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Too Much Change, Not Enough Patience

, , , , | Working | October 13, 2021

I’ve always suffered from severe anxiety. I have recently moved from a small town to a big city. My friend has come to visit and, as she is from the same small country town, she has never been on a public bus before, so I am trying to impress her with my city slicker knowledge. We get dressed up in our black clothes and spiky accessories and head to the mall.

As soon as we get on the bus, it starts to go awry. The reduced-price ticket I ask for is not available at this time of day and I immediately get flustered, as the bus driver does not suggest what ticket I should be asking for. I ask for a student ticket and hand over $5.

I wait for my change, but as the bus driver turns to my friend, I assume the ticket price is higher than I remembered, so I go and find a seat while my friend pays for her ticket.

When my friend joins me she hands me a bunch of loose change — change from both my ticket and hers.

It is important to note at this point that I have no idea how much my ticket was, no idea how much her ticket was, and no idea how much change the bus driver gave us; I dumped it straight into my purse.

A few stops later, a group of older teens gets on the bus. The driver drives on. Soon the driver stops at a bus stop with no passengers, gets up, and announces to the bus:

Driver: “I accidentally gave too much change to the kids who just got on before.”

Everyone looks a little bit blank, and the driver drives on. He makes increasingly snappy comments every now and then about teenagers trying to steal.

Friend: “Could it have been us he was talking about?”

Me: “It must be the kids who got on after us. That’s what he implied, and he would have said something earlier if it had been us.”

Eventually, a representative of the group of teens goes up to the driver and apologises, saying he didn’t think they’d been given too much change but offering to give it back anyway.

The bus driver snaps loudly and informs him that it was the kids who got on before them — meaning my friend and me.

I am horrified when I hear this, and I immediately take my coin purse up to the driver and ask him how much I owe him. He is terse and unhelpful.

Driver: “You know how much change you should have gotten! You’re just trying to get away with dishonesty.”

I am on the very brink of a panic attack and am trying valiantly to explain that I don’t know how much change he gave us. Eventually, he tells me how much I need to give him, and I hand it over.

The rest of the ride is punctuated with glares from him, my friend is embarrassed, and I am trying not to hyperventilate. When we get to the mall, he is still icy cold, and my friend and I jump off the bus through the door furthest from him.

An older lady also quickly jumps off the bus and catches up to us.

Lady: “I saw the whole thing. That driver’s behaviour was inappropriate. I saw him give your friend all of the change instead of giving it to you separately. His wording was confusing, and I could see you weren’t trying to do the wrong thing.”

It was such a terrible experience for me, but I am so grateful that that lady decided to talk to us. It really helped me avoid a full-blown panic attack and showed me that not all adults will assume the worst (even if you’re wearing spikes and all black).

Press Two For Resurrections

, , , | Right | October 12, 2021

I’m living with some friends in a shared house situation. We have a landline that the married couple living here had installed for cheaper call rates. We are experiencing a rather sudden and heavy influx of telemarketers and scam calls, so we are taking it in turns to answer the phone and mess with them to tie up their time. 

There is one caller who is especially persistent, and with the husband at work for the fortnight — long-distance family macadamia farm — and the caller requesting to speak with him; his wife, our remaining housemate, and I are the only ones answering the landline and holding down the fort.

Most of the scammers request the husband when they call, and as none of us recognise the company calling, we are messing with them, upping the ante each time, making more and more wild tales of where the husband is and why he can’t come to the phone.

Eventually, the novelty wears off and we start getting irritated with the near-daily calls. So, the wife and I decide on one last big hurrah in an effort to get them to stop. She answers the phone with fake sniffles, and when the caller predictably asks for her husband, she breaks into some of the best fake sobbing I’ve ever seen.

Her voice is breaking, she has the quivering lip going, and she even lets a couple of real tears out to REALLY get into the role. Truly, it’s a shame the caller can’t see her at that moment because she… is… selling it!

Wife: “This is a terrible time to call. I’m sorry, but… I just can’t continue to speak with you. I’m passing the phone to someone else.”

As the phone is passed to me, she bursts into fake heavy sobbing and even wails in sorrow as she takes off down the hall, opening and closing a door loudly to really sell the lie I am about to spin.

I take over the call and when the caller asks what was going on I explain that, on the way back from work, her husband had a car accident. He didn’t make it, and the caller has unfortunately called in the middle of his wake ceremony. The caller is aghast and apologises profusely for calling and quickly hangs up.

The wife and I high-five and laugh like a pair of hyenas, bursting into fresh gales of laughter, when our other housemate walks in and asks what we are doing. We explain, and he starts laughing, too. The calls stop and blessed silence descends for a couple of days.

When the husband returns from the farm, we are bouncing with excitement to tell him our escapade of brilliance and are rather dejected when he doesn’t burst into laughter like we are expecting and hoping for. 

Husband: “It wasn’t someone from [Company] calling, was it, by any chance?”

Wife: “It was, actually! Wait…”

She looks at me.

Me: “We didn’t…”

We look back to her husband.

Wife: “How do you know the name of the company when we forgot to… even mention…”

Me: “Oh, s***.”

It turned out to be a call [Husband] was actually expecting, and he had been wondering why they hadn’t given him a call on his mobile all fortnight. The company only had the landline listed and had forgotten to note down his mobile number, apparently.

