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The Last Thing You Want Is A Suspicious Computer Repair

, , , , , , , | Working | November 17, 2023

While biking home one winter evening, I take a bit of a spill. I’m not injured, but the bag holding my laptop hits the ground hard, and once I’m home, I find the laptop to be dead; pressing the power button does nothing, even with the laptop plugged in. A bit of troubleshooting later, I’m pretty sure the hard impact broke something in the laptop’s motherboard, so once I’ve scraped up the necessary cash, I remove the SSD for safekeeping and take the laptop over to a place in town that does computer repair.

I walk in and tell the tech that I’ve got a laptop that needs a new motherboard. They give me a form to complete, and I’ve filled out the first few items when I come across a field reading “Password”.

(A note of context for the uninitiated: one of the basic tenets of IT security is to never, EVER give out your account password to ANYONE, no matter what.]

I bring this to the tech’s attention.

Tech: “Yes, you need to put down the password for your user account on the laptop.”

Me: “This is just a hardware repair; it doesn’t require any sort of operating system access.”

But they keep insisting that they need my account password.

Me: “Is there someone else I can talk to?”

I end up in front of a senior tech. The senior tech reiterates that they need my account password.

Senior Tech: “It’s so we can get into the laptop once the new motherboard’s installed and run a piece of our software to verify that the new motherboard’s actually working.”

Me: “Simply getting to the login screen in the first place would already be proof that the new motherboard works. All I need you to do is replace the motherboard; I’ll take care of any software aspects.”

Senior Tech: “We can’t replace the motherboard without logging in afterward and running our software, and we need your password for that.”

I repeated that all I was asking them to do was replace the physical motherboard and that I would take care of everything else, but they still refused to replace the motherboard without having my password on hand.

I ended up having to shell out considerably more money to buy another laptop of the same model and swap the old laptop’s SSD into it. (Fortunately, I use Ubuntu, so the process of swapping OS drives between computers is essentially painless.)

The place I went to to try to get the first laptop’s motherboard replaced — a franchise of a larger chain — has since gone out of business, with a different store taking over the building. Given their appalling attitude toward computer security, I’m honestly not surprised!

Paying By Check? Don’t Bank On It

, , | Right | November 9, 2023

It’s Saturday and I’m making a cash pickup from the tills and there’s a check in the till that’s drawn on a bank that closed fifteen years ago after being bought out by another bank. I show it to the cashiers and tell them about it. Our store director went to high school with the person the checks belong to and confirms they were stolen.

Cut to the next Monday. There’s a customer with a couple of large items. She pulls out one of the exact same set of checks and starts writing it out for $380.

Me: “Ma’am, I can’t take this check.”

Customer: “Why not?”

Me: “Well, to start with, [Bank] has been closed since 2005; this check isn’t any good.”

Customer: “It’s my daughter’s check, there’s a [Bank] still in El Dorado.”

Me: “No, ma’am, the [Bank] in El Dorado wasn’t a part of this chain when it was open, and it’s actually a credit union. This check clearly says [Bank] in Malvern. Also, it’s not your daughter’s check, this check is stolen. I know the person these belong to.”

I had an account with this bank when it was open. They were a really good bank, so I know a bit more than a normal person would.

Customer: “Well, I never…”

Me: “It doesn’t matter, I cannot and I will not take this check for this purchase.”

At this point the lady storms out. I can’t quite get her license plate but I get a good description and call the police department. Upon reviewing the cameras, we discover that the lady had an ankle monitor on. Fifteen minutes later, they come back, pull into the parking lot of the law office next door and go in. I run out, get a tag number and call the police, who show up and make an arrest.

An Epic Dragging — Emphasis On “Drag”

, , , , , , , , , , , , | Working | October 31, 2023

I am a woman. This is relevant, honest. 

I once got a promotion that a male coworker thought he should have gotten. I mean, he was the only one who thought he should have gotten it, as he lacked the necessary five years of experience in the field and was actually less than six months out of Uni, but he was so sure it should have been him.

So, he put it about that I’d only gotten the promotion because I’d slept with the manager deciding who should get it.

Big mistake.

Said manager heard the rumours and turned up to the office in full panoply, bringing Human Resources with him. And humiliated the guy.

You see, the manager was the gayest gay to ever gay. The over-the-top camp gay stereotype could have been invented by him. He was out, and proud, and loud, honey, at a time when you still really didn’t want to be. He was also, coincidentally, a hobbyist drag queen.

Imagine, if you will, a 6’4” drag queen in full makeup with around half a tonne of glitter on her mascara, a huge, lilac bouffant wig, and pouty-pouty lips, in a pink and purple fishtail dress, white and purple feather boas, gold fishnet stockings, and five-inch heels. I wish I could walk — “sashay” would be more accurate — in five-inch heels the way she could. She was gorgeous, darling. 

Now, in general, I don’t agree with embarrassing or humiliating members of staff in front of others — or at all. But at the same time, it was a glorious take-down. She ripped into the idiot, ridiculing the whole idea — I mean, I really wasn’t her type — and also pointing out quite how offensive it was to her that the idiot would suggest that she would behave like that — all in full and sassy Drag Queen mode. 

I did get an apology — enforced by HR — but the idiot, despite being on probation, went on to do more idiot stuff, and he was fired about nine months later after making some truly offensive comments to some colleagues whose families originated on the Indian subcontinent.

