Our Favorite Stories From 2020!

| Right | January 4, 2021

Dear readers,

Even though 2020 is a year many of us would like to forget, we did get plenty of great stories that we’d love to remember! Our editors have made a list of their favorite stories from 2020 to prove that it wasn’t all bad, despite how many badly-behaved people there were.

For this roundup, we’ve done something a little different, and shared the entire story with you instead of just the links. Be aware when you click that “see more” button below that this is a long roundup! We’re sure you will agree that it’s worth the read!

Here’s to more great stories in 2021!

Would’ve Been Cheaper To Take His Two Cents

This is a story my uncle told me after he decided to switch cell phone carriers due to terrible customer service. He has closed his account and started with a new company; about a month later, he receives a final bill in the mail.

Uncle: “Hi. I have canceled my service with you and just received a bill in the mail for eight cents. I was wondering if you could write that off.”

Agent #1: “No, sir, we expect full payment. If you do not pay the remaining balance, we will charge you a late fee and eventually turn you into collections. I can process the payment over the phone but there will be a $3 service charge, or you can mail a check.”

Uncle: “But it’s eight cents; it will cost more to mail a check than that. Are you sure you can’t just clear out the balance?”

Agent #1: “No, sir, and if we do not receive payment by [date], you will be charged a late fee.”

Uncle: “Okay, I guess I will mail you a check.”

My uncle then mails them a check for sixteen cents and waits for a month to pass when he receives his next bill.

Uncle: “Hi. I just received my bill and I have a credit on my account for eight cents, but since I have closed my account with you I would like a check mailed to me for the remaining balance.”

Agent #2: “But sir, it’s only eight cents; it costs us more to print a check than that, plus the cost to mail it. Could we just close out the account?”

Uncle: “When I called a month ago about just writing off the eight cents I owed, you threatened to charge me a late fee and turn me into collections over eight cents, forcing me to write and mail a check, so no, I will not allow you to just close the account. I want my check for eight cents, and if I don’t receive it, I will file with small claims court and you can pay legal fees on top of it.”

Agent #2: “But it’s only eight cents.”

Uncle: “It was also only eight cents last month when you demanded I pay my bill. I’ll be waiting for my check, thanks. Have a nice day.”

A week later, he received a check in the mail for eight cents, which he happily deposited next time he went to the bank. The company has since gone out of business.

 

Outsmarted By A Five- Or Six-Year-Old 

I am stocking an aisle in the grocery store. Our store has a small cafe where children aged five and under eat for free. I overhear a mother talking to her young son.

Mother: “Remember, [Son], we’re pretending you’re five, okay?”

Son: “But, Mommy, I’m six!”

Mother: “Yes, but let’s pretend, okay?”

Son: “Does this mean I don’t need to go to school tomorrow?”

Mother: “What? No! Of course, you need to go to school.”

Son: “But six-year-olds go to school. Five-year-olds stay home and play!”

Mother: “Well, tomorrow, you’ll be six.”

Son: “So, tomorrow is my birthday?!”

Mother: “What? No—”

Son: “Yay! Presents!”

She paid for his meal.

 

We Can Explain It To You In Your Own Language 

I am dining at a fancy restaurant for a special occasion. The restaurant is established, Asian-family-owned, and famously does not suffer fools. I overhear a diner who has been obnoxious and entitled all night.

Diner: “Excuse me, waiter! This is ridiculous! I ordered soup, but instead, I got this slop!”

Waiter: “I am sorry, ma’am, but that is the soup you ordered. Is there a problem with the temperature, consistency?”

Diner: “All of it! You’re all useless! I don’t know why this place is so highly recommended! Just you wait until I get you on Yelp!”

Waiter: “Ma’am, I have offered many ways to please you, but I see that you are intent on having this battle today. If this is how you wish to proceed, shall I just forego the other courses and bring you your bill?”

Diner: “How dare you?! You [Asian slur]! Do you even understand English?! Do you understand how serious this is?!”

Waiter: “Ma’am, I—”

Diner: “I am fluent in English! How dare—”

Waiter: “And I can speak fluent b****. Cash or credit?”

 

Geeks (And Doctors) Come In All Shapes And Sizes 

It’s the middle of winter with a decent amount of snow outside, late in 2006, and I am waiting in line at a shop. The little girl standing right in front of me, about eight, maybe ten years old, is wearing a big, thick, puffy, bright pink winter jacket and a purple hat and gloves.

The little girl turns around and looks up at me, very serious-faced, her head tilted to the side.

I smile down to her and nod in greeting.

The little girl pulls off her gloves, dangling them at the ends of strings, and then unzips her jacket. She pulls one side open and reaches inside to pull out a blue-light sonic screwdriver. As I watch in surprise, she scans me foot to head, head to foot, and then she tosses the screwdriver a few inches up and catches it sideways, staring at it as if examining a readout, in perfect David Tennant style. Then, she gives a satisfied, serious nod, tucks it back into her jacket, zips it up, and turns back around.

“Did… I… Wha… Did you just sonic me?!” I say in shock.

The little girl’s dad turns around to give me the biggest proud grin and then turns back to sign his receipt.

 

It’s Not Easy, Screening Green 

Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, my father used to work as a repairman for TVs, VCRs, and similar. This is a reconstruction of something that happened back then.

Dad: “[Repair Shop], how can I help you?”

Customer: “Every time I close my back door, my TV turns green.”

Dad: *Pause* “I’m sorry, what?”

Customer: “My TV works fine when the door is open, but when I close it, the whole screen turns green!”

Dad: “This I’ve got to see. I’ll be right over.”

He goes down to the customer’s house to have a look at the problem. Sure enough, when the back door is open, the TV works perfectly, but when it’s shut, the screen turns green. Dad examines the door in question to see if there’s anything weird about it, and as he does, he notices something in the back yard.

