Unobservant Animal Lovers Increasing Insurance Rates

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 18, 2020

It’s a warm summer day, about 75 degrees. My dog goes for a ride with me to pick up some groceries. I go into the store, and I leave the windows open an inch or so and the car running with the AC on.

I am in the store for twenty or thirty minutes. When I come back out, my car window is smashed, and there’s a note that says, “Hey, dumba**, take care of your dog! It’s too hot out for this.” 

Thank God my dog is a good boy and stayed in the car. I still never got to meet the person who did it, but it really upset me that I had to pay for a new window.

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These Dog Shows Have Really Gone To The Dogs

, , , , , , , | Friendly | June 17, 2020

My wife and I have had many dogs in the years we have been married. Some might have been purebred. We don’t know; none were ever papered or registered. Most of the dogs we have had are what are commonly referred to as mutts, but we love each and every one of them; they are family members. As a term of affection, we often refer to our dogs as mutts, no disrespect meant for their lack of pedigree breeding, just our term for a well-loved pet.

We decided to go with a relative to a dog show in another city — one of those fancy dog shows with high-priced dogs, well-paid trainers and handlers, etc.

As we were in the parking lot on the way in, a lady walked by with what we refer to as a “dust-mop” dog — small, long-hair, etc. My wife whispered to me, privately, “Oh, what a cute mutt!”

The lady overheard her and immediately went into a rage, quoting the long list of the dog’s pedigree, the papers, the ribbons, the awards, etc. She was ranting and raving about how low-class we were for not acknowledging the superiority of her dog. We said nothing. Then the lady said, “I bet your dog doesn’t have papers.”

To this, I responded, “Well, he did have some, but he couldn’t read them so we put them on the floor when he was a puppy, and he used them. What does your dog do with his?”

Screams of obscenities followed us into the show.

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Something Smells Fishy

, , , , , | Friendly | June 17, 2020

When I am a naive student in the UK, I hear on TV that in Sweden they eat rotten fish, called “surströmming”. The show’s host, Stephen Fry, holds up a tin, but says he isn’t allowed to open it in case the audience passed out.

I am intrigued. I want to try some, but I can’t find it anywhere— not locally and not online at any price. I phone a friend in Sweden.

Me: “Hey, I want to try some of this surströmming. Do you know where I can get some?”

Friend: “Really? It’s absolutely rank. We only eat it outside at BBQs and things.”

Me: “Yes, really.”

Friend: “And you can’t find it locally?”

Me: “Nowhere. I’ve checked for hours.”

Friend: “Strange. They sell it everywhere in Sweden. It’s easy to make; you just catch some herring and then put it in a barrel. It ferments for six months. Or nine months if you’re totally nuts.”

Me: “Can you send me some?”

Friend: “Sure. I can get 1kg for about 300 krona, but I don’t have Paypal. You’ll need to send me cash in the post.”

Me: “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Friend: “I hope this isn’t part of some prank? Also, we normally eat it with a bread called tunnbröd. I’ll send you that, too.”

I convert pound sterling to SEK300. I put it in an envelope and send it to Sweden. Two weeks later, a package arrives. It only has the tunnbröd. The surströmming is missing from the package.

Me: “Hey, I didn’t get any fish.”

Friend: “You mean it didn’t arrive?”

Me: “No… it arrived, but there’s no surströmming.”

Friend: “Oh, crap. I know what’s happened.”

After a quick check on Google, I learn that couriers really do NOT like rotten fish. I phone the courier to ask them about it. They put me through to the freight airline they used. The employee is clearly Swedish and understands what happened.

Me: “I was expecting a package of surströmming, but it seems to have been removed from the package.”

Employee: “How was it packaged?”

Me: “In a tin, in a cardboard box.”

Employee: “Tinned surströmming… You know the way it’s already rotten when it is made?”

Me: “Yes?”

Employee: “That’s an ongoing process. It continues to ferment in the tin and it makes more gas.”

Me: “In a sealed container?”

Employee: “In a sealed container, in a confined space, with low air pressure, and many other goods. We have no way of knowing when that tin will go pop.”

Me: “…and send rotten fish everywhere?” 

Employee: “Exactly. In the interests of air safety, we X-ray everything and remove surströmming tins. Sorry about your fish; you won’t get it back.”

Me: “Thanks for the thorough explanation. They really should think about the packaging.”

My Swedish friend and I split our small loss and went on our way. I have yet to taste surströmming, but I am organising another batch of it. I’ll try surface shipping.

