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The Ol’ Bait And Switch

, , , , | Working | April 12, 2021

It’s a Saturday afternoon and the late shift has started. I am working and a young female coworker calls a young male coworker.

Female Coworker: *A little seductively* “Hello, I was just wondering… Do you have any specific plans tonight?”

[Male Coworker] confirms that he does not have any plans; he’s just chilling.

Female Coworker: *Sternly* “Great, so you’d better come and work your hours today, as scheduled!”

Luckily, he lived nearby and was at work five minutes later.

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“Senior Center” Is Definitely Code For “Cult”

, , , , | Working | March 1, 2021

I am the author of this story about my aunt demanding that my husband’s parents join the senior center. About three months later, my aunt comes up with this little gem.

Aunt: “Did you know that the director of our senior center is trying to get a law passed in Delaware that makes all seniors in the state have to join a senior center? That way, [Husband]’s parents have to join the senior center or they have to pay a fine! Our director always prays that every senior finds a senior center just like ours before we eat lunch.”

My aunt gets a look on her face like she is remembering something very pleasant.

Aunt: “Every senior finds a senior center just like ours: yes, she prays that. If the law goes through, her prayer is going to be answered!”

I am skeptical about this at first, so I decide to call the senior center myself and speak to the director.

Me: “Hello, I am [Aunt]’s niece. She says that you want to pass a law that forces all seniors to join a senior center. Is this true?”

Director: “Yes, it is! We are having funding issues at our senior center due to a lack of new people coming to the senior center. The state pays us based on the number of members that we have. We would receive more funding if all seniors were required to join the senior center. I am also trying to get the law passed so we can help seniors. Most of them can’t care for themselves and they need help that the senior center can provide.”

Me: “Don’t you think that it is unconstitutional to force everyone over the age of sixty-five to join a senior center? [Aunt] literally demanded that my husband’s parents join your senior center at my wedding! Do you realize that some seniors don’t want to go to a senior center?”

Director: “But your husband’s parents need the senior center! Most seniors are unable to do basics for themselves such as cooking, grocery shopping, and attending religious services. We provide a nutritious hot meal every day, we take them on bus trips to [Major Retailer,] and we have a preacher who comes to the center every day for services!”

Me: “My husband’s parents are Jewish and are members of a conservative Jewish temple in Wilmington. Why would they want to attend a Christian service every day? They also exclusively eat organic food so they wouldn’t want to eat at the senior center, and they refuse to shop at [Major Retailer] because they don’t like the quality of the food there.”

Director: “But the senior center is a great way to socialize!”

Me: “My husband’s parents both have social anxiety and they don’t want to be around people that they don’t know. They have a daily routine that is set in stone and they follow that routine to the letter every day. There isn’t room to spend time sitting around a senior center!”

Director: “But our senior center is losing funding because new people don’t want to join! If people keep leaving the senior center, we might have to close it! We need a law that forces all seniors to join a senior center to keep the senior centers open!”

Me: “Don’t you think that it is unethical to force people to join a social group if they don’t want to?”

Director: “But seniors need help! They don’t realize that they can’t care for themselves! We need them to join to keep them safe and healthy and to keep our senior center open!”

I hung up after that and I called the state division on aging to complain about the loony senior center director. The guy at the division on aging had heard about the director’s antics before and he said that they had been dealing with complaints about her for years in regards to her overzealous promotion of the senior center. When I talked to my aunt a few weeks later, she was VERY upset that her beloved director had been fired!

Is “Senior Center” Code For “Cult”?

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The Art Of Being A Cool Kid

, , , , , | Friendly | December 11, 2020

As I am walking home from school, I pass these ladies outside our neighborhood’s town center with a Christmas tree, tables, and clipboards. These ladies look to be in their early forties to early sixties. Out of curiosity, I walk up to them.

Me: “Hello!”

Lady #1: “Hi there! Are you interested in helping a child in need this Christmas?”

Me: “Sure! What do I have to do?”

The three ladies look a little shocked at this.

Lady #2: “You pick a kid’s name off the tree, and then you just follow the instructions on the ornament!”

Lady #1: “Would you like to have your parents come back and write their names and phone number?”

Me: “No, it’s fine; I’ll put down my info.”

All the ladies are very shocked at this.

Lady #3: *Pause* “Sign here, please.”

I put down my information and pick a ten-year-old boy who wants an arts and crafts kit.

Me: “Wow! I got lucky! I got a kid who loves art, too!”

Lady #1: “You… you like art?”

Me: “Yeah! I take it at school! Bye!”

As I walk off, I can hear [Lady #1] talking.

Lady #1: “See, [Lady #2]? Not all teenage girls are self-centered b****es!”

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Dressing To Impress Isn’t Always The Best Policy

, , , , | Working | CREDIT: Successful-Medicine9 | December 9, 2020

The shelter I’ve been working at for a couple of years now is over thirty years old and is quite notorious for keeping things the way it’s been since they opened. The daily notes are physically kept in binders, 1980s-style punitive measures are imposed on clients in conflict, and the electrical panels are labeled with cards that went through a typewriter. You get the idea.

