Take A Seat And Give Me One, Too

, , , , , , | Working | January 13, 2021

Despite the health crisis, I have driven a close friend in for a wheelchair assessment. He has fibromyalgia along with another nerve condition that makes it nearly impossible for him to walk more than about twenty feet at any one time. The fibro also makes it impossible for him to use a self-propelled wheelchair. This appointment is to get a doctor to sign off on a motorized chair so that his insurance will pay for it.

I dropped him off as close to the front door as possible and go to park the car. The entrance to the parking garage is around the corner. The building itself is facing a pier that is now a park built out into the water.

My friend texts me after I drop him at the front door.

Friend: “They told me I’m too early and they won’t let me borrow a chair. Can you come back and help me walk over to sit somewhere?”

Me: “Be right there.”

I walked out to the end of the pier to enjoy the view, so after power-walking back, I find him barely upright, leaning heavily on his cane, standing in the front door of the building, blocking traffic due to people trying to keep six feet minimum distance from each other. I offer him my arm.

Me: “Grab hold. I saw a bench to the right.”

We are both wearing masks, but we rode down in a car with less than a foot between us. Helping him walk isn’t that much closer contact than we’ve already had today, and I know he’s been extremely isolated, never leaving his house except for doctor visits.

He takes two steps and his left leg gives out. He ends up on the ground and I end up slamming my right knee into the concrete because my leg buckled under his weight.

A security guard comes running over.

Security Guard: “What happened?”

I tell him and ask for a wheelchair and note that the front desk wouldn’t give my friend one. All the while, I’m helping my buddy move over enough that he isn’t sprawled in the door of the building and ignoring my now aching knee. The security guard is a good sport. He shakes his head and brings us a pushchair — not a regular wheelchair, but better than nothing.

Me: *To the guard* “Thank you so much! I don’t know why they wouldn’t give him one, given why he’s here.”

The guard helps me get my buddy into the pushchair.

Security Guard: “Why is he here?”

Me: “He’s getting doctor approval for a wheelchair.”

I don’t normally speak for my friend, but I can tell he is in too much pain to talk, and I want to make sure this guy knows that it is stupid to not let my friend borrow a chair. The security guard just shakes his head again. I can see that he isn’t happy with the front desk guy. I ignore it, as there isn’t much I can do beyond what I’ve already done, and, since we can’t go upstairs because we’re too early for the appointment, I ask my friend if he wants me to push him out to the end of the pier to watch the water.

My friend nods his approval, so I thank the guard again and push my buddy out to enjoy the fresh air. We’re far enough from people we could take our masks off and enjoy the salt air. Upon returning to the building for the appointment, the guard sees us and checks that everything is all right. We’re both okay, so I thank him again. The guard says to get him when we’re leaving so I can grab the car and he can help my buddy out.

It ended well! My buddy got his doctor’s approval for his motorized chair, and the security guard was true to his word when we left and even gave me a coupon for extra off the parking cost. He was also very nice about helping get my friend in the car.

I only hope the person at the front desk learns from this! Just because someone is upright in that moment, it does not mean it’s easy or even possible for them to stay that way!

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Time To Salsa Dance Your Way To A New Neighborhood

, , , , , , | Working | December 31, 2020

When I am in college, I work at a restaurant for a little extra cash, and I do mean “a little.” I work the off hours, during the day on weekdays and the occasional weeknight, and I’m not even making enough tips to get up to minimum wage. The owner is supposed to pay me the amount it falls short, but I don’t realize that at the time, and he just marks that I get my tips in cash. The restaurant is only two blocks from my apartment and I often write during downtime, so I don’t worry about it too much. 

After months of barely making anything, Valentine’s Day comes up, which just so happens to fall on one of my weeknights. We have a fancy prix fixe menu and the whole restaurant is booked. The day before:

Owner: “I’m going to have another waitress come in to help you out since there will be so many customers tomorrow.”

I’m usually alone on that shift. I am a little disappointed but I understand. There are only around ten tables in the restaurant, so I could have handled it. 

Valentine’s night, we each start serving our half of the restaurant, but we also start getting orders for delivery with no delivery guy in the restaurant. I call the owner to ask him what we should do.

Owner: “Run the deliveries, and [Other Waitress] will handle the tables.”

Me: “I would be making hundreds of dollars in tips serving those tables, and if I run deliveries? Twenty at most. No.”

When I start giving my reasons, he acts like he can’t hear me and hangs up. I call him back and he doesn’t answer. I keep calling until he does.

Owner: “Run the deliveries or leave.”

I’ve finally had enough.

Me: “Okay.”

I hang up, leave the restaurant, and never go back. 

The owner keeps trying to call me, both that night and in the coming weeks, but I don’t answer. He has other waitresses call me for months — literal months — asking for me to cover their shifts because he says they can’t stay home when they are sick unless I cover them.

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t work there.”

One time, the owner sees me walking in my neighborhood and swerves off the road onto the grass next to the sidewalk I am on to jump out and talk to me.

