Finally Got Your Goat

, , , , , | Friendly | December 12, 2017

(We farm goats. Sometimes first-time nanny goats have twins, and sometimes they reject one of the twins. When this happens, we have to bottle-feed the rejected kid. The first few weeks, it’s pretty much a 24/7 proposition, but not one that’s too hard to take as kids are mobile pretty much from the get-go, and small enough to be portable. It also helps that they’re adorable. Rather than cancel a camping trip, I take a red-brown female kid trailer-camping with my family.)

Campers #1, #2, and #3: *all separate occasions* “What kind of a dog is that?”

Me: “She’s not a dog; she’s a goat. I’m bottle-raising her.”

(Reactions range from “cool!” to “that’s stupid,” and I quickly grow weary of folk who can’t tell a goat from a dog.)

Camper #4: “What kind of a dog is that?”

Me: “She’s a Chupacabra-doodle.”

The Lights Are Off But Someone’s Home

, , , , , | Friendly | December 12, 2017

(When I move to St. Petersburg and get a phone number [in the days of all land lines], the number I receive has previously been that of an electrical contractor. I receive many calls from people looking to contact them. I usually just say that they no longer have this number, and I don’t know if they are still in business, and then hang up. But late one night, nearly midnight, I get a call from what is obviously an elderly lady. I go through my usual spiel, but before I can hang up, she becomes so obviously distressed that I continue to talk with her.)

Her: “Oh, dear. I don’t know what to do.”

Me: “About what?”

Her: “None of my lights are working.” *I immediately suspect a power outage.*

Me: “So, why are you trying to call the electrical contractor?”

Her: “They did work for me last year, and I thought they could help.”

Me: “I see. Well, your area is probably just having a power outage.”

Her: “What should I do?”

(At this point I suspect she’s one of those widows that had a husband take care of everything for her, and she genuinely doesn’t know what to do.)

Me: “Can you look outside and see if anyone else has lights on?”

Her: “Yes, I can see outside. No lights anywhere.”

Me: “Almost certainly a power outage. I have a phone number for you to call. Do you have a flashlight and something to write on and with?”

Her: “Yes.”

(I then told her the local power company’s outage number [brief outages were so common that I had the number memorized], and told her that she’d get a recording asking her to leave her address and phone number. I explained that they monitored the incoming recordings, and if she was the first in her area to call, that she’d be the reason everyone in her area got their power back, because her call would be the one to let the power company know to get working on the issue. She seemed happy about that [neighborhood savior], and bid me goodnight, and hung up. She was pleasant, but she also convinced me to make sure that any wife I had [I was single at the time] would know how to deal with things like that.)

The Only Wrong Thing Here Is The Therapy

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 12, 2017

(I am in bad shape after a rough breakup that involved several of my friends “choosing sides” in favor of my ex. This happens not long after my parents’ divorce, and I am also a senior in college with a thieving roommate. I am struggling daily with extreme stress and depression, and on a particularly bad day, I swallow a bunch of pills. A friend takes me to the hospital, where I am informed that my action has triggered some legal thing in which they must send me to a psychiatric unit, that I have no say in the matter, and that my friend must leave. I am horrified, ashamed, and alone. Hours later, after being locked in a dark hospital room, an “intake counselor” comes in and starts asking me questions before I’m taken to the psych unit. I answer him honestly and list all of the factors in the thunderstorm that was my life, including my parents’ divorce, a dear friend moving away, and my fiancé dumping me, and at the end of it all, I say:)

Me: “I just feel so abandoned, like people keep leaving me.”

Counselor: *puts down his pad, looks me straight in the eye* “Well, clearly, there’s something wrong with you.”

Me: “What?”

Counselor: “There’s something wrong with you, or people wouldn’t leave you. Something about you makes them leave.”

Me: *shocked and in tears* “There’s nothing wrong with me; I’m just having a hard time—”

Counselor: *cutting me off* “No. There’s something wrong with you. We’re going to take you to a place where they fix you. Then, this won’t happen anymore. We’re done. They’ll come for you soon.”

