People Share The Dirty Little Secrets Their Industries Hide From Consumers
Every industry has its secrets. As consumers, it’s hard to know what really goes on behind the scenes—we’re all so used to just seeing the end products that we often don’t take the time to question the processes behind them. The worst is when those secrets are intentionally kept from the general public because they are trying to get away with something. Most of the time, they’re playing along a line that dictates what’s technically allowed and what’s morally right. People from around the world took to the internet to spill the dirty little secrets their industry is hiding from consumers. Read on to find out what really goes on in the background, behind the flashy advertisements and commercials:
#1 Safety Behind The Thrill
I am a welder for a company that builds rollercoasters. Every single weld is inspected and X-rayed for any defect. Though, on the other side of the coin, you’d be surprised how many people try and get away with subpar welds. They act astonished when they cut it open and the inch of no fusion you showed them on a radiograph actually exists. Nobody is out to get you—sometimes things go wrong and not every weld you do will be perfect. The upside is the longer we stick around arguing about it, the more I’ll get paid.
#2 Dangerous Hunk Of Metal
Every driver of a truck has nodded off at one time or another, making their vehicle an 80,000-pound death missile. I worked receiving at Costco for 5 years. I can attest that these people are sleep deprived as heck. They always look like zombies when I buzz them in. That, and apparently Swift Transportation doesn’t offer their employees dental. Honestly, Swift Transportation would let my dogs drive if they had thumbs and could reach the pedals.
#3 It’s That Simple
Plumber here. I make over half my money using one tool that costs $50, and a skill that can be learned in 20 minutes. The tool is a shifter and the skill is knowing how to pull apart and install taps. Drain snakes and plungers are how I make almost all the rest. That “almost” is the reason I need all of my other tools.
#4 Moral: Listen To Your Employees
I get paid to tell you what your employees have been telling you. Here’s a real-life example I was involved in. The non-profit I work for started to do email campaigns. We had open rates of around 36% with corresponding high click-through rates. Pretty high. Then, management started to abuse the hell out of it by over-emailing everyone. We either had people unsubscribe like mad or just ignore our emails entirely. Our open rates went down to about 5%. We had over half of our following unsubscribe to us.
Every time we had an event or something going on the message was always the same: “I want this to go out to everyone.” I’d be like, “We need to email far less, and target people’s interests when we do.” Have an event? “I want an email blast going out EVERY DAY for a week before the event reminding people about it.
So eventually the big guy is despondent over the super low open rates. We end up contracting with a social media expert company to develop a strategy for us, and that cost us $40,000. Their biggest recommendation? Cut down on the number of emails we send out, and target them to interested audiences.
#5 Car Rental Tip
General manager of a rental car company here. Do not, under any circumstances, buy additional roadside assistance or premium roadside assistance. Essentially, every new car comes with five years of free roadside assistance from the manufacturer. As long as you weren’t off-roading, just give the manufacturer’s RSA hotline the VIN and mileage and you are good to go.
#6 Any CPR Is Better Than None
If I start CPR on you, you have about a 5% chance to survive. I still try my hardest. Any CPR is better than no CPR. Even if you aren’t a nurse, doctor, EMT, or lifeguard. Anyone can and should do CPR if they think someone has lost a pulse. You don’t need any training. You don’t have to do mouth to mouth, hands-only CPR is OK. Just put your hands on the center of their chest and push hard and fast and don’t stop until the paramedics show up or the person pushes you off of them. Don’t worry about hurting them. If it hurts them, they will stop you. Otherwise, chances are they need CPR.
#7 When Billing Is Sales
A certain telephone company with a blue globe logo doesn’t actually have a billing department. You are always routed to the sales department. The job is not to fix your billing problem, it’s to upsell you. If you have a legit billing problem, you will be transferred because the rep doesn’t want to deal with anyone that isn’t a sale. Every time you’re transferred, it’s actually to the same department, just a different sales rep. Billing managers are really just sales managers.
#8 Behind Every Successful Person…
It’s not uncommon for assistants and apprentices to make the art of really famous, well known, expensive artists. The artist might be very involved in the process or barely involved. They can have studios with dozens of assistants churning out all of “their” work, and then just sign their name to it. And I’m not just talking about, sculptures or art installations where assistants might be doing the grunt work. Even paintings could be barely-touched by the actual artist.
#9 Multiple Layers
Residents work very long hours and make mistakes in the hospital. Multiple layers of people are vital in catching those mistakes before something bad happens. This includes pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, nurses, pathologists, and laboratory technicians. I’m definitely leaving out people that have saved my butt and I don’t even know what position they hold. Thank you, all of you.