Owner: “We’re friends, aren’t we? Please come back!”

It got really creepy after a while. One time, he even sent me an emoji of two people salsa dancing with the message, “This reminds me of us.”

Needless to say, I avoided that restaurant like the plague for the rest of the time I lived there. I’d cross the street to not walk past it or go the back ways to avoid the main road. In the end, living two blocks away wasn’t as convenient as I thought!

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We Are So Here For Women Supporting Women

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 16, 2020

I go out to the city to see a live performance of one of my favorite podcasts. I take the train as it is a short walk from the station to the venue and easier than trying to find parking or deal with traffic. It is April, and it gets downright cold by the time the show lets out around 9:00 pm, so I decide to cut through a mall as it will be the same distance but warmer.

I notice a man entering the mall right behind me and I realize after a few minutes that he is staying the same distance behind me and following my roundabout window-shopping route. I am a fairly short woman; most men would have passed me already.

I start to get nervous, so when I walk past the hotel that is attached to the mall, I go up to the hostess in the hotel restaurant.

Me: “I’m being followed. Could I please sit an empty table here for a bit?”

The hostess immediately sat me at a table within her line of sight, brought me soda, and had a waitress come sit with me. The waitress made a big deal about seeing me, greeting me like an old friend, and giving me a big hug.

The man stopped right outside of the hotel lobby and hung around for about twenty minutes before moving on. The hostess called mall security, but he was gone by the time they arrived. 

So I wouldn’t miss my train, now the last train of the night, someone from the hotel desk staff walked me to the station. He was going to wait with me, but when we got there, I ran into friends who just happened by in the city and would be taking the same train. Satisfied I was safe, the hotel staff member left me with them and headed home. 

I am so grateful to the hostess and her coworkers who were willing to do that for me. If it hadn’t been for them, it would have been a much scarier situation than it already was, but thanks to them, I made it home safe and sound.

This story is part of our Best Of December 2020 roundup!

Read the next Best Of December 2020 roundup story!

Read the Best Of December 2020 roundup!

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Painting It An Angry Hue Of Red

, , , , , | Right | December 16, 2020

I am hosting a “paint your own pottery” birthday party. This group is running thirty minutes over their allotted time. I approach the mother who booked the party.

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am, but we need the party table for the next group coming in.”

Party Mom has a tantrum, going full red-faced rage at us.

Party Mom: “You’re a bad representative of the company. You’ve ruined my daughter’s whole party! You should have helped her clean up!”

We do clean everything; that’s why we need them to leave.

After we apologize, she is still planning on contacting my manager, but the next group coming in witnesses the whole thing. Two of the women in the next group write preemptive emails to the manager and the owner saying how great we are and that the angry party mom was out of line.

We didn’t get reprimanded at all, because even the owner could tell that the raging party mom was trying to manipulate her for free stuff. But the women from the second group really saved my hope for humanity!

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We Can’t Take It Out Of Prints-iple

, , , , , | Right | December 14, 2020

We have a very lax return policy; basically, anything resealable can be returned for store credit. An older couple comes to my register with a small stack of hardcovers and I know it’s going to be trouble. The books all look like they’ve been gathering dust for a few years, none of them have our store’s barcode, and they’re all related to a very specific chronic disease. They’re likely not books we would carry now, if we ever did.

I explain to the customers that I’ll need to look them up in our computer system to see if they’re returnable. They grumble a bit but don’t seem too put-out. The computer confirms my suspicion: one we can take back, but the others are in our catalog as “Out of print — nonreturnable.” I go back to the customers.

Me: “I can give you store credit for this one, but unfortunately, we can’t return the others.”

Woman: “Why not?”

Me: “They’re out of print and marked as nonreturnable.”

Man: “And what does that mean?”

Me: “It means that [Store] is no longer carrying them, so we can’t sell them, and in this case, we can’t even send them back to our warehouses.”

Man: “No, what did you say before? Out of print? What does that mean?”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. That just means that the publisher is no longer printing copies.”

Man: “Why not?”

Me: “Well, there are a few different reasons; I don’t know specifically in this case. Usually, it’s because they’ve released an updated version or a book just isn’t selling.”

Woman: “But these are good books! Very good!”

Me: “I’m sure they are.”

Man: “Then why would they do that?”

Me: “Perhaps there are new editions with more updated information?”

Man: “I just don’t understand how they could do that.”

Woman: “Such quality books, it doesn’t make sense.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I just don’t know. All I know is that we can’t take them back.”

While I finish the return, they have a whispered conference, giving me some suspicious side-eyes. I give them the store credit on a card and hand back over the nonreturnable books.

Man: “What are we supposed to do with these? Since they’re ‘out of print.’”

Yes, he did air quotes.

Me: “You probably can’t bring them back to any other retailer, but you could try a used bookstore or sell them online. Good luck!”

I sent them off with my best customer service smile, and they kept shooting me irritated glances as they walked away. I later found out that they hung around for a while, asking at least two other employees what “out of print” meant. Apparently, they thought I’d just made it up.

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