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Use Your Words, Especially When There Are Knives Involved!

, , , , , , , | Related | September 22, 2021

I’m at a large family reunion at a cabin owned by some extended family. Obviously, not everyone there knows everyone else well, since the relationships go back to my great-grandparents’ generation.

[Cousin #1], her brother [Cousin #2], and I are in the kitchen. [Cousin #1] has deputized her brother and me to squeeze limes and chop garlic; she herself is working steadily through a large pile of avocados, taking the pits out by slicing a knife into them and twisting them. 

One of my aunts from another branch of the family, who doesn’t know my cousins, is a notorious busybody. She can never resist telling everyone exactly what she thinks without asking herself if that’s a good idea. She comes in, sees the situation, and makes a beeline right for us just as [Cousin #1] is moving the knife toward an avocado pit.

[Aunt] grabs [Cousin #1] suddenly and jerks her arm.

Aunt: “Stop!”

Cousin #1: “Aaaagh!”

She drops the knife — luckily onto the counter — and grabs at her left hand; I see blood. She whirls on [Aunt]. [Cousin #1] is about five-foot-nothing and has a bit of a babyface, but she has an extremely loud voice.

Cousin #1: “Jesus Christ, what the f***?!”

It’s the first time I’ve seen [Aunt] speechless even for a second.

Cousin #1: “What is wrong with you?! Do not sneak up like that! I could have cut my g**d*** fingers off, you idiot!”

Aunt: “I was trying to tell you not to cut the avocados like that. You could have hurt yourself!”

Cousin #1: “So, you decided to grab me from behind while I was moving a knife?! Yeah, that’s really safe! Whatever happened to ‘excuse me,’ huh? Get out of my way. I need a bandaid — if I don’t need stitches. [Cousin #2], finish the guacamole. And you, dumba**, out of my kitchen!”

She storms past us towards the bathroom. [Aunt], of course, doesn’t leave.

Aunt: “There’s no reason to be rude! I was just trying to help.”

Cousin #2: “That was pretty mild for [Cousin #1].”

Me: “Yeah, I think she only used the F word once. And she doesn’t need your help. She’s a professional chef; she knows what she’s doing.”

Aunt: “I would never let one of my children do that.”

Cousin #2: “She’s not a child; she’s twenty-eight.”

Realizing she wasn’t going to get any sympathy from either of us, [Aunt] finally left. I later found out that she tracked down my cousins’ father and complained to him about his daughter’s behaviour… and then learned where exactly [Cousin #1] had learned not to suffer fools as he bellowed at [Aunt] that it was her fault his precious jewel got hurt. 

I don’t know if [Aunt] has learned to stop butting in all over the place, but she may have learned to choose her targets better.

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You Break It, You… Don’t Write A Letter About It, Dummy

, , , , , | Related | September 11, 2021

My uncle has a large plot of land that is mostly left wild because he struggles to keep it maintained. I go over a few times a year to help out.

Me: “That fence in the corner is broken again.”

Uncle: “Well, you did only bodge it back together.”

Me: “No, remember, I was going to do a temporary fix. But then I found some more wood so I did it properly.”

Uncle: “Weird. Could you fix it again and see if you can reinforce it somehow?”

Me: “I can have a look, but you should really consider planting those thorny plants I suggested.”

Uncle: “I doubt anyone is breaking it on purpose; there’s nothing there. It’s a dead end. Just some bad luck.”

Me: “Okay, but buy some plants anyway.”

I fix the fence and I do a good job of it. No way can anyone accidentally break it this time. My uncle buys the plants and, to be fair to him, he actually gets some large mature ones. 

I don’t plant them right near the fence, in case someone were to cut them back. Instead, I put them just out of sight. Even with gloves and a thick jacket, I’m covered in scratches.

It takes me all day, but I get it done. I finish the day by nailing a no entry/no public access sign to the fence and call it quits.

It’s a few months until I go back, and my uncle is standing there with a smile on his face.

Uncle: “You will never guess what happened.”

Me: “What?”

Uncle: “The fence is broken again; someone must have taken a sledgehammer to it.”

Me: “Why are you smiling, then?”

Uncle: “Because they are trying to sue me for it!”

Me: “That still doesn’t explain the smile.”

He hands me the letter. In it, they admit to damaging the fence all three times, and they make note of the sign and not asking for access. They incorrectly ramble on about public access. The wording is frantic and seems to frame the writer as some sort of hero of the people. It ends with a threat of legal action and the name of a solicitor.

