It’s Alarming That You Don’t See The Urgency Of The Situation

, , , , , | Healthy | March 19, 2021

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains content of a medical nature. It is not intended as medical advice.

I get a job at the front desk of my college residence hall during my freshman year. Most phone calls are pretty basic; people want to know when the desk closes or when they can collect their packages.

But this one still boggles my mind.

Me: “[School] housing and dining, my name is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Resident: “Hi, do we have an on-call nurse?”

Me: ”No, we don’t. Is this an emergency scenario?”

Resident: “No, my roommate lost vision in her left eye for like six minutes.”

I am absolutely speechless. I would think most people would go to an emergency room or at least schedule a doctor’s appointment when something of that severity happened. My first plan of action would definitely not be to call the front desk.

Me: “Does she still not have vision?”

Resident: “No, she can see now.”

Me: “Then maybe schedule a doctor visit or go to the ER if it happens again?”

Resident: “I think that’s a good idea, but she says she doesn’t want to. Thanks, anyway.”

I didn’t know what to say. I left my shift that day very confused about that phone call.

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A Tale Of Malicious Compliance And Petty Revenge

, , , , , | Learning | March 10, 2021

There once was a university that made a person dean of a school. This person was unqualified for the post, knew it, and consequently overcompensated with power trips and micromanagement.

When one person didn’t reply to one of his emails quickly enough, he instituted a rule — in a school-wide email — that all emails must have a response sent to all concerned parties, preferably immediately, but at any rate within one business day.

A humble and obedient faculty member began following the policy to the letter. Every email received had responses sent to all concerned parties within one business day. Of course, a simple “reply all” takes care of the “all concerned parties” clause. However, a non-faculty person would be surprised how many department-wide, school-wide, and university-wide emails the average faculty member receives in a day.

Within two days, said humble and obedient faculty member was receiving emails requesting, then begging, and in some cases demanding that they stop replying all to fill-in-the-blank-wide emails. In each case, the requestor/beggar/demander received a prompt reply, explaining the policy and attaching the original email.

The policy lasted approximately four more days. The new dean lasted approximately four more semesters.

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This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 100

, , , , , | Right | March 9, 2021

A student comes up with his books to purchase for the first day of classes. I’ve had a million of these transactions today. But when I process his order, his credit card is declined.

Me: “I’m sorry, your card is declined. Let’s run it again to be sure.”

I do so and it is declined again.

Me: “I’m sorry, it’s still being declined.”

Student: “Run it again.”

Me: “I’ve run it twice.”

Student: “Run it again.”

I run the card again, and what do you know? It’s still declined.

Me: “It’s still coming up declined. Do you have another card?”

Student: “It’s not my card. It has to be your computer. Run it again.”

Me: “I can’t keep running the card; it’s been declined three times.”

Student: “It has to be your system.”

Me: “I’ve been running cards all day; it is not our system.”

Student: “Then you need to call someone.”

Me: “There is no one I can call. It’s not our system. There is something going on with your card. A hold, perhaps. You need to call the company.”

Student: “So, you call the company.”

Me: “It’s not my card. I can’t call the company; that’s your responsibility.”

Student: “I just used the card last night!”

Me: “I don’t know what to tell you. It is not working now.”

Student: “Run it again!”

At this point, a large line of pretty annoyed students is piling up. I decide to try to run the card as a manual, to see if by some miracle that will work. It does not, not that I am surprised.

Me: “Your card is still being declined. There is nothing more I can do. You need to contact the company to find out what is going on with your card.”

I hand him back his card and start gathering his books so I can put them back.

Student: “What are you doing?!”

Me: “I’m going to put your books aside so they can be returned to the shelf.”

Student: “You mean I can’t take them?”

Me: “No. You didn’t pay for them.”

Student: “But I tried! I should be able to take them.”

Me: “I cannot let you walk out of this store with these books if they are not paid for. I would be fired.”

Student: “But I tried!”

