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I’m About Ready To Bite That Lady… And The Manager

, , , , | Working | December 6, 2020

I am a dog trainer at a large chain store. I have a young German Shepherd mix that I bring to class with me to use during demonstrations. One of the class options we offer is a private one-hour session for people who don’t want to do group classes. A woman enrolls in this class with her two-year-old hound.

The day of the class, she is ten minutes late, so I am working on patience exercises with my puppy when she barges in without her dog. This on its own is weird, because we tell people they need to bring their dogs to class to demonstrate as we go.

Woman: “Are you [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes, I am. Are you—”

Woman: *Gesturing to my dog* “Who is that? I paid for a private lesson!”

Me: “Oh, this is [My Dog]; I use him for demonstrations. Where is [Her Dog]?”

Woman: *Sneering* “Is that one of those fighting dogs?”

Me: “No, he’s not a fighting dog. I’m actually training him to be a diabetic response dog.”

Woman: “You’re diabetic?”

Me: “I am.”

Woman: “You’re not fat.”

Me: “I’m still diabetic, ma’am. Should we get started?”

She edges toward my dog, putting out a hand and quickly pulling away.

Woman: “Does it bite?”

Me: “Anything with a mouth has the potential to bite you, but he doesn’t unless provoked.”

She sucks on her teeth.

Woman: “So he does bite.”

Me: *Sigh* “He can go in his crate if you’re concerned. Where is [Her Dog]?”

Woman: “I didn’t want to bring her. Can I pet [My Dog]?”

Me: “Yeah, just don’t put your hand over his face.”

The woman sits down on the floor in front of my dog and uses that baby voice people use when they talk to animals. He starts walking toward her, wagging his tail so hard that his butt is wiggling back and forth. When he gets close enough, she puts her entire hand over his muzzle and shakes it back and forth, still using the baby voice. He paws at her hand over his muzzle and opens his mouth to yip at her.

The woman shrieks and falls backward, kicking at him. She connects with his face twice and my puppy runs back to his crate. I turn to check on my dog, but the woman grabs my ankle with both hands, preventing me from moving.

Me: “Ma’am, I—”

Woman: “He attacked me!”

Me: “He was responding to your voice and putting your hand in his face. Are you okay?”

Woman: “He bit me!”

She starts cradling the hand that wasn’t in my dog’s face.

Me: “Can I see it?”

I reach out. 

Woman: “No!”

She kicks at me and I back out of range.

Woman: “F*** you and f*** your dog!”

Me: “We can call an ambulance or have someone drive you to the hospital if you’re injured.”

She curls over her hands so I can’t see them.

Woman: “He broke my hand!”

I’m quite sure this is a lie since she just grabbed my ankle.

Me: “If your hand is broken, you should go to the ER at [Hospital a few blocks over]. [Store] will cover the costs if you have it checked out in the next forty-eight hours. Do you want to go?”

Woman: “I’m not going to the ER! I want a refund!”

Me: “Okay. [Store Manager] is on duty. We can go find her.”

I close the door on the dog crate and the woman and I go find the manager in the office. She is quiet during the walk to the office, but as soon as she sees the manager, she starts whimpering and covers her hand in her shirt, preventing us from seeing it.

Me: “[Store Manager], we—”

Woman: “Her f****** mutt bit me!”

Store Manager: *Alarmed* “What?!”

Me: “She put her hand in [My Dog]’s face and—”

Woman: “He lunged at me for no reason!”

Store Manager: “Ma’am, please sit down. I’m so sorry about this. [My Name], please go back to the arena and close the door on your way out.”

I leave, furious. I check on my dog and, thankfully, he isn’t seriously hurt, just scared. An hour later, I personally process the woman’s refund while she berates me about my “piss-poor training techniques.”

The store manager then tells me to not bring my dog in anymore, at least until he has attended classes with a trainer at another location. I am mad but I want to bring him back as soon as possible, so I agree. Over two months later, I am called into the office.

Store Manager: “Is [My Dog] still enrolled in training classes?”

Me: “Yeah, he goes to [Other Store] with [Trainer]. We’re about to finish the basic course and intermediate begins the week after.”

Store Manager: “And his behavior?”

Me: “He’s top of the class. [Trainer] uses him for demonstrations all the time.”

Store Manager: “I’ll be calling [Trainer] to verify that he’s still enrolled.”

