War On Information

, , , , | Right | September 6, 2017

(I work as a receptionist at a major institute which archives materials about war and genocide. I get a caller who is angry, and very… shall we say, confused. Also, I have no idea whether he is wrong about his mother’s age or her past; obviously he has one of these two “facts” very wrong indeed…)

Me: “[Institute], you’re speaking with [My Name].”

Caller: “Hi, yes, I was given your number. I am calling to complain that [Popular Cable Company] is having some very major problems. Just yesterday my cable service was behaving very erratically.”

Me: “Sir, you—”

Caller: “Just yesterday, again, we sat down; me and my mother, we sat down; she’s 49 today. So we sat down and, she lived through the War, you know! Anyway, we sat down to watch something and the TV turned itself off!”

Me: *speaking very quickly so as to get a word in edgewise* “Sir, you know you’ve called the [Institute], yes? We—”

Caller: “Yes, of COURSE I did! This cannot be allowed to go on! My mother, she went through the War; it’s her birthday and she’s 49; she can’t be expected to deal with this, so something has to be done now.”

Me: “Sir, I am not sure I follow. What—”

Caller: “It’s no coincidence. It’s a huge, evil scandal is what it is. They do it so SYSTEMATICALLY! Look, every single time my mother wants to watch something about the War, the cable goes out or other things happen. A week ago it was the BBC: the cable company switched to another channel every time we tried to watch a War documentary on the BBC! And yesterday the TV just turned off. By itself! Because we wanted to watch something about the War on a Belgian channel. A few weeks ago, we wanted to watch something on [Dutch Channel] about the Hunger Winter, and the station went off the air! Every. Single. Time. It happens every single time. This has been—”

Me: “SIR! I’m sorry, but we are not in any way affiliated with [Cable Company].”

Caller: “I know that, but you are the War people! I am giving you information! That’s what you do! I am giving you information, and something needs to be done with the information I am giving you. Goebbels said it: ‘Whoever controls the information controls the world.’ They are doing this on purpose, that is completely obvious. It is far too obvious, so how are they even getting away with it? Why would they do this? They block everything to do with the War, everything! No matter what station it will be on, no matter what the program, if it is about the War, the TV turns off, or the cable starts acting wonky, or the electricity in the neighborhood goes out or—”

Me: “SIR! As I said, there really isn’t anything we—”

Caller: “SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE WITH THIS INFORMATION! I am calling YOU because this is IMPORTANT INFORMATION and something HAS TO BE DONE ABOUT IT! This cannot go ON! I am giving you information! My mother, she’s 49; she went through the War; this is too much for her! They think a MOTHER can stand up to this kind of thing? A MOTHER?”

Me: “Sir, I think it really would be better if you contact, for example, the cable company itself, or the Better Business Bureau, or the local registry of—”

Caller: “None of them care! Are you nuts? This has been going on for SEVEN YEARS! Why would they do anything about it NOW? Okay, I did call all of them, everyone, all of them, years and years ago, but they don’t care. Two years ago, I called the police and they assured me they would do something about it, and it WAS better for two weeks, but then it all started again, and the police didn’t want to talk to me anymore. So, I am giving you information.”

Me: “Sir, what is it that—”

Caller: “A MOTHER! A mother who had to live through the War and now this! You are the ones, you are the—”

Me: “SIR! WHAT are you asking us to DO?”

Caller: “SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE WITH THIS INFORMATION!”

Me: “Sir, I will tell people here about your call, but I doubt we can do very much about—”

Caller: “Yes! Yes, good, TELL THEM! Tell your information people!”

Me: “I will very definitely do that, sir.”

Caller: *sounding mollified* “Good… good. Thank you. That’s good. Because something has to be done with my information, the information that I am giving you, my call, the information. Thank you.” *click*

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Respect For Convenience Trumps Respect For The Dead

, , , , | Right | August 23, 2017

(My father is a senior police officer in Amsterdam. During his shift there was a deadly accident involving a car and a pedestrian. After having covered most of the accident up with white sheets and having put up a line to keep the people from walking onto the scene, a woman walks over the line just before my father stops her.)