Dad: “I see you’ve lost a tree.”

Customer: “Yeah, lost it in that storm last week. It got hit by lightning.”

Dad: “And was that when your TV started acting strange?”

Customer: “Come to think of it, yeah!”

The door was a steel storm door, and the electrical charge of the lightning bolt so nearby had polarized it into a giant magnet. Opening it put it just far enough from the TV that it wouldn’t affect it, but when it was closed, the magnetic field was enough to warp the picture and make it turn green!

 

There Goes The Neighborhood… Right Where It Needs To

I am lucky enough to live in a relatively nice neighborhood with a culturally diverse population in a liberal part of the USA. Therefore, it is not too uncommon to see some houses proudly showing off some Black Lives Matter banners without ruffling too many feathers. My family decides that we want to be included, so my two children make one of our own and we put it up near our mailbox.

The next day, I happen to be doing some cleaning in the living room and spy that a middle-aged woman in a business suit has pulled up and is trying to remove the BLM sign from our property! I march right out.

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am, but what do you think you’re doing?!”

The woman jumps when she sees me, but then her stare becomes cold and her body language confrontational.

Woman: “You live here?”

Me: “Yes, and you’re stealing from my property.”

Woman: “Do you own this house?”

Me: “That’s irrelevant. Please put down that sign and leave, immediately.”

Woman: “You shouldn’t be putting up racist posters like this! It’s bad for the community!”

Me: “Whatever views my family wishes to express on our own property are our concern, not yours.”

Woman: “But you’re bringing down the neighborhood! This neighborhood used to be so nice and now it’s full of…”

I can see she’s struggling to finish her sentence without sounding like a racist. I let her stutter for a moment, hoping she comes to the conclusion that it’s impossible, but she’s committed!

Me: “Ma’am, please put down my sign, get back in your car, and—”

This is when I look into her car for the first time. Her back door is open and I can see no less than FIVE other BLM posters tossed back there! Then I look at the woman again, and it dawns on me; that business suit, that face, that Karen hairstyle… I have seen this woman’s realty ads plastered all over town!

Me: “Are… are you stealing BLM posters because you’re worried about how it will affect house prices?!”

Woman: “Well… they will! I won’t be able to get any respectable clientele if they think this town was full of racist thugs!”

Me: “Lady, I am a forty-five-year-old housewife in sweatpants. Do I look like a racist thug to you? Get off my property! I am going to be calling your bosses to let them know what you’re doing!”

Woman: “You can’t prove it!”

And with that, she kicked my BLM sign one more time for good measure and drove off. I stared long and hard at her car as it careened down the road — dangerously, I might add.

I re-entered my house, composed myself, finished the cleaning, and then settled down in front of my computer. I accessed the recording from the security camera on my front porch, found the footage of my altercation with the racist realtor, and emailed it to both the police and the realty company she works for, providing both her name and the license plate of her car.

Before the end of the day, I received an email back from the head honcho of the company informing me that her employment with them had been terminated immediately and that she had been arrested by the police for the destruction of private property.

I don’t expect everyone to share my political views, but it’s the first time they’ve been accused of bringing down the housing market!

 

The Saga Of Jane Complain 

I am sixteen, working my first day of employment EVER. I am assisting and observing a coworker at the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant. My coworker is giving me some tips when he looks up at the screen that shows incoming cars and stops talking.

He immediately calls out to the workers on the grill.

Coworker: “I’ll need three [burgers], cooked fresh, one with tomato but no pickles, one with pickles but no tomato, and one without either but extra mustard. It needs to be hot. I need three large portions of fresh fries, one salted, one unsalted, and one extra-large unsalted!”

Me: “What’s happening?”

Coworker: “Just watch.”

As he is doing all this, I see him gather together every type of sauce and sachet and condiment we own, in varying numbers and combinations. He also prepares four soft drinks: Cokes and Diet Cokes, each with ice and without. While doing all of this, he takes out his mobile phone — he’s a manager so he’s allowed to have it on him — and takes a picture of every item in front of him.

The customer pulls up to the window as soon as all the food arrives.

Customer: “I’ve been waiting so you had better hurry.”

Coworker: “Certainly, madam. You’re the only vehicle in the drive-thru, but I apologise if you felt there was a wait.”

Customer: “Whatever, I’ll take a [burger], no pickles, with fries, not salted, and they better all be fresh and hot! And if it takes longer than—”

Before the customer can finish their sentence, my coworker has bundled up the food.

Coworker: “Certainly, madam. I have your food ready right here, so there is no need for you to go to the collection window! If there is nothing else your total is [total].”

The customer stares at him for a moment as if challenging him.

Customer: “Actually, make that a [burger] without pickles and tomato, but extra mustard. And I want a Diet Coke! No ice! And hurry!”

Coworker: *Almost immediately* “Certainly, madam. I have that food right here, and your total is now [total].”

Customer: “That can’t be fresh and hot!”

Coworker: “I assure you, madam, they are all fresh off the grill and too hot to touch right now. I bet if you took a bite right now in front of me, it would burn your tongue.”

My coworker says this last part with a smirk on his face. Now he’s the one issuing challenges.

Customer: “We’ll see about that. While we’re at it, make my fries extra—”

Coworker: “—extra-large, madam? Of course, I have that right here, and I won’t even charge you the upcharge. Your total is still [total].”

Customer: “I want the salt on the side, not the fries!”

Coworker: *Grabbing a salt sachet* “Certainly, madam.”

The customer narrows her eyes but wordlessly hands over her card for payment. My coworker swipes it and hands back the receipt with the food.

Coworker: “Thank you, madam. Here is your receipt which lists the date and time of the transaction, the exact and itemised listing of your order, your payment method, and who served you, which is me, [Coworker]. I’ll put my copy here at this counter for reference. Have a great day!”