He finally gave up and I got to deal with the long line that had filled in while dealing with him. He finally came back several hours later. Turned out the company had put a hold on his card because he had purchased something out of state. Guess it wasn’t our system after all.

This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 99
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 98
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 97
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 96
This Is Why We’re In A Recession, Part 95

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The Soy Saga Of The Mocha Guy

, , , , | Right | March 7, 2021

This story takes place over the course of most of a year at the coffee shop at my university. I work the most shifts there, partially because I am taking fewer courses than some of the other staff — all of us were students — and partially because I am always up for an extra buck.

Being a university coffee shop, we have a ton of regulars with easily predictable schedules; nearly everyone is a student, professor, or other university staff. I get to the point where I know probably a good 60 or 70% of the morning rush customers by face and order, if not by name.

I’m on the afternoon shift when a fellow I don’t recognise comes in.

Customer: “I’ll have my usual.”

Me: “Sorry, I don’t think I’ve served you before; what’s your usual?”

Customer: “You know, my usual. I have it every time I’m here.”

I look to my coworker to see if she knows his order, and she just shrugs. 

Me: “I guess we’ve never managed to be here when you’ve ordered before. Could you just let me know, and we’ll try to remember for next time?”

He seems a bit put out that we don’t know his order.

Customer: “It’s a large mocha, extra sweet, with a shot of vanilla, hazelnut, and coconut.”

Me: “All right, that’ll be [amount].”

My coworker is already working on a couple of drinks for another customer, and we don’t have a queue, so I head over to make it. Just as I’m steaming the milk, he speaks up.

Customer: “Oh, and that’s with soy, by the way.”

I put down the 2% and go get our soy jug. By the time I put the double amount of chocolate syrup for the extra sweet, the three shots of syrups, and the two shots of espresso, the cup is about two-thirds full. It smells absolutely rank, but whatever; it’s what he ordered and paid for!

I hand the drink out to him and turn to serve another customer who’s just turned up. He then stands there for a good five or ten minutes trying to chat with my coworker and me, as we’re trying to serve the late afternoon rush that’s just started. Finally, he leaves and I think that’s that. 

He does turn out to actually be a regular customer, and he does always order his usual. Well. Sort of.

I have a bit of a spotty memory, so while I can remember “large soy mocha, extra sweet, three shots of syrup,” I can’t always pull to mind which shots those were. Every time I ask him, I get a different set of flavours. (I’m pretty sure he can’t remember, either.) And he always comes in just before the afternoon rush, and he always tries to chat with us as though there is no one else we need to serve.

My coffee shop is right next to the part of the university that gets used for graduation ceremonies. Twice a year, we get SLAMMED with all the families there to see their kids graduate, as well as all our regular customers. Management has come up with a pretty brilliant plan: we set up a side section in our normal seating area with a cash-only till and our plain drip coffee urns, tea, and pastries. That way, the regulars who just want a plain coffee and a croissant and know the exact price can pop over to the other line and be out in a few moments, rather than waiting in the line with all the parents and grannies and cousins from out of town who all have to pay on card and have orders for the whole family of like six or seven drinks.

This works pretty well for us. I frequently volunteered to work the cash line because I’ve memorised the cost of large coffee and pastry and can get people out of there quickly.

It is June of 2011 and Vancouver loses the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Boston Bruins, on home ice. The city goes nuts, and we have the Vancouver Hockey Riot. I stay in that night and watch the game on TV, and I read about the riot the next morning in the news. This just so happens to be the week of our graduation ceremonies.

I end up on the cash line again, and whenever I get a slow moment with a regular, we end up chatting about the riot, because, uh, what the heck?! Most of us are just embarrassed by it, and some folks have stories from friends of friends who were out there. Pretty normal customer service conversation. Then comes the regular.

He looks at the long queue for speciality coffees and comes over to me.

Me: “Hey, not having your mocha today? Just so you know, it’s cash-only over here.”

