Crossed my mind


In 1992 I was working at HP at recycling cardboard, ,metal, and trash. Our little three man crew were all disabled which HP knew when they hired us. We really didn’t directly work for HP, we were contracted in by a well known charity organization. But our direct bosses worked for HP. Our bosses were from a department called “Facilities”. Besides us they were responsible for doing mostly odd jobs. The site was huge, it took up three blocks and was multi-storied. Our bosses (because in three years we went through four of them) were in charge of all the furniture onsite. Desks, chairs, bookcases, file cabinets. Storing them and replacing them in the hundreds of cubicles with HP workers. When they weren’t working with us they drove fork-lifts, changed light bulbs, replaced wastebaskets, cleaned a little: all the grunt work that needs to be done in a huge electronic high tech firm to keep it running smoothly. One of our bosses for about a year was “Dan”. Dan was a short little guy with a very noticeable facial tick. It was actually no big deal, I was used to it after working for him for a few days. He was our boss and he drove around a little company pick-up with a trailer that we filled with cardboard we loaded from several docks around the site. We never walked to these sites we always got dropped off, loaded the cardboard, and called Dan to pick us up and take is to a HUGE trash compactor. It was at least 15 long and about 5 feet high. We threw cardboard in and it compacted it tightly. When It was full, they notified an outside contractor who drove in-and emptied it. And then we started over with filling it. I actually liked this job, I was good at it and it was kind of fun. It was hard work though, manual labor. But when Dan was driving us back to our home dock he would stop in the parking lot at his own personal van. He would have a bunch of useless scrap wood that was destined to be thrown away anyway and he would put it in his van for his own use. We even helped him, we thought it was no big deal. Well one day his co-worker came over to us. He said Dan had been fired for stealing that scrap wood!
It was a shock because Dan had been at HP for 24 years and we all knew that he was retiring in a couple months. Not only did he get fired but he lost his WHOLE retirement pension and they were thinking of bringing him up on criminal charges. WOW! I have thought of this off and on for 20 years. It taught me that everyone is expendable. I will admit before I got sick in my teens that I occasionally stole from work. Before I was 19 I had 16 or 17 jobs and when I got fired (which happened a lot) or quit I would take a “souvenir” from that job. I would take a hat or a shirt or a knife or a box of matches or even a bar of soap with the company logo. But the good news is that after I got sick in 1980 and went back to work in 1983 I do not steal. The only thing I’ve taken is a bottle of shampoo and a month later the bosses gave all the other bottles of shampoo and soap to us employees anyway. But yeah, no one is special at work. I found that once I got clean and sober I have no desire to steal. But yeah, poor Dan, 62 years old with a wife to support and possibly a criminal record.


I think the company did that on purpose to get out of paying the pension. probably planned it that way.


That’s a possibility though I would think a billion dollar a year company would not have to stoop to being so petty.


probably right. now that you made me think of it that way I see the paranoia in my thinking…I always seek advice before making decisions.


I agree with jukebox. The company did it to get out of paying Dan’s pension. What he took had no value. There was no express prohibition against taking it. I think Dan needs to get an attorney and sue that company. There is a lesson in this, though. There are a lot of jerks out there who won’t hesitate to hurt you for the smallest of reasons.


We will never know for sure. Some companies have strict rules that they enforce no matter who it is. It reminds me of when I worked at Montgomery Wards an old department store. I was a maintenance person. One of my jobs was emptying trash into a compactor. I used to see all these brand new books in the garbage I was compacting. They were brand new except that the front covers were torn off. All kind of novels and westerns and science fiction. I wondered about them and I wanted to take them since they were in the garbage anyway but when I asked my supervisor he told me that was standard practice for retailers but I couldn’t touch them. It would have been stealing. So the lesson there is that some companies do not want you taking their garbage or it’s stealing–even if it’s no use to them. But you guys may be right. But this was Silicone Valley almost in the middle of technology/electronics boom of the 90’s.Why would they want to bother taking away one workers pension when they were already making tons of money and he had been with them for 24 years? I’ve worked at places that had strict rules that couldn’t be broken no matter how stupid the rules seemed. I don’t really know which of us is right.


Maybe they should find some way to reprimand him, but taking away his pension is criminal. He needs to get a good attorney and sue them.


A pension saved is a pension earned? How about one pension not given save the company a few bucks?
Big companies are notorious for being cheap. The bigger the company, the cheaper they are, and that’s why they usually have a lot of money.
You can either spend it or save it, but not usually both.


Sometimes policies are inflexible. I’m not saying you guys are wrong because there is no way I could prove my point of view without going to a lot of trouble.


Yea that sucks. When I worked in retail there was a lot of useful stuff we threw away that we couldn’t take home because “It’s company property until the trash truck picks it up.” Which is stupid. So even taking trash from a company dumpster is as bad as taking product off the shelf apparently.

I personally think that if the object is obviously considered trash and the company is taking steps to get rid of it (ie. Putting it in a trash can for disposal) it should stop being company property then and there.

Same thing goes for the boxes product came in. If a customer came in to ask for any boxes from the back room, we had to say no. Giving them a used box from the back room that we were just gonna bale anyway was considered stealing. I’ve even seen people get fired for that. Friggin stupid.

Though I think the stupidest rule most companies have is the ‘conflict of interest’ rule. Basically if a member of your family works for a competitor of your company, you can get fired. Even freelance and for profit or not: A coworker at a retail store that also does PC work got his job threatened because he occasionally helped setup his friends/families computers and our boss found out. What if you work at a Walmart where EVERYONE is a competitor? Employer policies really suck.