Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: TaurusGirl on January 19, 2013, 09:19:03 AM

Title: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: TaurusGirl on January 19, 2013, 09:19:03 AM
B/G: I work at a gas station as a supervisor; my duties include unloading freight, stocking shelves, pumping gas, operating a cash register, and basically anything that needs to be done in a retail environment.

In the autumn of last year, I had what turned out to be fairly major surgery on my elbow. I was off work for 2 months, went back half-time for two months, and am now back full time. I am essentially 4 months into a 12-or-more- month recovery. (Can provide more detail on the surgery via PM if needed). The surgery was on my dominant arm, so it's been a rough ride.

Per my surgeon's orders, I am to follow my arm on what I can do, so basically in the mornings before it starts to ache, I am comfortable lifting/carrying stock, etc. By the afternoon the pain sets in, and I am better off working the register or doing paperwork etc. My boss is 100% on board with this, as are my coworkers. The problem, unfortunately, is coming from the customers.

As I've mentioned before, I live in a VERY small town, where everyone knows everyone's business. Every customer who comes in the door knows I was off work for a long time, knows it was because of surgery, and can see the huge purple scar on my elbow. The surgery site is still bruised & swollen, and by then end of a work-day it looks like someone hit me with a bat.

However, when customers are asking me to bring them items from the back, or asking me to fill their vehicles, and I politely direct another employee to do so, many customers go on the attack. "I can't believe you're STILL milking that surgery", or "Oh, right, your arm huuuurts soo much. I'm going to tell your boss how lazy you are". These things are not said in jest, and my boss has told me that several customers have claimed that I denied them service. (Again, boss is not taking these claims seriously as she knows my situation).

How can I firmly tell customers to back the heck off? I am not comfortable explaining exactly what was done to my arm, as it is gruesome and still upsetting to me... and it is also none of their bleeping business.

I have tried joking: "Oh, yea, I'm totally milking it. I smash my elbow with a brick every morning just to maintain the swelling, ha ha", I've tried complete silence... and nothing is working.

Help :(
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: ladymaureen on January 19, 2013, 09:30:57 AM
That's horrifying. I can't imagine claiming someone is faking an injury, especially to that person's boss! Your responses would get your point across to anyone who wasn't quite dense, but I think you're past that point now.

Generally, I don't think it makes for a good customer service experience to confront customers -- but you shouldn't have to put up with abuse, either.

My suggestion is to be very direct. Make eye contact, and say to them in a pleasant but clear voice: "Why would you think that? Why would you say such a thing?" Then stop talking and look at them for a response. Make it clear you really want to know.

It's rare that someone will respond to this, but if they do say anything, say something like this: "I am not faking anything. I have a legitimate medical injury. Believe me, I don't enjoy having limited mobility. Rest assured I will go back to all of my duties as soon as I can."

Then move on ... go back to your work. If it happens again, repeat again.

Only the most churlish people will do this over and over again. All you can do is be polite and direct.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: jaxsue on January 19, 2013, 09:37:35 AM
Having severely fractured my left ankle last Sunday, and looking at 2-plus months of recovery (not to mention 2 surgeries). I am angry on your behalf, OP. That is boorish behavior!
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Tea Drinker on January 19, 2013, 10:57:47 AM
Can you "joke" back with them, something along the lines of "That's funny, I don't remember you going to medical school" or "I didn't realize you were hiding in my doctor's office during my last appointment. I'd better warn them that the place is bugged"?
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: cicero on January 19, 2013, 11:42:38 AM
that's terrible! I am shocked that people will actually go to your boss.

I wouldn't joke about it. I would go with silence. OR i might say (to those who threaten to go to my boss) "sure. Sue is in her office, right up those stairs."
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Surianne on January 19, 2013, 11:52:47 AM
Ugh, how frustrating.  Is there someone else around to give them the service you can't?  If so it's extra bizarre that they're making these comments.  If there isn't, do you think they're upset about not getting the full service they're used to?  Perhaps talking to your boss about another way to get customers stock from the back and the other things they need would help?
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Amava on January 19, 2013, 12:49:32 PM
I would be tempted to say something like "Wow, thanks so much for your compassion".
But that would be neither etiquette-approved nor wise in a environment with customers.
Maybe "What an interesting assumption"?

How well do you get along with your boss? Can you ask your boss for suggestions on how to deal with these people?

If I were your boss, I would be hopping mad at the customers who say such things.

Anyway, the best I can think of, if you don't want to ruffle more feathers with them, is to just look at them as if they've grown two heads. I wouldn't even have to act it if I were in that situation, I would be baffled! Who says such things?
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: MamaMootz on January 19, 2013, 01:13:30 PM
I would try to joke it off at first, and say something like, "Wow, I had to bring my boss a doctor's note - didn't realize I needed one for customers, too!" but in a jesting tone with a smile.