Uncle: “[Solicitor] already called me, and I have another phone call this afternoon. I can’t wait to go over the details with him.”

The phone call went ahead. It didn’t take long for the solicitor to understand that their client had not only broken the law but had admitted it, too. Eventually — and after several legal threats — they had to pay for all the damages, my time, and the plants for the fence. We didn’t get any more break-ins after that.

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There’s No Room For Error When Working With Family

, , , , , , | Related | September 3, 2021

My first job, when I was too naïve to know any better, was working for my uncle. He wanted a programmer to maintain the website and database for his nonprofit and to help with a startup. Neither the nonprofit nor the startup could afford to HIRE a programmer, so he offered me free room and board, an allowance of $100 a week, and “experience and a spot in the company if the startup takes off.” It was stupid to work for so little, but I agreed to, and I wouldn’t complain if he’d held up his end of the bargain.

Of course, of the odds and ends that made up my “salary,” the room was the most important and valuable. My uncle lives with his girlfriend, and I moved into her basement. This story begins maybe a year after I moved in.

Uncle: “Has [Girlfriend] talked to you about her friends coming to stay?”

Me: “No?”

Uncle: “Well, she has some old friends coming next month and the basement room is the biggest and nicest spare room, so they’ll be staying there. You can take the upstairs spare room or go back to [Home State] for two days.” 

Me: “But all my things are down here! I have furniture in this room that’s too heavy to move and won’t fit in the upstairs room anyway. And I’m trying to tame the cat that lives on the basement patio; how can I do that if strangers are in this room? Not only won’t I be able to see when she’s around, but I can’t even approach the patio from outside without feeling like I’m intruding on the guests!”

Uncle: “That’s up to you. I just came downstairs to make sure you know you’ll need to leave on those days.”

I agree, reluctantly, to take the upstairs spare room. The day before the guests are supposed to arrive, I’ve almost finished cleaning my room. I plan to wash my dishes and take the items I want to keep with me upstairs that evening. I’m at the nonprofit when my uncle’s girlfriend texts me.

Girlfriend: “Hi, [My Name], my friends showed up early, so I went ahead and took all your things upstairs.”

I’m furious that she went into my room and moved my things without so much as asking for permission, let alone asking what I wanted where. But I text back, “OK,” because what else can I do? She’s already done it; I can’t exactly tell her no.

That afternoon, when I get home, I go upstairs to assess the damage. I can’t find any of my books. There’s a dirty knife, covered in jelly, at the bottom of my laundry basket, which has been repurposed into a junk basket. Various electronics are piled in it willy-nilly, some missing their charge cords. All my dishes, apart from that one knife, are in the dishwasher, even though many aren’t dishwasher-safe. I have to go down to the basement to collect clothes, because [Girlfriend] didn’t bring any up.

I also show the guests where I keep the kibble and ask them, since they have the patio, to please feed the cat. They agree, but for the rest of their stay, the kibble dish is empty every time I look at it. I eventually sneak into the basement when they’re not there to get kibble with which to refill it.

The next day, I discuss what’s happened with my uncle, trying to make him see why the situation bothers me.

Me: “First of all, she just kicked me out of my room! I didn’t get any choice in the matter.”

Uncle: “Sure, you did. You got to choose whether to stay upstairs or leave the house.”

Me: “I mean I wasn’t given a choice of whether or not to give up my room.”

Uncle: “No, you weren’t. The room is in [Girlfriend]’s house; it belongs to [Girlfriend], and just because she’s nice enough to let you use it, that doesn’t mean it belongs to you. I think you need to appreciate how [Girlfriend] has bent over backward for you. She didn’t have to let you stay in her house.”

Me: “That’s most of my salary! I earn that room!”

Uncle: “[Girlfriend] doesn’t get anything from you. You don’t write code for her; you write it for me.”

Me: “If you’re stealing from her to pay me with something that was never yours to offer in the first place, that’s between the two of you. Either the room is charity, given to me out of the goodness of [Girlfriend]’s heart — in which case, she does have the right to kick me out, but I’m working for practically nothing — or it’s part of my salary, in which case, I have the right to stay there as long as I keep doing my job. Which is it?”

Uncle: “I’m not going to discuss this.”

Later that day — while I’m still living in the upstairs guest room — we’re discussing the startup’s prospects and how much longer I can continue working with him before I start looking for a “real job”.

Uncle: “I know, I don’t pay you very much. But if you include the room and board—”

Me: “Seriously?”

