Never Stop Learning… And Moaning

, , , | Related | November 13, 2019

(When we are still at school, my dad is a member of the Belgian equivalent of the PTA in all of our schools. He also joins the national organization and works together with some of them in the neighbouring countries. Even now, he is part of some teacher/parent associations as an independent and neutral member. This is just to say he knows schools. He also believes in life-long learning, so at the age of 74, he enrolls in a sewing class.)

Me: “Hi, Dad. Just checking, how was school?”

Dad: *flies into a rant about teacher*

Me: “Dad, you know about schools. You know how teachers are. In class, you do as the teacher tells you; at home, you can do as you like.”

Dad: “But it is ridiculous.”

Me: “Yes, Dad, I know, but she is the teacher and you need to do as she tells you.”

Dad: “Even when…”

Me: *interrupting and very patiently* “Yes, Dad, even when you don’t see it her way.” *pause* “Wait. Didn’t we have this conversation the other way round when I was fifteen or so?”

Dad: *sighs* “I guess that is the toll of parenting: getting your own advice served back to you.”

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Off Screen And Off Your Mind

, , , , | Right | November 11, 2019

(A customer comes in with her son asking for an anti-virus package. These days, we don’t sell disks anymore, only cards with a license key. You enter that key on the website of the anti-virus software, and you get a subscription for a year.)

Customer: “Hi. I would like to buy a virus software. But can you give the card to me first?”

Colleague: “Uh, sure. But what for, exactly?”

Customer: “I just want to make sure this is a key for 2018, and not the same one that I bought last year.”

Colleague: “Sorry, ma’am, but I can’t do that. I can assure you, however, that every key is unique. And year of production doesn’t matter, they are valid for multiple years.”

Customer: *slightly agitated* “But I want to make sure!”

Colleague: “I understand, but I simply can’t show you the card. That key is basically what you’re buying, but again, it’s unique. Promised.”

Customer: *reluctantly* “Fine, I’ll buy it.”

Colleague: “Excellent! Can I have your name?”

(We need a name to register every purchase.)

Customer: *gives name*

(We usually just enter the first few letters, as our system automatically searches for partial matches as well.)

Colleague: “Right, that was [Customer] on [Address], correct?”

Customer: “Yes, that… Who’s that?” *pointing to the screen*

Colleague: “Hmm? Oh, that’s someone else. I just looked up the first three letters of your name, letters that this person shares with you.”

(At this point, I have to move to the stock to grab a few things, so I miss the rest of the conversation. But I do hear that the customer seems angry. She leaves, and I think that is the end of it. I’m wrong. A coworker gives me the phone, saying it’s likely the customer from before.)

Me: “Hello, [My Name] from [Store]. How can I help you?”

Customer: “There was another name on my screen; I want it gone.”

Me: “Excuse me? What exactl—”

Customer: *agitated* “When I bought the virus from you—” *her exact words* “—there was another name on the screen!”

Me: “Oh, yeah, I remember you. Yeah, the person happened to share your first name, and the first three letters of your last name. What about it?”

Customer: “I want her address!”

Me: “Eh, sorry. I can’t give customer information to someone else.”

Customer: “I SAID I WANT HER ADDRESS!”

Me: *firmly, but slightly ticked off* “And I said I legally can’t give you any information. It’s just a random person that sha—”

Customer: “I DON’T WANT HER NAME ON MY SCREEN!”

(Funny, I thought the screens we have belonged to the store, not to the customers?)

Me: *snarky, because I am losing my patience* “Well, one of you two should change their name, then. There’s nothing I can do otherwise.”

Customer: “THEN DELETE HER!”

Me: “Same problem; can’t do that without permission.”

Customer: *now fully enraged* “I WILL CALL THE GDPR ON YOU! I WANT TO RETRACT MY CONSENT!”

Me: “All right, but you’ll have to contact my boss, I ca—”

Customer: “NOW, D*** IT!”

Me: “Okay, look. I’ve been patient with you, but that’s over with. Unless there is something I can help you with, I’m hanging up.”

Customer: “I WILL NEVER SHOP HERE AGAIN!”

