Applying Tax After The Price: America Vs The World

, , , , , , | | Working | June 17, 2019

(To put this story in perspective, I am around eight years old, I am from England, and this is my first time visiting the USA, so I have no idea that tax is added on after the sale. I am waiting to catch my flight home to the UK and decide to use the last of my money to buy a magazine for the flight. I pick up a magazine that says it’s $3 on the shelf. I go to the counter with three dollar bills.)

Employee: *scans the magazine* “That will be $3.25.”

Me: “Oh, I only have $3 on me, but I’ve got change. Do I have what you need?” *holds out a handful of coins*

Employee: “Why do you only have $3 on you when you should know that tax is added on afterward?”

Me: “I don’t know what tax is, but it’s okay. I’ll put the magazine back.”

Employee: “Typical foreigner, always trying to weasel out of paying taxes.”

(I’m getting nervous because there’s a line and I only have the $3 on me. This is when someone steps in to save the day.)

Customer: “Leave the kid alone. He’s not from here and he won’t know about taxes at his age; I’ll pay the extra 25 cents so he can have it.” *reaches for his wallet*

Employee: “No! More Americans shouldn’t be paying for foreigners; if he wants it he has to pay for it or I’ll call security.”

Me: *nearly in tears at this point* “Please don’t call security. I’ll see if my Mum has the money. I’m really sorry.”

Customer #1: “No, you don’t need to.” *hands the employee a $5 and tells me to go back to my mum*

Employee: “No, this little punk should pay for himself.”

(The line was fairly long so the manager came over to see what was going on. After [Customer] explained he said I should just go back to my mum. The next thing I heard was the manager shouting at the employee for making a little kid cry when a customer had offered the money.)

Put An End To That Train Of Thought

, , , , , | | Friendly | June 17, 2019

(I am a teenager travelling with my parents and my little brother for a summer trip to Amsterdam. My mother is Japanese, and I am half Japanese, but since I have several ethnicities I look nothing like my parents. My features are described to be difficult to pinpoint, and I have been mistaken for many different ethnicities all throughout my life. I have most often been mistaken as Indian. At this point, I am wandering the aisles of our express train and looking for our seats. I finally find them and see we are seated next to another family. I don’t pay much attention to them, but I suddenly overhear their conversation.)

Other Father: *in Japanese* “Ugh, I see an Indian family will be sitting next to us on this train.”

Other Mother: *in Japanese* “They are probably going to be so loud. What a shame.”

Me: *loudly, and in Japanese* “Mom! Mom! Looks like our seats are here.”

(The other family was absolutely shocked. I proceeded to talk to my parents, who both understand Japanese, very loudly about various topics. The family next to us looked visibly embarrassed and did not utter a word for the entire rest of the three-hour train ride.)

Say Bi To The Old Me

, , , , , , | | Friendly | June 16, 2019

(I’m white, female, and bi. I am having dinner with someone I met while travelling previously who’s now visiting the UK. We’ve met up a few times on her trip. When we first met months ago, I mentioned that I wasn’t straight — in the context of a discussion about me being a non-straight woman at work and lack of role models — and she seemed to take it in stride. She talks a lot about hot guys and makes comments about the type of boyfriend I should have, which I find slightly annoying, but I don’t call her out on it. I’m due to go on a date with a dark-skinned guy soon, and she seems surprised by this. She then suggests, upon learning that I have previously dated a black man, that dark-skinned men are my “type.”)

Me: “Um. I don’t really factor skin colour in a great deal. I mean, my boyfriend before that guy was white and half-German. And my last two proper relationships have been white women, though I guess one of them was Fr—“

Friend: “Wait, women? As in, a girlfriend?”

Me: “Um. Yes?”

Friend: “You’re a lesbian?”

Me: “No, I’m bi.”

Friend: “You never said that!”

Me: *thinking of the conversation we had months previously* “I have. I’m fairly open about it.”

