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Never Pick A Fight With An Old Korean Woman

, , , , , , , , , , | Friendly | January 21, 2023

About ten years ago, I worked part-time as an assistant to an old woman in her eighties. The circumstances of how this came to be can be summed up as happenstance and being in the right place at the right time. The details are a bit lost on me nowadays, but I do remember her splitting into a big smile when she realized I was tall enough to reach the top shelf of a grocery aisle.

She was practically a South Korean grandmother stereotype; she was absolutely tiny — she barely reached my chest and I’m 6’0″ — she was very sweet and kind, and English was her third language. I worked full-time nights, so when I was done with my night shift, I went to her house at around 7:00 am, stayed with her for four to five hours per weekday to keep her company, assist her in getting around, drive her to the grocery store sometimes, and help her cook, as the rest of her family had school and work of their own to do. Then, I went home, usually between 11:00 and 12:00 when her daughter came back, to sleep until I needed to wake up again and get ready for work.

Safe to say, I — a big, 260-pound Caucasian man with a red beard — was a fixture of her house for a good few years. I met a lot of her family and even got invited to a couple of their reunions, though everyone seemed to be under the impression that her youngest daughter and I were dating, despite our protests.

I have plenty of stories, but one stands out in particular: the day about a year into working with her that this less-than-five-foot-tall grandmother protected me from potentially getting my butt kicked.

We were in a grocery store, and [Grandma] was holding onto my arm as we walked, with me pushing the cart and her holding the list of essentials she needed for one dinner or another. We’d just started going down the soup aisle when, as I bent over to grab a can, something bumped into my hip. There was a loud crash behind me, and I looked back to see another man, who had evidently dropped a big can of tomato soup when he bumped into me. The can had broken open and splashed his khaki pants up to his knees, as well as his formerly-shiny black dress shoes.

I’m not sure what his financial situation actually was, but his clothes certainly looked fancier than mine.

At that moment, I could see his face growing as red as the tomatoes, and I had a feeling that he wasn’t about to be gracious about it. So, I went full damage control, taking full responsibility and putting my body between the angry man and [Grandma] in case he started throwing stuff.

Me: “Oh, man, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to—”


Me: *Trying to deescalate* “Look, I’ll pay for the damages and your groceries—”

He cut me off, continuing to scream and making a big scene in the middle of a grocery store, while a woman who I could only assume was his wife kept trying to get his attention. His wife certainly looked pained and embarrassed, but also resigned. The man pulled himself away from her, moving toward me threateningly. As I said, I’m a big guy, but I was not looking for a fight, and my main priority would, of course, be to protect [Grandma]. This angry man was a little bit shorter than me but also fairly beefy, and I had no doubt he’d be able to throw his weight around if he made to attack me.

In my efforts to lead him away from [Grandma] so it was less likely for her to get hurt, she’d apparently moved like a ninja, as the next thing I — or the angry man — knew, a tiny hand came up from below and grabbed the man’s ear. As only a very perturbed grandmother of any race or creed can do, she wrenched him down by the ear so hard that I was worried she’d rip it off, and she started yelling point-blank into it.


At that point, she descended into what I could only assume were Korean insults and curses before she let him go, and the angry man stumbled away from the, frankly, quite scary Korean grandmother. I stepped back, as well, to put distance between myself and the formerly angry, now thoroughly dressed-down man, who mumbled something about not worrying about the pants or shoes and shuffled off in shame, his wife following with an apologetic look.

I looked back at [Grandma], who had immediately gone back to sweet old lady, holding up her grocery list, a smile on her face as though nothing happened.

Grandma: “We need soup.”

I did, of course, pay for the damaged soup can, and our shopping trip went on without any further incident, though I did jokingly call her “my bodyguard” when I relayed the story to [Daughter] when we got back home. [Grandma] made pretend martial arts moves when I said that, laughing heartily, obviously quite proud of herself.

I eventually moved on from assisting [Grandma], though I still kept in touch with [Daughter] and her other family members. A few years ago, [Grandma] passed away peacefully in her sleep, and I related this and other stories at her funeral, earning happy, tear-filled chuckles.

Later that day, [Daughter] took me aside.

She explained to me that the day she stood up for me in the grocery store had been the day that I, evidently, had basically become adopted, because [Grandma] had a history of being a bodyguard to her family; between nosy neighbors and angry fellow customers, she met them with just as much aggression and then immediately calmed down when the situation was rectified. 

I’m man enough to admit I cried even more after learning that.

Never Pick A Fight With An Old Scottish Woman

The Stagehands Can But Make A Fire (Extinguisher) Of Him…

, , , , , , , | Working | January 20, 2023

In the late 1990s, I worked as a production assistant for a company that did an outdoor Shakespeare show every summer. The year I worked there, the show was “Julius Caesar”.

