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  • Knocking The Wind Out Of Your Sails

    | Boston, MA, USA | Bizarre, History

    (I work in a museum that focuses on the history of a particular ship. One day, a visitor approaches me and asks me this question:)

    Visitor: “Excuse me, I have a question.”

    Me: “Sure!”

    Visitor: “When was the last time [Ship] had all of her sails out?”

    Me: “The last time she sailed under her own power was in August 2012 on the 200th anniversary of her victory with—”

    Visitor: “Yeah, but were ALL of her sails out?”

    Me: “Well, no, only a few of the main ones necessary for—”

    Visitor: “But I want to know when she had ALL her sails out like in this painting.” *gestures to nautical painting*

    Me: “Ah! I see. Actually, artists painted ships with full sails to heighten the drama of the painting. There would be very few occasions when a ship would literally have all of her sails out at once because different sails are used in different situations and angles of wind and—”

    Visitor: “Yeah, but WHEN was the LAST TIME she had ALL of her sails out?”

    Me: *pause* “I guess I don’t know exactly.”

    Visitor: *to his family* “Oh, she doesn’t know.”

    A Few Planets Short Of A Solar System

    | Cartersville, GA, USA | Bizarre, Math & Science, Money, Theme Of The Month

    (I work in the administrative offices of a museum. One of my job duties is to answer the phone. The following call takes place one afternoon.)

    Me: “Good afternoon, [Museum]. May I help you?”

    Caller: “Yes, I would like to sign up for the astronomy workshop.”

    Me: “Are you a member?”

    Caller: “No, but I want to be. How much does it cost?”

    Me: “There are different levels…”

    (I explain the different levels of membership and prices.)

    Me: “If you join today, I can give you the member price of $10 for the workshop and book your spot. If you are unable to join today, I will have to wait until the advance member registration is over and the cost will be $25.”

    Caller: “I guess I need the family membership to cover my daughter and my mother. Well, she’s really not my mother but the nursing home was going to throw her out on the street…”

    (She tells me a lengthy story about how a woman who isn’t her mother came to live in her home.)

    Caller: “But I don’t have $95 to pay for it. I really want to come!”

    (At this point she begins sobbing hysterically because she wants to come to the workshop, but we are only accepting member reservations at the moment.)

    Caller: “I come and sit in your parking lot on the weekends and watch the happy expressions of people who are leaving your museum, wishing I could go in. Sometimes I will come and walk amongst the trees and think about what is going on inside the museum.”

    (At this point, I’m a little creeped out but I try to help her because I feel a little sorry for her.)

    Me: “I think it would be okay to make an exception for you and let you sign up, and even give you the member price.”

    Caller: “Oh, thank you. Thank you. I will come see you next time I come to walk among the trees.”

    (She never showed up for the workshop. I guess she got tired of walking among the trees.)

    Went On A Jurassic Lark

    | Rapid City, SD, USA | Bad Behavior, Criminal/Illegal, Family & Kids, Top

    (I work at a geology museum. A woman and her son, who looks about five, walk in. The boy is entranced by the mammoths, dinosaurs, and marine reptile skeletons on display. The mother looks unimpressed, and is on the phone for most of her stay. Since the building is kept at a pleasant temperature, she drops her heavy coat off with me at the front desk. Later, I spot her heading for the exit.)

    Me: “I hope you had a good time at our museum. Did you have any questions before you go?”

    Mother: “I’m not interested in your stupid dinosaurs.”

    (She heads for the elevator, which is around a corner. I assume she has her child waiting there, since I can’t see him in the rest of the museum. Three hours later, I see her son wandering around the displays, looking lost. I rush over to him.)

    Me: “Hey, buddy. What are you doing here?”

    Son: *in the most heartbroken voice ever* “Have you seen mommy? I fell asleep.”

    Me: “I saw her a little while ago, bud. Why don’t you have a seat over here? Do you have your mom’s phone number, or a way to contact her?”

    (Fortunately, he has a list of emergency-contact numbers in a tiny wallet. I call the one labeled ‘Mom’ in blue crayon, after giving him some paper and colored pencils.)

    Mother: “Who is this?!”

    Me: “This is [My Name], from [Museum's Name]. We have—”

    Mother: “You d*** well better ship me my coat, you b****! That’s a $500 coat, and I’m already on the other side of the state!”

    Me: “You also left your son here, ma’am. And I don’t have a box in his size.”

    Mother: *after a brief pause* “You son of a b****! You should have told me I left my kid behind! It’s going to take me five f****** hours to get back there!”

    (I decided to end the call, and instead called the police department. The mother stormed in a little over four hours later, long after the museum is supposed to be closed. She had a nice long conversation with child-care services. Her son gave me a hug and thanked me for staying with him. I still have his drawing of a plesiosaur.)

    Got Her Cables Crossed

    , | New York, NY, USA | Bizarre, Movies & TV, Theme Of The Month

    (I am an assistant manager in the box office of an exhibition space in Times Square. This exhibition space has many investors. One is a popular cable television network from which the space took its name. A relatively normal-looking customer approaches my window.)

    Me: “Hello! How can I help you?”

    (The customer pauses, looking nervous.)

    Me: “Did you have any questions about the exhibit?”

    Customer: “Um, yes.”

    Me: “Okay… go ahead.”

    Customer: “YES! I was wondering why you took away my [aforementioned cable network] channel. I can’t understand why you would do that. My children and I really enjoyed learning about the things that we saw. It was good!”

    Me: “Ah, I see. Well, even though [cable network] is our namesake, we’re not at all affiliated with their programming. I’m sorry. I would recommend calling your cable provider to see if there were any changes in your service.”

    Customer: “No, but yes, but NO. I can’t understand why you would do this! Because you see it’s my CHILDREN. It was something that we enjoyed TOGETHER.”

    Me: “Yeah. I hear ya. Unfortunately, that’s not us. We’re a museum space.”

    Customer: “Is this because of Oprah?”

    Me: “So, I… what?”

    Customer: “OPRAH. I know she was changing some things around.”

    Me: “Uh…”

    Customer: “I can’t believe you took this away from my children just because Oprah told you to.”

    Me: “Ma’am, I can assure you that we have nothing whatsoever to do with Oprah.”

    Customer: *turning to leave* “I just can’t believe Oprah would do this to her black brothers and sisters. They were LEARNING.”

    Me: “Um, right. You have a great night.”

    Customer: *turning and yelling from across the lobby* “So this wasn’t the place?”

    Me: “This was not the place.”

    The Question Is Timeless, Not Ageless

    | Antwerp, Belgium | At The Checkout, Money

    (My mum and I are waiting in line to buy our ticket. We are behind two older ladies.)

    Old Lady: “No, I’m not telling you my age. I tell you, it is most impolite for you to ask.”

    Cashier: “I’m sorry, ma’am; I did not want to offend, but you do—”

    Old Lady: “Well, you were. You don’t ask a lady her age!”

    Cashier: “I’m sorry, but—”

    Old Lady: “Give us our tickets already!”

    (The cashier finishes the transaction, and still a bit undignified, both ladies leave. My mum and I approach the cashier.)

    My Mum: “I have no problem telling you I am over 55, and have proof for you too. Now, I believe you do have senior citizen discount for which I qualify?”

    Cashier: “Certainly, ma’am. So that will be one senior citizen and one adult?”

    (Both ladies, clearly above 55, hear my mum speak; realizing their error, they look at their tickets and then to the cashier as to judge their chances of getting money back. With some disappointment, they decide against it.)

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