Friend: “You always talk about previous boyfriends.”

Me: “I said partners, though I may have mentioned boyfriends before since I have had boyfriends before.”

Friend: “You have never said that you aren’t straight.”

(She’s clearly forgotten our conversation from the first time we met, but just as I’m about to explain that I’d not realised she didn’t remember that, something occurs to me.)

Me: “Hang on. I literally made a joke about being bi yesterday to you.”

Friend: “What?”

Me: “You made a comment about guys preferring a different style to mine in women, and I made a joke that started along the lines of, ‘Well, the good thing for me about being bi is…’. What did you think I was talking about?”

Friend: *waves her hand dismissively* “I don’t always listen.”

Me: “You told me to stop being silly, so I assumed you’d heard it.”

Friend: “I really don’t think you’ve ever said anything.”

Me: “I made a comment about a hot woman the other day. I literally wear a pride badge on my jacket.”

Friend: “That doesn’t mean anything.”

Me: “I have definitely told you that I’m not straight. Yesterday included.”

Friend: “You haven’t. But I don’t mind. I’m okay with gays.”

Me: “Er, good.”

(She then proceeds to tell me she doesn’t like women hitting on her, and shares an anecdote about an admittedly creepy-sounding woman hitting on her. I respond with an anecdote about a creepy guy hitting on me, to make the point that it’s the person that can be creepy. Still, she does seem mostly okay with it so I don’t make a fuss. We chat a bit more. Then:)

Friend: “So, why did you switch back to guys?”

Me: “What?”

Friend: “You said you were dating lesbians. Why men now?”

Me: “I didn’t switch. I’m bi. The last date I went on was with a guy, but the date before that was a woman.”

Friend: “Does your date know that you used to be a lesbian?”

Me: “You mean that I’m bi?”

Friend: “Yes.”

Me: “Well, I assume so. It’s on my profile.”

Friend: “Oh, really? Why would you put it on your profile?”

Me: “Um. Why not?”

Friend: “What does he think about it?”

Me: “It’s not really come up. I’m assuming he’s fine with it. But if he is homophobic, then that’s his problem. I’ve not got time in my life to put up with that.”

(By this point, although she’s assured me several times that she’s “fine with gays,” I’m a little nervous about what she’ll say. Thankfully, however, she laughs.)

Friend: “Yeah! You go! That’s the right attitude!”

(She then tried to give me advice on staying safe due to my orientation. It came from the right place, I guess, so all’s well that ends well. I actually mentioned the conversation to the guy; he just wanted to know how my joke about being bi ended.)

This Was A Big Mis-Steak

, , , , , | | Friendly | June 14, 2019

I work in an office for a large engineering company, it is a fairly laid-back office and the staff are all quite nice, for the most part. One of my coworkers looks like he has been picked out of a catalogue for 1950s suburban America. He has a set routine which, from what I can tell, never changes — the same lunch every day, skittles league every Thursday, a walk to the library with his wife to change their library books every Saturday, and a suit with waistcoat and tie everyday. (During the summer I am usually in shorts and baggy hoodies during the winter; it’s not a customer facing position so no one cares.) But he is a good worker and amiable enough.

Recently, his wife has been in the hospital — minor surgery but enough to keep her at the hospital — and he has mentioned several times that he hopes she is home soon as he is nearly out of the frozen meals she had prepared for him. Assuming that he is just anxious about his wife, I decide to offer to have him round for dinner one day. I explain that if he is happy with vegetarian food, my husband and I — both males — would be happy to have him round. I give him the address and let him know that dinner will be around 7:00 pm but if he is a bit earlier that’s no problem.

