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You Have To Watch Out For People Like That

, , , , , | Learning | January 19, 2022

I am in my freshman year of college, living in the dorms. My roommate and I immediately become the best of friends. 

One day, I realize I’ve misplaced a watch that my father gave me. I’m sad as I really loved it. About a week later, it shows up on my roommate’s half of my shared desk. I’m thrilled to see it and immediately put it on. 

A few hours later, my roommate comes in from class.

Roommate: “Hey, I’d put a watch on my desk. Did you see it?”

Me: “Oh! That was my watch I’d lost. Where did you find it?”

Roommate: “Uh, no, that was my friend’s watch that she left here. I was saving it for her.”

Me: “I just lost my watch somewhere around here a week ago. I’m pretty sure this is mine. Did your friend have the same brand?”

Roommate: “You’re lying. My friend lost her watch, and I found it in the common area where we were hanging out. No way you also lost yours there.”

Me: “Um… I mean, this is the watch I lost. And I sit in the common area, too.”

Roommate: “NO! You just want it for yourself!”

She starts screaming at me. I’m completely stunned as she’s never been mean to me and I can’t understand why she thinks I’m lying. I have anxiety, as well, and I can’t help but tear up.

The commotion gets the Resident Assistant’s attention. 

RA: “What’s going on here?”

Roommate: “She stole my friend’s watch! I found it and I already told her, and [My Name] is pretending it’s hers.”

RA: *To me* “Is this true?”

Me: *In tears* “No. It’s my watch that my father gave me. It’s really important to me. I lost it and I saw it on the desk and thought [Roommate] had found it.”

Roommate: “LIAR!”

RA: “Calm down, [Roommate]. [My Name], can you prove it’s yours?”

Me: “I mean, it looks just like the one I lost here in the dorm. Haven’t either of you seen me wearing it?”

Roommate: “All I know is, my friend lost her watch and I found this one. It’s gotta be hers. [My Name] is just jealous because she doesn’t have nice things so she’s trying to steal it!”

My family has never been well-off, and I have been mocked for years for wearing secondhand clothing and not owning expensive things. I’m so hurt at this point.

RA: “Okay, that’s enough. I’m keeping the watch until this is resolved. [Roommate], have your friend send a detailed description of their lost watch. [My Name], you write down all the details you remember.”

The next day…

RA: “Okay, I’ve compared the two descriptions to the watch. They are very similar, to the point that I almost couldn’t find the difference. But one detail stood out to me that proves…”

I’m thinking, “Get to the point!” [Roommate] stares smugly at me. 

RA: “…that this is [My Name]’s watch.”

Roommate: “WHAT?! That’s not fair! She had time to study it!”

RA: “That may be true, but your friend said that her watch used Roman numerals. And this watch uses Arabic numerals…”

Roommate: “She could have misremembered!”

RA: “…and [My Name] said her watch used Arabic numerals.” *Hands me the watch* “So, here you go.”

Roommate: “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

RA: “Enough. It’s resolved, and I don’t want to hear any more about this.”

While I have my beloved watch back, my roommate stares daggers at me. Our friendship is over. A few days later, I overhear her talking to her friend.

Roommate: *On the phone* “Oh… you found your watch?” *Nervous laugh* “That’s great!”

Still, she never forgave me. She made mean comments every chance she got. I caught her messing with my belongings several times. Eventually, she was bullying me so badly that I had to switch roommates. I was glad to be rid of her, although that incident definitely gave me trust issues for years!

And yes, I still have the watch fifteen years later.

The Saga Of Luckless And His Crew

, , , , , , , | Legal | January 17, 2022

I worked at a Catholic college. A few years ago, I was working the dinner shift in the café, and since it was a little slower during those periods, I would also do things like inventory once a week and major stocking.

When I got out my inventory sheet to start that portion of my shift I noticed our back stock of retail beverages (bottles and cans) was way more depleted than normal; by that, I mean that we were short by full cases. This was very much not a good sign. Then, I moved on to our cases of chips to find the same problem. I figured it was a management error and wrote my manager a note saying so. 

Skip to the next morning, when my manager found all of our “grab and go” food items missing from the cold box and the packaging of those items was strewn from one end of our café to the other trailing out the main doors and onto campus.

Obviously, someone was getting in and taking whatever they pleased and were now getting pretty sloppy.

Color the crew (me included) baffled. We searched madly high and low for a way they were getting in to no avail until yours truly was in the ladies’ room. I just happened to look up at the skylight about thirty feet above me. The window was pried open and there were shoe marks on the walls. Oh, it’s on now! 

Step one: install a padlock to the outside of the women’s room. They can get in through the skylight, but not back out.

Step two: involve the very bored small-town police force in a stakeout.

Step three: wait.

For practical reasons, the staff of our little café were not invited to the stakeout, but from what I heard it went down about like this.

At about one in the morning, the police saw someone scale the wall to the roof — a freshman boy who we’ll call Luckless. Two more freshmen were spotted by the main doors; they’re the type that only lock from the inside, so one can assume that Luckless was getting in via the ladies’ room and letting his friends in. 