Me: *Shrug* “Okay.”

She hands me a pen and paper.

Store Manager: “Please write down your side of what happened with [Woman] on [date]. Be as specific as possible.”

I recount the story in vivid detail; it takes several pages and my hand is sore by the end. The store manager reviews it and reads the woman’s side out loud.

By her account, I told her it wasn’t a big deal and that she shouldn’t go to the ER, and basically laughed at her and told her to suck it up. She ended her letter by saying that she had to get rid of her own dog because I had traumatized her so badly with my “calloused behavior,” and that she would sue the store if I wasn’t fired.

There was nothing about how she had acted, of course, and no mention of any medical professional checking out her hand to determine damage.

Store Manager: “This is pretty serious stuff, [My Name].”

Me: “It’s also a bunch of lies.”

Store Manager: “Did you tell her not to go to the ER?”

Me: “I told her she should go and that we would cover the medical costs. She refused.”

Store Manager: *Nods* “I told her, too.”

Me: “So… what now? What about the cameras?”

Store Manager: “We caught some of it but nothing that would help you. She was facing away from the camera, so all we saw was her getting down, [My Dog] pawing at her, and her falling down. HR doesn’t want a lawsuit involving a dog bite and the trainer. I’m sorry, [My Name].”

She hands me another paper.

Store Manager: “We have no choice but to terminate you.”

Me: “What?!”

Store Manager: “I know. I’m sorry. My hands are tied.”

Me: “I’ve been here for ten years. How many customer complaints have I had?”

Store Manager: “Not many, but this is a serious one.”

Me: “She’s lying!”

Store Manager: “Please, [My Name], don’t make this any more difficult than it is. Maybe once this blows over, you can come back. For now—”

Me: *Laughs* “I’m not coming back if you’re going to fire me over some bulls*** lies.”

I left and immediately pulled my dog from the classes at the other store. I got an office job a few weeks after being fired, but I still trained dogs for free on weekends. Most of my first students after I was fired were people who had been enrolled in the class but quit and demanded their own refunds when they learned I was no longer employed there.

I asked how they knew what happened and every one of them directed me to a review left by the woman. She wrote a review on the store’s Facebook page, naming me and my dog specifically. She claimed that no one cared about her experience, that we called her a liar, refused to refund her, and wouldn’t allow her to seek medical help. She ended it by saying she was the reason I was no longer working there.

She’s not wrong, technically, but it didn’t hurt me nearly as much as it hurt the store. From what I’ve heard, a lot of people have stopped going to the store, either because they believe the woman’s review or because they believe me.

Oh, and my dog passed his service dog training with flying colors.

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What A Bad Sciati-tude

, , , , , | Working | December 3, 2020

Unfortunately for me, during the lockdown, my sciatica has gotten much worse. Sciatica is a strange diagnosis and seems to be a label for any kind of pain radiating from the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back to the soles of your feet.

When I return to work after several weeks off, I provide a doctor’s note to my manager informing her that my doctor’s advice is to keep active as before, in hopes that my sciatica will fade with time. Unfortunately, that does not happen.

As per my doctor’s note, I am meant to be allowed a small break and sit down, even though my current place of employment doesn’t allow breaks for shifts under eight hours. It’s illegal, I know.

For the first week, I am allowed to sit when performing various tasks. Everyone on staff is informed of why I am sitting. But, because I have led by example, apparently, people start sitting and leaving the bar and hostess stand unattended.

Manager: “You are no longer allowed to sit while you’re working. If I see you sitting during your shift, you will get one warning before being fired.”

Even though I had a doctor’s note, I was the only one to get in trouble.

I start the next week as usual, walking like a robot but taking painkillers to try and power through. Even with my doctor’s note, I have been branded “lazy” by all of the managers, so I have been given more physically demanding jobs than usual — moving crates and barrels, for example.

But then, during my first shift after the telling-off, my legs stop working.

I am carrying a heavy tray and I collapse in the middle of the floor. I’m unable to feel my legs, only pain when I try to move them.

An ambulance is phoned.

The diagnosis? Sciatica.

Apparently, no one had believed my doctor’s note and thought that I was faking. I returned to work two weeks later to simpering apologies.

I need a new job.

And possibly a lawyer.