(He abruptly left, and I burst into tears, suddenly terrified by whatever this place was they were taking me to and what could be in store for me. The scary place turned out to be a rehab facility, not an electro-shock chamber with “A Clockwork Orange” eye clamps like I imagined, and I was actually able to get some help in dealing with my losses and grief. My friend who took me to the hospital continues to be amazing and helps me sort out things in my life so that I can get healthy. I have never gone back to that dark place, metaphorically or literally. Thankfully, when I told my parents about what the intake counselor said, they furiously called up the clinic. The clinic representative admitted it wasn’t the first time they had received complaints about how he talked to patients. A year later, I heard through my therapist with whom the clinic had placed me that the intake counselor had been let go. I was glad to hear, because his words haunted me, and still do to an extent.)

A Familiar Problem In A Foreign Land

, , , , | Friendly | December 11, 2017

I go to China with my dad at a very young age. I am extremely tall, so when I interact with people in public, they treat me like a young adult, which is very confusing to me. I only speak Shanghainese, which is specific dialect that has no written language anymore. I know only basic Chinese.

The airport I am in is a lot less crowded than the one back home, but because I am still so young, I am holding onto my dad’s jacket as we walk around. In my head, it should be clear I am a child because of this.

My dad sits me down with our stuff near the bathroom as he leaves to do his business. Not even a minute later, a woman comes up to me and insists I sign something. I try to say my Chinese is not good, but she’s deaf and ignores this as she forces her clipboard into my hands.

Everything on that clipboard is written in Chinese, and I see names written down with numbers next to them, but no money sign of any sort. I shrug and figure she’s collecting signatures. I think that maybe the numbers are the time of day that people have signed, because they don’t go past 24, and because it is a different country I assume they have used military time.

I do my best to write my Chinese name, as my parents taught me, and I write 13.47 down, which is the time. When I give it back to the lady, she smiles and holds out her hand. I don’t know what she is doing and just shake her hand. This goes on for a bit as she gets increasingly more upset.

Eventually, she throws her hands in the air in frustration and shows me the clipboard again, jabbing at the number I wrote down. I keep trying to act out “I don’t know” to her, but she just scowls and keeps referring to the number. My dad finally comes out of the bathroom and sees what is going on. I think he is going to clear things up when he moves me and our stuff behind him as he goes to the woman.

Instead, he puts on a stone face after he sees the clipboard once, and mouths, “No, we don’t want to. We don’t have any,” in Chinese to the woman, while repeatedly waving his hand in her face until she scowls and leaves, glaring at me.

My dad tells me that she was a “donations collector” for deaf people and most likely came to the airport to try and find foreigners to get money off of. He also tells me that my behavior made it clear I was a foreigner because I was willing to listen and see what that woman was doing. According to him, local Chinese people know to shoo those types of people away, and that being rude is the only way to save your money and belongings in China if you’ve been “targeted.”

I’d like to say this wasn’t true, and I still try to be kind to people when I first meet them, but these types of situations continued to happen more times than I’d like to admit whenever I went back to China. I have indeed learned to ignore the “collectors” that wander in places that have many foreigners.

The Beard Is Feared

, , , , | Friendly | December 11, 2017

(This happens in the days before self-service petrol stations. We are heading to a fancy dress party, with my male cousin dressed as a woman.)

Service Attendant: *approaching the driver’s window from behind and noticing what looks like a gorgeous redhead in the driver’s seat* “Hi, honey, what can I get you today? How about my phone number?”

Cousin: *giggling like a girl and acting embarrassed, with his hands covering his lower face, turns, and bats his eyes at the attendant* “Ooh, can you fill it up please?”  

Service Attendant: *winking and smiling* “Sure thing, honey.”

Cousin: *using his normal, deep, male voice* “And hurry up about it.”

Service Attendant: *looks back in shock at my cousin, who has now revealed his bearded chin*

(After we drive away and are all having a good laugh:)

Cousin: “That felt so good. I can’t understand how you lot have to put up with that sort of s*** constantly. The look on his face was so worth it.”

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