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Be Careful Where You Insert That Battery

, , , | Right | July 31, 2019

Customer: “I need a medical thermometer.”

Me: “A digital one that’s battery-operated or a glass one without a battery?”

Customer: “I don’t know.”

(Since a digital one gives results faster, I grab one and hand it to the customer.)

Customer: “Oh, no, I’ve got one of these at home, but it has no battery, and it’s not working!”

Me: “These run all on battery. Maybe the battery in yours is empty.”

Customer: *thinking hard for a minute* “Maybe that’s why it’s not working anymore.”

Me: *internal facepalm*

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Time To Vacate The Classroom

, , , , | Learning | July 23, 2019

(I go to a private school. All of my classmates come from rather affluent families except one girl, whose parents came to Austria during the Yugoslav wars. Her mother is a groundskeeper at the school and so they are exempt from the tuition fees. However, any extra school activities — museum visits, language travels, skiing trips, etc. — are not covered by these fees and have to be paid extra. Since the first year, there has been an understanding that our parents will split her share amongst them so she can come with us. All the teachers and the headmaster know this and it is never discussed publicly to avoid embarrassing her. We are now one year before graduation, and in this year, every class produces a school newspaper which is sold to alumni, at school functions, etc. Traditionally, either most or all of the money made is given to a charity the class decides to support. We have decided to use the money to pay for our classmate’s “Matura travel” — after graduating, the whole class goes on something similar to spring break, the last time everyone will be together before heading to university. As class president, I handle the finances of our newspaper. I have just dropped the money made at an alumni meeting at the headmaster’s office to be deposited in our account when I run into my German teacher who has supervised making the newspaper. She asks me if we have already chosen a charity and I tell her we will give it to our classmate so she can go on the trip. The following takes place during the next German lesson, which is not part of the newspaper activities.)

Teacher: “I spoke to [My Name] yesterday and he informed me that you will not support a charity this year and will keep the newspaper money for yourselves. I have to say that I am very disappointed with your decision. We here at [School] pride ourselves on giving back to the community.”

Me: “Ms. [Teacher], we chose how we would like to spend the money unanimously.”

Teacher: “[My Name], please let me finish. I’m sure you had good intentions, but maybe you have not considered all the options. I brought some flyers from charity organisations, especially this [Animal Charity] which I can vouch for personally. [Her Husband, also a teacher at the school] and I are on their board and it is a very worthy cause.”

(Our classmate is obviously embarrassed by now and staring at her desk.)

Me: “Madame, I’m sure all these causes are worthy but we made the decision for our class community.”

Teacher: “Well, you obviously don’t understand what community means. [Classmate], don’t you want to say something? You are the reason we have this discussion in the first place.” 

(We are all furious by now; as I said, our classmate’s financial status was never publicly acknowledged, including trips organized by this teacher.)

Classmate’s Best Friend: “Madame, there is no discussion. It is our money! Period.”

Teacher: *ignoring her* “[Classmate], I still would like to hear from you. Is your vacation really more important to you than helping those poor animals?”

Classmate: “I don’t know. I would love to go with you to Greece, but I understand if you want to donate the money.”

Teacher: “Thank you, [Classmate]. See? I think we are getting somewhere.”

Classmate’s Best Friend: “No, we are not. You come with us and that’s it.”

Teacher: “[Best Friend], silence! I will not have you interrupting when I speak.”

Me: “Ms. [Teacher], we can have another vote. Everyone who wants [Classmate] to come with us, please raise your hand.”

(Everyone except [Classmate] raises their hand.)

Teacher: “No! I will not accept this. There is too much pressure. We will have an anonymous vote. Everyone will find me during lunch break, tell me which charity to support, and I will give you the results of which charity we support tomorrow.”

(There is some loud disagreement.)

Teacher: “I can’t believe you. Those poor animals and you think only about yourselves. No community spirit.”

Me: “Madame, you are out of line. This is a class decision and you have no part in it. We have voted on it twice; please accept that.”

Teacher: “[My Name], we will see about that. I did not put all the work into the newspaper just so you guys can get drunk and parade around the beach in your bikinis.”

Male Classmate: “But I look so hot in a bikini.”

(The class loses it.)

Teacher: *screaming over the laughter* “[Male Classmate], to the headmaster’s office, and you can take [Best Friend] with you. This will teach you!”

(The class is immediately quiet and they both start getting up.)

Me: “I’ll come with.”

Teacher: “You certainly won’t.”

Me: “As class president and member of the pupil-parent-teacher-council, I absolutely can be present if disciplinary actions are taken against one of my classmates. It’s in the school bylaws. Why don’t you look them up sometime?”

(This is true but normally it is only enacted for really serious matters like expulsions.)