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This Is Why We Have To Have These Rules

, , , | Friendly | June 16, 2020

Due to circumstances, we had to rely on the foodbank for a while. The way they operate is that you need proof of low income to register and then pay ten euro a week for a box of groceries. These are usually goods close to the sell-by date. If you skip a week, you still need to pay the fee; if you skip three weeks, you’re out. This is, of course, to avoid abuse.

I’m in line to pick up my goods and in front of me is another customer getting irate because he is removed from the list for skipping four weeks in a row. There is some discussion, a manager gets involved, and because he has kids, the manager agrees to add him again to the list, but he needs to pay the fee for the past weeks by way of a fine.

The customer, still irate, says, “I’m not going to pay the fine. I’ve been to Spain with my family; have you any idea how expensive that is?”

Strangely, he was blacklisted after this.

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The Nudist, The Thief, And The Scaredy-Cat

, , , , , , , | Friendly | June 16, 2020

I’m in my mid-twenties when I decide to join the Couchsurfing community and host travelers visiting my city. For those of you who don’t know Couchsurfing: it’s a platform through which one can find a place to stay with a local when travelling instead of staying at a hotel. It’s a bit like Airbnb, but unlike Airbnb, you don’t have to pay for the room. Still, many guests bring a small gift from their country or hometown, cook dinner, or invite the host to a few drinks at a local pub to show their gratitude.

I’m still a university student living in a shabby flat, but it’s in the city centre and I have a small living room and an air mattress I can offer to surfers. 

Most of the time, it’s a fun experience and the people I meet are great, but sometimes… well. Below are some of the stranger things that have happened to me while hosting surfers.

One time, I host a young woman from East Asia who is traveling Europe and requests to stay at my place for two nights. When she arrives at my place, she jumps at the sight of my dog, who she didn’t expect to be there, even though two of my three profile pictures are photos of my dog and I mention him several times in my profile.

She is obviously scared of dogs, so I ask her if she will be okay staying at my place and offer to help her find a new host if she wants to stay somewhere else. She says it’s fine, but for the two and a half days she stays with me, I have to call my dog and hold him by his collar whenever she needs to go to the bathroom or the kitchen because otherwise, she won’t leave the living room.

But of course, she doesn’t call me when she has to leave the room because that would be too simple. No, she opens the door, sticks out her head to look around, shrieks when she sees my dog, who likes to sleep on the tiles in the hall because it’s summer and really hot outside, and quickly closes the door again.

After a few seconds, she opens the door again and repeats the whole procedure. She keeps doing this until I notice her desperate attempt to leave the living room — which sometimes takes a few minutes — and call my dog.  

In the morning before I go to work, she asks through the closed door if I can lock the dog up in the bedroom during the day, so she feels safe. I politely refuse and suggest she go out and do some sightseeing or shopping while I am at work, which she does. 

Another time, I host a German university student who is visiting my city to attend a conference. She seems nice and normal when she arrives, and we have a very passionate conversation about traveling, literature, and philosophy over a glass of wine when she returns from the conference.

The next morning, I enter my living room and find her taking at least five of my books off my bookshelf and stuffing them into her luggage. When I ask her what she is doing, she simply replies, “Oh, you told me about those books last night and got me totally interested, so I wanted to read them, too.”

She isn’t even embarrassed about getting caught stealing my books and just sits there as I take them out of her suitcase and place them back on the shelf. I then stand next to her until she finishes packing, making sure nothing else catches her interest.

I also host an architecture student from Southern Europe, who is a very polite and respectful guest. It’s the afternoon of the third day of his stay and I want a cup of coffee. On my way to the kitchen, I walk past the living room door, which is wide open, and I decide to offer him a cup of coffee, too.

But when I take a look into the room, I see my guest sitting on the couch wearing only boxer briefs, a towel placed around his neck, his hair still damp. A bit embarrassed, I quickly turn around and apologize for barging in on him like that and explain that I came to ask if he wanted some coffee. He says he would love some coffee and I go to the kitchen, my face red like a firetruck.

About ten minutes later, I return to the living room with two coffees, expecting him to be dressed by now. This time, I ask if it’s okay to come in before entering — just to be safe. He tells me to enter and… he’s still in the same spot wearing nothing but boxer briefs. He thanks me for the coffee and, before I can retreat, starts a conversation about how much he liked one of the museums I recommended.

So, there I am, awkwardly standing in the middle of my tiny living room, having a cup of coffee and a conversation about expressionist art with a naked stranger sitting on my couch.

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