The floor supervisor has been in the position for over twenty years. They emphasize that even though jeans are allowed, we need to strictly adhere to the dress code. That means button-up or collared shirts, no logos, only long pants/dresses, no hats unless you’re outside, no visible tattoos, etc. In other words, dress nothing like the vast majority of the people we serve.

Supervisor: “We’re meant to dress the way they should aspire to dress.”

I am told that other staff — including staff above my paygrade — have long hated the dress code and unsuccessfully tried to change it for years. None of them are bold little s***s like me, though.

Given my previous experience with underserved populations, I also know this is a terrible idea. Generally speaking, what people in these communities lack in financial resources, they make up for in their abilities to read people and navigate emotions. If they think you’re an authority figure or acting inauthentically, many will write you off outright. And for the most part, they have a great social and emotional radar.

The dress code says men’s shirts must, “…have visible buttons or a collar.” I sew two buttons near my hip on a plain T-shirt and wear it in. They say nothing the first time, but they have a meeting where they “aren’t pointing out anyone in particular” and update that specific part of the policy to prevent me from doing it again.

Next, I wear capris. After all, nothing about pant length is mentioned, either. This time, the code is updated and we are informed via email. Still, there is no one-on-one conversation about it.

A few months and minor malicious compliances later, our workplace gives us logoed T-shirts with the institution’s name and website on them. Hooray, we think! We will at least be able to wear T-shirts now. Nope. After a week of several coworkers wearing the shirts they gave us, we get an organization-wide email.

Email: “The [Company] T-shirts that were recently distributed do not comply with the dress code and should not be worn during work hours.”

Knowing me as the office rabble-rouser, several pissed off coworkers come to me independently to ask how they, too, can rebel. Enter this story’s biggest malicious compliance.

As a minimalist, I have no desire to hold onto a shirt that I would not wear. We had no input on the design or color of the shirts, and I simply do not need it taking up space in my closet. The most reasonable alternative would be to turn the shirt back in and explain that, so I do that.

[Coworker #1] is moving soon and doesn’t need an extra thing to pack, so she also turns hers in. [Coworker #2]’s partner hates dark green (the shirt’s color), so he turns his in. This happens all the way to twenty-five total employees, with some borrowing other’s excuses.

After five days, the supervisor has a box with two-dozen shirts sitting in his tiny office. He actually has to keep them on his desk, and I can hear him bumping his hand against them when he uses the mouse. Three months later, they are still there. He’s not dumb; he knows those shirts are an “F you” that lives in his office.

He cannot donate them to the shelter due to some other ridiculous handbook rule about organizational spending, and he bikes six miles to work, so driving them home isn’t a reasonable option. He’s tried putting them in general office storage, but his boss has said the shirts are the supervisor’s problem since he ordered them. Currently, he’s just stuck. We know it bothers him, but he knows he can’t bring it up since it’s his own rules that prevent us from wearing them.

There have been no dress code changes so far, but the top-of-the-year meeting regarding our handbook has “dress code” on the table. Three of the people who returned shirts are a part of that advisory board of five. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll finally be rid of some of the dumb, short-sighted elements of our dress code come February.

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Flee From The Fleas!

, , , , , | Working | November 14, 2020

I work at a recreation center — the kind of place that has public rooms for rent for parties and stuff, as well as a billiard room and gym and such. We see a lot of people on any given week.

It’s into spring, and I start to notice bug bites all over my ankles that itch like crazy. It takes me almost two months to figure out what they are and where they came from. One day at work, I go to scratch my legs and come back with a flea between my nails.

I immediately report my findings to our systems and maintenance manager, who is responsible for handling situations like this. He confirms the insect I caught is, indeed, a flea and then has pest control out to spray.

It doesn’t work, as I spend the next two weeks getting eaten alive at work. Now that I know what to look for, I catch several fleas a day trying to drink my blood. [Coworker #1] finds two mysterious bites, and [Coworker #2] and [Coworker #3] each catch a flea themselves. We have ant traps around the building. I check these, and find one or two fleas in each. I also set a water, soap, and light trap at night and catch another three fleas.

We definitely have fleas, although it’s not as if they’re visible by the thousands. However, I am BY FAR the one getting bitten the most. [Coworker #3] and [Coworker #4] haven’t shown a single bite, though they also admit they’re the least likely to get bitten by mosquitoes on family picnics. I tend to always attract mosquitoes.

I again report my findings to the systems and maintenance manager. He refuses to do anything this time because “I already did something” and say that the spray that [Pest Control Company] uses “continues to treat the carpet and kill fleas for weeks.” He also says he “searched everywhere” and couldn’t find a single flea. However, several weeks later, I also heard him say he’s the type to never get bitten by mosquitoes, either.