Teacher: “How dare you? All of you to the headmaster’s office!”

(The whole class gets up.)

Teacher: *screaming* “Only you three!”

(She rushes out of the room and we follow her. [Male Classmate] and I are looking rather bemused and the best friend looks like she is about to explode. All the way to the office the teacher is throwing angry looks at us but remains quiet. Once there, she rushes by the secretary directly into the headmaster’s room.) 

Headmaster: “Ms. [Teacher], what’s wrong?”

Teacher: “I can’t teach like this. These three have been interrupting my class, making fun of me, and insulting me. Also, they have coaxed the whole class into keeping the money from our newspaper. I want them to be officially reprimanded.”

Headmaster: “Mr. [My Name], I have to say I am rather disappointed. I thought highly of your class and your choice when you told me you would use the money so Ms. [Classmate] can come along.”

Classmate’s Best Friend: “That’s what we still want to spend the money on, but [Teacher] tried to force us to give it to some animal charity.”

Teacher: “I didn’t force you. I just felt you had not considered every option…”

Headmaster: “Wait. Ms. [Teacher], this doesn’t happen to be your animal charity, does it?”

Teacher: “Yes, it does. And I still think if they gave it a fair thought they would find it at least as worthy as going on vacation.”

Headmaster: “I see. [Teacher’s First Name], I know you feel very strongly about your charity but it is the pupils’ money. They earned it, they get to choose how to spend it, and you have to accept that. And for my part, I think they are setting a great example for the community spirit here at [School]. Now, is this resolved, and can I send you back to the classroom?”

Teacher: “Yes, I guess so.”

(We all returned to the class and the teacher had us read our textbooks silently. The following lessons were rather awkward, but luckily, this happened shortly before the summer holidays. I wonder what it will be like with this teacher next year. I also should mention that our classmate told us that the teacher apologized to her in private.)

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The Points Saga

, , , , | Working | May 23, 2019

(This story takes place over a time span of five years. It starts when my husband and I move to a new city and start going to another movie theater. After a few months, they offer us a new rewards card that can be topped up with money which we can use to pay for the tickets — which makes the tickets cheaper — or only use it to collect reward points. They tell us explicitly that we do not need to have money on that card and that we can just collect the points and get rewards, like free tickets, for them. So, we get one. We are only going to the movies on Mondays and Thursdays, on which days they have special deals from third parties — two tickets for one, etc. — but they assure us that we can still collect the points when we use those special deals. For about six months, everything is great. We go to the movie theater, use the deal, pay, and then give the cashier the card to get the points for the money we just spent. Then, one day:)

Cashier #1: “You know, if you use that special deal, you cannot collect any points. You can only collect points if you pay with the money you have on the card.”

Me: “What? That’s not what they told us when we got the card. Also, we have been doing this for six months and it was fine.”

Cashier #1: “I don’t know. You cannot do this; the system won’t allow it.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Cashier #1: “Yes.”

Me: “Fine, I guess.”

(We are annoyed, but let it slide since we think that maybe they have changed the system, but the next time:)

Cashier #2: “And I will slide your card and you will get your reward points.”

Me: “The girl last week said that we cannot get reward points anymore if we pay cash!”

Cashier #2: “What? No, this is fine. You don’t need to pay with the card if you want to get the points.”

Me: “Okay, great. Thank you!”

(We are happy, because we believe that the cashier the week before was simply inexperienced and we can keep collecting our points, but the next time:)

Cashier #3: “You cannot collect any reward points if you do not pay with the card. You know that, right?”

Me: “This is not what they told us when we got the card, and also not what they told us last week.”

Cashier #3: “Yeah, it’s new. You cannot collect any anymore.”

Me: “But we did collect them last week?!”

Cashier #3: “No, that can’t be true because the system won’t let you do it.”

Me: “Of course, it does. Could you please ask your colleague?”

Cashier #3: “No, I know it doesn’t work.”

(There is a long line of people waiting behind us.)

Me: “FINE. Just give me back the card, please.”

(This is getting really annoying. Sometimes we are able to collect the reward points, sometimes not. They always argue that “the system won’t let them do it,” although some of the cashiers are able to do it. Since we are going to the movies quite regularly — once or twice a week — we have lots of these encounters. Since I am not sure if I am in the right or not, I write to their headquarters. They assure me that, in fact, I am able to collect the points even if I do not pay with it, and even give me the number of the manager so that I can call him if they refuse to do it correctly. From that point on, I have the letter with me, which helps, but I still don’t get my points every time. However, I never actually call the manager. Then, one time:)

Cashier #4: “I just want to let you know that you cannot collect reward points if you pay cash.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Cashier #4: “Yes, the system won’t allow it.”