#10 You’re Welcome
A teacher here: I hide YOUR secrets. If your kids know it, I know it. Children are tactless and impulsive and they tell me all about your reproductive habits, financial difficulties, domestic problems, and Tinder dates. I know so much about moms and dads that I wish I could erase from my brain forever. But I will never tell! You’re welcome!
#11 Appearance Of Progress
In mental health, often the appearance of progress is more important than progress itself. I’m not saying counseling or therapy doesn’t work at all, just saying there is sometimes pressure to inflate positives to have clients stick around. That is the medical field. CMS, state agencies don’t really care much for the contents of charting, just that it is done correctly. As for mental health. I’d say the two secrets would be:
“The client is going to do most of the work.”
“It’s probably going to suck more before it sucks less.”
#12 The Truth About Your Delivery
I used to work for a major package delivery service unloading semi-trailers. The flat-screen TV you ordered for Christmas was under a rifle safe and a lift kit for a truck. If your box looks a little bit crushed, it was probably one of 20 that were wedged together in a chute somewhere along the beltline that took all of the strength someone could summon to un-wedge. If you’re going to ship something, make sure it can survive a fall from chest height.
#13 Wasting Forests
FedEx Office doesn’t recycle. I’ve personally wasted probably close to an acre of forest. This saddens me, as the area I live in likes to make a big point that UPS Stores will accept your packing peanuts and other material for them to reuse, as though they’re big into helping the planet, rather than trying to keep their costs down.
#14 They Know What You Did
Sewer inspector. I can tell exactly what house is dumping oil and grease down their drains. It’s usually the churches and businesses that get nastygrams and fines but we need to shame the house people too. I knew one guy whose college roommates would flush grease down the sink with cold water. They thought the reason you don’t pour grease down the sink was that it would burn the pipes, so they cooled it down real good first.
#15 Long, Stressful Hours
Doctor here. I’ll see a patient Monday morning in the hospital, work all night through Tuesday morning, and I won’t have slept in the 24 hours in between. And this is a totally normal and accepted practice in medicine. When I was in college, I asked my primary care physician if he thought I should become a doctor. He told me, “If you want to work like a gentleman, become a lawyer. Doctors work like animals for many years.” I sadly didn’t listen to him.
#16 Engineering Secret
Engineering is nowhere close to being as accurate or precise as people think. I’m in product development for automotive. In my personal experience, I hear the phrase “close enough” quite a bit. I also do a lot of work in model correlating, and if the actual part reacts at least 70% to the model comparison we’re usually happy with the result. Reminds me of a quote: “If we knew we were actually going to build this thing, we’d have designed it entirely differently.”
#17 Coding in COBOL
Legacy programmer here. All of the debt from your houses, and your parents’ and landlords’ houses, and increasingly all of your credit card, consumer and student loan debt are ALL being processed on 24-hour cycles on a system backbone that was written well before I was born. And I’m OLD. I work in mortgage servicing and tinker with the spiderwebs that hold up the economy as we know it. It’s pretty complex because everything runs on spit and promises and equal parts sunshine and darkness. We find ways to squeeze tiny bits of performance improvements out of an impossible system so that we can immediately put more load on it.
If you want to guarantee yourself years of work in an environment you’ll probably hate, learn to code in COBOL. Most of the people in my dept are within a decade of retirement if they live that long. Our company pays college kids to learn on the job now because there are no new COBOL programmers. I hate it. It’s a chore to get up and go in every day. It’s my dream job and I’m lucky to have it.
#18 You’re Allowed To Ask For Help
If you’re sitting at a blackjack table and aren’t sure what play to make, ask the dealer. No, seriously. We’re trained to know the official blackjack strategy guide and are allowed to give you that information (considered common knowledge). If the dealer doesn’t know it offhand, their supervisor should have a copy of it and will help you out.
#19 No Security
Tech startups: many places spend almost no time or effort on security. It’s a race to add features and patch over major bugs to try to get some kind of revenue stream before funding runs out. Security isn’t a problem until it is, so it’s always on the back-burner. In fact, security in IT is just a balance equation between cost, function, and risk. There’s no such thing as a secure system, just systems that aren’t targets or are so locked down they barely perform their needed function.
#20 Not 100% Quality
Anyone who’s ever been at a vehicle assembly plant knows that most cars have a quality of about 80% of their specifications and they’re sold that way to everyone. I work at a plant making gas tanks and the protocol for when a tank fails any test is to retest it. If it fails twice, we swap out a component and test it again. If it still fails after the third retest, we scrap it. I mean, at least we do QA testing where I work… Some places seem to skip it altogether.