Trust Us, There’s Only Ketchup In Those Packets

, , , , | Right | November 7, 2023

We have a sign up next to our menu at the drive-thru.

Sign: “Condiments available upon request.”

At least once a shift, I get a customer interaction that starts with me hearing over the headset:

Customer: “That’s disgusting! Why would a restaurant feel the need to give those out?!”

Me: “Hi, welcome to [Fast Food Place]. What can I get for—?”

Customer: “You’re disgusting! Why would [Fast Food Place] be encouraging—”

Me: “Oh, and condiments are available upon request. That’s condiments, like ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard.”

Customer: “…”

Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, ma’am.”

Customer: “…Cheeseburger meal with a Coke… please.”

Passenger: “Haha! You thought it said ‘condoms’!” 

Customer:Shut up!

There’s Thoughtful Concern And Then There’s This

, , , , , , | Working | November 9, 2023

I’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, and dissociative disorder, along with several chronic illnesses. A result of this is, if you don’t know my medical history, it’s easy to see specific symptoms across the variety of disorders and assume they’re all indicative of a different, singular disorder. Because I don’t like to trauma dump or share my personal struggles, people are working on only the information they see, while my therapists and doctors are working from the entire picture taken from years and years of clinical observations, tests, and hospitalizations. 

While working at a bookstore to pay my way through college, I worked with [Coworker], who was on the autism spectrum. [Coworker] was nice, but after a few weeks of working with me, they became convinced that I was also on the spectrum and constantly tried to justify their diagnosis based on things I did at work.

For example, I generally brought the same thing for lunch because it didn’t trigger my chronic illnesses and I knew I could get through the day without being sick. But [Coworker] was convinced it was due to the food texture and flavor issues that are common with people on the spectrum. 

I also twirl or stroke my hair when I’m highly anxious. It doesn’t really calm me down, but I feel a need to be doing something with my hands, and it helps. To [Coworker], this was stimming; stims are repetitive, self-soothing motions or actions people on the spectrum sometimes perform. 

I tended to always wear the same hoodie because it fit in a way that didn’t cause me pain or discomfort due to my chronic illnesses. To [Coworker], that was evidence of sensory issues, caused by autism. 

I often had a headphone in one ear while stocking (with the supervisor’s permission) because music helps with my anxiety. [Coworker] decided it was for noise canceling to keep me from being overstimulated.

Now, if [Coworker] had kept these thoughts and opinions to themself, I wouldn’t have cared at all. After all, it’s none of my business what goes on in their head. But they were constantly pointing out “autistic things” I did and trying to engage me in conversation about it.

Coworker: “[My Name], did you know most people don’t know they’re autistic until an autistic person points it out?”

Coworker: “[My Name], I get that you believe your doctors, but autistic people know more about autism than the doctors do, so you should really think about what you’re saying.”

Coworker: “[My Name], you’re totally autistic, like, 100%.”

Coworker: “[My Name], now that you know why you do all these things, you don’t have to be ashamed of them anymore. You can be yourself.”

What really started to bother me was that they acted like, now that I “knew” my “real diagnosis”, I could be happy about my condition. Let me tell you, that is not something you want to tell someone who’s been struggling for years with debilitating mental health issues.

Finally, one day, I snapped. I admit, I went overboard. I was having a bad day. The blood technician I’d gone to for testing that morning had dug the needle around in my arm searching for the vein, the barista put Splenda in my coffee, which I cannot drink due to my chronic illnesses, I got splashed by a car going through a puddle while walking into the store, and I had hurt my wrist somehow trying to put books on a high shelf.

And then [Coworker] started telling me that I should try taking an autism test from some website just so I could “finally have proof”.

Me: “[Coworker], just stop. I’m not autistic. You’re not my doctor, and you don’t know me outside of work. Stop f****** diagnosing me and stop f****** talking to me about autism. I don’t want to hear it. Just leave me the f*** alone.”

[Coworker] started crying, and I instantly felt terrible. When they went to find the supervisor, I was prepared for punishment. But surprisingly, the supervisor was sympathetic once they’d heard what was happening. They told me to just avoid [Coworker] and not talk to them, and they said they’d try to look at scheduling changes that worked around my classes.

But [Coworker] wanted me gone because I was ableist. They didn’t want me working there at all because it was now traumatic for them to see me. They didn’t want me coming on or off shift when they were there. They didn’t want to see me there if they decided to shop after work. They didn’t want me to be there.

At the time, the bookstore paid really good wages, and I was trying to get through college on just scholarships and working so I wouldn’t have to take out loans, so I really tried to stick it out and just ignore [Coworker]. I was going to move anyway to do my Master’s degree, and graduation was six months away. 

Unfortunately, [Coworker] started telling all of my other coworkers a doctored story about what had happened, painting me as ableist. The anxiety got to me, and I ended up leaving and taking a job at an art supply store that paid $3 less per hour because it was all I could find that fit my schedule. 

I graduated, moved to the city where my graduate school was, and moved on with my life. But I still get anxious when entering any store in that bookstore chain. Logically, I know [Coworker] isn’t there, but my anxiety likes to tell my brain otherwise. 

I’m sharing this story to let people know that sometimes multiple conditions can mimic other condition(s); please be understanding of people who are seeking a diagnosis or who are dealing with mental health issues. Professionals have training for a reason, and please let everyone go the path to diagnosis that’s safest and healthiest for them. It’s okay to give opinions or input if asked, but please be thoughtful about the effect your opinions can have.