But that might not be taken well, if they are serious and complaining about you.

Honestly, I would probably follow what cicero said if the joking wouldn't work in this situation.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: TaurusGirl on January 19, 2013, 01:21:46 PM
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: JenJay on January 19, 2013, 01:48:55 PM
"Boss is aware of my injury and supports my recovery but I'll be happy to page him/her if you'd like to make a complaint." Then reach for the phone with a "Shall I?"

Nine times out of ten they're going to back down (although probably still be a jerk about it) and not bring it up again. That tenth person can get set straight by the boss.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Rohanna on January 19, 2013, 01:58:19 PM
I dislocated and broke my elbow a year ago- I still have pain at full extension and have to be careful with over-heavy lifting. It's surprising how hard it is to heal an elbow- my physiotherapist says it can be one of the toughest joints to heal. Good luck with yours -
Mine has healed fantastically given how badly I damaged it- so I'll wish my good karma on you too :)
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: AmethystAnne on January 19, 2013, 02:36:43 PM
TaurusGirl, I'm so sorry for your physical pain and for the customers' attitudes. I'm glad that your boss has your back.

Would it be possible to wear an elastisized brace** on your elbow all the time that you are at work until you are healed? It would address 2 things: it would remind you not to overuse your elbow, and it would be a visual clue to customers that you are not 100% healed.

**bonus points if the brace contrasts with your skin tone.  ;)
 



Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Amava on January 19, 2013, 03:45:42 PM
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

Yay for your boss!!!  :D
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: SamiHami on January 19, 2013, 04:53:35 PM
I would not make any kind of joke about it. Their rudeness is not funny. The only response that I would give would be, "I am following my doctor's instructions and do not appreciate you stating that I am faking or milking my injury. If you are unhappy with my service please feel free to discuss it with my manager."
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: JoyinVirginia on January 19, 2013, 09:17:44 PM
Do you have a sling you could use? I broke my elbow last year and could use it some as it healed, but using the sling some of the day helped remind me to not do too much with it. Sometimes a visible reminder of an injury will get the message across to people better than anything you could say
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: DottyG on January 19, 2013, 10:07:02 PM
Quote
I am angry on your behalf, OP

I am, too.

Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: LeveeWoman on January 19, 2013, 10:17:07 PM
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

((((((((TaurusGirl)))))))))

Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: LeveeWoman on January 19, 2013, 10:23:24 PM
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

It's time to turn it over to your boss.

You are being harassed based on your ethnicity.

Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 19, 2013, 10:30:52 PM
that's terrible! I am shocked that people will actually go to your boss.

I wouldn't joke about it. I would go with silence. OR i might say (to those who threaten to go to my boss) "sure. Sue is in her office, right up those stairs."

Yeah, I'd consider saying "Be my guest" and point to where they can find your boss or whoever's the shift manager at the time.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: HonorH on January 19, 2013, 11:25:28 PM
"Boss is aware of my injury and supports my recovery but I'll be happy to page him/her if you'd like to make a complaint." Then reach for the phone with a "Shall I?"

Nine times out of ten they're going to back down (although probably still be a jerk about it) and not bring it up again. That tenth person can get set straight by the boss.

I'd go with this. If Boss isn't there, supply them with an excess of information on how to get ahold of him. Do it with a smile.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: greencat on January 19, 2013, 11:54:34 PM
"My injury was very serious and the recovery from surgery is taking much longer than I'd hoped," as a response to the "milking the injury" comments.

"Actually, I'd love to tell my boss about what you're saying to me.  Boss doesn't take kindly to people calling me (racial slur) and calling me lazy because of my medical condition," for those that are being bigots and calling you lazy. 
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Aquamarine on January 20, 2013, 02:08:47 PM
"Boss is aware of my injury and supports my recovery but I'll be happy to page him/her if you'd like to make a complaint." Then reach for the phone with a "Shall I?"

Nine times out of ten they're going to back down (although probably still be a jerk about it) and not bring it up again. That tenth person can get set straight by the boss.

POD.  Totally do this, make them own it!  If they're going to say it they need to own it and part of that would be speaking with the person in charge in they feel something egregious has happened.  They can't accuse you of being rude, after all you are only accommodating their statement.

Serious fist pumps.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Iris on January 20, 2013, 04:11:08 PM
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

It's time to turn it over to your boss.

You are being harassed based on your ethnicity.

This. I lived in a small country town for a while where there was also a successful couple who didn't fit into the town's usual mould. Although70% of the town were happy to have them, and 20% probably didn't like it but didn't care enough to do anymore than make the occasional private grumble, the remaining 10% made it unpleasant enough that they eventually left the town. This level of hatefulness from a small number of people having such a large effect made me mad enough to spit nails.