Luckless dropped into the ladies’ room only to find he was stuck, and when the cops unlocked the door with guns drawn and the whole bit, Luckless wet in his college brand sweatpants. (That is speculation; one of the cops told me this, but I think he was just trying to get a rise out of me.) 

Luckless’s friends were picked up trying to run back to their dorm room to leave Luckless with the blame. The dorm room in question had a ton of our product in it. They were taken to lockup where they spilled the entire beans, as it were.

It turned out that every year, as a hazing ritual for the men’s lacrosse team, the freshmen were sent to break into the cafeteria and take one thing to prove they’d done it. Luckless and his friends went through the hazing, found out how easy it was, and started breaking in every night and going hog wild on all of our merchandise. 

I guess we were pretty lucky these boys were so stupid. If they had managed to get into the walk-in, they would have found the sides of beef and twenty-pound boxes of chicken parts. But no, they just wanted cases of Gatorade and terrible, prepackaged sushi.

Sadly, the school dropped the charges on them when Luckless and crew’s parents got involved. Since I didn’t have ties to the actual school, I don’t know how all of that worked out. The weird part was, their punishment was to work in the very café they had robbed blind. 

We had those kids do the grossest jobs we could think of. Luckless had it the worst; he had to clean out the grease trap in the dish room after it had backed up. I’ll never forget the look on his face coming out of there, arms covered almost to the shoulder with grease and bits of month-old food clinging to him. 

No sympathy was to be had from the staff. In fact, the whole crew’s attitude was, “HA! That’ll teach ya!”

Weirdly Unfamiliar With Garbage, All Things Considered

, , , | Learning | January 15, 2022

I was doing undergraduate research in a lab, working toward my thesis. The other people were a hard-working, tightly-knit, mutually supportive group, with a few notable exceptions. One of these exceptions was a girl who did not absolutely care one jot beyond her own immediate needs, and a few things she did still stick out in my memory, years later.

One of the postgrads, who was supposed to mentor this girl, vanished during the weekend; he left on Friday afternoon with a curt “bye” and did not show up on Monday… or Tuesday… or Wednesday. We did ask around whether he was ill or inconvenienced, but she did not volunteer any information. Then, the head of the lab, who was not in any way involved with the post-grad, asked [Girl] if she was going to be able to cope doing the project without assistance.

Girl: “Yes, I can manage. [Postgrad] left me all the instructions and notes.”

Head Of Lab: “Oh, so he knew in advance that he was going to be away?”

Girl: “Yes, he’s quit. He told me a week ago that he had found a proper job.”

And we were wondering whether he was in hospital!

We also had to move because the prefab building where the lab was located was literally losing bits of roof. The movers took care of the large stuff but we had to pack the smaller equipment ourselves. [Girl] and I were in charge of wrapping glassware and putting it into boxes. At one point, I saw the corner of a familiar-looking aluminium plate poking out of a black bag. Because it was just the two of us, and I would never throw that away, there could be only one culprit.

Me: “[Girl], that would not be the aluminium plate from [piece of machinery that I used and she did not], would it?”

Girl: “How would I know?! It’s just some garbage.”

Me: “It’s not garbage! It’s important for spreading the heat evenly across the electrophoresis gel. [Girl], just ask before throwing away techware that you don’t know about. We are already on a tight budget without having to replace lost equipment.”

She just shrugged. I took out the aluminium plate, checked whether anything else of value had been chucked out — it had: clamps, gaskets, stirring magnets, and several other bits and bobs of a chemistry lab — and resumed packing.

During the lunch break, [Girl] told everyone who would listen the story of how I was salvaging garbage from the black bags, a thing she found hilarious.

A few years ago, the former lab group had a reunion. I was invited; she wasn’t.

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | January 14, 2022

Back in the 1990s, my IT college tutor was regaling the class with a story about his time working on a helpdesk for his old company.

One client, in particular, kept phoning to complain that he couldn’t get the floppy disks to work. At the time, the huge 5.25-inch actually-floppy floppies were the height of sophistication.

After taking several calls about the same issue, sending and resending batches of the disks to the client, and being unable to make any sense of it, my tutor got permission to visit the client and try to work out what was going on.

When he got there, he asked the client to show him what he was doing when the issue occurred.

To his utter amazement, the client took a brand-new disk from the packet, proceeded to peel the thick protective cover off the disk, and then try to insert the round, thin, magnetic storage part into the drive.

Apparently, the client had wondered why there was so much “packaging” around the disk, and on pulling one apart the first time, decided that the magnetic storage looked so fragile that the additional “packaging” made sense.

Their Knowledge Is A Bit Floppy

Pretty Much What Most History Books Are Doing These Days

, , , , , | Right | January 14, 2022

I’m designing a photographic history exhibit for a prestigious university. The project requires a series of panels that each depict a different decade, from the 1930s to the present.

Client: “You know, this is all great, but it could use a little more diversity. Right now, there are a lot of photos of all white men, and we don’t want to send the wrong message.”

Me: “Okay, that’s a reasonable request. I could pull some photos of your black student organizations and women’s center and add those to the panels showing the school’s more recent history.”

Client: “Actually, we’d love more diversity in the early panels too.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Client: “Like this panel depicting the university in the 30s. All the photos are of white men!”

The school did not admit black students until the 1970s.