Engineered Himself Out Of A Bad Situation

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2020

(This is one of my dad’s many stories. In the late 80s and early 90s, he was a very highly skilled network engineer, which at the time was just an emerging field. As a result, he jetted around a lot to help clients with installs and training on the new technology. In this case, he was sent to Argentina. My understanding is that it has cleaned up a lot in the last 30 or 40 years, but back then, it was not a great place. While at the hotel, his primary client contact insists that he should go to the club district while he is in town. My dad, not knowing any better, agrees, and picks a bar at random. The entrance to the bar is a steep set of metal stairs, which will be relevant later. He sits at the bar and orders a drink, but he starts getting a bad feeling about the place pretty quickly and decides he should go elsewhere, so he asks for the tab shortly after.)

Bartender: “Four hundred dollar.”

Dad: “What?”

Bartender: “Your bill. Four hundred dollar.”

(Bad feeling confirmed. My dad takes out all the money he has — a little over $100 — and places it on the counter, backing away slowly.)

Dad: “Look, this is all I’ve got. You can have it. I’m just going to leave.”

Bartender: “Four. Hundred. Dollar.”

Dad: “I don’t ha—”

(He is cut off by a blow to the front of his head from the billy club the bartender produced out of nowhere. Due to sheer bull-headed stubbornness — okay, and probably some adrenaline — he doesn’t black out, but manages to stumble towards the exit. Just as he gets there, he feels one of the bartender’s friends grab him by the shoulder. He very quickly decides on a course of action, and grabs the guy’s arm and yanks him down the stairs with him, doing his best to make sure that the other guy hits as many of the metal steps as possible on the way down. At the bottom, my dad gets up; the other guy does not. This is apparently enough to make my dad “not worth it” and he stumbles out onto the street. He tries to flag down a passing Policia, but the guy seems to develop a curious case of blindness at the bleeding American crossing his path. In the end, a hotel concierge manages to catch him before he stumbles deliriously into an even worse part of town, and after refusing a ride in an ambulance — 80s Argentinian hospital = NO — the gash in his head is super-glued shut and he is sent on his way. He actually finishes the job, with a huge knot on his forehead, and when he gets home to his workplace…)

Boss: “Whoa. What happened to you?”

Dad: “I got mugged.”

Boss: “…”

Dad: “In Argentina.”

Boss: “…”

Dad: “After the guy you sent me to work with told me to visit the club district.”

Boss: “Huh. Well, that sucks. Did the job get done?”

Dad: “Yes.”

Boss: “Great! Anyway, next month we have another trip lined up for you…”

(Yeah, my dad didn’t stay with that company too much longer.)

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Clean Water, Not Dirty Bombs

, , , , , , | Right | January 19, 2020

Some classmates and I were on a month-long expedition through northern Argentina. Prior to our journey, we were equipped with iodine to purify our drinking water from taps and streams, which came in dropper bottles. We were in the Buenos Aires airport ready to go back home to see our families.

After successfully going through airport security, we filled our Nalgenes with water from the restroom tap, gathered in the boarding area, and began passing around the iodine to drop into our bottles.

Not ten minutes later, airport security evacuated everyone from the gate to go through the checkpoint they had just set up again. We had to dump out our freshly-purified water.

After going through the checkpoint again, we realized why they might have set up additional security. Thirteen foreigners suspiciously putting unknown chemicals into water bottles doesn’t look good. We brought the iodine into the bathroom for the next round of purification, which still looked odd to the bystander, but was a little more discreet.

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Christmas Closures Will Be Ignored  

, , , , , | Right | December 24, 2019

I am celebrating December 24th with my boss and peers — a motley crew of different South American backgrounds. My boss, a forty-something Peruvian, closes the door and hangs the “I’ll be back in five minutes” sign up while his wife pops a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

The sign is completely futile, and my boss has to remind every other persistent passerby trying to pry open the door with their bare hands in the presence of the sign, in the next five minutes, that we’re closed.

This leads me to the conclusion that if you do this, you’re either too stupid or you do it on purpose.

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Being Very Frank About Spoilers

, , , , , | Right | June 27, 2019

(I am a volunteer guide at Anne Frank’s Museum for Human Rights. The first room is a timeline with pictures and important events of both Anne Frank’s life and World War II. My job is to guide the visitors through the timeline, expanding on the historical context and Anne’s personal experience. We are almost at the end when a visitor interrupts my explanation.)

Visitor: “STOP! Stop, stop. Don’t go on. I haven’t finished the book yet; you were about to tell me how it ends!”

Me: *speechless*

Visitor: *noticing the pictures of the family, along with the descriptions of how each of them died* “OH, MY GOD, this place is full of spoilers!”

(I never saw him again. I want to believe he is already reading newspapers from the ‘60s, still complaining about spoilers on the course of history. SPOILER ALERT: Hitler lost the war.)

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