Father: “Ma’am, you need to stay behind the line. There was an accident and nobody other than the police or medics can come through.”

Woman: “But I need to go over there.” *points to a local shop on the other side of the street*

Father: “I understand that, but walk around. You are walking through—”

Woman: “But I need to go there! It’s shorter this way!”

(She tries to pass my father before he steps in front of her again.)

Father: “Ma’am, I warn you one last time to walk around or I will throw you against the ground and arrest you.”

(At this point the lady had enough and walked passed him before he could stop her. He then threw her upon the blood-stained ground. After about five minutes of holding her down with two other officers, she gave up and got handcuffed to a stop sign. She was there till the accident was taken care of and cleaned up, three full hours later.)


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Spam Begat Spam

, , , , | Working | August 21, 2017

I received a spam email purporting to be from UK HMRC (the UK version of the IRS). The email said that I was due a refund and all I had to do was click on the links. Well, it was obviously bogus but it was also clearly labelled as if from an address that belonged to a US university. I realise that the address was probably hijacked.

However I thought that the IT people at the university might want to know that their web address was being maligned/misused. I wrote out an email with all the details of the spam, including the addresses hiding behind the ‘refund’ links and sent it off to the university webmaster.

My email was promptly returned by their system because “it looked like spam.” Does this mean that the university in question can proudly say that they have never received any complaints about their address being used for spamming others?

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Harry Potter And The Act Of Kindness

, , , , , | Hopeless | June 25, 2017

(Back when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the last book in the series) comes out in the bookstores, I am a teenager in high-school with little money to my name. My grandmother knows I am a big fan and has given me exact change to be able to buy the hardcover version of the book I have been waiting so long for. In my excitement to get the book, I leave on my bicycle to buy it, not bothering to take anything else but the amount she gave me. During the 15 minute ride to the store, I noticed a middle aged man cycling the exact same path from my street and to the bookstore. We both enter the bookstore and I am first in line with him standing next in line.)

Cashier: “Hello, how can I help you today?”

Me: *excited* “I’m here to buy Harry Potter seven!”

Cashier: “All right, which one do you want, the hardcover or the paperback?”

Me: “The hardcover, please!”

(The cashier grabs one of the hardcover books and tells me the amount I owe. Having gotten some loose bills and coins, I haven’t taken the time to count it. When she looks at it she frowns and tells me this is only enough for a paperback version. My grandmother must have miscounted by accident, and having no other money on me, I’m momentarily speechless and only mumble some incoherent words in an attempt to gather my thoughts and make a decision. I must’ve looked very distraught; the man next in line taps me on the shoulder.)

Man: *holds out two euros which, is the extra amount I need for a hardcover, and smiles kindly* “Here, take it. The hardcover books last a lot longer.”

Me: *surprised and happy* “T-thank you! That’s unbelievably kind of you.”

(I took the two euros he offered me and finished the transaction with the cashier for a hardcover book. Being an awkward teen I could only smile and didn’t know what else to say, but it really did mean the world to me. I still cherish that hardcover copy and I wish I could’ve made it more clear to him how happy he’d made me with that small act of kindness. If you do happen to remember an awkward teen girl with glasses on the day of the release of the last book, please know that you’re a hero in my eyes, especially in a world that can be so cold and harsh at times. It’s the little things that count, and I try to do the same for others when I’m able.)

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Forget The Announcements, Here Come The Pronouncements

, , , , | Romantic | November 7, 2011

(It’s my friend’s wedding. His bride-to-be has some behavioral issues, so not everyone is happy about their marriage. Nonetheless, I decide to go over to my friend’s mother and congratulate her.)

Me: “Hi! Congratulations on your son’s marriage!

Friend’s Mother: “Don’t you mean, ‘My condolences’?”

Me: *awkward silence*

(On the other side of the room, we see my friend being congratulated by a female friend. Immediately, the bride storms over and pulls my friend away.)

Friend’s Mother: “I give them three weeks before one murders the other.”

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