Customer: “Nah, I’ll just have a large coffee.”

Me: “Cool, that’s [amount].”

As he’s pouring his coffee, there are no other customers in my line.

Me: “Crazy thing last night, after the game, huh?”

Customer: “Oh, yeah, real wild. But really, I’m not surprised.”

I am suddenly very tense.

Me: “Oh?”

Customer: “Oh, yeah, all hockey fans are violent.”

Me: “Uh, woah, now. Hey, I like hockey, and I’m not violent!”

Customer: “Oh, well. Most of them are.”

Me: “Well, what about that guy who got put in hospital trying to help out?”

Customer: “He should have tried harder.”

Me: “What, so you think everyone who was there should have been putting themselves in danger to stop the riot just to prove they aren’t violent people?”

Customer: “Yeah.”

Me: “There were folks out there with little kids! Come on, man. Clearly, there were some people who just wanted a fight, but you can’t just label all hockey fans violent.”

Customer: “Well, if they weren’t violent, they would have stopped it.”

I realise I’m not going to win this one, and I am unwilling to have a proper fight about it with a customer.

Me: “Well, I gotta go refill this pot of coffee. You have a good day.”

I tell this story to my coworkers.

Coworker: “Okay, we thought he was just kind of awkward and a bit of a weird guy, but this is just rude.”

We’re now all a bit on edge with him whenever he orders, worried he’s gonna say something super rude that we have to try to roll with.

A few months pass, and we’re now in September. We have a hometown hero in my neck of the woods: Terry Fox, a young guy who lost a leg to cancer, who decided in 1980 to run across Canada to raise money for Cancer Research. He never finished the run, due to the cancer spreading, and now every year schools across Canada do a campus run to raise money.

Terry Fox went to my university before his run, so we make a pretty big deal of it. As you can imagine, on the day of the run, the topic of conversation with the customers is, “Oh, hey, you doing the run today?”

Enter the regular:

Me: *As I’m making his drink* “So, you doing the run this afternoon, man?”

Customer: “Nah, it’s just raising money for a dead guy.”

Silence. You can hear a pin drop in the shop. It’s like everyone heard him and is now holding their breath.

My mum works at the university and is, in fact, fairly well known and well liked. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in high school and worked throughout her cancer treatments. Almost everyone knows I’m her kid, especially all my coworkers.

Me: *In the midst of steaming the milk for his mocha* “Woah, man, the money isn’t for him; it goes to cancer research.”

Customer: “Nah, it’s all a front. If people just ate better and didn’t fill themselves with chemicals, they wouldn’t get cancer.”

I put the steam jug down.

Me: *Getting emotional* “Hey, man, my mum had cancer, and she’s one of the biggest health nuts I know.”

Customer: “Well, she must have deserved it somehow.”

I turn to my coworker, who is staring, wide-eyed.

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t serve this customer anymore. Can you finish this drink up?”

I then went into our little back room to sit down for a minute. My coworker finished the drink and then came to check on me. I managed to chill and get back to work.

A few weeks later, when I was back on an afternoon shift, I noticed our regular outside our shop. I steeled myself, took a deep breath, and vowed to put my customer service face on and just deal with him. I watched him look into the shop and peer over at the till. Our eyes locked.

He turned and walked away.

For the next two years that I worked at that coffee shop, he never again came in while I was there.

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Ring Me Once, Shame On Me…

, , , , , , | Learning | March 6, 2021

It is the first day of the new semester of my third year of college. The professor has spent a large portion of the class reviewing the syllabus.

Professor: “…and cell phones should be off or set to silent. If you interrupt my class with a phone call, I will take a half-grade off your next test.”

My phone starts ringing with a recognizable fanfare from a famous video game series. The professor stops speaking and everyone stares at me.

Professor: “You going to answer that?”

Me: “Nope. Going to pretend like it’s not happening.”

Professor: “Ha! Good call.”

I got full credit on the next test.

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