(I realise the cashier on the register to her left is actually the manager of the movie theater, who has already cashed us out in the past and has allowed us to get the points.)

Me: “Isn’t that your manager next to you? Could you please ask him?”

Cashier #4: *very annoyed* “FINE. But I’m telling you, this won’t work. Hey, [Manager], could you please help me for a second?”

Manager: “What’s up?”

Cashier #4: “They want to pay cash and still collect the reward points.”

Manager: “Okay, so?”

Cashier #4: “That’s not possible!”

Manager: “Of course, it is.”

Cashier #4: “What? How?”

Manager: “Let me show you.”

(We keep going to that cinema and have to have this discussion with many cashiers over the time, but either asking for the manager or actually having the manager come over mostly fixes our problem. Sometimes we still let it slide, for example when the queue is very long, but mostly we get our rewards points. Then, about two years ago, we started to put money on our card, because you are able to skip the queue on the buffet if you pay with the card there. And since we already have money on the card, we also want to pay for the movie tickets with the card.)

Me: “I have a reservation [reservation number] and this special deal here, and I would also like to pay with the card.”

Cashier #5: “You cannot pay with the card if you are using the special deal.”

Me: “Really? Why not?”

Cashier #5: “The system won’t allow it; you need to pay cash if you are using the special deal.”

Me: “Well, fine. But I still get the points, right?”

Cashier #5: “Of course.”

Me: “Fine.”

(It seems like a strange system, but fine. However, the next time:)

Cashier #6: “Okay, that’s two tickets for [Movie] and the special deal. Would you like me to take the money from you card or would you like to pay cash?”

Me: “I thought we could only pay cash if we used the special deal?”

Cashier #6: “No, paying with the card is also fine.”

Me: “You do have a real communication problem here, guys. They said something differently last time.”

Cashier #6: “I am really sorry about that, but it is fine if you would like to pay with the card.”

Me: “Yes, thank you.”

(But the next time — you guessed it — we aren’t able to pay with the card anymore. At this point they have actually got a new computer system, so we guess that they really aren’t able to do it anymore. Since it isn’t a difference in price, only in the form of payment, we don’t care and just accept that we have to pay for the special deal in cash. All goes well from there, except for this occasional scene:)

Cashier #7: “You cannot collect rewards points if you are not paying with card.”

Me: “Fine, then I would like to pay with card.”

Cashier #7: “Okay… but you cannot pay with card if you are using the special deal.”

Me: “So, you are telling me I am not getting any reward points if I use the special deal?”

Cashier #7: “Yes.”

Me: *sarcastically* “Well, that’s strange, because I have been doing that for the last three and a half years.”

Cashier #7: “Yeah, they changed the system.”

Me: “They changed the system three months ago. I am here twice a week and everyone except you can do it.”

Cashier #7: “The system won’t let me do it.”

Me: “Then call your manager and let him show you how it is done.”

(In most cases, the cashiers then either ask the manager or another cashier and — surprise, surprise — then they are able to do it. We have no problems with this system anymore for quite a while and everything seems fine. Until…)

Cashier #8: “Would you like to pay for the tickets and your special deal with the card or cash?”

Me: “I thought card payment was not possible? We haven’t been able to do this for years!”

Cashier #8: “No, sorry about that. It is possible, of course.”

Me: “Okay, then we would like to pay with the card, please.”

(But then the next week:)

Me: “Two tickets for [Movie], here is the special deal and we would like to pay with the money that is on that card.”

Cashier #9: “I am so sorry, but you cannot pay for the special deal with the money on your cart.”

Me: “But we did it last week.”

Cashier #9: “That’s not possible; the system cannot do it.”

Me: “You know what, just forget it. Here, I would like to pay cash.”

(At this point it is not annoying anymore; it’s only funny. I am pretty sure I am better trained for this computer system than most of the cashiers at that movie theater. We keep going back there, nevertheless, and I am curious how this is going to continue.)

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Spend €8 For A Priceless Moment

, , , , , | Friendly | May 15, 2019

(I have a friend who loves designer handbags. Still, she would never buy such frivolous nonsense for herself, as she expects to be given expensive things by men. She once joined my husband and me on a holiday, which she mostly spent window shopping at every bag shop she encountered, wasting a lot of precious sightseeing time educating us on all her material wishes. A year after the catastrophic trip, my husband and I are abroad again. One day, he brings back a cheap, used counterfeit handbag from a flea market, proud to be the first man to ever buy my friend a bag of her favourite brand. We decide to have some fun, so I message her.)

Me: “[Husband] has bought a handbag for another woman today! Should I be worried?”

Friend: “Which handbag?”

