You’ve Been ‘Cast’ As The Fall-Guy

| Ottawa, ON, Canada | Learning | December 14, 2016

(I’m a full-time volunteer at an art school that runs children’s camps in the summer. Each “class” is kept pretty separate, and I’m placed with one at a time. At the end of the week the entire school goes to a local swimming pool, which has a park and outdoor wading pool. Important note: I am a minor and NOT legally able to supervise children.)

Me: “Okay, [Teacher #1], I’m taking these two kids outside. They want to go to the park, so we’ll meet you there later.”

Teacher #1: “Sure. [Teacher #2] is outside so if you’d like you can leave them with her. Just make sure to talk with her.”

(Outside:)

Teacher #2: “You’re a volunteer! These are your kids?”

Me: “Yes—”

Teacher #2: “These ones want to go the wading pool. Make sure [Kid #1] doesn’t get her cast wet.”

Me: “Uh, okay. I’m actually [Teacher #1]’s volunteer. Can I leave his students here?”

Teacher #2: “Yes, yes, I have my own volunteer. She can look after them. It’ll just be for a little bit. Don’t let them get too excited or they’ll fall in the water!”

(One hour later:)

Teacher #2: “Hey! It’s time to go!”

Me: “Sounds good!” *calling kids to come out of the pool*

Teacher #2: *conversationally* “She looks excited. You have to make sure she doesn’t get too excited or she will fall in the water.”

Me: “She looks fine.”

Teacher #2: “No, no.” *shouts* “[Kid #1]! Come out of there!”

Me: “Well, I’ll go get my bag—”

Teacher #2: “No, stay with them. Make sure [Kid #1] doesn’t get too excited.”

Me: “…”

Teacher #2: “If she gets the cast wet we’ll be in big trouble.”

Me: “Well, I think it only got a bit damp—”

Teacher #2: “The school will get in trouble. Her parents said no swimming; they said it was very important she stayed dry.” *meaning, both I and the school would be very easy to sue*

Me: *realizing she asked me to supervise so that I’d take the fall if anything happened* “…what?”

Teacher #2: “But she does what she wants, you know. She doesn’t listen. If she gets too excited she will fall in the water.”

Me: “I… have to go back to [Teacher #1]’s group.”

Teacher #2: “Yeah. You should have told them to stay out of the water more, okay? Just for next time. Otherwise she’ll get excited and fall. If her cast gets wet it would be really bad.”

Time To Abandon This Sinking Ship

| OK, USA | Friendly | December 2, 2016

(My family and I go to a group camp out on one of the lakes. It’s organized for and by a loose group of about 200 people with one woman taking the lead and others arranging segments. One of the activities is a kayak trip leaving this camp ground in the morning, heading south, stopping for lunch at a place secured by me, and then paddling another several miles to a pull out where a bus and trailer will meet us. I have a daughter with special needs, so I brought my own tandem kayak and two singles. We get there and mark our camp site with tarps and pin them down with the kayaks. After dinner we get back to the site and my tandem kayak is gone! My kids and I walk down to the lake to see if the kayak is there. It is. My son and I pick it up and head back up to our camp site.)

Woman: “Hey! What are you doing?! We’re using that boat!”

Me: “Sorry, there seems to be some confusion. This boat is mine.”

(I continue walking. She runs up to us and stands in my way.)

Woman: “No! I have a child who wants to go on the paddle tomorrow but is too small to go alone. We’re going to use this boat.”

Me: “No, this boat is mine. I don’t think the camp owns any two-seaters.”

Woman: “I was told I could use this boat!”

Me: “I really don’t know who could have told you that. The boat belongs to me. I brought it here for my daughter and me to use. It is my boat. I gave no one permission to use it.”

Woman: “I asked [Organizer]. She said I could use it!”

Me: “It is not hers to promise out. It does not belong to her. It does not belong to the camp. It belongs to me.”

Woman: “We’ll just see about that!”

(She storms off and I think that is the end of it. But nope. She and the organizer come stomping up to my camp site just as I get there.)

Woman: “She took this boat from us! You said we could use it tomorrow.”

Organizer: “Yes, I told them they could use it. Her child would not be able to row on his own.”

Me: “There seems to be some confusion. The boat does not belong to the camp. It is my personal boat. It will be used by me and my daughter, no one else.”

Organizer: “I told her she could use it.”

Me: “Why would you think you have that right? It isn’t your boat. It doesn’t belong to this camp. It belongs only to me. It is registered to me. The number on the side of this kayak is a number issued to me. It is my boat. You can’t promise out someone else’s property.”

Organizer: “I said she could use it.”

Me: “I don’t care.”