I'm so glad your boss has your back. I would continue to be completely professional and simply go with "My duties have been worked out in consultation with my employer and my doctor. Thank you for your interest." for the most persistent.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: LeveeWoman on January 20, 2013, 04:54:30 PM
If I were a store's manager and someone jumped on one of my employees in a racist manner, that person would be eighty-sixed immediately.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: mmswm on January 20, 2013, 05:07:05 PM
I agree with the suggestions to smile and offer to page your manager right then and there.

I do have some inkling as to how you feel.  I've been accused of faking a food allergy.  Apparently I'm such a good actor that I can fake swelling and oxygen saturations below 80%.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: cheyne on January 20, 2013, 08:00:32 PM
First ((hugs)) even though you didn't ask for them.  From your OP and update you are a supervisor at your job.  The job of a supervisor is to direct the flow of work, not necessarily do the work.

I experienced something similar but it was not due to differing ethnicity.  I've been a woman doing a "man's" job for over 25 years.  In these type of situations it seems you must be at 110% at all times to be thought of as half as good.

You say it's a small town.  Are some of the complaints by people who are related to your subordinates?  If you have been doing not only your supervisory duties plus the "grunt work" duties until your injury, perhaps some of your subordinates are grumbling at home.  People do get used to others doing more work so they can do less.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: TootsNYC on January 21, 2013, 08:41:41 AM
Would "cut and paste" work for you?

The same phrase, over and over?

The only *acceptable thing* for them to actually be saying is, "wow, you're still not back to full function? What a bummer!"  (for *some* of them, that may be what they mean; for the others, you can sort of politely "coach" them)

So pretend that's what they said. 

Say, in the tone that implies you're agreeing with them: "Yes, it's still healing. Bummer, huh?"

Or, "Yeah, it is taking a really long time."

And if you pick one that feels natural for you, then just stick with it with every single customer. Pretty soon they'll figure out that they never get any response, and maybe they'll fade out on the commenting.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Redneck Gravy on January 21, 2013, 09:11:52 AM
I would not make any kind of joke about it. Their rudeness is not funny. The only response that I would give would be, "I am following my doctor's instructions and do not appreciate you stating that I am faking or milking my injury. If you are unhappy with my service please feel free to discuss it with my manager."

This.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: SamiHami on January 21, 2013, 10:52:48 AM
I did have another thought, but it might be a bit too much. You say you are of a different ethnicity than most of the people in your town. What if you had a conversation like this?

BigJerk: "Are you still milking that injury thing? Are you that lazy that you're afraid to work?"

OP (with a puzzled expression): "I'm sorry...is that something people of your culture do? In my culture we take care of ourselves and follow doctor's orders, but we don't fake injuries to get out of working. That's just something I could never consider, as my people aren't raised to think that way."

Too much? I dunno...it would certainly give them pause to think about what they are saying.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Raintree on January 22, 2013, 02:48:06 AM

"That's an interesting assumption."

"It's heartwarming to know that people in this town are so concerned about the speed of my recovery. Thank you."

"My boss will be in tomorrow at 9 AM if you wish to address your concerns with him/her."

"Excuse me? Did you really just accuse me of faking my injury?"

"Thanks, but I'll take the advice my doctor gave me; no offense, but I don't think you're qualified to advise on my recovery."

Also, I think if you are getting racists comments it's OK to refuse to serve them. But you'd better discuss that with your boss. It's certainly not something you should have to tolerate.

Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: Redsoil on January 22, 2013, 06:38:03 AM
Perhaps simply look at them, no smile, and say "I really hope YOU never have to deal with something like this.  Believe me, it's more frustrating for me than it is for you."  Other than that, you may have to just ignore them - they're being petty and showing their ignorance of complicated injuries and their healing rate.

Good luck with it all.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: girlmusic on January 22, 2013, 02:19:12 PM
I had a radial head replacement of my left elbow three months ago. I can do most things, but have been taking it easy as much as possible. The temperature here has dropped and with it my pain has increased. My surgeon warned me that I would become a barometer!

Maybe baby yourself a little more throughout the day - don't work so hard in the morning that you are in pain by the afternoon. Also, I agree with the others. Wear a sling, if not just for your own reminder, but as a reminder to others that you are not recovered yet.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: bopper on January 23, 2013, 08:45:03 AM
"I hope you never have an injury like this, because then you will look back and see how cruel you were to someone who is 4 months into a 12 month recovery.  If you don't believe me, look up "XYZ surgery"  on the internet and see what it says about recovery time. "
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: DragonKitty on January 23, 2013, 04:11:22 PM
I'm also going with the PP who advise you to wear a sling for part of the day, both to remind yourself to not overexert your arm, but also to show the customers that you are not fully healed.

