The Penny Dropped Twenty-Four Months Later

, , , | Right | August 12, 2020

I work in the customer service department for a company that sells phones, subscriptions with the phones, and all kinds of accessories you might need with them. My job consists mainly of answering calls and replying to emails, but we also have a WhatsApp number people can text and a live-chat which customers can enable through our website.

Most phone subscriptions with providers can be made for one or two years, with the latter being the most popular option. As I’m on live-chat duty, I can see which page on our website customers have visited last before enabling the chat.

Customer: “Hi. I’d like to make a subscription with [Phone Type] at [Provider]. I keep clicking on ‘twenty-four-month subscription,’ but when I try to place my order, your website keeps changing it to ‘two-year subscription.’”

I start laughing out loud and tell my colleagues what this person just asked. I answer the customer.

Me: “Good afternoon. I understand there is some confusion about the length of the subscription. It may occur that our website phrases things differently, but twenty-four months is equal to two years. The duration of your contract won’t change.”

After this, the customer didn’t reply anymore. As my colleague put it, he must’ve been too embarrassed after he realised his mistake.

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They Don’t Seem Great With English, Either. Or Patience.

, , , , , | Learning | August 3, 2020

This takes place in July 2020. I work at a university. At this university, there are two departments with similar names, both with “Education” in them. One department, where I work, deals with teacher education. The other department, Continuing Education, deals with classes offered to the community — think the cooking classes, typing classes, and so on, that you often find at a university. As the names are too similar, we tend to get a lot of calls and messages for the Continuing Education department.

I get a message on our department’s social media from a person asking to speak with an advisor. Even though it is after office hours — we close at 5:00 — I like to keep our response rate up by answering simple questions.

Person, 5:20 pm: “I need to speak with an advisor.”

Me, 5:22 pm: “Hi! You’ll need to make an appointment to see an advisor. You can do so here: [link].”

It is a fairly simple interaction, and I don’t think anything of it. We obviously cannot give people anything more than directory information via social media message, and I am not an advisor. I hop in my car and drive home.

Person, 5:48 pm: “When are you guys going to have Japanese classes back.”

Person, 5:49 pm: “?”

Person, 5:50 pm: “??”

Person, 5:51 pm: “Um, hello???”

Person, 5:52 pm: “Are you there?”

Person, 5:53 pm: “???”

I see these messages and think this person must have mixed up the departments, as many people do.

Me, 5:54 pm: “Hi, [Person], [My Department] does not offer Japanese classes. However, the [Continuing Education department] might have information on Japanese language courses being offered for personal enrichment; you can reach them at [email and phone number].”

Person, 5:54 pm: “But why do you guys have Japanese classes on your website?”

Person, 5:55 pm: “I’m checking right now and it says, ‘Japanese language classes.’”

I manage our department’s website, so I know it doesn’t say that. But to be sure, I ask.

Me, 5:56 pm: “Can you show me what website you’re looking on?”

Person, 5:58 pm: “Sure, just let me look for it.”

Person, 7:02 pm: “[Link]”

Person, 7:03 pm: “That’s what it says on you guys’ website.”

Person, 7:04 pm: “Japanese language classes.”

Person, 7:05 pm: “?”

Person, 7:07 pm: “I don’t know why you guys have Japanese classes on your website when you don’t have any Japanese language classes to begin with.”

Person, 7:08 pm: “Never mind. I’ll look somewhere else.”

While they have been sending these messages, I have been cooking dinner. I look at the link they sent me. It is an archived news article — clearly marked — dated from September of 2006, about the importance of learning different languages. It starts with the line, “Last week, President Bush announced…”

Me, 7:10 pm: “This appears to be an archived news article from 2006. Unfortunately, this information is not current. However, you can see current offerings on the [Continuing Education department] website at [link].”

Person, 7:10 pm: “[Message is marked as read.]”

She never responded to that one, but she left an angry voicemail on my coworker’s phone — not sure where she found the number — about how whoever is running our social media — i.e., me — is super rude and how dare we advertise Japanese classes on our website?!

We all got a good laugh out of that one, and I shared her contact information with the [Continuing Education department].

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Singular “They” Traces Back To The 1300s, As It Happens…

, , , , , , , , | Related | July 18, 2020

My mother was diagnosed late in life with Aspergers Syndrome. One day, I notice she has posted a Facebook comment under some Christian article about the gender-neutral pronoun “they/their.” She states that “they” can only be used as a plural, and that if “he” or “she” don’t fit, there is always “it”.