The customer looks like she is about to say something, but instead, she scowls and drives off. Before I can ask what just happened, my coworker turns to me.

Coworker: “It’s a good thing you met her on your first day! We call her ‘Jane Complain.’ She used to come in almost every day and complain about having to wait, even for just a few seconds, and she would always get a discount or a free item because of it. When we started to wise up and get her order ready for her so she would have no wait to complain about, she started to add silly little changes to the order to catch us out, but only ever small things like tomato or pickles; she isn’t very imaginative.”

Me: “Wow.”

Coworker: “I’m barely getting started. Then, she started to complain that the food was too cold and not fresh enough, so we would prepare a sizzling hot batch the moment we saw her car. She still complained it wasn’t hot enough, but we stood our ground on that one and said if she ate the burger right there in front of us and it didn’t burn her mouth, we would let her have it for free. She was about to do it but then realised how hot it actually was. I make sure I remind her of that every time she challenges the ‘freshness.’”

Me: “And the receipt bit?”

Coworker: “If she can’t scam free food from us when she purchases it, she usually comes back five minutes later to claim we missed something, which we didn’t, but policy states we have to give it to her if we can’t prove it. She always conveniently loses her receipt, too. Now I make sure to remind her that we both have copies of that receipt, it has all the information on it that I can use against her, and my copy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

Me: “That’s awesome!”

Coworker: “It’s become a matter of principle for us! We want to keep one step ahead of her so she can stop scamming us. The look on her face when we’re a step ahead of her is priceless.”

The day continues without incident and I continue to be mentored. Near the end of my shift, I look up at the screen and see that same car pulling up.

Me: “[Coworker]! Jane is back!”

Coworker: “Here comes the backup complaint!”

She pulls up and my coworker makes sure he is the first to greet her with a smile. He is already getting out his phone.

Coworker: “Nice to see you again, madam! What can I get you?”

Customer: “I was here earlier this afternoon and you forgot my fries!”

Coworker: “That was the [burger] with no pickles and no tomato, extra mustard, extra-large fries, salt on the side, with a Diet Coke and no ice. Your order was at 2:37 pm precisely, and I have the picture of the order right here, which clearly shows the fries with the burger and drink. You’ll see that the photo is both time-stamped and has the checkout’s clock in the background. Are you sure you didn’t just ‘misplace’ your fries?”

Customer: “This is absurd! That is no proof! Get me your manager right now!”

Coworker: “I am the manager on duty at this time. If you’d like to make a complaint to corporate, you can find the number on your receipt, which I can still see on your dashboard next to the empty fries container. Thank you for dining at [Fast Food Restaurant] and I hope we see you again. We’ll be ready!”

With that, he shuts the window and walks away. The customer sits there dumbfounded for a moment but eventually drives away.

In the year that I worked there, I witnessed “Jane Complain” come back many many times. Sometimes, she would frustrate the combination of food enough that there would be a delay, but since everyone in the kitchen was wise to her antics, they were able to get the substitutions to her quickly enough that she could no longer scam-free items. I even got to serve her directly myself after my training and it was very satisfying denying her, eliminating any excuse she might have to complain.

When she stopped coming by, we soon discovered through friends in our nearest branch that she had started her tricks again over there. My coworker “assigned” himself a cover shift in that other branch to be the one to greet her over there and was just as ready for her there as we all are here.

She hasn’t been seen in three months. We miss her.

 

Your Table-Number Scamming Days Are Numbered 

(I work in a pub which has both bar and restaurant sections. One day, I am working behind the bar when a couple comes up to pay for their meal. While we offer table service, this is not unusual, as sometimes people want to continue drinking in the bar. All restaurant tables are clearly numbered.)

Man: “Hi, can I pay my bill, please? We were on table two.”

Me: “Sounds good! I’ll just print it off for you. Table two? You had two [inexpensive dishes] and a bottle of the house red. Can you check the receipt to make sure everything’s on there?”

Man: *taking the receipt and reading it* “Everything’s on there.”

(The woman with him suddenly gets the giggles. This is strange, but I think nothing of it, as we’re a bar.)

Me: “I’ll get the card machine.”

(When I go to get the card machine, I notice that the paper needs to be changed. I walk over to the hostess stand where we keep the thermal paper, only to see that table two is still eating their meal. Table three, however, is empty. I call my manager over and we both go to the bar to approach the couple.)

Me: “Could I just have the name that was on your reservation, to confirm your table?”

(The man goes red and gets a deer in headlights look. The woman finally stops giggling.)

Man: *mumbling* “It’s [Man].”

Me: “That’s what I thought. I’ve just checked and you guys were actually on table three. I’ve printed out your revised bill. You had [expensive starters] and two [expensive specials], desserts, and a cheese board, as well as three rounds of drinks. Your total comes to [a hundred pounds more].”

(I hand over the card machine and the man, looking a bit awkward, pays his bill. Just as they turn to leave, my manager speaks.)

Manager: “I don’t know if you’re scammers or just idiots that can’t remember what you just ate, but you aren’t welcome back here.”

(I got a dessert on the house for catching them!)

 

That Attitude Is Very Self-Serving

I am a flight attendant. We are in the air and I’m doing a beverage service. I ask a woman by the window:

Me: “Would you like a beverage, ma’am?”

Her husband in the middle seat says to me:

Husband: “You have to pardon my wife; she doesn’t speak to servants.”

Me: “Very well. I don’t serve until spoken to.”

Everyone else on the plane got drinks and dinner. She didn’t.

 

An American Tale In Reverse

I am a manager at a factory. A shipping container comes in from the USA, which is a regular enough occurrence that I leave it to the floor workers without too much trouble.

My radio goes off.

Me: “Go for [My Name].”

Floor Worker: “Uh… boss? It’s about that shipping container that just came in.”

Me: “Is there an issue?”

