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From Sweet To Decidedly Sour

, , , , | Right | November 27, 2022

I work in an ice cream shop. It’s a slow night, and I’m standing around talking with a coworker and our boss when the phone rings.

Me: “[Store], how can I help you?”

Customer: “I’m really hungover. Can I get some cookie dough?”

There are no customers in the store, so I roll my eyes at my boss and point to the phone before I turn to the register.

Me: “Sure. How much would you like?”

Customer: “Wow. You sound just like my daughter.”

Me: “Okay. Did you want scoops or a pint of that cookie dough?”

Customer: “Two scoops.”

He has been talking softly up to this point but suddenly changes his tone.

Customer: “And don’t be a f*****’ b****.”

Me: “Excuse me. I do not appreciate that language; there’s no need for that.”

My boss immediately handed out his hand for the phone, and the customer hung up as soon as he heard a man’s voice. What a creep.

What A Bloody Circus

, , , , , , | Healthy | October 5, 2022

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

 

I go to donate blood for the first time in a few years, but I am turned down since my iron is too low. I spend the next two days loading up on iron-rich foods and go back to try again. My iron levels are lower. This continues every other day for three weeks. It’s become a personal quest to donate at this point. No amount of meat, spinach, tofu, beans, or supplements can get my iron within the acceptable range.

Finally, one of the phlebotomists looks at my levels for the last three weeks and tells me I should really probably talk to my general practitioner. My general practitioner left the state two years ago, so I go to someone else in the same practice. She sends me off to get a full blood panel done. When the results come in, she calls me to her office.

Doctor: “I can see some abnormalities, but I’m not really qualified to state conclusively what I think is going on. I’m going to call in for a referral to a specialist for you.”

I’m a bit worried at this point, but not overly so. I’m a twenty-eight-year-old woman with no real history of health issues aside from a bout of MRSA when I was a teen.

A few hours go by, and I get a phone call that I recognize as being from the hospital my doctor practices out of. I answer.

Receptionist: “Hello, this is [Major Oncology Office] calling for [My Name]?”

I feel numb. I hadn’t expected a referral to an oncology — cancer — clinic. 

Me: “That’s me.”

Receptionist: “We got a referral for you to come in and meet with [Doctor #2]. We can fit you in [lists several times two weeks out].”

I pick the best time, hang up, and remind myself that nothing is certain at this point.

I’m naturally a very (overly) emotional person and decide I need someone to talk me down. I go to my mother, who has absolutely zero patience for anyone being sick other than herself. You could be bleeding out of your eyes and ears and she’d lecture you on why it was neither a big deal nor worse than anything she had to deal with. I figure she’ll slap some sense into me.

When I go to her house, I sit her down, and tell her what’s been going on the past few weeks and about my upcoming appointment with an oncologist. The color drains from her face and she very uncharacteristically hugs me. She spends the next half-hour listing off all the relatives — whom I never knew about — who died of cancer at about my age. Needless to say, I am far from comforted.

Two weeks go by, and I meet with my oncologist. He turns out NOT to be an oncologist, but rather a hematologist — a blood doctor. He looks over my referral paperwork and then asks me why I’m there. I explain the problems with my iron levels and blood tests. He cuts me off.

Hematologist: “It’s actually your hemoglobin levels. Women naturally have lower hemoglobin levels than men do.”

Me: “That’s why women use a different scale than men for measuring ‘normal’ ranges for hemoglobin, and I’m well below normal by any standards. A woman should have levels just above 12 g/dl. I’m regularly measuring in between 8.5-9.5 g/dl.”

I later learn that blood transfusions are recommended when the level gets to 8.0 g/dl.

He attempts to discreetly roll his eyes.

Hematologist: “Women bleed for a week every month. Of course, they’re going to have low hemoglobin levels.”

Me: “But there is absolutely no correlation between my hemoglobin levels and my menstrual cycle, both of which I have been graphing on a calendar on my phone.”

He sends me for another blood panel. When those results come back, he recommends I take a stool test to check for internal bleeding.

When the results from THAT come back, he says it appears that I probably have an upper GI bleed and need to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy done.

Neither reveals anything out of the ordinary.

By now, nearly six months have gone by. I’m tired all the time, I get dizzy very easily, I have very low blood pressure, and I get frequent muscle cramps.

One day, I’m scrolling through Facebook when a pregnant friend mentions that her pregnancy is causing bad acid reflux and asks for advice. I used to have bad acid reflux myself and a stomach ulcer years ago, so I look at the comments to see if anyone has recommended the extremely common proton-pump inhibitor my original general practitioner put me on years ago before leaving the state.

Several people have recommended it, but one comment thread sticks out: a nurse practitioner friend argues against the proton-pump inhibitor, pointing out several studies showing that it blocks the body’s ability to absorb iron and B12.