At one point during the show, while Caesar was giving a speech, several actors onstage held lit lanterns on long poles — none of those fake battery-operated lights but real live fire in the lanterns. Best practices dictated that we have a stagehand standing just offstage with a fire extinguisher the entire time those lanterns were lit.

One night, while this scene was occurring and Caesar was giving his speech, one of the lanterns broke and hit the stage, still lit. The stagehand immediately stepped onstage and shot the lantern with a blast from his fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

There was a moment of stunned silence from everyone: the stagehand, the actors, and the audience. And then Caesar, gravely and sincerely, turned to the stagehand and exclaimed:

Caesar: “Thank you, citizen!”

And he promptly turned back to the audience and returned to his speech without missing another beat. 

It was one of the most masterful recoveries from an onstage problem I’ve ever seen.

Sometimes You Just Have To Get Those Pets Out!

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 20, 2023

My grandson dated a girl with a service dog for a while. One problem she faced — and others with service dogs face — is people that insist on petting “the pretty dog.” Children understand when told that he’s on duty and can’t be petted, but many adults can’t seem to grasp the concept.

We were out shopping one day and two teenage girls saw the dog. The first girl made a squeeing sound and remarked about how pretty the dog was. Her next statement surprised us all. She looked at her friend.

Girl: “I can’t pet him, so I’ll just pet you, instead.”

She then reached over, petted her friend on the arm, and smiled, and they both walked away.

The Couponator 39: The Yarn Of Time

, , , , , , , , , | Right | January 19, 2023

I was in line during my lunch break at the craft store. This chain is known for the tons and tons of coupons they send out basically daily. This particular location is also perpetually understaffed. When I joined the line, I was about four people back, and three or four more joined after me as the lone cashier argued with a customer at the front over a coupon. I gathered from context that she has already argued over MULTIPLE coupons on this transaction, meaning she’d been there for quite a while.

Customer: “But I don’t understand why it’s not taking anything else off!”

Cashier: “This coupon states right here that ‘Sale, clearance, and [Brand] items are excluded.’ The only items you haven’t used a coupon on yet are all sale, clearance, and [Brand] items. I’m really sorry, but you can’t use this coupon. Do you want to take any of these items off?”

Customer:No! Stop trying to rob me, and just do whatever you need to do to apply this coupon for me!”

I felt like I saw the cashier’s soul leave his body as he geared up for round fifty-seven of this argument. Before he said anything, the elderly lady who had been waiting patiently to be served next shuffled up to the counter and set something down.

Customer #2: “Ma’am, while I was waiting for you to finish yelling at this poor young man, I looked up the item you want to buy here on my phone. It’s $9.00, and [Brand], so as this young man explained, you can’t use the 15% off coupon on it. But I’ve done the math, so here’s $1.35 to cover your hardship. Can you please pay so I can buy my [expletive] yarn and run along?”

There was a split second where I could see the Coupon Lady consider going full psycho, but instead, she handed over her credit card and finally paid for her order. The whole line did not applaud, but I definitely wanted to hug [Customer #2]. And the cashier gave her his employee discount for her basket of yarn.

The Couponator 38: The Sandwich Of Frustration
The Couponator 37: The Year Of Reckoning
The Couponator 36: The Counter-Coupon Cashier
The Couponator 35: Dog Food Day Afternoon
The Couponator 34: Blast From The Past

Can’t Think Of A Cooler Way To Spend Your Money 

, , , , , , | Related | January 19, 2023

At the end of my first year of college, my mother and grandfather pitch in to help me move home. When my grandfather asks if he needs to bring anything, like boxes, I request that he bring a small cooler.

However, when he gets there on move-out day, he finds that my minifridge is completely empty and has been propped open to defrost since the previous evening in preparation for moving.

Grandpa: “I’m sorry, I’m confused. Do you still need the cooler?”

Me: “Yeah, just not for the fridge stuff. I’ll fill up the cooler just before we leave.”

Grandpa: *Pauses* “All right, then.”

After we’d loaded most of my stuff, I grabbed the cooler and headed to the little campus food store across the way. A few minutes later, I emerged with the cooler, which was now filled with… eleven pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

My university has a sort of debit card system for food items, and I hadn’t spent too much over the course of the year, so I had about $76 of nonrefundable money that was about to expire. The ice cream pints were one of the most expensive things in the store, so it was a great way to get rid of that extra money.

My family was very happy to have a freezer drawer full of high-quality ice cream, and my grandfather still talks about the cooler with eleven pints of ice cream.