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The Need For A Playground Is Not Grounded

, , , , , , , , | Right | November 29, 2023

In my time working as a waiter, both as a room server and as management, in a restaurant in the centre of Rome, there have been a lot of baffling complaints, sometimes about food, sometimes about the service, and sometimes about even the decorations’ arrangement. So, I kind of have seen them all, and I used to think I was prepared for pretty much everything.

Then, one day, during an off-season day, I see a family of four composed of two adults, one preschooler girl, and a boy who is clearly older than the girl. Beyond noticing them as they enter, I don’t pay much attention to them and let a waitress seat them, but then, after a little while, the same waitress seeks me out.

Waitress: “[My Name], the mom at table seventeen wants you to come over and talk to them. They’re foreigners, so be aware.”

And off I go. I see that the dad is saying something in his native language to the daughter fussing on the chair, and the mom is looking at me with a scowl on her face.

Me: *In English* “Good day. Have you asked for me?”

Mother: *Speaking slowly* “Yes! I asked your waitress if you had a playground here, but she said she did not understand.”

Me: *Blinking* “A playground? Inside here, you mean?”

Mother: “Yes, inside. You do have it, no?”

Me: “No, madam, we do not have a playground in this restaurant.”

Mother: *Gesticulating furiously to mimic the concept* “Again? I mean a place with small sliding things and climbing bars, not trees and sand.”

Me: “I got what you meant the first time; this restaurant doesn’t have either one.”

Mother: “Don’t be strict with words. I clearly mean a place where children can play away from the table.”

Me: *Resisting the urge to roll my eyes* “Madam, I know what you meant. In this restaurant, there is no playground, but you can have your children go around the table if they don’t disturb other patrons and the servers.”

The mother scoffs and says something in her language. I shrug and go back to my other duties until I get called again… for the same table.

Waiter: “[My Name], sir, come quick. Table seventeen is getting antsy.”

I am expecting a complaint about the prices. I am expecting a complaint about the lack of that d***ed playground.

I am not expecting to see the waitress from earlier having an incoherent shouting match with the mother, drawing the attention of nearby tables, while the girl is all red-faced and being restrained by the father, and the boy is looking at me pleadingly as I arrive. I rush to separate the two.

Me: “Wait, wait, wait! You all calm down this instant! What’s the problem here?”

Before anyone else can speak…

Boy: *In English* “Mom angry you have no play place. She ask me to pull sister skirt and do thing.

He mimes the gesture of pulling on a skirt and then pantomimes something unclear

Boy: “But I no wish to; is dirty and bad.”

The mother barks something at the boy while the waitress turns to me.

Waitress: “He’s trying to say he was refusing to change the sister’s diaper in the middle of the room. I intervened just as this lady tried to start changing the girl herself.”

Me: *In Italian* “Ah, so that’s how it is, huh? I’ll get to it.” *In English, to the family* “You pay up for what you consumed and get out.”

Mother: “No! You don’t give us access to a playground, I leave you a present. That’s my family’s way!”

At this point, the girl, well out of breath, is angrily seething on a chair, so the father is finally in condition to intervene and say something to his wife, which is enough to make her stop angrily gibbering. Instead, she leaves the bill on the table and then gets up to leave, taking the children with her. I leave to get the tab and present it to the man.

Father: *In English* “Sorry for my wife. We’re Czech, and she’s here just to take the usual pictures. She’s close-minded, and it was a fight to take her here instead of to McDonald’s.”

Me: “I could see that. But why the playground?”

Father: “A lot of Czech restaurants have one; she was convinced it worked like that everywhere. Again, I’m sorry for her behaviour.” 

And with that, he paid, tipped the customary 10%, and left in a hurry.

Imagine Having The Energy To Get Angry Over That

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: Other-Cantaloupe4765 | November 29, 2023

I work in a hotel. Like many businesses, we have the remnants from the global health crisis sticking around in the form of cautionary signs, ample hand sanitizer, and plastic barriers at the front desk. These things are just sheets of hard, clear plastic that sit on the counter — sneeze guards. The guard covers the whole front of the desk, which is obviously the part of it where we interact with guests. Occasionally, there’s the odd guest with a hearing impairment who needs to stand at the side where there’s no barrier to hear us, but other than that, nobody really minds it. People don’t even notice it most of the time — even going so far as to accidentally slam their hands into it when handing us their IDs because they didn’t register that it’s right there.

Could we take it down? Yeah, probably. But the truth is, we all like it. We don’t want to take it down. Not only does it keep people from sneezing or coughing all over us, but it also provides a nice buffer between the agent and any angry or aggressive guest. Sometimes you just want something between you and an a**hole.