Floor Worker: “It was supposed to just be big bags of powdered milk…”

Me: “…and?”

Floor Worker: “Maybe you should come down and see.”

Incredibly curious, I head straight down. The shipping container is open, and a group of the guys has gathered around the door. They make room for me and I peer inside to see…

…a terrified cat.

Me: “How long was this container at sea?”

Floor Worker: “Two weeks.”

I spy one of the bags ripped open.

Me: “It survived on the powdered milk. You can’t make this s*** up!”

Eventually, we managed to coax the little guy out of there with some tuna – cliché, I know, but it was from someone’s sandwich for lunch. He seemed pretty resilient and was quite happy to hang around the factory, petted and fed by pretty much all the workers. He’s become a diligent rodent-hunter!

We named him Schrödinger.

 

Boris Is Now Swedish 

I work night audit in a hotel. Monterey is a tourist town drawing in people from all over the world. The surrounding towns, however, are generally much less attractive vacation spots. We regularly get guests who are from Monterey county but not from Monterey. They come to the town, usually for honeymoons, because we have a reputation of being a place rich people go on vacation, but we’re close enough to home they can drive.  

One night, I’m checking in one such couple, and a pair of our regulars have come in behind them. They are an older Swedish couple that stays with us every year for their anniversary.

Newlywed Husband: “Hey, man, so what’s there to do in this town? I mean besides golf and beaches.”

Me: “Well, there are a few museums, there is Carmel Valley, Cannery Row, several hiking trails, and of course, the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.”

His wife scoffs.

Newlywed Wife: “The aquarium, really? I’ve gone there every year since kindergarten on a school trip; you expect me to believe its world-famous?”

Mr. Swede, in the most stereotypical Swedish accent ever — much more exaggerated than his normal voice — with his wife nodding along, speaks up.

Mr. Swede: “Oh, ja, it is, it is. We come all the vay from Stockholm every year just to see it. Is amazing; so lucky you are to see as child.”

The wives start discussing the fish with each other, sharing funny stories while I finish checking in the newlyweds, hand them their keys, and send them on their way.

Mr. Swede changes to his normal voice as soon as they get on the elevator.

Mr. Swede: “So sad how little one appreciates the wonders close to home.”

Me: “I was concerned something had happened to your voice.”

Mr. Swede: “Ah, yes, it is aquarium you see, turns me into Outrageous Over Top Accent Man, makes your bored Americans suddenly see the magic of the place. You send a bottle of our usual wine to their room and put it on our bill. Put note on it; if they want to come with us to aquarium sometime this week we will buy their tickets. Outrageous Accent Man loves being tour guide.”

Mrs. Swede: *Sighs* “Ya, every year he finds a bored American to show around, is his favorite game. The Accent gets worse every year. This is the fastest it has ever found its new friend, though.”

According to the day shift, the couples met up in the lobby a few days later and left the hotel together. I hope The Accent had a good time that year. They weren’t able to visit like usual this year; I hope they are doing well and we see them next year.

 

This Story Starts At A Ten And Gets Better 

I am working in a small electronics aisle in a superstore. A sweet old lady has approached me.

Old Lady: “I am looking for this thing for my grandson. Let me see here…”

She pulls a piece of paper out of her pocket from one of our ads, and a $10-bill accidentally falls out with it. A middle-aged woman standing nearby sees it, her eyes go wide, and she grabs it and stuffs it in her pocket before the old lady can see.

The poor old lady is looking around very confused, wondering where her wayward bill has gone. I approach the woman.

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am, I believe that money you just picked up belongs to this customer here.”

Woman: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Me: “Ma’am, I saw you—”

Before I can finish, the woman struts off. The old lady is looking at me, slightly shocked.

Old Lady: “Did she just take my money?”

Me: “I’m afraid so, ma’am. Would you like me to call security? I am sure if the camera saw it, we can—”

Old Lady: “No need, she’s not worth it. I just need this item in the ad for my grandson, please?”

The item she’s looking for is a computer tablet, so I open the small cabinet where we stock them.

Old Lady: “Actually, could I have two? This ad is a really good deal!”

Me: “Certainly, ma’am!”

I hand her two boxes, advise her that the security tags will be removed at the checkout, and wish her well.

About ten minutes later I am running an errand that brings me near the registers when I hear the alarms going off near the exit. I quickly have a look to see what is happening. The thieving woman from before is shouting at the security guard, and pointing at her receipt.

Woman: “I’ve paid for everything! It’s your f****** broken sensors! This is f****** embarrassing!”

Security: “Ma’am, I can see that everything in your bag matches the receipt. May I search your bag?”

Woman: “Absolutely not! I am not a thief! I am leaving!”

She tries to leave but more security has arrived. She eventually relents and opens her huge designer bag for Security to search… and out comes a box for an electronic tablet, security-tag still attached.

As the woman is screeching that she didn’t put that tablet in there, I see the old woman from before nonchalantly walking past, an ever-so-slight smile on her face, with her just-purchased tablet in her bag.

Just the one tablet, mind you…

 

Unloading Some Beautiful Malicious Compliance

A customer parks in the area blocking our fire exit, which is clearly sign-posted. She comes in full of attitude.

Customer: “I want a [complicated coffee order], and hurry.”

Me: “I’d be happy to, ma’am, but first I need you to park your car in a proper parking space. Where it is right now is blocking our fire exit.”

Customer: “Just make my drink. You won’t catch fire in the time it takes you to make it.”

Me: “Ma’am, I am afraid I will need to insist.”

She gasps at the perceived oppression but she goes back to her car and spitefully moves it over. While she does leave the area blocking the fire exit, she pulls up instead into our loading area, which again, is sign-posted. She comes in again.

Me: “Ma’am, I will start making your drink, but please be aware you’re parked in our loading area. That space is next to our storage room doors and is reserved for deliveries.

