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Google Is Free (Even Twenty Years Ago)

, , , , , , | Learning | November 9, 2022

I grew up in California, and we have a species of Condor called… wait for it… the California Condor! I was and still am an animal lover. In elementary school, I would read books about all kinds of snakes, lizards, vultures, and condors — basically, creatures that most little girls wanted nothing to do with. (To be fair, once I learned how spiders “ate” and then about “spider wasps”, I kind of noped the hell out of the insect/arachnid kingdoms.)

As a little girl with eclectic tastes, I spent my childhood perking up with a lot of interest upon hearing about how the California Condors had gone extinct in the wild and how conservationists were reintroducing them from captivity breeding programs. By the time I hit high school, I was ecstatic when condors began wheeling and circling in the skies around my hometown. For some odd reason, they really seemed to like our imported-long-ago eucalyptus trees.

Enter [Girl]. [Girl] went to the same school as I did, and we ended up butting heads off and on throughout my childhood. Now, for whatever reason, [Girl] believed that it was her life’s goal to out-knowledge the local animal lover. Unfortunately, [Girl]’s life’s goal coincided with absolute conviction that she was right about so very many — VERY, VERY many — wrong things.

Snakes are slimy — regardless of what the books say. All snakes are poisonous. There is no such thing as venom; that’s the incorrect and out-of-date term for poison. Constrictors are poisonous, too. Frogs and toads can give you warts — because the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be contracted from amphibians. Cows are animals, NOT mammals — because the two are mutually exclusive. Ants are NOT animals; they are insects — again, mutually exclusive.

And the crux of our story: the giant birds circling over our town were red-tailed hawks. As I watched our condor population soar (pun intended) from six to twenty-plus individuals over the years, [Girl] and I had several verbal altercations over the identity of our birds. This sums them all up.

Girl: “Oh, the hawks are back!”

Me: *Looking up* “Nope. Those are condors.”

Girl: “No, they’re hawks! Want to know how to tell the difference? The shape of their wings. The wing shape of those birds says they’re red-tailed hawks.”

Note: these birds were circling and coming down to land on our eucalyptus trees at a height of about three stories up in the air. They would land awkwardly, flaring their huge wings until they got their balance. Even from this distance, you could see that their heads were naked of feathers.

Me: “[Girl], these birds don’t have feathers on their heads. Their tails aren’t red. And their wingspan is huge.”

A condor’s wingspan is about 9.5 feet. A red-tailed hawk’s is 4.8 feet at most, y’all.

Girl: “Nope. You’re wrong. You just can’t see the red of their tails from below. This is one thing I know more about than you.”

Me: “No… No, you don’t, [Girl].”

Girl: “Yes, I do. The shape of their wings says hawk, so you’re wrong.”

She turned her back and walked away the instant I held a science book about animals anywhere near her. She wouldn’t even acknowledge anything that could possibly prove her wrong. On the plus side, this provided me with a very “cross versus vampires” way to make [Girl] shove off during my school years.

Twenty-two years later, [Girl] is a staunch anti-vaxxer. She found me after a twenty-year gap and spent far too much of the next two years yelling at me on social media to wake up, do my research, and stop injecting my body with autism before I blocked her. Yes, vaccines don’t GIVE you autism; the injections ARE autism. I just can’t even anymore.

You Fudge With Me, I’ll Fudge With You

, , , , | Right | November 9, 2022

We have a football helmet sundae promotion where you can get a two-scoop sundae in a team helmet. There is a cardboard display that looks like a football field high up behind the counter with every team’s helmet mounted on it. Customers get to pick their team helmet. The helmet is just a piece of plastic, with a separate decal for the logos you would stick on after you ate and washed out the helmet.

I’m from the Bay Area, so the Raiders and the 49ers helmets are gone after a few days. The manager put up a sign under the cardboard display that said:

Sign: “Display helmets not for sale.”

This guy in his fifties and in a suit comes in.

Customer: “I want a helmet sundae. I want the 49ers.”

Me: “Sorry, those are sold out. You can pick any other team you’d like, but the Raiders are sold out, too.”