This guy walks in and throws his ID on the desk to check in. I pull his name up on the computer, and he just starts getting pissy because of the sneeze guards.

Guest: *Hitting the plastic* “Why is this s*** still up? Huh? Why? Do you really want this here?”

I glance up at him for a second.

Me: “Yes, actually, I do enjoy not having to worry about guests sneezing on me.”

Guest: *Scoffing* “Ridiculous. This is f****** ridiculous. You really think this works? Idiots. You think it will stop microscopic germs from getting in? Do you walk around in public carrying a big sheet of plastic in front of you because you’re afraid of germs? Huh? Do you?!”

Me: “Of course I don’t. Because there’s a very similar product that accomplishes the same thing while being much less bulky. It’s called a mask, and I do wear one in public, yes.”

This dude has already been red in the face, just completely pissed off, shouting at me, but I can nearly see smoke coming out of his ears at this point.

Guest: “Idiots. F****** ridiculous.”

And he muttered something else under his breath that I couldn’t quite make out before stalking away and going to his room.

Sir, we have ice machines on the first and third floors should you need something to ease the pain of all that butthurt. No need to get offended over a piece of plastic that has no bearing on your life whatsoever.

Scratch That Adoption Process!

, , , , , , | Right | November 29, 2023

In college, I tend to go to a cat cafe when I’m anxious or to celebrate after a stressful period. The cat cafe partners with a shelter, so the cats in the cafe tend to rotate as they get adopted or new cats come in.

There is one new cat who is named Martha. Martha is older (five years old), missing her right ear entirely, and skittish. I am permitted to greet her, but afterward, she leaves when I try to pet her, so I let her be.

I sit down on a couch and get monopolized by a cuddly kitten. Immediately, I notice that a boy keeps “chasing” cats around the room (following them even when they get up and walk away from him), putting cat toys on their heads while they’re sleeping, and ignoring when the cats’ ears pull back — basically, ignoring the polite cat-speak for “I’m good, thanks.”

His mom doesn’t do anything and is talking to her daughter about which one they should think of adopting.

At this point, the boy starts following Martha around and actually corners her on an armchair where she has no escape.

I speak up at this point.

Me: “She’s a little skittish.”

The boy waves me off and pets Martha.

Me: “No, I mean she’s very skittish. I don’t think she really likes that.”

I am politely indicating that he should stop. I get a very polite response.

Boy: “Butt out!”

Okay, then I will.

Martha shrank back and was very obviously not happy; her one remaining ear was folded back at this point. The boy was basically standing over her, and no matter how much she meowed at him, increasingly louder, he didn’t stop petting her, even trying to play with her feet, which she withdrew hastily.

Finally, Martha had enough, managed to squeeze past him, and bolted into one of the empty cat boxes.

This would be the clue to stop, but the boy actively put his hand into the cat box to try to keep petting her.

He unsurprisingly yelped and jumped back; Martha had scratched him.

For the rest of the time I was there, the boy whined about how he was “just petting the cat”.

I enjoyed the rest of the hour allotted to me petting the cats (even Martha sat on the couch near me at one point) before leaving the cafe. I kind of doubt the kid learned anything from that, but one can dream.

Bad Advice, Bad Choices, And BOOM

, , , , , , , , , , , | Legal | November 28, 2023

In the late 1980s, the XO [Executive Officer] on my dad’s ship at the time told the sailors going out on the town that Spanish cops carried automatic weapons — but don’t worry; they use rubber bullets.

After some drinking, one of the sailors decided it would be fun to go down the street smashing the mirrors off of cars. A pair of cops caught him in the act and yelled for him to stop. He didn’t stop but instead ran.

It turned out the XO was wrong about one thing: they were not using rubber bullets. The captain, on being informed that one of his sailors was recovering from gunshot wounds before being processed into jail, decided it was best to leave the sailor to deal with all legal consequences there and that someone else back in Virginia could handle the rest.

This is the same XO who got relieved of duty, on the very same cruise, because he also kept getting arrested in foreign ports.

A Good Manager Stops You From Being Blue

, , , , , , , | Right | November 28, 2023

I am taking a call from a caller who is so angry and loud that they’re throwing curses and obscenities at me like it’s nothing. Every swear word you could think of — and some new ones I’m sure they invented — is thrown at me at a volume so loud that I am holding my headset away from my ears.

My manager is walking past and sees me struggling. He overhears some of the language — very loud caller! — and immediately takes over my headset.

Manager: “Hello, sir! I’m the manager here, and I am sorry to tell you that because your language is so blue, you’ve blue-screened the computer of the agent who was handling your call. Please call back when your vocabulary has improved, along with your mood. Good day!”

He hung up, nodded at me, and then carried on his merry way. Loved that manager!