I respectfully reply that, while they may have been used as plural pronouns in the past, language evolves and you most definitely can’t refer to anyone as “it”. I also comment that for the sake of tolerance and acceptance, “they/their” as gender-neutral pronouns should be embraced. 

She doesn’t respond, so later that day I ring her to ask if she really feels like calling people “it” is appropriate and to tell her that I actually think it’s pretty mean. I tell her that using respectful language won’t hurt her. She says something like, “And I suppose if I invite a stranger into my house and they slit my throat, that won’t hurt me, either?” — weird, I know! — and she hangs up on me. I try to call back a few times but she refuses my calls. 

I carefully craft an email to her explaining how I feel about what she said. I say that I understand that it’s difficult for her generation — she’s nearly seventy — to accept these societal changes, but it’s important that she does. I also reiterate that language evolves, even including a link to words that have changed meaning over time. I don’t hear back. 

A few days later, she turns up on my doorstep, hands me back my spare house key, tells me that she’s no longer my mother, and walks away. I yell after her to try to see my side but she keeps walking. When I call out, “What about the girls?” referring to my children, her granddaughters, she pauses, turns, and says, “Your girls, your problem!” I’m understandably upset. 

The next day she deletes me, my husband, and my mother-in-law from Facebook. 

I call my sister and my aunty — my mum’s sister — and explain the situation. They are also upset and both promise to talk to her about it. I ask them not to as I don’t want my issue to become their problem.

A few days later, I decide that I’ll be the bigger person for the sake of family and go to visit her with flowers. Fortunately, she’s out in the front of her house when I arrive; I was seriously concerned that she’d slam the door in my face. I give her the flowers and say I am sorry that I upset her and I just want to listen and not talk. She says she felt bullied by me and that her argument was about language and not transphobia. Rather than argue, I just make small talk until she feels better and promises to friend me and my family on Facebook again. 

I can’t say everything is back to normal. I haven’t given her my spare house key back and I won’t ask her to babysit my children again, but at least we can have family functions without any animosity. Fortunately, my mother-in-law is a loving mother to me and an amazing grandmother to my kids so they aren’t missing out too much not having a close relationship with my mother, but it’s still sad that rather than have a reasonable discussion, her first reaction was to cut us out of her life.

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When You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail

, , , , | Friendly | July 14, 2020

My friend sends out a group text to several people, me included.

Friend #1: “Hey! Hike Saturday? Maybe we can camp overnight.”

Friend #2: “I’m in!”

Friend #3: “Depends where we go. I have to work Sunday so I can’t stay overnight.”

Me: “Same, I can’t stay, but I can go out and come back with [Friend #3].”

Friend #1: “Where do you want to go?”

[Friend #2] sends a link with several local hiking trails.

Friend #2: “We could do any of these.”

Friend #1: “Okay.”

Nothing is said for several hours.

Friend #3: “So, what’s the plan?

Friend #1: “[Friend #2] sent a map.”

Me: “Which trail?”

Friend #2: “Doesn’t matter to me.”

Me: “Since [Friend #1] wants to hike, he can pick.”

Friend #1: “Okay.”

A full day goes by with nothing said. It’s now Friday night and I’m getting annoyed at the lack of planning.

Me: “Where are we going tomorrow?”

Friend #1: “I don’t care.”

Friend #2: “You were supposed to pick a trail.”

Friend #1: “Why? We’re all going.”

Friend #3: “Because it’s your idea!”

Friend #1: “Okay!”

Nothing more was ever said about going out, so we didn’t get to go hiking. I don’t understand why you would try to plan an outing and then not plan anything at all!

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If Only More People Were Like This Study Buddy

, , , , , | Learning | June 29, 2020

I text a girl that I am sort of friends with about a class that she has already taken but I am going to take in the next semester. We talk about the class for a bit and then part ways.

A few weeks later, she texts me.

Friend: “Hey! Did you get a seat in one of the TA sessions?”

There are 200 seats and over 500 students.

Friend: “If you didn’t get one, I can send you my notes from last semester!”

Me: “Thank you so much for offering! I did manage to get a seat because I set an alarm for when the signups were opening. Thanks for thinking of me!”

Friend: “Of course! I want you to succeed, buddy!”

I was really touched that she thought of me even though we aren’t really friends. Shoutout to her for being awesome, and I hope to pass on her kindness!

This story is included in our Feel-Good roundup for June 2020!

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