PM, back to 3 AM, then 6 PM the next, so on and so on. They also said that there'd be definite overtime. Well, after a few weeks I discovered two things: First, this back and forth schedule really messes with your brain. Not having a consistent sleep pattern is enough to drive anyone nuts. My cognitive abilities took a serious nosedive. It got so bad that one day I woke up and literally forgot who I was for about an hour. Second, "overtime" to Coke meant working roughly 96 hour weeks all the time. That is in no way an exaggeration.
One day into my second month, I was putting up a display at a Meijer when apparently, I had passed out from exhaustion. I woke up in a hospital with one of my supervisors standing in the room. Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with a small hospital trip, but the benefits didn't kick in until you'd been there 90 days. My supervisor said that I shouldn't worry about it because it was going to be paid on worker's compensation anyway. That was quite a relief at the time, but just remember this for a moment and let me move on to the next story....
My third month, I lost the company provided cell phone. I reported it and they said that I'd have to pay for it out of my paycheck. It was my fault, after all, so I didn't complain. Besides, with the hours I was working, it wouldn't be a serious financial blow. They said it would be about a week until I got a new one. One day during that waiting period, I was sent to a little grocery store out in the middle of nowhere. After I got done at the store, I started driving the company van back to Coke (close to an hour and a half drive). As my luck would have it, the van blew out a tire. Obviously, this was the last thing I needed after an 18 hour work day.
I pulled the van over and started looking for the jack and the spare tire. Guess what? The van had neither. So here I am, literally in the middle of nowhere, fifty miles or so from civilization with no cell phone and fifty cents to my name. I left the van where it was and thankfully, after a few minutes of walking down this deserted road, a friendly motorist came by and gave me a lift to a pay phone. I tried calling work to tell them about the situation, but it was about nine at night, so no one was there, but I did leave a voicemail. I used my other quarter to call my mom who picked me up.
So about six hours later, I got a phone call from my boss screaming and yelling at the top of his lungs about "Where's the GD van?!?!?!". I told him that I left them a detailed voicemail because everyone was gone and then I recounted the story for him. Later when I reported for work, he continued this ugly scene in front of some other managers. I told him, "Hey, this wouldn't have been an issue if your mechanics made sure that there was a jack and a spare tire in the van." He snickered at me and said, "We don't put those in the vans. Someone might steal them." My response was, "Ok, so you're willing to put me and yourselves at risk to prevent someone from possibly stealing an easily replaceable piece of necessary equipment? Real smart. Well, this was bound to happen someday." Long story short, they got the van towed back to Coke and I thought that was that.
The next month, Coke started doing layoffs. Why, I don't know; it's not like they had enough merchandisers anyway. They laid off about ten new guys all in the same day. My boss made it a point to say to me "I wish I could've fired you for the van incident." I said, "It was the company's fault and I don't feel the least bit bad about it. If anything, I should've been made at you guys." I left peacefully. However, Coke wasn't done with me, I guess. The next month I got a notice from the Bureau of Worker's Comp saying Coke asked for them to renege on the payment for the hospital and ambulance service for when I passed out. That's gratitude for you.
I used to love Coke products, but not anymore. I'm not going to give them a single penny of my money if this is how they treat their employees.
Thanks for reading.