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In All This We Feel Sorry For The Dog, Part 2

, , , , | Right | December 23, 2020

We only have very few guests at the hotel due to health restrictions. I’m manning the front desk during the afternoon and am completely alone in the hotel, save for the few guests we have. I made my rounds through all corridors and rooms earlier in the day, before checking in the only three guests we have for that night: just three businessmen in three rooms, all next to each other.

A little while after checking in, they all come back downstairs. They have a little dog with them. I’m a little puzzled, because I didn’t see them come in with the dog — hidden in a bag? — or I would have told them about the pet fee we charge. As I have someone else on the phone, I decide to address it when they come back.

Once I’m done with the phone call, I decide to do another round and double-check that all windows and doors to the outside are closed. In the corridor directly in front of our guests’ rooms, I very nearly step into feces. I’d say the dog really needed to go and they noticed too late. It is spread through a quarter of the corridor, ending just before the staircase.

Of course, I get to clean it up. Yay!

About an hour later, the three of them come back. Wherever they were, they are definitely drunk now.

Me: “Welcome back!”

Guest #1: “Good evening!”

[Guest #2] waves at me, pretty obviously drunk. He is carrying the little dog, badly hidden in his jacket.

Me: “Um… excuse me, sir? We charge a fee of 15€ per night, per pet. Which of your rooms would you like me to charge the fee to?”

Guest #2: “Oh! But he is so small! That’s so much money for such a little dog! Come on, you look like such a nice girl!”

Me: “I’m very sorry, but I really can’t do that. It’s our policy.”

Guest #2: “Please, please! Look how small he is! He never makes any trouble! No dirt, nothing!”

Me: “Sir, with all due respect, I just spent half an hour cleaning feces out of the carpet in the corridor in front of your rooms. I could add an extra cleaning fee for that. I’m doing my best to be accommodating. Which room would you like me to charge the pet fee to?”

Guest #1: “But he’s so small! Look at him! It couldn’t have been that bad—”

[Guest #3] sighs and starts pushing the other two towards the elevator.

Guest #3: “I’ll take care of it.” *To me* “I’m so sorry; they are very drunk. I’ll be right back!”

I have no idea how to translate drunken slurring into English. But [Guest #2] kept whining at me like a little child and [Guest #1] was nearly yelling at me. [Guest #3] came back shortly and paid the pet fee immediately. He apologized again. The poor guy was obviously very embarrassed by his colleagues.

In All This We Feel Sorry For The Dog

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Making Them See The Other Side Of The Coin

, , , , | Friendly | December 20, 2020

I stop at a coin store on the way home from work to pick up a couple of pieces of “junk silver,” certain US coins minted before 1965, but not in great condition. They’re worth a little more than face value but aren’t the type that collectors usually want, so not anywhere near as expensive. My husband thinks they’re interesting even if they aren’t collection-worthy so I always get a couple to put in his Christmas stocking.

Inside the store is the owner and another customer, both men about my father’s age. I explain to the owner what I’m looking for and he grabs the junk silver tubs for me to look through, commenting that my husband is a lucky man to have me indulging his hobby.

Other Customer: *Grumpily* “I wish my wife would get me coins for Christmas.”

Me: “Have you ever told her you’d like coins?”

Other Customer: “Well… no.”

Me: “Maybe you should let her know. My husband told me when we first got married, so I’ve been able to get him coins for over a decade now.”

Other Customer: “Yeah… I guess.”

Most people can’t read minds, it turns out! Sure, she might know he enjoys coins, but she might also think he wants to pick out his own.

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She’ll See Worse Eventually

, , , , | Working | December 16, 2020

I’ve run the kitchen of a small cafe for six years, and I always get free coffee to go after my shift ends. Over time, the girls running the front have taught me how to use the large coffee machine myself so I can just step behind the counter and get my drink without bothering them with my order.

One day, as I do so, the new girl at the till just… stares at me with utter shock as I start pulling a shot.

Cashier: “Um, miss, you, uh, you can’t—”

It took me a moment to realise she’d just started that day and had only seen me twice, for a few minutes, in my chef’s outfit, while now I was obviously in street clothes with my hair down. The poor girl thought a “normal” customer had just casually walked behind the counter without even saying hello and started making coffee! 

We had a good laugh about it after I explained and the initial shock wore off. What a way for her to start off her new job! She now jokingly scolds me that I have to order like any other regular whenever I pass her to get my coffee.

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