Customer: “Whatever, just hurry up with my drink.”

I am about to, but with perfect timing I see one of our delivery trucks pull up to the space. It can’t get in because of her car.

Me: “Ma’am, I will continue to make your drink, but please move your car. Our delivery truck is here and they need to—”

Customer: *Interrupting* “Just unload around me.”

Me: “Pardon me, ma’am?”

Customer: “Ugh, just unload around me! I’ve already moved once, I am not moving again!”

In this time my manager has gone out to see what is happening, and then gone to speak to the delivery drivers. He now comes up to me and I explain what the customer has said.

Manager: “She wants us to unload 10,000 paper cups and novelty mugs around her? Fine.”

He instructs me to make the drink a little slower than usual and by the time our customer is strutting out, the truck is blocking her in, and my manager has piled all the delivery boxes around her car, making a little ‘fort.’

I can’t hear, but I can see her screaming and actually stomp her foot, while my manager is telling her (as he later tells me) that he is merely “unloading around her” like she asked us to do.

The louder she screamed the slower my manager took, making sure to stop working and respond to her every time.

For a woman in a hurry and who was too lazy to move, she had to wait forty-five minutes before my boss checked every… single… item on the inventory. Twice.

 

Bad Behavior, A Clever Gamble, And Karma All In One Package 

(I am dropping off a package at the post office. I am pretty busy but I don’t have anywhere to be so I wait my turn patiently. Unfortunately, as soon as the clerk is free, my phone begins to ring.)

Me: “Oh, shoot. I gotta take this.” *to the person behind me* “You can go ahead.”

Woman #1: “Thank you!”

(I step off to the side to take my call as the woman goes on ahead. It turns out it’s nothing big and I am able to hang up quickly and go back to waiting behind [Woman #1]. However, when [Woman #1] is done and walking away…)

Woman #2: “MOVE!”

(This second lady shoulders me out of the way and slams her package onto the counter as though we were in some sort of race.)

Clerk: “Actually, ma’am, she was next in–“

Woman #2: “No, she wasn’t. She stepped out of line to answer her phone, so she gave up her spot. She can go to the back of the line, or leave!”

(Then, in perfect timing that only this chaotic universe can provide, HER phone ends up ringing. I don’t know where it’s coming from until she looks at her purse then looks back up, making eye contact with me. Whether it is because she catches the hint of smugness and amusement on my face, has decided to double-down on her own assertion, or would’ve done the same if this situation hadn’t happened, she turns back to the clerk, digs out her phone from her purse, and ANSWERS IT RIGHT THERE.)

Woman #2: “Oh, hi, [Friend]. How’ve you been?”

Clerk: “Uh, ma’am?”

Woman #2: *shoving her package towards the clerk’s general direction* “Yeah, I’m just at the post office getting my son’s gift weighed and priced.” *pointedly looking at clerk* “I would’ve already been out of here if there weren’t idiots holding up the line.”

(I have had it with this woman and am about to start ripping into her. Truth be told, I don’t know what I could say to her that wouldn’t cause more of a delay for everyone, but I luckily never get to. Unbeknownst to anyone, [Woman #1] has stayed back and watched the whole thing unfold.)

Woman #1: “[Woman #2]?”

Woman #2: *freezes, then looks at [Woman #1], confused*

Woman #1: “[Woman #2]? [Woman #2], is that you? What are you doing?”

Woman #2: “I… I’m sorry, I don’t—”

Woman #1: “You’ve never acted like this, never. I honestly can’t believe my eyes. Is this how you are to others?”

Woman #2: *beet red* “I… I’ve got to go!!”

(With that, she practically snatches up her package from the clerk’s hands and bolts out of the place. A collective sigh of relief is had for everyone present and I finally make it to the counter. [Woman #1] stands by to check in on me as the clerk is doing her thing.)

Woman #1: “Are you all right?”

Me: “I’m fine, thank you. But, um… I’m sorry about your friend. Maybe she was…”

Woman #1: *laughing* “Oh, I have no idea who the h*** she is, thank God. I just took a peek at what names were on her package and made a gamble.”

(I’m so thankful for that woman. She unknowingly saved me from blowing a gasket with her quick thinking. Since the local post office is super close to me, I hope to run into her again and trade contact info, at least to send her a holiday card for the future!)

 

Humans Aren’t The Only Creatures Capable Of Drama 

The office I work at has a contract with the city police department. We take and treat all sick and injured strays and anything the animal control officers feel needs medical care before going to the shelter. We are open late nights for emergencies, and we get calls fairly regularly from police dispatch saying an officer is bringing in something.

One night, we are running short-staffed due to family emergencies with the people scheduled. Thankfully, it’s a slow night. Then, we get a phone call.

Me: “This is [Clinic]; how can I help you?”

Dispatch: “This is [Police Department] dispatch. We have an officer-involved shooting, officer injured, in route, eta ten minutes.”

Me: “Um, this is the veterinarian.”

Dispatch: “I know; it’s a K9 officer.”

Me: “Oh, um, okay. How bad is he hurt?”

Dispatch: “Unknown. All I know is that they are on their way to you and I was told to call and give you a heads-up.”

Me: “Okay, then, thanks”

I go tell the doctor, he freaks out, thinking this officer has been shot in the chest or something and is going to die on our table because we are really not equipped to handle a gunshot right now. We get the surgery room as ready as we can and wait until they pull up.

The officers all get out of the car. The K9 is limping but walking on his own, and we all let out a sigh of relief.

The K9’s partner can’t tell us much for confidentiality reasons, but this is what he could tell us. There was a suspect with a knife, an officer with a gun, and an officer with a dog. During the capture of the suspect, the dog was released and the gun was fired. While the other officers were booking the suspect, the K9’s partner noticed that the K9’s paw was covered in blood, and the K9 would not let his partner touch his foot. So, they came to us.

