Something Smells Fishy

, , , , | Friendly | June 17, 2020

When I am a naive student in the UK, I hear on TV that in Sweden they eat rotten fish, called “surströmming”. The show’s host, Stephen Fry, holds up a tin, but says he isn’t allowed to open it in case the audience passed out.

I am intrigued. I want to try some, but I can’t find it anywhere— not locally and not online at any price. I phone a friend in Sweden.

Me: “Hey, I want to try some of this surströmming. Do you know where I can get some?”

Friend: “Really? It’s absolutely rank. We only eat it outside at BBQs and things.”

Me: “Yes, really.”

Friend: “And you can’t find it locally?”

Me: “Nowhere. I’ve checked for hours.”

Friend: “Strange. They sell it everywhere in Sweden. It’s easy to make; you just catch some herring and then put it in a barrel. It ferments for six months. Or nine months if you’re totally nuts.”

Me: “Can you send me some?”

Friend: “Sure. I can get 1kg for about 300 krona, but I don’t have Paypal. You’ll need to send me cash in the post.”

Me: “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Friend: “I hope this isn’t part of some prank? Also, we normally eat it with a bread called tunnbröd. I’ll send you that, too.”

I convert pound sterling to SEK300. I put it in an envelope and send it to Sweden. Two weeks later, a package arrives. It only has the tunnbröd. The surströmming is missing from the package.

Me: “Hey, I didn’t get any fish.”

Friend: “You mean it didn’t arrive?”

Me: “No… it arrived, but there’s no surströmming.”

Friend: “Oh, crap. I know what’s happened.”

After a quick check on Google, I learn that couriers really do NOT like rotten fish. I phone the courier to ask them about it. They put me through to the freight airline they used. The employee is clearly Swedish and understands what happened.

Me: “I was expecting a package of surströmming, but it seems to have been removed from the package.”

Employee: “How was it packaged?”

Me: “In a tin, in a cardboard box.”

Employee: “Tinned surströmming… You know the way it’s already rotten when it is made?”

Me: “Yes?”

Employee: “That’s an ongoing process. It continues to ferment in the tin and it makes more gas.”

Me: “In a sealed container?”

Employee: “In a sealed container, in a confined space, with low air pressure, and many other goods. We have no way of knowing when that tin will go pop.”

Me: “…and send rotten fish everywhere?” 

Employee: “Exactly. In the interests of air safety, we X-ray everything and remove surströmming tins. Sorry about your fish; you won’t get it back.”

Me: “Thanks for the thorough explanation. They really should think about the packaging.”

My Swedish friend and I split our small loss and went on our way. I have yet to taste surströmming, but I am organising another batch of it. I’ll try surface shipping.

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Don’t Get Into A B****ing Match With An Air Steward

, , , , | Right | May 7, 2020

I work for a budget airline. A passenger is speaking to his daughter in front of us.

Passenger: “You’d better hurry up and do your homework, or you’ll end up with a low-level job like her.”

The passenger points to a flight attendant, my coworker. My coworker, quick as lightning, turns to the daughter.

Coworker: “Well, you know what? If your daddy had done his homework, he could afford to fly you [Expensive Airline] instead of [Budget Airline].”

After that, he kept his mouth shut until we landed.


This story was featured in our May 2020 roundup!

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One Wrong Click Leads To A Chain Reaction Of Support

, , , , | Working | April 30, 2020

Checking in twenty-four hours before my flight on the app on my phone, I accidentally clicked “YES” instead of “NO” when asked if I had dangerous goods. My sign-in was stopped immediately and I was left with no recourse but to cancel my check-in and lose my paid-for, pre-chosen seat. I’m laid back about most things, but there’s no way I can sit on a flight if I’m not by a window that’s opposite the sun. I feel really trapped if I can’t look out regularly.

I called the help line, figuring that this can’t possibly be a rare mistake, and got through to a customer service representative within minutes. I explained my error to her and she hummed, saying that she hadn’t heard of that before, but that she hadn’t heard of many issues as it was her first day.

Man, oh, man.

She started mumble-reading the FAQ, which I had done before calling — sans the mumbling, though — and then started trying all sorts of fixes that I was sure wouldn’t work. Finally, she put me on hold as she called her support and she was left on hold for over half an hour.

It was a 48-minute call — I checked the call counter— but I was calm and encouraging the whole time. I had made the mistake and I knew that freaking out would do nothing helpful. She apologized numerous times but I assured her I was in no rush. Everyone’s gotta learn sometimes and I’m the one who made the fat-fingered mistake. I don’t want to ever be one of those NAR people!

Oh, and randomly, she saw my destination and asked, during our scads of downtime, if that was home; it was Christmas time. As we talked, it came out that we grew up in areas kilometers apart from each other — her dad was great friends with my high school art teacher — but at different times. Currently, we are thousands of kilometres from there and each other.

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Definitely Not Available On Virgin Airlines

, , , , | Right | April 8, 2020

(I am a flight attendant. For parents travelling with babies or toddlers, we usually carry some soft toys shaped like a tiny airplane, with a simple mechanism that you wind up by pulling a string; while it unwinds, it makes the toy buzz and shake and move forward a little. A passenger approaches me.)

Passenger: “Hey, do you have those… You know, those vibrators? I want one for my baby.”

(It took me a second to figure out she meant the vibrating toy; I just hope I managed to keep my face straight. I had a good laugh with the crew in the galley later.)

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We Can Confirm You Will Eventually Get It

, , , | Right | March 26, 2020

(Unfortunately, I’m the customer in this one. I’ve just received word from [Major Airliner] that my return flight has been cancelled and I need to reschedule a new one. Our schedule is a little tight so I’m already flustered, plus I was on hold for an hour before speaking with someone.)

Phone Rep: “How may I help you?”

Me: “Hi, yeah, one of my return flights was cancelled and I need to schedule a new one.”

Phone Rep: “Can I please get your confirmation code?”

Me: *gives it*

Phone Rep: “Okay. Charlie, Oscar, Mary—”

Me: *snaps* “NO. I’m sorry, but you didn’t get the code right or something. None of those are names of people on my flight! I’m [My Name], and the only other person is [Friend]!”

Phone Rep: “I’m sorry, ma’am. So, your confirmation code is C as in Charlie, O as in Oscar, M as in Mary…”

Me: “Oh, my God, I am so sorry.”

Phone Rep: “Thank you for waiting on hold so long, ma’am.”

(Thankfully, we finished up the call without any more outbursts from me. I still somehow ended up with an upgrade on the return flight.)

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