A Beautiful Blonde Moment

, , , , , | Friendly | April 27, 2019

(I’m in a convenience store perusing the aisles when a couple of middle-aged blonde women walk down the aisle I’m on. I’m pretty sure they are tipsy, and they’re talking really loudly in thick southern accents… but I am in a good mood and they are all smiles and giggles, so I can’t bring myself to be annoyed. I see them staring at coffee brands before I walk to the next aisle over, and I can hear them on the other side of the aisle trying to sort out what coffee brand they should buy.)

Lady #1: *after a couple of minutes of loudly discussing it with her friend* “We should call someone over here to help. I can’t decide.”

Me: *snickers to myself as her friend starts bellowing*

Lady #2: “Blondes in aisle twelve need service! Blondes in aisle twelve need service, over!”

Me: *from opposite the rack on the adjacent aisle, in my best official mock-intercom voice* “Customer service suggests that the blondes on aisle twelve chose the [Brand], over.”

(They burst into laughter asking one another who the heck had said that. Meanwhile, I walked down the aisle with a grin on my face, and one of the employees told me that they ought to hire me for customer service. Made my day, and the women’s day, too.)

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Anchorage, Alaska: A Thousand Thank-Yous

, , , , , , | Hopeless | December 14, 2018

Anchorage, Alaska experienced a 7.0-magnitude earthquake on the morning of November 30th, 2018. There was significant damage to infrastructure, roads, and buildings, but no collapses, and only a few older buildings have been deemed unsafe. No deaths reported! 72 hours after the major destruction of some of our main highways, they are back in commission, paved and striped. All the recovery efforts are simply amazing.

Stories have poured in thanking our amazing engineers and workers of the Alaska Department of Transportation getting our roads safe and fixed, the utility workers for going 24 hours a day to get us back on the grid and get us safe drinking water, and our first responders for a quick and calm emergency response.

But I’d like to take a minute to thank the gas station attendants who stayed at their jobs right after the quake to service the hundreds of panicked people filling up on gas before attempting the four- to five-hour trip home — a normal commute of 30 to 45 minutes — to Eagle River and the Mat-Su Valley. I would like to heartily thank the hundreds of grocery store clerks who stayed that day to keep the stores open, and who put in countless hours to clean up warehouses of glass and spills so that we could go in and get bread, water, and necessities — like deli sandwiches and any wine that survived the shake-up. And I want to thank the baristas who showed up at five am the day after, who held down the shaking syrup bottles through the many, many, many aftershocks and kept smiles on their faces. I just cannot even.

I would like to extend my enormous gratitude to the store clerks at our local True Value Hardware who swept most of the mess into a roped-off corner and opened early the next day because, “People are going to need to fix stuff up, and they need us open, not picture perfect.” At the same store, my husband witnessed a clerk scolding a fellow for trying to buy more than one set of water heater hoses saying, “Do you have multiple water heaters?” The fellow responded by shaking his head. The clerk asked, “Are you helping your neighbors?” The fellow sullenly shook his head in the negative again. The clerk said firmly, “Then I’ll only be selling you the one set; there are going to be a lot of people needing those today.”

To the cheerful diner waitress who kept our coffee topped up the day after this crazy event, to the artisans who forged ahead with a holiday craft show because people needed to have some cheer, to the musicians and actors who said that the show must go on… thank you a thousand times. THANK YOU.

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Not Shielded From Your Sarcasm

, , , , , , | Learning | June 9, 2018

(I work at the largest university in Alaska, and we frequently have earthquake drills and, of course, the required fire drills. I am designated as one of our building safety personnel in charge of evacuating the building and getting people to the designated “safe” area away from the building, a large portion of which is floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. The meeting area is located safely behind the cement parking garage, a good distance from our building. However, people get weirdly stubborn about moving to the correct area, even as I wave and point and usher them. I start becoming very creative in handling these recalcitrant evacuees.)

Me: *in official vest and over bullhorn* “Please step this way behind the parking garage, towards the designated meeting area!”

(A few people move.)

Me: “Folks, please be sure to thank those people over there—” *indicates the people still stubbornly standing right next to the giant glass building* “—who have bravely volunteered to be a human shield for you in the event of a fire or other disaster in which our building, made entirely of glass, could potentially explode outward.” *pause for effect* “Their sacrifice in protecting you from the explosive shrapnel will be much appreciated!”

(The human shields eschew the honor and glory, and move to relative safety behind the parking garage, glaring at me all the while.)

Me: *mentally shrugging; it’s part of my job and I can’t get fired over this* “Thank you for playing the ‘How to stay alive during a natural disaster’ game! Herb, tell them what they’ve won!”

(Most people were laughing pretty hard at this point. The few holdouts glowered at me the entire time.)

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Wishing For Her Hands To Be Bitten

, , , , , , | Right | April 19, 2018

When I was 16 years old, I worked in a children’s museum where I was in charge of the aquarium section. We had a “touch tank” where people could feel sea life. Because the animals are delicate, we had a strict policy that people could only touch animals I had put on trays at the edge of the tanks. Despite this policy, (and numerous prominent signs stating the policy) people would routinely stick their hands in the parts of the tank that were off limits.

One day, a woman came in and proceeded to repeatedly stick her hands into the tank, despite my requests. Finally, I forcefully said, “Ma’am, please don’t stick your hands into that part of the tank, as it distresses the animals.” She pulled her hands out, flicked water in my face, said, “You just need to chill,” and stomped off, cursing about “little s***s who think they know everything.”

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My Mother, The Lizard Woman

, , , , , , , | Right | November 27, 2017

(I am working the floor at a large pet store. A young man, about 16 years old, comes in and says that he is thinking of buying some lizards and wants to know what he will need. I explain to him that these lizards will need an aquarium, a lid, a heat source, places to hide, a special lamp — especially as there is little sunlight in winter in Alaska — and a few other items. I also talk to him about what kinds of lizards would be good for him, and which ones will be relatively inexpensive. At no point do I try to sell him anything, since I figure he is just getting a feel for what he’ll need. While I am talking to him his mother comes in:)

Mother: “What are you doing?”

Son: “I’m thinking of buying some lizards, and I want to know what I need.”

Mother: “What did this guy tell you?”

Son: “Well, I need an aquarium, a lid, a heater, a special light, and some other things.”

Mother: “Why are you trying to sell my son this stuff that he doesn’t need?”

Me: “He asked me what he needs to keep lizards.”

Mother: “Don’t lie to me. You people are always trying to sell other people things they don’t need. You do not need a heater or a light. There is no way we are buying things from a liar like you.”

(The son looks absolutely mortified at this point.)

Son:Mom! I asked him about this. He was just answering my question.”

Mother: “We are leaving, and if you can’t recognize liars who want to steal your money for things you don’t need, then you can’t go into any more stores.”

(The mother then physically dragged her son away while loudly complaining about liars, and her son just looked back at me with a horribly embarrassed expression on his face.)

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