We get the officers inside and get the K9 on the exam table, and then it takes a muzzle, his partner, both our techs, and me all holding onto different parts of the dog to keep him on the table while the doctor tries to look at his paw. The paw is soaked in blood. Step one is to pour hydrogen peroxide on it to clean it up and find the wound.  

After a while, the doc asks a question.

Doctor: “Are we sure this isn’t transfer from the suspect?”

Partner: “Suspect was not injured.”

Doctor: “Are you 100% sure about that? I’m not seeing any cuts or anything”

The partner called in over the radio to confirm that the only injury involved was to the K9.  

The doc had a completely clean paw in his hands and was looking between toes and not finding any broken skin. And then, we saw it: a single drop of blood forming midway down a toenail.  

Big brave police dog chipped a nail and acted like his foot had been shot off.

 

Rage-Quit That Rant

My family owns several shops on the boardwalk in our town and has for many years. Working at these shops is a common job for high-school-aged kids as it’s basically like any other retail job and has the perk of being right there on the beach. The downside is that kids that age aren’t exactly the most responsible, so when these kids call out of work, we tend to fill in when we can as a family.

I work at a nearby hospital most of the time but am working in the bathing suit shop that night since I am free and no one is available. A woman storms up to me, quite out of breath.

Customer: “This is ridiculous! Where are your bathing suits for women?”

Me: *Waves around the shop* “Everywhere?”

She responds slowly, as if she’s talking to a small child.

Customer: “Women, not kids.”

I realize that she’s shopping for herself. We don’t stock anything above a sixteen, and while I’m not an amazing judge of sizes that aren’t close to my own, this woman is much larger than a sixteen. She’s currently wearing a one-piece suit with a sarong.

Me: “I’m sorry, we have women’s suits up to size sixteen. The front suits on a rack might look small, but as you look behind them, there are larger sizes.”

I’m fairly certain most retail stores work this way. I’m usually an eight and I rarely find my own size at the front of a rack anywhere.

Customer: “Women’s sizes start at a sixteen, you skinny b****!”

I’m… not skinny? I’m an eight, though admittedly reasonably tall. I’m still rather insecure about my body. This touches a nerve.

Me: “Well, I’m a woman and I’m an eight. I don’t think we’ll be able to help you; you can leave now.”

I motion to the door and she slaps my arm down. I’m startled and realize there is no one else in the shop should she become more violent. She’s still quite out of breath and she’s grown red in the face with anger.

Customer: “I’m tired of entitled little girls like you thinking that you can walk all over real women just because you starve yourselves! You’re a f****** joke!”

She is waving her arms, stomping, and generally behaving like a child.

Customer: “I should be able to walk into any store and find an outfit off the rack and I CAN’T BECAUSE OF B****ES—”

She’s cut off mid-rant. For a minute, I think she’s just taking a breath to keep yelling at me. I’m already reaching for my phone to call the boardwalk station to get some police down here to escort her out when she places her hand on her chest.

This woman has literally raged herself into having a heart attack in my shop. She drops to the ground and I hit the speaker on my phone. When the boardwalk station answers, I request an ambulance. I wind up doing CPR on her for a minute before EMS arrives.

My coworkers call me “skinny b****” now, so all she accomplished was giving me a nickname.

 

Mommy Issues

I’m babysitting a cute little four-year-old for the second time. She has a teenaged brother.

She has great manners and is always very polite and articulate for a four-year-old. Today, she wants to watch a film, so I tell her to go choose one. She comes back with a new DVD of “Bambi.” She tells me she’s never seen it before. I’m a bit hesitant, but I agree, as I think she is able to handle it. We get to the part where Bambi is stumbling through the snow looking for his mother.

Girl: “Where is Bambi’s mummy?”

Me: “Sweetheart, she died. The bad men killed her.”

There is a full ten seconds of silence while she processes that. 

Girl: “F*** that! I’m not watching this s***!”

She threw the remote on the floor and stormed out of the room. Her parents were understandably shocked when I told them!

 

Being Liberal With The Prices

Next to our hot island where we have hot food for customers to grab, we have a large sign advertising the sale price on rotisserie chickens. This week they’re on sale for $4.99 — the lowest they’ve been in a long time — while the regular price is $6.99.

A little old lady has been standing in front of the sign, looking at it with her glasses on, then off, then on again, then off again, for several minutes. Finally, she approaches me at the counter.

Old Lady: “Excuse me, how much are your whole chickens?”

Me: “They’re $4.99, ma’am.”

Old Lady: “The sign over there says they’re $4.99.”

Me: “That’s right.”

Old Lady: “They said they’re $4.99 on the radio.”

Me: “Yes.”

Old Lady: “So how much are they?”

I am starting to lose my patience.

Me: “Four. Ninety. Nine.”

Old Lady: “Well, I just don’t know.”

Me: “What do you mean, you don’t know?”

Old Lady: “I just can’t be sure how much they are.”

Me: “Well, if I’m telling you they’re $4.99, the sign is telling you they’re $4.99, and the radio is telling you they’re $4.99, then they’re probably $4.99.”

Old Lady: “Well, you just never know, the liberal media…”

She lets that phrase hang in the air as if I’m supposed to know what she means by that and agree with her.

Me: “Uh, we’re not the media, ma’am. We’re [Store].”

Old Lady: “Well, you just never know. The liberal media. It could be one of the Obama’s sneaky tricks.”

Me: “We’re not the media, ma’am. We’re [Store]. And Obama doesn’t work here.”

Old Lady: “Oh, you’ve heard of the Obama? I don’t rightly know what it is, but that nice news man says it’s trying to ruin everything.”

Me: “…”

Old Lady: “I just hope President Reagan can get rid of it soon. How much are your whole chickens?”

