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Give Her Cookies, Not Pi

, , , , | Right | October 22, 2021

It’s just gone 9:00 am and I notice a couple browsing food-to-go. The woman is very much looking like she’s just rolled out of bed and sounds English, whilst the man sounds like he’s local and looks a lot more together. They’re having some kind of disagreement; she looks annoyed but he is trying not to laugh.

Woman: *Sounding very tired* “Excuse me. Sorry to disturb your shopping, but I’d like to ask your opinion on something if that’s okay?”

Me: *Against my better judgment* “Sure thing, ma’am.”

Woman: “Would you agree that forcing someone to do mathematics when they’ve been awake for over twenty-four hours and had been traveling for… eleven-ish hours… was evil?”

Me: “Oh, definitely, ma’am.”

Woman: “Thank you.” *To the man, who’s now outright laughing* “See, you are being evil. Evil, evil, evil.” *Pauses, then speaks in a pitiful voice* “I just want to eat and sleep.” 

I later see them leaving.

Woman: *To me* “He bought me cookies.”

Me: “So everything is forgiven, ma’am?”

Woman: “Yesssssssssss.”

Thoze Leters Dont Ad Upp

, , , , , , , | Learning | October 22, 2021

I once had a math professor who was very invested in the “whole package” philosophy of teaching — so much so that his students were required to write essays and give presentations on things related to math, and we were strictly graded on things like punctuation and grammar, not just content. Many of us learned to be very careful and double- and triple-check anything we turned in because we didn’t want to have points taken off. We would often trade papers for proofreading if it wasn’t an exam situation.

One day, I was taking one of this professor’s exams and noticed a misspelling in a word problem. He had misspelled balloon as ‘baloon,’ and because our exam was handwritten on mimeograph paper and not printed from a word processor, there was no spell check to save him. Because I was hyper-aware of those types of mistakes in his class, I reflexively circled the misspelling while reading the problem and continued on with the exam.

To his credit, when returning the exams to us, he confessed that he had indeed made a spelling error on the exam and that he felt it was only fair that he award extra credit to everyone who pointed it out. It turned out that more than half the class had done as I had and marked the misspelling because he had instilled that attention to detail into us so thoroughly.

If It’s Double-0 You’re Licensed To Kill The Call

, , , , , | Right | October 22, 2021

This is back in the 1970s when I am a young teen. At the time, local calls within the city are very cheap, but long-distance calls that require a 0x prefix are not. Basically, a call beginning with 0 is expensive; one that does not is 20c for unlimited talk time. There are two exceptions to this: 000, which is the emergency number, and the recently introduced free call 008 numbers.

Our home phone number begins with an 8. For simplicity, let’s say it’s 88-7777. Numbers were short back then.

The phone rings. I am alone in the house, so I pick it up. I do not sound like an adult, and I am definitely not using a business voice or business language.

Me: “Hello.”

Caller: “Is that [Insurance Company]?”

Me: “No, you’ve rung a private residence.”

A few minutes later, it rings again. 

Caller: “Is that [Insurance Company]?”

Me: “No, it’s still a home number. What number were you dialing?”

Caller: “00887777.”

Me: “That’s our number if you take off the two zeros at the beginning. We are not an insurance office.”

I hang up, but seconds later:

Caller: *Now angry* “I want to speak to [Insurance Company]!”

Remember, I am a kid, and I have never worked in an office.

Me: “I think your phone system is ignoring leading zeros to stop you dialing interstate or international numbers.”

Caller: “I don’t understand why you won’t let me speak to [Insurance Company]!”

Me: “You are ringing our home. I cannot help you. You will need to contact your switchboard to place this call. Goodbye.”

Seconds later…

Caller: “Put me through to [Insurance Company]!”

Me: “I have no way of doing that. Talk to your switch. If you don’t stop calling, I will have to report you to Telecom as a nuisance caller.”

I can’t remember if it stopped then or if there were more calls. I don’t think I had to resort to making an official complaint, but it was close

Kindness Leaves Marks That Never Fade

, , , , , | Right | October 22, 2021

When my husband was sixteen, he was involved in a truck/skateboarding accident. Fortunately, he did not suffer any long-term, major damage; however, he still has a wicked scar running across his head and down the back of his neck. As an adult, he is a bit self-conscious about his scar so he keeps his hair long to hide it. He uses hair gel to keep it pulled back.

Unfortunately, he and I have just moved and are in a financial bind. It’s been a long and stressful day and I’ve run to the store to grab some essentials, after having scrimped around for as much change as possible. I’m standing at one of the registers, a long crowd behind me.

The cashier scans my three items: milk, eggs, and hair gel. I quickly pull the crumpled bills and coins out of my pocket and start to count them out. Feeling nervous for taking so long with such a long long line behind me, I eyeball it and hand what I have to the cashier. The cashier counts all of the change.

Cashier: “It’s $1.12 short. ”

I’m embarrassed, tired, and trying not to cry.

Me: “Oh. Um… Well, can we put the hair gel back, then?”

Suddenly, the gentleman behind me pipes up.

Man: “Really? Just a dollar short? Here, let me help you.”

Me: “Oh! Thank you, but that’s not—”

Man: “I insist.”

He hands the cashier a bill and few coins, and the cashier takes them and hands me my receipt. She shakes her head, mumbling.

Cashier: “A dollar. I could’ve done that. You have a nice night.”

By then, I really was in tears, and I thanked the man profusely. He smiled, nodded, and told me to get home safely. Thank you, sir. I’ve never forgotten your kind gesture, and I think of you every time I help others — and when I pick up hair gel for my husband.

From A Different Q Continuum

, , , | Right | October 21, 2021

A customer calls and they have a voucher that they want to use for an online order.

Caller: “The voucher doesn’t work! There’s some weird sign on it that doesn’t exist on any keyboard. It couldn’t be a letter, since it doesn’t exist in any alphabet we know about.”

The unknown thing? The letter Q.

We spoke the same language, they sounded maybe a bit older than me, and I got them to read the rest of the voucher up.

After the call, I thought that they had maybe never really used the letter Q in capital, only in lower case. But still… the letter Q doesn’t exist in any alphabet?