Me: “Who cares?! Tell me your opinion; do you think it’s troublesome that he buys stuff for someone else than me?”

Friend: “Depends on the handbag.”

Me: “It is brown and quite ugly, and it smells strange. So, tell me, what is that bag saying about the state of our marriage?”

Friend: “Send a photo; I cannot judge the situation without seeing it first.”

(We pose for a selfie: my husband grinning and slapping his forehead, me with an overly dramatic, panicked expression.)

Friend: “Not of you! I need to see the handbag!”

(I send a badly-lit photo of the handbag in its plastic bag.)

Friend: “Take it out! It could be a [Brand Bag]!”

(I write a price tag, formerly 1600 Euro, now only 799, and place it on the unobscured handbag.)

Me: “Happy? Can we discuss the actual matter now?”

Friend: “It’s a [Brand Bag]! It’s the [Model]! Steal it from him!”

Me: “Really?”

Friend: “It’s sooo beautiful! He should have consulted me, though; usually it’s just 550 Euro.”

Me: “He must have thought that the woman is worth more.”

Friend: “She is really lucky! You should take it from him; then he can’t give it to her!”

Me: “What if [Husband] just buys another one? It wouldn’t solve any of my problems! Besides, it’s ugly and I don’t need a bag.”

Friend: “How can you say that?! I have always wanted this exact bag! It deserves to be loved and worshipped!”

Me: “So, do you want to know anything about the woman? I’m still waiting for your advice!”

Friend: “Sure.”

Me: “She has a strange desire for expensive things and can sometimes be incredibly slow. Who does this sound like?”

Friend: “Forget the other woman. You have to steal the bag from him immediately! And then you give it to me!”

Me: “How am I supposed to do that?”

Friend: “You wait until he is asleep, and then hide the bag. I’m going to meet you at the airport and make it disappear. What is he doing right now?”

Me: “He has been shaking his head since we started texting, and just muttered something about live reality TV and an exceptionally stupid person. Any ideas what that could mean?”

Friend: “See, he doesn’t even care about how you feel right now! Another sign that the bag should be mine!”

(The next morning:)

Me: “So, have you figured out who the materialistic woman the handbag is for could be?”

Friend: “No, but you are going to steal it for me today!”

(A couple of days later, we are back home and I meet my friend.)

Me: *handing her the wrapped bag* “Here, I stole the ugly thing for you.”

Friend: “Wow, really? I didn’t think you would actually dare to do that! Wonderful! Did [Husband] notice?”

Me: “Sure.”

Friend: “What did he say?!”

Me: “After he bought it, ‘I have got the perfect gift for [Friend]!’, and this morning, ‘How can [Friend] be so ignorant?’.”

Friend: “It was for me?! I’m so happy– Hey, wait, no! This bag is fake!”

(I’m not sure if that or the whole prank bothered her more. To this day, she has been waiting for a millionaire to magically appear and reward her with a luxurious life. My husband still refers to the incident as the best 8 Euro ever spent on entertainment. I now know who to never consult when I have relationship problems.)

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An Incredible Story About Stories

, , , , , | Legal | May 11, 2019

A few years ago, I came home from a New Year’s party, walked past my car and suddenly stopped. I did not have a convertible, but the roof looked quite, well, missing. It turns out that a huge slab of ice detached from the roof of the house I was parked under and hit my car squarely on the roof so it was lying basically flush on the back seats, essentially totaling it since it was about 20 years old and barely able to pass inspection anymore. The total worth of the car was, maybe, if I was lucky, 100 bucks. More likely, the worth was negative because it costs to take it to the dump.

I took pictures, got the police to record everything, and handed my claim for the replacement of the car to the owner of the apartment building. To my surprise, he refused to pay. I handed the whole mess to my lawyer, he said we’d win this, and off he went.

Come September, my lawyer called. We’d won, and got me 800 bucks for my car — worth, again, maybe 10). But, in his words, “those insane idiots” could not have done it worse. In the lawsuit, of course, the question arose about how could that ice slab even happen? After all, if there had a person in my car, an ice slab caving in a car roof could easily have killed them.

Turns out, the apartment building didn’t have certain gadgets on the roof that are mandatory for buildings taller than four stories to prevent such things from happening. Why didn’t it have those gadgets?

Because, according to what the town — and hence building inspectors — knew, the apartment was only two stories tall.

So, not only was the company owning it in violation of the building code — by itself something that is very expensive if you get found out — our tax guys were very interested in them suddenly having way more apartments to let than he “officially” had.

In the words of my lawyer, “Seriously, if I pulled that stunt, I’d hand you ten grand for your 20-year-old wreck of a car and tell you to shut the eff up about it.”

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