Phoning In The Parenting

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 19, 2018

(My wife has always been pretty direct, but pregnancy seems to have amplified it. We’re standing outside the local pub one day chatting to some friends when a kid, between seven and nine years old I think, cycles past. We see this kid all the time and he always has one hand on the handlebars and with the other is holding and staring at his phone. He also doesn’t wear a helmet. On this occasion, my wife reaches out as he cycles past and nabs the phone out of his hand.)

Kid: “Hey!”

Wife: “If I see you cycling with this d*** thing in your hand and not looking at the road one more time it is going straight in the river.”

(The kid goes from startled to angry, but my beloved is too quick for him.)

Wife: “Just what the h*** are you thinking? You could hit someone. You could end up under a d*** car. You think your parents want to spend Christmas sat around your hospital bed, you idiot?”

(At this the kid seems to crumple a little. My wife holds out the phone to him.)

Wife: “Now switch it off. Put it in your pocket. Go home and ask Santa for a d*** helmet.”

(The kid takes the phone back and, very sensibly, does as my wife says. We figure that’s the end of it and go back to chatting to our friends. About ten minutes later a woman marches up to us and smacks my wife’s glass of lemonade out of her hand.)

Woman: “How dare you?! My son has just come home in floods of tears saying you yelled at him and scared him! You told him he was going to die! And now I see you drinking, probably trying to harm another precious baby! What kind of woman are you?”

Wife: “Lady, I told your son that if he didn’t stop looking at his d*** phone while cycling then, yes, he might end up dead or seriously injure someone else. Lady, I’m the kind of woman who drinks lemonade while she’s pregnant because, unlike you, I have some concern for my kids!”

Woman: “It’s no business of yours what my son was doing!”

Wife: “Not looking at the road and causing danger to the public? It is absolutely my business. And before you say one more thing, your son seems to be a h*** of a lot smarter than you and he got this pretty quick. How would you like to spend Christmas around your son’s hospital bed? Or in a lawyer’s office after whoever he hits sues for damages?”

(The woman has gone flame red and storms off. My wife turns to me.)

Wife: “Was I a little harsh?”

(I told her that I didn’t think so and that she’d said the right thing. A couple of days later the same kid saw my wife in the village and told her that he’d only been crying because he’d realised how dangerously he had been behaving and apologised for his mother. He even told my wife that she’ll be a great mum, and I agree.)

Sounds Like The Purge To Me

, , , , , | Right | October 30, 2018

(I am working the floor at a Halloween store, and see a customer in our mask section trying on clown masks and scaring his girlfriend. I like to suggest a chainsaw to go with the mask, because people like the prop to take pictures with.)

Me: “You know, these chainsaws go really well with the clown masks.”

(I offer him a chainsaw I brought over.)

Customer: “You know what else goes with a clown mask? A neighborhood filled with white, rich people that feel entitled!”

(Mind you, he appears to fit this description.)

Me: *very confused and not quite sure what to say* “Um, yeah. Well, have a wonderful evening, and let me know if I can help you with anything.”

(His girlfriend gave me a look like this wasn’t a rare thing. The rest of the employees and I had a good laugh over my first time having a customer outburst.)

Not The Big No-No-No You Thought It Was

, , , , , | Working | August 17, 2018

(I’m from a non-English speaking country and I’m doing a post-grad at a botanical institution. Two colleagues from my country have been here for six months and they show me the basics of living in Cambridge.)

Colleague: “So, if you finish working late you can either get food at the petrol station or at a deli in this road… but for the main shopping, there’s a supermarket down this road. When you go to the cashier, she’ll ask you three questions. I don’t know what she means, but it’s easier if you always say, ‘No, no, and no.’”

(I did my main shopping on the first weekend and I found out that the dreaded three questions were, “Do you have a reward card?” “Would you like a bag?” and, “Would you like any cashback?” Also, they were always pronounced in the same way, and very clearly by all cashiers, so I don’t know how my colleague couldn’t figure out what they said. When I explained it to him, however, he was very happy to get cashback at the supermarket instead of walking all the way to the ATM!)

Your Name Is Set(h) In Stone

, , , , , , | | Learning | May 25, 2018

(My son has a name which is uncommon but by no means unheard of. After his first day at a school the teacher calls me into the classroom for a chat.)

Teacher: “Hi, Ms. [My Name]. I just wondered if we could discuss your child for a moment.”

Me: “Ah, sure.” *a bit concerned*

Teacher: “We just want you to know that we want to support them in any way we can and if you need anything let us know.”

(I’m happy to hear this, but also slightly confused since I have a perfectly happy, healthy thirteen-year-old.)

Teacher: “If, for example, they feel they need to talk to a counsellor, or if they feel they are unable to express themselves, we just want them to know this is a safe space where they can do that.”

(Now I’m seriously baffled.)

Me: “Sorry, I think I’m missing something here; what exactly do you think my son needs counselling for?”

(The teacher gives me a disapproving glare.)

Teacher: “Ms. [My Name], you are showing enormous disrespect to your child by not using their preferred pronouns.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but my son has never mentioned anything about using different pronouns.”

Teacher: “How can you be paying so little attention to your child? They clearly have gender dysphoria!”

Me: “Okay, whoa. My son and I have discussed gender and sexual identity plenty, and he has told me time and again he is an ally of the LGBTQ community, but he is a straight male and he is very happy.”

Teacher: *with a smug face* “Then how do you explain this?”

(With a painfully-practiced flourish, she flips a worksheet onto the desk in front of me. It’s an “About Me” first-day type deal. My son has written his name, birthday, hobbies, what he wants to be when he grows up, etc. There is nothing here that would make anyone think he has gender dysphoria or needs to see a counsellor.)

Me: “Sorry, this is meant to be proof of what?”

Teacher: “Look at the name! They have signed with their preferred name, Beth! Clearly your child is transgender.”

Me: “Oh, Christ alive, his name is Seth! He just has cursive handwriting.”

Teacher: “That’s not a name! You are denying your daughter’s existence. You’re misgendering her! This is erasure!”

Me: “Look. You are misgendering him. My son is named Seth, after the Ancient Egyptian god of chaos. He should fit right in in your class.”

(I’ve had enough and leave the room with the teacher still screaming about trans erasure and how Seth isn’t a real name. I leave the school and get into the car, where my worried son is waiting to hear what he got into trouble for.)

Me: “Well, darling, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your teacher is incredibly supportive and accepting of LGBTQ students. The bad news is that she refuses to acknowledge your name.”

Son: “Okay… But we’re good? I’m good?”

Me: “Honey, you will always be good with me, whether you’re Seth, Beth, or Slartibartfast.”

(His first term assignment was to present a project on a god who is no longer worshipped… Guess who he picked!)

Your Days Off Are In The Book And Counted

, , , , , | Working | April 25, 2018

(I work at the museum of a well-known university in their gift shop. We get a new shipment of books in and, like I do with all the stock, I count each individual book and organize it in our stockroom, note on the packing slip that we have received the correct number of books, and file it where we always file them once we process a shipment. The next day, my day off, my family is in town and I want to show them around the museum. I run into the store manager in one of the galleries.)

Store Manager: “Oh, there you are. You need to recount that shipment of books. There’s no packing slip.”

Me: “There was a packing slip. I put it in the file for received shipments.”

Store Manager: “Well, it’s not there now, and I need to know how many books we received.”

Me: “Uh, it’s actually my day off, and I’m here with my family.”

(I gesture to my parents, who wave.)

Store Manager: “It won’t take very long.”

(I counted the books. It took less than ten minutes, but I vowed never to visit the museum on a day off again.)

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