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If Only You Could Expand Your Screen The Way You’re Expanding Their Knowledge

, , , , , | Learning | July 18, 2023

I help another teacher run a program for seniors learning English. By this point, I’ve been helping for five years, so I can run classes by myself. The other teacher still prepares all the course materials, since I’m not formally trained. The teacher isn’t good with modern technology.

The day before a class, the teacher says she’s double-booked. I need to take over the class. That’s fine. I get the email with the day’s class materials in the afternoon — or most of them.

Me: “The main resource for your class is behind a paywall.”

Teacher: “I sent it to you!”

Me: “You sent me the link to the information page. I need the lesson plan document.”

Teacher: “Oh, right.”

The lesson is designed to work in person. On the morning of class, I get this email from the program manager.

Manager: “Our building’s air conditioning is not working. You should have your classes online. I’ll set up our online conference call.”

Me: “Thanks for the heads-up. I’ll rework the class materials for the new format.”

The students are on different devices; some are on phones, while others are on computers, and a few are on tablets. We take a quarter of the class time dealing with tech issues. Then, I start the class by having them look at a row of six images.

Student #1: “I can only see three pictures.”

Student #2: “I can see all six.”

Student #3: “They’re too small. Can you zoom in?”

I slide the screen around.

Me: “I physically can’t zoom it in more.”

It turned out that the conference call program only showed the top left corner of my screen to everybody, which completely broke the flow of the lesson plan. I struggled through the parts of the lesson that still worked. In the end, I only got through half of the material.

The screen sizing problem probably existed in 2020, as well. Nobody thought to tell me.

Overdue And Overheard

, , , , | Right | June 20, 2023

One of my duties at the library is to call patrons with overdue items to let them know that said items are overdue. I do this once a week, and leave a lot of voicemails; I’m aware that some patrons recognize the number and let it go straight to voicemail, which doesn’t bother me at all. If anything, it helps me get through the list more quickly.

However, some patrons forget to let their household in on their plan, which I discovered today. I make a call which is answered by a child’s voice, breathless:

Child: “Yes hello?”

Me: “Hi, may I speak to [Patron]?”

Child: “Yeah, jusasec. MOOOOOMMM!”

Patron: *Distantly.* “Just hang up.”


Patron: “HANG UP!”


Patron: “HANG. U–”

Steps, shuffling, click!

I took this to mean she got the message and crossed her off this week’s list. Hey, easily the most interesting call I made tonight!

What Is Your Damage?!

, , , , , , | Learning | May 13, 2023

I have never been creative, so despite enjoying most of school, I had a tough time with creative writing assignments. One year, we had a short story assigned that was especially big — ten to twenty pages — and worth an especially large portion of that semester’s final mark. I was unable to think up even a bad idea, never mind a good one.

Then, the Sunday before it was due, I awoke having had a dream with a full plot that would work fine for the short story! I wrote it all down. A teenage girl’s sassy new boyfriend killed all their school bullies, but then, other kids who had previously seemed chill became bullies. In the end, our protagonist realised that killing a**holes could never make the world a better place since there is an almost infinite supply of a**holes.

Monday arrived, but the teacher announced an extra week was being given since many kids were having trouble getting their stories done on time.

So, a few of us who had our stories ready swapped them to read. (This being the 1990s, it was all on paper.) My friend read my story.

Me: “I had terrible writer’s block, but then, like a miracle, this came to me in a dream!”

Friend: “Naw, dude. That wasn’t out of your subconscious.”

Me: “Of course it was.”

Friend: “No, that was the plot of the last movie you saw. How could you forget?!” *Laughing* “We rented it like three weeks ago. Heathers? You thought Christian Slater was cute?”

Me: “Oh. My. God. You’re right! What have I done?! This is plagiarism!”

I was a good kid who got good marks easily, so I had never even for a moment considered cheating before. But I had no other story idea with which to redo the assignment. Eventually, I convinced myself it was morally acceptable because I had written it in my own words, with plot events of my choice, not copied something verbatim, and I had not stolen the idea intentionally. So, I handed it in.

A few days later, I was summoned with my mother to a meeting with the principal, Language Arts teacher, and even the school counselor. I thought for sure I was going to jail for plagiarism!

But as the meeting unfolded, I realised they had no idea! Not one of the adults in the meeting was cool enough to be aware of one of the biggest movies of the previous year! What are the odds? They believed it was 100% my idea, and they were scared I was going to go on a murder spree!