He turns up at 6:00 pm, brings with him a pack of steaks, complains that 7:00 pm is too late to be eating, comments that it is rude to have the TV on “with company present,” wanders into the bedrooms of our flat, complains that he “doesn’t really eat foreign food” when served vegetarian spaghetti bolognese, leaves half his dinner, wanders off to help himself to a drink from the fridge, complains that he doesn’t like the beer we have, complains that his wife didn’t leave him enough frozen food, complains that she isn’t around to “look after the house,” complains that he is still hungry, and is generally rude. At 10:00 pm, and after many awkward silences and Oscar-worthy yawns, we have finally had enough and manage to corral him out the door. Minutes after it has closed he knocks with a bag of laundry and makes it clear that because I had invited him around he expected me to do his laundry, as well!

He is only in his mid-50s, so I am unsure where this sort of attitude has come from, but apparently, the gender revolution is something that passed him by. If I were his wife, I would be signing up for all the elective surgeries they could offer!

Not An Industry-Standard Greeting

, , , , | | Working | June 14, 2019

(I am a woman in my mid-20s. In February, I go with my company to my first conference focusing on our industry. The first day is wonderful. I am meeting peers from other states and countries and learning a lot about the goings-on of our business. The second day, I am walking around with a coworker who is also a woman, in her 60s. She also happens to be part of the LGBT community.)

Me: “I love how they have all the vendors set up in the ballroom so we can check the booths out on breaks!”

Coworker: “Yep! It’s a great way to see what everyone else is working on this year.”

(We approach a vendor booth and start looking at their brochures when one of their reps, a man who I assume is in his late 40s or early 50s, comes over to talk to us.)

Company Rep: “Good morning! Let us know if we can answer any questions for you!”

Coworker: “Thank you! We’re just looking around before the talks start.”

Company Rep: “Which company are you with?”

Me: “We’re with [Company], from [Southern State].”

Company Rep: “Of course! I know exactly where you’re located.”

(My coworker begins to walk down the line of booths, and I move to join her when the guy stops me.)

Company Rep: *looks at me expectantly* “So, are you originally from [Southern State]?”

Me: *thinking maybe he’s visited there* “Yes, born and raised. Haha…” *looks to see my coworker has already moved a couple of booths down* “I should go join my…”

Company Rep: “[Southern State]’s had a lot of trouble with [slang, derogatory, term for LGBT people], huh?”

(I stare at him for a second. It’s no secret that many southern states in the US have had rocky legislation and communication with the LGBT community, but I am of the opinion that things are starting to move in a more positive direction. I try to deflect the subject because this is a business setting and this man’s job is to make our company want to hire his. Plus, he has no inkling of my opinion on this subject, so why would he bring something like that up?)

Me: “Well, I haven’t been a fan of many of the state’s decisions in recent years, and I have friends in that community, so…”

Company Rep: *interrupts me and cranks the topic up 100 notches* “Well, you know, there was a kid in [Other State] who was assaulted in a bathroom by a man dressed as a woman.” *smug look*

Me: *barely keeping my voice calm* “I had not heard that. Was it an actual transgender person, or was it a predator pretending to be one?”

Company Rep: *looks panicked for a second that I actually asked a real question about his comment* “Well, uh, he had a wig and stuff on.”

Me: “I see. Well, it appears I’ve lost my coworker. Excuse me.”

(I walked quickly away, found my coworker, and told her what happened. I was so angry I had to excuse myself for a few minutes to calm down. We both sat down with our manager that evening and told him what happened. He is also a staunch believer in professional behavior between businesses, and made it a point to contact the rep’s superior to let him know how his employee was talking to potential clients. Turns out, this guy had gotten in trouble for bringing up touchy political topics with strangers before — apparently, he liked to get a rise and arguments out of people — and was already on the superior’s radar for disciplinary action. He thanked my manager for letting him know this was still going on. I was so glad that my manager stood up for me, and for our coworker, instead of dismissing my experience as something this guy “just does,” or something that “wasn’t a big deal.” It doesn’t matter what side of a topic like that you fall on, or if the other person agrees with you or not; don’t ambush a stranger in a professional environment to get a rise out of them, especially a stranger who could potentially make the decision to spend thousands of dollars with your company.)

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