Organizer: “You need to let her use it.”

Me: “I assure you, I don’t.”

(During this conversation, my son and I put the kayak back on the roof of our van and lock it in place. Someone with the woman actually tries to pull it off.)

Man: “How do you unhook this strap?”

Me: “With the key.”

(My son and I load the other two kayaks, toss our gear into the back of the van, and he and his sisters get in.)

Me: “I don’t know who you all think you are. I don’t know why you would possibly think that you can just take someone else’s property. I have explained repeatedly that the kayak belongs to me. Now, you have promised about 30 people that they will have burgers and entertainment down the lake at noon tomorrow. I am the one who knows where. I believe I am the only one who knows where. But I’m leaving so you are screwed. Have fun.”

(I did indeed call my friends whose property we had planned to pull out onto and told them it was off. They invited their friends over and had a grand time the next night. The band even agreed to change their time from noon to 7. I brought my kayaks and let the guests paddle around. The tandem got a lot of use. I have no idea if the group paddle at the camp out even occurred.)

Well I’ll Be Ducked!

| USA | Right | November 20, 2016

(I am helping someone on the phone register themselves as a chaperone for summer camp. Everything is going just fine, until…)

Me: “Okay, sir, I need the date of your last tetanus shot. I understand it may be out of date but I have to enter a date to get your registration finished. Most likely the last time you had one would have been going into seventh grade unless you had to have one for a medical reason.”

Customer: “Oh, no, I had a medical reason… I just can’t remember off the top of my head. Let me ask my wife.” *in background* “Honey, when was I bitten by that duck?”

(Luckily, I was able to mute the phone while I laughed and the wife got him a date. How on earth are you bitten by a duck and why does that result in a tetanus shot?!)

Drew Out The Truth

| NE, USA | Working | November 14, 2016

(During college, I used to work at a summer camp. About 3/4 of the staff usually choose “camp names” to go by. I have been going by Smitty since I was a camper. One of my favorite “camp name” stories happens my first summer on staff. I am the office person, so since I sort the mail, I am one of the few that know everyone’s real name. Drew (aka Drewlaboomkins) was the Assistant Program Director. One afternoon he radios me up from the lower office:)

Drew: “Hey, Smitty?”

Me: “Yes, Drew?”

Drew: “You know everyone’s real name, right?”

Me: “Yeah, Drew.”

Drew: “Who the h*** is [Name] Smith?”

Me: “That’s me, Drew.”

Drew: “Oh… okay… Thank you very much…”

He’s Cat-atonic

| NSW, Australia | Learning | November 9, 2016

(I am one of the youth leaders of a group of 11 teens at a church youth camp that has about 150 teens total. I am attempting to get to know the teens a little better as I haven’t had much time to get to know them. I found out some of the girls have cats like I do and I jump on it as a chance to bond. While sharing stories about our cats antics and this is the weird conversation that happened because of that.)

Head Youth Leader: “Yeah, [My Name], it was odd because I have never had an allergic reaction to anything until I met your new cat. I was itchy and hay feverish after I left your house the other day.”

Me: *confused* “Oh, that strange… She is half Russian Blue… and they are known to have hypoallergenic qualities. My sister-in-law, who is allergic to cats, isn’t allergic to her.”

(The head youth leader shrugs, then the youngest teen in our group — a male, 13-year-old who is a farm kid — joins in rather loudly.)

Teen: “What on earth is a Russian Blue?!”

Me: “Oh, it’s a breed of cat. It’s one of my favourites behind Maine Coon.”

Teen: “There isn’t any such thing as cat breeds… Cats are cats.”

Me: *confused again* “Yes, there is… Just like dogs, German Shepherds and Beagles… Horses Arabs and thoroughbred… Cattle, Angus and poll Herefords.”

Teen: *getting annoyed* “No, there ISN’T!”

Me & Another Teen: “Yes, there is.”

(This leads to a 20-minute conversation where I ask him for a breed of cattle and I would answer with a breed of cat. At the end of it he still is not convinced.)

Me: “Okay, why do you think that there isn’t? I’m not going to keep going like this; I’m obviously not changing your mind.”

Teen: *condescendingly*  “Well, there isn’t a society for cats. There is no need for them to have breeds.”

Me: “Um. Yes, there is? My friend who gave me my youngest kitten has pure bred Russian Blues… She shows them for a living. It’s a rather lucrative business.”

Teen: “What do you mean? What’s the point of that?!”

Me: “What’s the point of showing horses and cattle?”

Teen: “BECAUSE!”

Me: *frustrated and amused at the same time* “Well… You let me know when you have a proper answer to that question and you will understand. But I assure you… There is more to cats than just… cats…”

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