Customer: “Then give me the 49er helmet off the display.”

It’s obvious there’s a sign, but I’m totally calm as I point toward it and say:

Me: “Sorry, the display helmets are not for sale.”

Customer: “I’m a lawyer! I will be suing the company and franchise because it’s false advertising that I am not getting that helmet.”

The manager comes over and asks what’s going on. The man continues his tirade, swearing and being ridiculously over-the-top, continuing to point out he’s a lawyer and will sue, etc. The manager finally gives in and says to me:

Manager: “Just give him the 49er helmet off display.”

At that point, the customer had a huge grin on his face like he’d won. I had to go to the back to get a step ladder, pull the 49er helmet off, and ruin the nice display set of all the team helmets.

When I grabbed the 49er helmet off the display, it was completely dusty and already had the stickers on it, as they all did. I washed it off, trying not to mess up the stickers, even though this guy didn’t deserve it.

His grin and the way he smugly ordered his toppings got to me more and more, so at the end, I’d had enough. He said he wanted hot fudge, so I purposely put hot fudge all around the rim and waited a sec, so the stickers were going to be completely ruined by the time he finished it anyway. But hey, a grown man got to show a teenager who is boss.

Handwriting That Just Barely Makes The Grade

, , , , , , | Romantic | November 7, 2022

My girlfriend is a kindergarten teacher. It’s late summer, and she’s getting ready for the school year to start. She does a “Letter Of The Week” every week with the kids to help them learn the alphabet and some basic handwriting. She has me make large posters that say “Letter Of The Week” with each letter in capital and lowercase form.

Me: “If my handwriting is poor, are you going to make me redo the assignment?”

Girlfriend: “Are you serious?”

Me: “No, just kidding.”

Girlfriend: “Okay, good. If your handwriting was that sloppy, I would have made the school enroll you in my class.”

My handwriting was ultimately deemed to be acceptable. Good thing I don’t have to redo kindergarten.

Your Not-So-Friendly Neighborhood Repairman

, , , , , , | Legal | November 6, 2022

My parents have a repairman at our house fixing something. I live with my parents and am helping my dad out in the yard. The repairman finishes the job and drives away.

Dad and I finish the yardwork and head inside. Dad hops in the shower first to clean off all of the dirt, and then it’s my turn. The bathroom is heavily steamy when I come out, and I open the bathroom window.

That’s when I hear it: a clatter.

I put my glasses on and inspect the window sill. A small, triangular piece of broken plastic is in the track of the window.

I’m concerned, initially thinking some part of the window broke, but no. The window is intact. I can’t find a single spot where anything could have gotten damaged. Then, I get a cold feeling of dread.

I come out and talk to Mom.

Me: “Mom, did the repairman ask to use the bathroom?”

Mom looks a little surprised.

Mom: “Well, yes. I told him to go ahead. They’re people, too, and need to do their business. Why?”

I show her the bit of plastic, which I left where it was without touching it.

Mom: “What’s this? Is the window broken?”

Me: “No, I think that’s the piece of plastic he stuck in the window to prevent the window from latching when we closed it.”

Mom went very still for a moment and then shared a horrified look with Dad. The local newspapers had been detailing a rash of home burglaries where the burglar gained access through a window, usually the bathroom.

Long story short, a police officer talked to all of us, got the “repairman’s” name from our paperwork, took the plastic, and left. I’m not sure about the details of the investigation, but the burglaries did stop afterward.

Those Forty Hamiltons Were Totally Worth It

, , , , , , , , | Right | November 5, 2022

While this didn’t happen to me, it did happen to my best friend who is like a sister to me. She’s been in Los Angeles working as an usher at a fairly prominent theatre in Hollywood for a good few years. She’s seen quite a variety of patrons come through her doors.

During a long run of an epic modern musical about a certain Founding Father, she has to handle a loud and rather disorderly patron. 

Finally, the patron cries out:

Patron: “I spent $400 to be here! How much did you pay, hmmm?”

My friend replies in a calm gentle tone but still can’t keep the slight smugness from her voice.

Friend: “Sir. I am paid to be here!”