Me: “Good.” *hangs up*

(For those unaware, GDPR is the name of the new privacy laws regarding customer information — General Data Protection Regulation — not the name of an organisation or anything. Good luck calling a law, crazy woman.)

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This Is An Ex-Lawn!

, , , | Right | November 11, 2019

(We sell a lot of gardening products, among a wide variety of other things. Europe is currently experiencing a record-breaking heatwave and drought. The heat is sweltering, it has not rained in two months, and the media is blanketing the population with fire hazard warnings. Around noon, the phone rings.)

Me: “How can I help you today?”

Caller: “Yeah, I was trying to get rid of the weeds in my lawn today. But when I used my weed burner…”

(Internally, I’m already cringing, because I know where this is going.)

Caller: “…my lawn caught fire for some reason.”

(Okay, so, I know this guy’s an utter idiot, but I can help him.)

Me: “That’s… too bad, sir, but no problem. We have plenty of supplies here to help you seed or plant a new lawn after the drought ends. I just need to know how big of an area you—”

Caller: *cutting me off impatiently* “No, no, I just want to buy something to make the grass green again. It’s become black, you see.”

Me: “Uhm, I don’t think that’s possible, sir. It won’t become green again; your lawn is dead.”

Caller: *confused* “What do you mean? Dead? It only burned for a little while. The fire department put it out, like, within fifteen minutes.”

(I’m literally rubbing my temples at this guy’s lack of intelligence by now.)

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but yes, I’m afraid that your grass is very dead. The only thing you can do at this point is either reseed or replant but, while I can sell you everything you need for that, I still recommend you wait until after the drought. Current water restrictions prohibit watering lawns at the moment. Without that, nothing will grow, anyway, and sod will just turn brown and die in days, anyway.”

(Silence.)

Caller: “Grass can die? I never heard of that. Is that why it caught fire so quickly? Are you sure you don’t have anything that’ll make it alive and green again?”

(Some people shouldn’t be allowed near open flames.)

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He’s So (Hung)Over School

, , , , | Learning | November 2, 2019

My brother was one of those students that partied heavily and “studied” on the side. He did eventually earn his degree, but had to finish in night school because my parents were fed up with paying for his tuition while he had redo every grade due to the partying. These are just two anecdotes from his time as a student:

One day, he was skipping class because of a serious hangover. He was awoken by a call from his classmates, stuck on a project. 

He initially refused to go and help them out due to his hangover but they insisted. My dad, on an off-chance not working that day, had to drive him to college as there was still too little blood in his alcohol to drive around safely. He arrived, supporting himself by leaning heavily on the bench, and he just looked and pointed out the short circuit they created.

Another time, a bit soberer but lacking sleep, he fell asleep in class. The TA noticed and asked him to answer and solve the formula on the blackboard. My brother lifted his head and opened his eyes just far enough to reply that he couldn’t because it contained an error. The TA then flew into a rant to the rest of the class that nobody had seen the error and that it was so noticeable that even someone asleep could see it. He did leave my brother alone for the rest of the class, though.

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Dojo No No

, , , , | Friendly | October 25, 2019

This happened a few years ago when I was a newbie to Aikido. For those unfamiliar with this martial art and important for the story: there is zero competition. No tournaments nor friendly matches.

One session, I was paired with a more experienced guy and although he was more experienced, he was a difficult student. Not sure what his beef was — I’m female and maybe he wanted to impress me — but when it was my turn to practice the move shown, I was suddenly on my back. “You’re doing it wrong.” Rinse and repeat a few times and I was becoming seriously fed up and frustrated with his attitude. Suddenly, I noticed an opening. The next time, I didn’t concentrate too much on my move but was checking if I was right. He was indeed opening up for a counter-attack that I, with my limited knowledge, could exploit and I took back control. He was thrown halfway the tatami — exercise mat. When he returned to his position, he boasted that he knew I was going to do that, but suddenly, he was much more cooperative and allowed me to practice without further fuss. 

Writing this down, I don’t know why the sensei didn’t intervene, but at least the guy didn’t cause any more trouble.

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