#21 Tough Selection
Teacher here. It’s that time of year to make class placements for next year. Every year, there are two or three teachers in the school who are so awful, we cry over which students we have to ‘sacrifice’ to them and hope they are strong enough to survive a year with Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So. The latest strategy is to pick the physically active sporty ones. The quiet nerds only get validation from inside a classroom, not outside it, and so are much more harmed by bad teachers.
Many of the books you read—especially romance—aren’t written by the person who’s name is on the cover. Most romance books are ghostwritten and bought by someone else (often a man, I’ve found) and published under a female’s name with a fake bio. How do I know this? I’m a ghostwriter.
#23 Your Meal Was Probably Sneezed On
People in the kitchen and in factories go to work when they feel ill and you most likely have eaten something someone sneezed on. That’s because there is a line between feeling so sick you can’t get out of bed and coughing or sneezing once in a while. Foodservice is brutal about taking sick days. Like, you better be halfway in your death bed to call out. And considering how virulent some pathogens are, like norovirus (winter vomiting bug), one sick worker could infect half a town.
#24 The Secret? Saliva
Jeweler here. We use saliva to set diamonds. Not as an actual adhesive, but to pick up and move the diamond into the setting. It sounds gross, but trying to move a small diamond with a pair of tweezers often results in the diamond flying across the room and into the bottomless pit that is a jewelry shop floor. So, yea—we lick and stick. Don’t worry, there’s a vigorous cleaning process at the end!
#25 About Your Gym Membership…
The gym you bought your membership from probably printed your credit card details onto a piece of paper. The membership consultants then punch it into a machine and throw it into a dumpster out the back. They also saved your email to the mailing list regardless of whether you checked no, and it was not, in fact, the last 10 memberships on offer. They are limitless because 90% of members never go and you probably won’t either. Cheers for the donation.
#26 Leeching Off Medicare
Therapist in a skilled nursing facility here. Some places will hang on to residents well past when they’re ready to go home to suck up all the Medicare money they can, others send them home too early in hopes of getting a good rating from the insurance payers (and therefore more referrals). I’m lucky enough to work in a place that doesn’t seem to do this.
#27 All The Same
9 out of 10 air conditioning units are the same. Despite the brand, and by extension the cost, they mostly come from one maker in New Jersey. Ingersoll Rand. I’m an electrician. I learned that everything generic is the same as the name brand. I worked at a sour cream plant we produced various types of sour cream for different vendors with the exact same product.
#28 Not So Simple
Software development: You will always be pressed for more time and money. Your product will almost always launch with major bugs and issues, and you will spend most of your final moments before going live fixing as many of the VISIBLE issues as you can. Plus, there will always be subsequent updates that you’ll need to do to actually get the product to where you envisioned it as you were building.
#29 Upsell, Not Upcharge
Bakery owner here: if you order a custom cake, we will charge you a fair price depending on decoration, size, flavorings, etc. no matter what type of event it’s for. we don’t upcharge you for weddings. We will, however, up-sell you. Do you want a white cake? That’s fine, but this Genoise sponge is much tastier (and costs 75 cents more per serving). You want a lace wrapped bottom? what if I hand piped lace all over it, it would be much more beautiful (and cost about $100 to $500 more, depending on cake size). Basically, if you have a firm cake budget, make sure you let the bakery know when you start your tasting. Take their suggestions if they fit within your budget. they won’t try to upsell you too much unless they’re jerks, and it’ll save a lot of disappointment.
#30 Missing Milestones
If your baby is in full-time care (that is, over 40 hours a week), the odds are that we know about their milestones (rolling, crawling, walking, talking, etc.) before you do. It’s just because the majority of their waking time is spent with us. We don’t tell you because working hard to provide for your kid doesn’t make you a bad parent, and we don’t want you to feel like you’re missing out. I worked as a nanny for an older child and if she had something good happen at school, I always made sure to have her tell her parents instead of simply informing them myself. It’s better not to take away that joy from parents, even if you do spend the majority of time with the kids.
#31 In Case Of An Emergency
It is against Walmart’s company policy for hourly employees to call 911 in the event of an emergency. Rather, they must notify the nearest manager, which could take anywhere from minutes to weeks depending on where the manager is, what they are doing, whether the hourly employee has a walkie, etc. Employees can be fired for calling 911 to report an in-store emergency. I’m not sure if this has changed now, but that was definitely the case when I was there.
#32 Not As Advertised
I’m an advertising photographer. Pretty much anything you buy based on the work of my industry won’t be as nice as it looks in the ads. We put a lot of work into making something that’s worth $5 look like it’s worth $50. For example, a real fast-food burger looks much sadder than what’s advertised. It’s just the nature of our industry to deceive people and lure them in with false promises and misleading claims.