Me: “…$4.99.”

Old Lady: “Well, I just don’t know. The liberal media. I guess I’ll have to find someone else to ask.”

She continues muttering as she walks away.

Old Lady: “How can they be so much? They were $2.99 last week.”

 

The Weird Adventures Of Brenda The Desperado 

I see a lot of interesting people in my store. I’m a fairly new employee and this is only my second week working there. It’s about two in the morning and I’m just kind of messing around and taking sips off a nasty new Coke product. 

In comes the most intriguing man ever. From the top down, he has a cowboy hat, long hair and beard, white denim jacket, tie-dye shirt, white jeans, and expensive snakeskin cowboy boots. He’s perusing for a bit and I’m expecting something outrageous to happen. I notice he has a revolver on his hip, and I get a little scared. 

He grabs two bottles of wine and some jerky. He brings them to the register and points through an overhead cigarette rack to a pack of Lucky Strikes — a weird non-filter cigarette brand I know was popular during the Second World War. I ring him up and tell him his total. He rifles through a wallet full of Monopoly money and foreign currency but decides to use his card. Card approved.

I start bagging his stuff and he’s just eyeing me. It kind of feels like he’s examining me for some sort of reaction. I make eye contact a couple of times and feel very small. His eyes are piercing me. 

I give him his bags and receipts and he actually starts talking, drumming up a casual conversation about concentration camps.

Actual quotes.

Cowboy: “Do you subscribe to the idea of Holocaust denial?”

Me: “Uh…”

Cowboy: “Hitler was an evil man. But he wasn’t so clever as to fake his death camps.”

Me: “Definitely not clever.”

Cowboy: “Would you be able to do it?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Cowboy: “Fake a concentration camp for fake political fulfillment.”

Me: “I mean, no. I work at a convenience store.”

Cowboy: “Hitler was a painter and half a eunuch. You have your balls, right?”

Me: “Uh…”

The cowboy nods politely and begins to leave.

Me: “What’s your name, sir?”

Cowboy: “Call me Brenda.”

This man comes in twice a week and hasn’t spoken a word since. I love my job.

 

Dropping A Conversational Bomb

This story happens in the early 2000s. I am backpacking through Germany, and I have a few days in Berlin before I move on. I decide to take a bus tour of the city, having never been there before.

On the bus tour, the tour guide is a man who appears to be in his twenties or early thirties. Most of the bus is filled with a group of elderly British men and women. The bus pulls away from the curb, the tour guide introduces himself, and then he asks if anyone has been to Berlin before. 

All of the British men raise their hands.

Guide: “Wow, this is more than usual. When were you all here?”

The British men mumble among themselves for a few seconds.

British Man #1: “Well, if it’s all right with you… we would rather not go into detail.”

Guide: “Oh, come on. Please, share your experiences.”

British Man #2: “If you insist. We were all in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command during the Second World War. We flew bombing raids over Berlin, and other cities, of course.”

British Man #3: “We’ve all seen documentaries about old soldiers who travel to their battlefields one last time, so… here we are.”

The tour guide is at first caught off guard by this response, but he recovers brilliantly.

Guide: “Then I believe we have you, gentlemen, to thank for Berlin being such a unique mix of the ancient and the modern! I do hope you enjoy seeing the city from the ground this time!”

Best bus tour ever. Every time the tour guide pointed out a historic building or landmark, the British gentlemen would share stories about the times they used those buildings as guides and targets for their bombing runs. The tour guide genuinely enjoyed having someone who could share so much insight into what was already a key piece of his lectures, and hearing so many different perspectives and stories made the tour well worth it for the rest of us, as well. I’m pretty sure the tour guide earned at least ten times his normal tips for that tour.

 

Your Kids Will Betray You Eventually

One day, my mom was shopping. My toddler brother was acting fussy, but Mom still had a few things that really couldn’t wait. She got the things the family needed as quickly as possible and stood in line with my brother on her hip. Suddenly, he passed gas — a lot, and very noisy. He immediately relaxed; apparently, the discomfort was the reason for his grumpiness.

And then, he looked around at the other people in line turning their heads and loudly declared, “You did that, Mommy.”

 

The Card Will Expire Before You’re Done

I’m working the returns and customer service desk at a home improvement store when an elderly lady comes in with a thick accent and a return. I process the return, which was paid with debit, so it goes back to her debit card.

Customer: “What do I do?”

Me: “Just put your chip card in the machine and follow the prompts. It’s just like making a purchase except I’m giving you money.”

She puts in her card and I turn my back. I don’t want to be accused of trying to spy on her PIN code. 

I hear the machine beep and a small receipt spits out. The transaction was cancelled.

Customer: “I’m done?”

I turn back to the customer:

Me: “Looks like it was cancelled by accident; let’s just try that again.”

I reset the machine.

Customer: “What do I do?”

Me: “Just put your chip card in the machine and—”

The customer hits “Cancel.”

Customer: “I have my money?”

Me: “No, looks like we’re just having some technical problems. One more time, chip in the bottom.”

I reset it again. The customer puts the card in the machine.

Customer: “Now what?”

Me: “It’s just like when you use it to buy. Press ‘Yes.’ The amount is correct.”

I reach over and press “Yes.”

Me: “Now, just select the account: chequing or savings—”

The customer hits “Cancel.”

Customer: “Do I get a receipt?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I see my supervisor shaking slightly. I reset the machine, yet again.

Me: “Of course, as soon as we finish your return. Let me just come around and see what’s going on.”

Customer: “What do I do?”

Me: “Let’s just put the card back in the machine. Now, don’t hit the big red button. Then, ‘Yes,’ the amount is good, so just select the account: chequing or savings.”

Customer: “…”

Me: “Chequing or savings?”

Customer: “Chaving!”