"I'm going to follow my doctor's advice, since he has a medical degree", strongly implying that they don't.

or
"Wow, when did you get a medical license?  Are you going to open a doctor's office in town soon?"  Hmmmm, that might be too snarky.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: DistantStar on January 24, 2013, 12:47:17 PM
I would offer to let them speak to the boss - people tend to back off if you make that offer, at least in my experience.  You're obviously not scared of anything happening or hiding anything if you step up with that before they can (as they see it) threaten you by asking to.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: dawbs on January 24, 2013, 01:13:37 PM
I'm in the "please, be my guest to speak to boss about it" camp myself.

I supervise people and I tell them to do this all the time...people who will give them a hard time for day 1 won't say "boo" to me--not for any *good* reason, but because I have, in theory, a little more authority.  And because they're being told, however round-about, that the employee doesn't fear the boss, doesn't fear reprisal, and is certain he or she is standing in the right.

(And I refer people to my boss for the same reason--that and because I'm mentally just BEGGING for some of these people to go to the boss, and for me to be a fly on the wall when boss [politely] fillets them alive and sends them on their way)
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: BeagleMommy on January 24, 2013, 01:41:07 PM
OP, I would stick with something like "I am following my doctor's orders and my boss is aware of it.  If you'd like to speak with Boss I'll call him/her for you."

Hugs on the recovery.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: wyliefool on January 25, 2013, 07:57:48 AM
Thank you for all the replies! (also WOOHOO 100 posts!)

My boss is behind me 100%, and she has spoken to the people who have complained directly, telling them that she wasn't aware they were surgeons and thanking them for their medical opinions.

Because this is such a small community, I see these people every day whether I am working or not. Joking back is risky because there are a few people in town to take great offense at my being appointed a supervisor in "their" town, as I am new-ish here. I am also a different ethnic background from 85% of the town, and this has been a factor before. Many of the same customers who complain that I am lazy have also addressed me as *ethnicity*-girl. So to avoid starting any arguments, I think I will continue with complete silence, and the occasional "how kind of you to take an interest". I just hope I can pull it off without coming across as aggressive.

It's time to turn it over to your boss.

You are being harassed based on your ethnicity.

This. I lived in a small country town for a while where there was also a successful couple who didn't fit into the town's usual mould. Although70% of the town were happy to have them, and 20% probably didn't like it but didn't care enough to do anymore than make the occasional private grumble, the remaining 10% made it unpleasant enough that they eventually left the town. This level of hatefulness from a small number of people having such a large effect made me mad enough to spit nails.

I'm so glad your boss has your back. I would continue to be completely professional and simply go with "My duties have been worked out in consultation with my employer and my doctor. Thank you for your interest." for the most persistent.

I lived in a very small town for a while. It was miserable. All those myths about how 'nice' ppl in the country are? Hah! Lies!

I'm very sorry to have to say that if you're in rural America then this attitude will never go away. You could live in this town for 50 years and you'll still be the outsider. In my case, the hostility died down a bit--was redirected, to be more accurate--when some Mexicans moved in. Whatever our faults, we were at least white.  ::)  I felt so bad for them. Just hard-working people who needed a place to live. We got the H out.

It gives me an evil sort of joy knowing that there are a couple of Mexican restaurants in the area now because the population has grown that much. The bigots must be miserable.  >:D  Hopefully there's also safety in numbers for the newcomers.
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: The TARDIS on January 26, 2013, 06:45:04 PM
Oh honey! *big hugs* I had to have major knee surgery when I was a teenager. My kneecap shattered in a car wreck and it took me a year and a half to get back to normal - ie walking, running and jumping without any pain whatsoever. That leg still bothers me off and on. It's amazing how rude people were when they heard I was still on crutches or using a wheelchair several months after surgery.

The best thing you can do, OP, is to lather, rinse and repeat your explanation. It's a sad thing that people are so lacking in empathy in situations where you can't help them RIGHT NOW with Something Very Important.

EvilTARDIS says show them the photos of your surgery. >:D (I kid, I kid!)
Title: Re: No, I am not "faking" an injury
Post by: BarensMom on January 26, 2013, 08:14:02 PM
OP, please allow me to also give you some gentle hugs.  Just like TARDIS, I had surgery back in 2011 for my back and it's taken me a long time to recover enough to start moving again.  Over the past 1+ year, people have said things like, "Aren't you over that yet?" or even "For God's sake, get over it already!"  My response is "Why don't you get back to me after you've had two discs cut and your spinal column cut and patched and we'll talk."