#33 Appearances Are Everything
Accounting. Most companies keep up an appearance that everything is fine, and to them, that’s more important than everything actually being fine. Financial statement sign-offs by accountants are becoming more like rubber stamps. Accountants are blessing financial statements that haven’t been properly vetted because of cost constraints engulfing the industry. It’s only a matter of time before the next Enron-esque accounting scandal.
#34 Quality Control? Nil
Not really my profession anymore, or a “profession” at all, but I used to work the production line at the Swiss Colony bakery. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s basically mail-ordered “gourmet” food. Quality control in that factory was nil. 75% of the workers had little to no training. When promoters came through to do a video, they had to bring in extra people to make it look busy. They also had to scrape a couple of foot-tall mounds of chocolate off the floor, sweep up the dead bugs, and very carefully not pan up to show where the ceiling had been on fire. Anything you order from them has a good chance of being damaged, tainted, or “modified.”
#35 A Scary Thought
Barely anyone in the state of Georgia gets an autopsy. If you wanted to end someone over the age of 40, all you would really need to do is make sure that they had some kind of previous medical history and that the body was found outside of a metropolitan area. The coroners here are only required to have a high school diploma. Some states are worse, most better.
I work in video games. Our job is to make our game as addictive as possible so that we can make the most money out of micro-transactions. A lot of our game design is by marketing telling us what people will most likely buy in the game by watching data. Sure, it starts free-to-play, but to keep you playing and paying we mine data to make it more “sticky.” After a while, I felt like I was working for an illegal dealer and quit recommending our games to people I knew. Sure, people have fun playing the games we make, but I don’t want to hear later about how much money you or your kids wasted on it.
#37 Rewards For Kindness
At my hotel, the front desk person has complete control of the price you pay if you don’t book online, and will often try to bump up the price of the room by $5 to $10 anticipating you asking for a discount of some sort. I do want to mention that if the guest is nice about asking for a discount or doesn’t ask at all, I tend to give them $5 to $10 off of the original price as a courtesy for not making me hate them.
#38 Never Look Under The Carpet
Home construction. It is so bad. It’s amazing what people will pay a half mil for. Total rubbish. You won’t believe the number of foundation failures or how many roof trusses have termites pre-installed. Also, for god’s sake, never look under the carpet.
#39 Unsanitary And Unsafe
I worked in a lab where targets took overall health and safety. I worked with asbestos without a mask regularly and the samples we crushed were constantly contaminated to a ridiculous level because none of the equipment was ever cleaned (there was just no time, we had too many targets to hit). It was the reason I left. I hate being forced to do a bad job.
#40 The Upgrade Upsell
I work in mobile phone sales for a mobile network. One of the biggest things we’ll get you on is upgrades. Once your phone contract is due to expire and you’re eligible to upgrade your plan and get a new handset, most people just come into the store, find a phone they like on a plan they like and take the first price offered to them.
Others will ask if we can negotiate the price, we’ll tell you no, and for the most part, that’s true. Call through to the cancellation teams. I’ve seen the cancellation teams make some insane deals for people on monthly contracts. Lowering people to plans on devices that would normally have upfronts in the triple digits and just wiping them without a second thought. Contracts where the customer is paying almost no premium on the phone or getting the airtime for next to nothing. It’s insane.
#41 Haggle For Hotel Rooms
After working in the travel industry, I can tell you that hotel room rates are often not fixed prices. If guests come to the front desk and ask the price, we generally start at the high end. Most people accept this as fact and pay up. However, if a customer is hesitant or threatens to walk out, we can sometimes drop the price to keep them there. Often, there is a bottom-line price set by the owners—we can’t go any lower than that or we lose money.
#42 No Sleep Zone
Air traffic controllers (at least in the US) are almost all clinically fatigued. The FAA knows this and the union knows this, but it’s in their interests to keep it quiet. It’s not uncommon for US controllers to have a swing shift (1 pm to 9 pm), then come back at 6 am to 2 pm (9 hours between shifts), and then later go back again that night for an overnight starting at 10 pm. That’s 24 hours of work in 41 hours of real-time… in a job where you really really want alertness.
#43 Learning On The Go
Sometimes your professor learns about the thing that they teach you so confidently just hours before giving the lecture. Just to be clear, I’ve never taught a course where I didn’t know the core material long in advance. Sometimes when preparing a lecture, you learn something new and cool about the subject and then teach it.
#44 Good To Know
You can sue a prison for holding you after your release day if they screw up your release, or can’t release you on time for whatever reason. It’s like $7k for every day you’re held over.
#45 It’s Just Google
Tech support. I Google most of your problems. Good tech support is very well worded Google searches.