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Sure, Blame The Baby

, , , , , , | Related | April 19, 2022

I’m kind of a pet peeve for Grandpa. He doesn’t like me. Like, at all.

You’d think it’s because I was born out of wedlock, but no. It’s because he insists that if it weren’t for my birth, Dad could have done way better in his A-levels and not have gone to what he calls a “garbage university”.

Back when they were teenagers in boarding school, Dad and Mom accidentally got pregnant with me. Mom didn’t find out she was pregnant until literally three weeks before my birthday. I’ve seen the photos, and yes, Mom really didn’t look like she was pregnant. Sure, she put on a bit of weight, but I was born in spring. It just looked like the regular Christmas and New Year weight gain.

As for the other symptoms — morning sickness, mood swings, and the like — both my parents were studying for their A-levels. They were way too stressed out to realise.

And thus, Mom gave birth to me, when she and Dad were both international students half a world away from home and their families — a pair of clueless nineteen-year-olds saddled with a newborn daughter to raise less than 100 days before the A-levels.

They both achieved straight As and got their courses of choice: medicine for Dad, computer science for Mom.

Both of them also raised me rather successfully (though not without their fair share of bumbling mishaps) while being full-time students in a foreign country three continents away from home.

Also, that “garbage university” they both went to? Birmingham University.

And Grandpa still claims that Dad could have done better if he “hadn’t wasted time looking after a kid.”

I swear, there just isn’t pleasing some people.

It’s Bad Enough When Customers Don’t Treat You Like People

, , , , | Working | April 18, 2022

At my job, I have two managers: [Smart Manager] and [Jerk Manager]. [Smart Manager] is above [Jerk Manager] and can overrule his decisions at any time, thank all the gods of retail.

I got really sick at work — sick to the point of spending more time kneeling in front of the porcelain throne than actually working.

[Jerk Manager] happened to be the manager on duty. 

Jerk Manager: “No. You can’t leave. We need you to do your job.”

I struggled on for another half-hour. I’ll admit, I’d considered vomiting on [Jerk Manager]’s shoes to help change his mind, but at the time, I was still (perhaps foolishly) holding onto a thread of being a nice person.

[Smart Manager], by pure chance, happened to walk in, even though he was not on duty. He saw the condition I was in.

Smart Manager: “[My Name], go home, and don’t come back until you’ve stopped puking.”

Jerk Manager: “No, we need him to stay and work.”

Smart Manager: “You’re an idiot. He’s completely nonproductive in this state. He needs to get healthy.” *To me* “Now get the h*** out of here before I call you an ambulance. And if dummy here tries to write you up, I’ll write him up instead.”

Jerk Manager: “But—”

Smart Manager: “But nothing! HE… IS… TOO… SICK… TO… WORK.”

I managed to stop vomiting by the next morning.

[Smart Manager] called me that same afternoon to inform me that he had told his boss about [Jerk Manager]’s behavior. Apparently, the big boss man laid into [Jerk Manager] about not letting sick workers go home until they recover. The brunt of the big boss’s argument was that he didn’t want me getting all my coworkers sick because then we’d be REALLY up a creek.

So, no compassion for me, just concerns over being a vector for illness. Sigh. I love working in retail.

The Customer Service Voice Can Be Terrifyingly Effective

, , , | Right | April 14, 2022

In the nineties, I worked for a locally-owned store. This story took place on a Saturday when we were fully staffed with about six employees, including a girl in her mid-teens who was the store’s weekend greeter. Her only job this day was to stay at the front of the store to greet and direct customers. She wasn’t trained to do anything else yet.

The last customer had left a half-hour before, so we were all at the front of the store idly chatting when a man walked in. When our teenage coworker left the group to greet the man, we all saw his demeanor go from neutral to stereotypical lascivious pervert in half a second.

Our manager got out in front of the girl to greet the creep herself and used her best customer service manner to lead him as far away from the girl as possible while ostensibly helping him with what he came in for. After that, the store became busy, but we all took turns doing the same every time he tried to bother the girl.

The best part came just before the creep left. The coworker who rang him out was a woman with a sweet and wholesome demeanor but a sharp wit. This is the conversation I overheard between them,

Coworker: *In a very pleasant customer service voice* “Did you find everything you needed today?”

Creep: “Oh, I want her—” *points to our teenage coworker* “—to ring me up.”

Coworker: “She’s jailbait.”

Creep: “Huh?!”

Coworker: “She’s underage. She’s jailbait. She will not be helping you. Did you find everything you needed today?”

Her customer service voice never changed. The creep finally gave up, paid for his stuff, and left.

You’re Never Too Old To Learn A Lesson

, , , | Right | April 26, 2022

Bag checkers at my local superstore are required to ask to see your receipt if you have unbagged items in your cart. You very much can say, “No, thank you,” and continue on your way.

One day, I am at the store behind this dude and his kids. The son is pushing the cart.

Employee: “Can I see your receipt, please?”

The kid goes to hand it to her.

Dad: *Rudely* “No! Don’t stop!”

And he just about pushes past her.

My son and I stop and hand her our receipt even though all our stuff is bagged.

Me: *Loudly* “You can look at ours. Some of us have manners and know you’re just doing your job!”

The dude stopped, glared at me, and then kept going.

We passed him in the parking lot as he was loading his car, and I said to my son:

Me: “I always try to set a good example for you when it comes to proper behavior. I would never act rudely to someone who is just trying to do their job.”

Then, we went to our car to load our items in the trunk. We were parked next to the cart corral. The dude kept his eyes firmly fixed on the ground as he dropped off his cart.

There is no excuse for rudeness when someone is merely trying to do their job.

Better Than Soylent Green, I Guess

, , | Right | April 19, 2022

I worked for a company that made those seasoning blends you see in foil envelopes at the supermarket, as a hostess and tour guide. Four or more times a day, I took groups through the factory, explaining things. Now and then, I’d get someone in the group who just wanted to argue or who I felt was trying to get me to make a statement they could later use to sue us.

One time, we were stopped at the window to the packaging line, and a woman asked a perfectly ordinary question.

Woman: “How do you keep bugs out of the packages?”

Me: “Great question! See the doorway there?” *Pointing* “There’s a curtain of air blowing across it that bugs can’t fly through. And if one did, those would take care of them.”

I pointed at the giant bug zappers all around the space.

Woman: “What if a bug did get in a package?”

Me: “We test random samples of every batch for contamination.”

Woman: “Well, what if a customer found bugs when they opened a package?”

Me: “They should take the package back to the store for a full refund.”

Woman: “Why do bugs get into spices, anyway?”

Me: “Another great question! Spices are actually very nutritious, and when you’re as small as a bug, an ounce of, say, spaghetti mix is a lifetime feast.”

The rest of the group was losing interest.

Me: “So, if there are no more questions—”

Woman: *Interrupting* “What about at home?”

Me: “Ma’am, our products come in sealed foil packages. There’s no way bugs can get in.”

Woman: “What about if the package has been opened?”

Her tone was a little too eager, and my spidey sense told me she was up to something.

Me: “Ma’am, we’re not responsible for how you store our products after they’ve been opened.”

Woman: *Still in that eager tone* “But what if a bug got in anyway?”

Me: “Well, ma’am, I guess you just consider it protein.”