I start to wear bug spray every day, all day at work, and this does ensure that I no longer get bitten. However, [Coworker #3] voices concerns about me poisoning myself because bug spray is not meant to be worn constantly, and [Coworker #2] and [Coworker #4] say that it’s starting to make them choke on the scent. So I go without bug spray for one day… and walk out with half a dozen new flea bites.

Again, I report these to the systems and maintenance manager. He starts to get sarcastic with me.

Maintenance Manager: “Are you sure you’re not bringing these from home?”

Me: “I am completely certain. I’ve caught dozens of fleas here, and [Coworkers #1-#4] can vouch for it because they’ve seen me do so.”

Maintenance Manager: “You’re the only one with this problem. It all comes back to you. Your cat probably has fleas, and you’re getting bitten by those.”

Me: “I don’t have a cat. I have a chinchilla, and—”

Maintenance Manager: “Then you’re getting fleas from your chinchilla!”

Me: “And she hasn’t been outside since the day I brought her home from the pet store eight years ago. Plus, chinchillas can’t get fleas; their fur is too thick.”

Maintenance Manager: “You’re the only one with the problem. Maybe if you cleaned your house more, you wouldn’t have fleas.”

Me: “Do you want to check the traps around the room? I can prove that the fleas have come from here. [Coworker #1] has also been bitten, and [Coworker #2] and [Coworker #4] are complaining that they don’t want to bring fleas home with them!”

Maintenance Manager: “Well, I can’t do anything for another two weeks because we recently had [Pest Control Company] out.”

Getting sick of having my legs look like raspberries and the manager doing nothing, I decide to take matters into my own hands. I buy a bug bomb, and on Friday, when it’s a holiday weekend and we’re closed through Monday, I set it off, carefully following all directions on it.

Come Tuesday, I get pulled into the office by the director. They write me up for “not following policy.” The policy they produced was one about bed bugs, where we’re supposed to report everything to the systems and maintenance manager and let him deal with the issue. They insist I should have known that the exact same policy applies to fleas as well as bed bugs, despite the policy only naming bed bugs and no other pests. They also insist bug bombs are illegal, which I checked; they are not illegal in my state. Why would a major retailer sell them if they were contraband, anyway?

Director: “Why didn’t you report this to [Maintenance Manager]?”

Me: “I did. Several times. And I showed him all the dead fleas we caught. But he thinks I live in squalor or something and insists I’m getting bitten at home and bringing fleas to work.”

Director: “Did he?”

Me: “Yes, he said I’m the only one with the problem and he refused to do anything more about it.”

Director: “Well, we can’t just keep having [Pest Control Company] come out. They use harsh chemicals, and since we have a lot of children, we don’t want them to get sick.”

Me: “What about bloodborne pathogens? Do you think it’s okay for children to get sick from flea bites and diseases transmitted that way?”

Director: “We’re doing all we can. We’ll have them come out to spray again as soon as it’s feasible.”

Okay, whatever, I get written up. But at least for two weeks, we are flea-free until someone from the public brings them in again. So, once more, I go back to getting eaten alive at work and capturing fleas off of my legs. My coworkers catch two or three, but I’m the one dealing with this issue the most. At the end of the next month, the systems and maintenance manager FINALLY calls in another round of pest control, and I happen to be scheduled that day. So, I start to ask questions.

Me: “Do fleas ever single out one person?”

Pest Control: “Oh, yeah. I see that a lot! Sometimes they’ll only bite the wife and not the husband or vice versa.”

Me: “How do you get rid of them?”

Pest Control: “You have to vacuum everything daily and clean the vacuum out outside.”

It’s worth noting that [Maintenance Manager] cut back on the janitorial budget, and we only get cleaned thoroughly once a week. The daily tasks the janitors have are basically cleaning the bathrooms and taking out the trash.

Pest Control: “It’s best if you can steam the carpets. Then, you have to spray everything regularly. It’s best to hit it several times so you get the eggs, larva, and adult bugs. And, of course, treat any pets that have fleas so they don’t bring them back in.”

Me: “So what are you using to kill them today?”

Pest Control: “This is a mixture that’s mostly water with about a 33% rubbing-alcohol-like substance and then a third ingredient that helps it store better and disperse from the nozzle evenly.”

Me: “So it doesn’t soak in the carpet and stay there for a while?”

Pest Control: *Proudly* “Nope! [Maintenance Manager] asked for the gentlest stuff we have so that the kids who come here won’t get sick. But don’t worry, I’m spraying it really well today. Though I do recommend follow-up treatments. Like I said, you want to get the eggs and larva and adult bugs.”

Me: “Uh-huh.”

I now have zero hope of being flea-free.

Sure enough, there was no follow-up treatment and I continued to get bitten all summer unless I wore bug spray. One of the staff members outside of my immediate coworkers DID wind up with a flea infestation inside her own — pet-free — home, which they traced back to her car, and by logic, our workplace.

However, [Maintenance Manager] continued to insist that I was “the only one with this problem” and did nothing else.

Only when winter came did the buggers finally die. And then, after four months of bite-free bliss, the suckers came back with the spring! I wound up quitting.

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