Sadly, this is not the incident that led to me quitting that “job” — although it probably would have been if it weren’t for the cat, who wasn’t tame enough to transport yet. A few months and a lot of kitty treats later, after an even stupider argument, I packed her into a carrier and left for good.

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They Didn’t Meet The Bar (Mitzvah)

, , , , , | Related | CREDIT: I_want_max | September 1, 2021

My bar mitzvah is coming up. In my synagogue, capacity is limited right now. I want to invite my best friend and his family. I am super tight with his family and we’re basically brothers; we’ve been friends since kindergarten. My mom is talking with my great aunt about it over the phone.

Great Aunt: “Oh, that means that you have three spots if [Best Friend] and his family don’t come, and since they’re not family, [Great Aunt’s Daughter] and her two daughters should come, instead.”

Mom: “What? We don’t even talk to them that much anymore. Why should they come instead of [My Name]’s best friend and his family?”

Great Aunt: “The girls haven’t gone out in sooooooo long, and they would love to see [My Name] becoming a man.”

Mom: “They can watch over video call like the other 100 people who can’t come due to the health crisis.”

Great Aunt: “This isn’t fair! My babies are more important than your stupid kid’s best friend and his family.”

Mom: “Fine. They can all come if they get the vaccine.”

Great Aunt: “What?! Vaccines cause cancer and autism! Everyone is lying about the crisis! It’s fake!”

Mom: “Okay. If that’s how you feel about it, you won’t have a problem with them not coming.” *Hangs up*

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Auntie Needs To Chill Out

, , , , , , | Related | CREDIT: Scarlet-absol13 | August 28, 2021

In early December, my father came down with a mild case of viral pneumonia. He took medication and rested for a week or so and felt better, so we thought that was that. Fast forward to two days before Christmas. My father relapsed, badly, and was admitted to the hospital with bacterial pneumonia and a lung abscess. He spent five days in the hospital and was basically on strict rest orders for most of January. He was released on December 28th, and we got our first major snowstorm on January 4th. We must have gotten about a foot and a half of snow.

That evening, we got a call from my aunt, who lives with my grandmother. My father had the phone on speaker, so I heard the entire conversation.

Aunt: “Hi, [Father].”

Father: “Hi, [Aunt].”

Aunt: “Mom and I want to know when you’re going to come to shovel our driveway.”

Father: “[Aunt], you’re going to have to figure something out. I can’t come shovel your driveway.”

Aunt: “What do you mean, you can’t come shovel our driveway?!

Father: “[Aunt], I got out of the hospital for a lung abscess a week ago. I’m not allowed to do anything physically strenuous for the entire month.”

Aunt: “But our driveway isn’t very big. It only ever seems to take you half an hour or so.”

Father: “[Aunt], I get winded just walking up my staircase. I’m not allowed to even go to work for another two weeks. I can’t shovel your driveway.”

Aunt: “Even with that snowblower I bought a few years ago?”

Father: “That snowblower you bought barely works and makes shoveling harder. So, no, not even with the snowblower.”

Aunt: “But I have somewhere to be tomorrow. Couldn’t you just shovel out where my car is?”

Father: “No. Get one of your friends to do it, because I medically can’t.”

Aunt: “You know that the friend who used to do that stuff for me recently had half his leg amputated and can’t do stuff like that anymore.”

Father: “You understand that your friend can’t because he has a medical condition, so why can’t you understand that I also can’t do it because I also have a medical condition at the moment? Where’s Mom? Let me talk to her.”

Grandmother: “Hello, [Father], how are you feeling?”

Father: “I’m doing okay. Could you please tell my sister that I can’t shovel your driveway because I’m on rest orders?”

Grandmother: *To my aunt* “WHAT THE F*** IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I THOUGHT I F****** TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL YOUR BROTHER, YOU DIPS***! HE JUST GOT OUT OF THE HOSPITAL! IF YOU WANT THE DRIVEWAY SHOVELED SO BADLY, DO IT YOURSELF!” *Pauses* “NO, NO! NO, I’M NOT ASKING YOUR BROTHER IF HIS SON CAN COME DO IT! NO, I DON’T CARE! DO IT YOURSELF!” *To my father* “I’m sorry, [Father]. Have a good night and feel better. I’ll deal with your idiot sister.”

Father: “Thanks, Mom. Good night.”

My father made a full recovery with no adverse effects from the illness. I was reminded of this story because just this week my aunt called my father in the middle of a snowstorm asking him to run to the market for her because she needed cigarettes. You’ll be happy to know my father refused.


This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of August 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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