The customer hits “Cancel.” I see my supervisor shaking hard, covering her mouth, and slipping into the office just behind us. I reset the machine.

Me: “One more time. We’ll get this. Just select the account: chequing or savings.”

Customer: “Just select the… chaving.”

Me: “Just press the button for the account.”

I have my hand over the keypad so she can’t hit “Cancel” now.

Customer: “…”

Me: “Just press the button for—”

Customer: *Still not moving* “Chaving.”

I take a stab and press “Chequing.”

Me: “Great! Now just enter your PIN and hit the green enter button.”

She enters her PIN and… “Cancel.”

Customer: “You give me money now?”

Me: “Not just yet. We’ll get it this time for sure.”

We get to the PIN. I’m watching like a hawk now, privacy be d***ed!

Me: “So, enter your PIN.”

The customer enters her PIN and I slap my hand over the PIN pad.

Me: “Is that your whole PIN?”

Customer: “Yes.”

I take a deep breath and press “Enter,” fearing and hoping at the same time. Transaction complete and the receipt spits out.

Customer: “You give me money now?”

Me: “Yep, it’s been put back to your debit card, just the way you paid.”

I hand her the receipts with all the cancelled copies and bid her a good day. I’m standing there, dumbfounded by what I’ve just seen and just glad it’s over, when my supervisor comes out.

Supervisor: “I’m sorry, I had to leave before I burst out laughing. How did she buy the stuff in the first place?!”

Me: “How did she find her way back to the store?”

 

The Music Sucks But The Ending Delivers

It was my second day working at a music store and I was enjoying walking around, helping the odd customer, familiarizing myself with the layout and the instruments. I didn’t really know any of my coworkers yet but they were nice enough, and because the boss was such a cool guy, there were always more employees in the store than customers.

On this particular sunny afternoon, I was making small talk with the employees and the boss about why there were so many employees working during the summer when I turned my attention to the customer walking through the door. She was about my age and drop-dead beautiful. Time seemed to stop as she came through the door and walked slowly towards me, but then she detoured and walked over to a grand piano.

Maybe she’s going to play an amazing song and we’ll fall in love and she’ll dig that I play guitar and drums…

My daydream was shattered when she started swearing, smashing on the piano keys, yelling, and throwing little musical gift items like pencils and erasers off the shelves. I froze.

I turned to my coworkers who had conveniently scattered like patrons in an old west saloon when Black Bart entered looking for a fight. They had literally vanished. I could see my boss’s head peeking out from behind an office divider. Seriously.

She continued on her tirade of destruction and I was the only one left to deal with it. I walked over to her and she started trying to hit me, cursing, and calling me every filthy name she could fling. So much for our romance. I grabbed her by the shoulders and literally steered her out of the store, but not before she kicked over a couple of acoustic guitars and an amp.

As I walked back into the store, my coworkers and boss reappeared, laughing. One of them said, “That’s how you do it!” Apparently, she did this a lot and no one had escorted her out as fast as I did with such minimal damage.

About six months later, she came into the store again, but this time she wasn’t high on something or had taken her medication. She was absolutely breathtaking, funny, and engaging, and I almost thought about going for it, but then I remembered her volatile little secret and kept it professional.

 

I Yam Dead

(My dear grandfather has died quietly in his sleep of old age. We are hosting a wake for a whole week in my grandparents’ home, hosted by my grandmother. Local custom states that we have an open casket in the living room, which was a bit unnerving at first, but we get used to it. Despite protests from family members, my grandmother insists on being an impeccable host, cooking and serving drinks and snacks to my many, MANY aunts, uncles, cousins, and over a dozen great-grandchildren. I have just been served a homemade local dessert — Ube Roll — as I am chatting with my cousins.)

Me: *takes a bite* “Hmm. I think something is off with this roll.”

Cousin #1: “Yeah, it’s hard as a rock!”

Cousin #2: “I think she might have left it out too long and it’s gone stale.”

Cousin #3: “And it’s really heavy! Did she actually make it with rocks?”

Me: “I can’t eat this.”

(The dessert really is bad; it is basically a paperweight.)

Cousin #1: “Me, neither.”

(We all look around at the many relatives struggling with their “rock cakes.” A few have discretely tried to leave the room with their dessert to “eat it outside,” but Grandmother is keeping a vigil on everyone. Disposal is going to be tricky.)

Cousin #1: “Poor [Grandmother]. She’s been through enough without spending the next few weeks finding half-eaten stale ube roll wedged behind cupboards and hidden in drawers all around the house.”

Cousin #2: “Wait a minute. [Grandmother] served all the great-grandkids first, and they all had empty plates when they ran outside to play. They couldn’t have eaten them, could they? They must have stashed them.”

Me: “But where? I can’t see where.”

(We look around for a while to see if we can find any cleverly-hidden half-eaten cakes but to no avail.)

Cousin #1: “Where could the little idiots have put them? There’s no way they ate them!”

Cousin #3: “Unless…”

(All of us look over towards the open coffin.)

Me: “Oh, no…”

(We slowly approach Grandfather with trepidation. Being the closest, I am silently volunteered to “pay my respects” one more time. I bend down and check the lower half of the coffin, which is closed. I turn back towards my cousins.)

Me: “Well, let’s just say that if Grandfather is accidentally buried alive, he won’t go hungry for a while…”

Cousin #1: “You mean those little b*****ds stuffed their cakes into poor Grandfather’s coffin?!”

Cousin #2: “No wonder all the kids wanted to pay their respects to Grandfather for so long! I was surprised that kids that young would be so thoughtful!”

(Luckily, we were able to remove the evidence without Grandmother noticing. One of us took her upstairs to “reminisce” while the rest of us collected the alarmingly heavy cakes from all the relatives and threw them out without her noticing. Wouldn’t have wanted to see what would have happened had the stash been discovered later on by poor Grandmother!)


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