Oooooh, boy, was THAT an interesting call-back! The girl who answered his call was beside herself, crying down the phone line, saying over and over how glad she was to hear he wasn’t dead, and then crying more. We were banned from answering the landline for a month following that one.

Lemmings: Customer Edition

, , , , , , , | Right | October 11, 2021

I have just finished shopping and am making my way to the cashier. There are two cashier counters open, but for some reason, everyone is only queuing up for one of them. The other cashier is simply standing there looking at the queue and there is no “closed” sign or anything on her counter.

I move to the open counter and hand my purchases to the cashier, and she starts to ring them up without a word. Seeing this, several customers from the long line immediately switch over to my line.

The woman behind me rudely informs me that I was supposed to queue up. I point out that nobody was queuing here in the first place, and she chooses not to reply. 

I guess this is what happens when you simply follow the crowd without thinking.

Don’t Give Him A Seat At Your Table

, , , | Right | October 5, 2021

It’s a rainy day, so the mother’s group I meet with weekly has decided to visit a relaxed beachside cafe. We choose one that has plenty of space and is child-appropriate. When we arrive, there is only one other table of two seated so there are dozens of empty tables and chairs to choose from. We choose a more casual setting of two couches near the fireplace and get the kids seated with colouring-in books.

Everyone has a place to sit except me, so I grab a chair from a nearby table and sit it next to the end of the couch where my daughter is sitting. We’ve spoken with a waitress who has taken our drinks order, and all appears to be well.

Suddenly, a man — who I previously had not noticed, I’m not even sure where he came from — approaches me and proceeds to very angrily tell me off about moving the chair I’m sitting on. I first wonder if he works there but quickly realise from his wording that he doesn’t — referring to the restaurant staff as “they” instead of “we,” for example.

Man: “You moved that chair away from its table! The chairs are for paying customers!

I’m trying to be polite even though he’s in my face, but I finally lose my patience.

Me: *Firmly* “I am a paying customer, so I also deserve to sit somewhere.”

All the while, I’m incredulously looking around me at the twenty or so empty tables. He eventually leaves and a waitress approaches to see what is happening.

Me: “Is it okay that I moved this chair?”

Waitress #1: *Looking rather confused* “Of course.”

I am still buzzing from the adrenaline that came from the confrontation for most of the meal.

When we finish and pay at the register, a different waitress asks us what happened, and I explain.

Waitress #2: “That man is a regular. He always acts like he owns the place and bullies other patrons.”

I hope they managed to get control of the situation, because it really soured what was usually the highlight of my week as a struggling mum.

Being Married To Mr. Cheapskate

, , , , , , , | Right | September 28, 2021

I’m working in a department store. We are closing tonight at 9:30 pm. Just before 9:00 pm, the manager of another store calls to have me hold a dress in a size they don’t have in stock. I put it aside for the customer to come and pick up before closing. The store the manager called from is only ten minutes from my store. She also warned me that these particular customers may be difficult.

The customer walks in with her husband and asks for the dress on hold and I give it to her. 

Customer’s Husband: “The manager at the other store said you were going to give us a discount on this dress. She said a further 20% off at least.”

Me: “Well, this dress has already been marked down a further 20% from the sale price, so the marked price is what it is currently retailing for.”

Customer’s Husband: “No, no! The other manager said we would get another discount on top to make up for the fact that we had to travel so far to come and pick it up.”

The store they came from is only ten minutes away and the dress costs $80 down from $300.

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but that does not sound like something she would have said. It also goes against company policy, as prices are set by head office and I have no power to alter them unless in the case of severe damage to the item. Nonetheless, I’ll call her now to confirm.”

Sure enough, the customer’s husband wasn’t told anything about a further discount. He proceeds to argue with me and the manager of the other store over the phone. At this point, it is about five minutes to closing.

Me: “Sir, it is now five minutes to closing. As we have both spent the last twenty minutes explaining, we cannot alter the price of this dress. Our registers will close in five minutes, so if you would like to take this dress, it needs to be now. Otherwise, you will have to come back tomorrow.”

Customer: *To her husband* “Please stop; you are embarrassing me. I’ll buy the dress and you let this poor girl go home. The place is closing.”

Customer’s Husband: “The only way I will take this dress is if you reimburse me for the cost of my petrol to get here. I will also accept store credit or a gift for the inconvenience.”

Me: “No. I live in this area, and I know the store you came from is only ten minutes away. Either way, I cannot simply give away products for free or issue a store credit if you aren’t returning anything.”

Customer’s Husband: “Well, that doesn’t matter! I live half an hour away! At least pay me for half of the petrol needed to get here!”

Me: “You chose to come to this store to pick this dress up. I did not ask you to come here. If you don’t want to purchase today, we also sell online, but I must ask you to make a decision within the next minute.”

Security is near my section while the customer’s husband rants and raves on about gifts he believes he should get for making the “trip” to our store and has the audacity to say that I should be lucky he would consider spending good money here.

Customer: “I am so sorry for wasting your time. I will pay for the dress myself.”

She shoots her husband the ugliest look I’ve ever seen.

Me: “Thank you, madam. Follow me to the registers and I’ll put this through quickly before I am locked out of the system.”

I put the sale through. All the while, her husband kept asking me to reimburse him for his petrol out of my own pocket as an act of goodwill, which he claimed would make him a regular customer of our store. I couldn’t say “no” quick enough. The wife left embarrassed and sorry, and the husband left sulking and cranky.