I figured it better to be thought a psycho than a cheater, so I kept the truth to myself. Instead, I defended myself by pointing out that the moral of the story was that killing bad guys does no good, so despite the preceding murder rampage, the story was an argument for pacifism. They bought it and life moved on.

It still makes me laugh to remember all those worried faces, holding me personally to blame for the creepy plot of a successful Hollywood movie. I guess it’s lucky I didn’t steal an even scarier story like “Carrie”, or I’d still be in therapy!

Mistreat Your Friends And You Might Get Burned

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 27, 2023

I once had a “friend” who was a little self-centered. He insisted the gang always have our hangouts at his place, so he wouldn’t have to waste his precious time traveling. He didn’t show gratitude for this perk by being a good host, either.

There was no couch for anyone to crash on. One time, he said:

Selfish Guy: “Why do I need a couch when I live alone?”

Us: “Uh… because you beg everyone you know to come and drink with you a couple of nights a week?”

He also never lifted a finger to help with the commute he was imposing on the rest of us. His best friend, who lived something like sixty or eighty blocks away and was always broke and exhausted from juggling school and being a caretaker for a sick relative, had to take a taxi home, being unfit to drive. Then, the next day, he’d have to take a bus or taxi all the way back to pick up his car. I thought if [Selfish Guy] was insisting the party always be at his place, he could have taken a small share of the hassle by picking up [Friend] to save him the enormous cab fare, but he said he was too comfy to go out. I suggested we meet at [Friend]’s home next time since he had the least time, money, and energy to spare of any of us, so if anyone deserved to skip traveling it was him, but [Selfish Guy] wouldn’t hear of it. It was “way too far” for him to go! Note that it was the same distance he always asked [Friend] to travel.

You get the picture. And yes, I did eventually smarten up and stop hanging out with him.

But my story is about the one time this spoiled brat didn’t get his way.

[Selfish Guy]’s condo had a quirk where the kitchen faucet was connected opposite to normal. The hot was cold and the cold was hot. Several times per hangout session, one of us guests would go to get a drink of water, and as you do, would turn on the cold, let it flow a good while, and then put a hand in the flow to check if it had reached maximum coldness. Due to the backward handles, this would result in us sticking our hands in extremely hot water! I suggested he fix it, but he said:

Selfish Guy: “I’m used to it, so it doesn’t happen to me. Why would I care when I’m not the one getting scalded?”

I peeked under the sink one time and found out why the installer had done it this way: the hose to one side was too short to reach the other side. So, on my next visit, I had a hose of appropriate length and some wrenches hidden in my bag. When [Selfish Guy] went to use the toilet, I did the repair in an instant.

Later that night, [Selfish Guy] got thirsty and went to the sink. He let the tap run a while, then put his hand in the flow… and screamed in pain as the unexpected hot water burnt his hand!

Everyone there just got a look of blissful contentment. Why should we care when we weren’t the ones getting scalded?

The Advertising Is True And The Accusation Is False

, , , , , , | Right | March 4, 2023

I used to work in a movie rental store. This was about the time that they tried “no more late fees” as a strategy to get people to rent. However, there was a restocking fee charged if your rental was over a week late which was far far less than the late fees used to be; I believe it was a $2 one-time fee instead of $2 per day.

I come into the store to find a note left by my closing supervisor from the night before saying that a very loud and rude customer is going to be coming in today to speak to me about the restocking fee and how unfair it is, even though they were three weeks late and we had already credited off the fee for them this once since it was their first offence.

In they come, and they start yelling at me about how no more late fees means they never want to pay another late fee again, no matter when they return their rentals. I try to explain that is not how it works, but they don’t listen. They just repeat what they are saying, with much swearing and yelling and generally disrupting the entire store with their tantrum.

Finally, I’ve become frustrated enough and fed up with their attitude. I point to the sign behind the tills, which has the restocking fee on it and when it applies.

Me: “Can you read that?”

His eyes bug out and he screams.

Customer:Are you trying to tell me you don’t think I can read English?!

Me: “No, I asked if you can read what it says for me since I want to make sure you see it’s there.”

Customer: *Grumbling* “Yes.”

Me: “Good. Then that means, as of right now, the restocking fee is not false advertising and you are aware that continued abuse of our services will cause this charge. I encourage you to make your own decision as to whether or not it is worth continuing to rent from us. But as this is a family store, you should also know that screaming and swearing are not tolerated. Have a good day, sir.”

I walked off into the office after that, but from what I’m told, he stood there with his jaw half open and his eyes bugged out for about half a minute, just staring at where I had gone, and then left the store and never came back.