I do some more digging online and find out that you’re only supposed to take this medication for up to two weeks. My original doctor told me I would need to take it for the rest of my life and had set up recurrent mail delivery as a result.

I immediately get myself a new doctor with a different practice. I don’t mention my suspicions about the proton-pump inhibitor, but I show him all my blood tests and history regarding my hemoglobin levels. He looks at my general patient files listing the medicines I’m on and immediately tells me my problems are all being caused by the proton-pump inhibitor and I should have been taken off it years ago.

Because not one doctor up to this point had bothered looking at what medications I was on — which their nurses updated in my files every time I visited — I spent nearly eight months of my life getting ridiculous, unnecessary procedures and tests at the cost of well over $3,000 and fearing something was deathly wrong with me.

I filed complaints against the hematologist and my original doctor, but I never heard anything back.

Character Development. Personal Growth. Does Not Compute.

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 21, 2022

I started working in a fast food restaurant, and for the first two weeks, I noticed that there was no general manager. The person who had hired me worked in the district office and advised me that any serious concerns that needed to be handled by someone with the “final say” in terms of the restaurant should be directed to the district office. Aside from that, it seemed that management responsibilities were split between the shift managers.

Everything was relaxed and calm for those two weeks until our new general manager appeared, having been transferred from another restaurant.

To say that this man was heavy-handed was an understatement. Although he was tall and lanky and had an annoying pitch to his voice, it soon became very apparent that this was not someone to mess with. You could work your tail off, firing off three dozen orders in a row, and he’d be the type to appear out of nowhere when you stopped to take a quick breather, ripping into you with, “Do you think we pay you to lean against the wall and daydream?”

Every mistake on an order would summon his condemnation. Numerous times, I would be vigorously putting together an order and would see him in my peripheral vision, standing with his arms folded, and he would say something like, “Much too slow!” or, “Sloppy work! You can do better than that!”

One day, he came in and was especially riding everyone down to the point where I saw the girl in the drive-thru with tears in her eyes, both prep kitchen workers with panic-stricken faces, and the cashier next to me slamming things around and muttering profanities under his breath. And I was catching h*** from him every few minutes for every little uncrossed T and undotted I.

Manager: “Move… your… a**! Do you have arthritis?”

Me: “I’m doing the best I can!”

Manager: “You can do better! Your performance is at less than half of what is expected by corporate standards!”

Me: “I’m not Superman! There is no way I can do all this in half the amount of time!”

Manager: “You want me to call the corporate office and tell them to make a special exception for you because you can’t do it?”

I’d had enough. I pushed the lock button on my register and then nudged the cashier next to me, shook her hand, and said:

Me: “Good luck. I’m done.”

As I walked to the back to go gather my things, the manager said:

Manager: “So, that’s it? Just quit? Don’t even want to try? Someone criticizes you and you just turn in your uniform? Coach hollers at you, and you just walk off the court and hit the showers, leaving your team hanging?”

Me: *Spinning around* “LEAVE! ME! ALONE!”

I got changed back into my regular clothes in the dressing room. When I emerged, [Manager] was standing in front of the door with a calmer expression on his face. He gestured toward the office.

Manager: “Let’s talk.”

I gave it a few seconds and for some reason decided to go ahead, even though I’d made up my mind that I was done.

The manager shut the door behind him and asked me to have a seat.

Manager: “What’s the problem? Give it to me raw and uncensored.”

Me: “You have been nothing but a Class-A a**hole ever since you set foot in this restaurant! That’s the problem! And I’m done!”

Manager: “I’ve been a Class-A a**hole. Okay. Give me some examples.”

Me: “You yelled at me for dropping a nugget on the floor and throwing it away without marking it down! I mean, what the h*** difference does make?”

Manager: “Let me explain what the h*** difference it makes. We are required to inventory all food in this restaurant—”

Me:And? If you’ve counted it already from the delivery—”

Manager: “Hold on. Everything is inventoried, down to the last nugget. So, if we count everything, and then two days later, we count again and our inventory is in a minus because you threw away a nugget, Sue threw away a nugget, Bob threw a nugget, Alex threw away a nugget… Right there is a four-piece box for $1.59 missing that the district office wants to know about! And it goes on with everyone simply throwing things away. Last month, this store was missing $1,200 worth of food, and the office wanted answers! And who do you think has to answer for it?” *Points to himself*

Me: “Okay, fine. Then, you screamed at me for buying too much food on an employee discount even though I was freaking paying for it!

Manager: “You pay half of it. The store absorbs the other half of it. You bought $16 worth of food for your lunch, and there are employees buying more than that for theirs! Last month, this store absorbed $10,000 in employee meals alone! This stuff adds up and eats into our profits! Please cap it at $8. What else?”

Me: “Then you are always yelling at us and telling us we’re too slow!”

He motioned for me to look at the computer screen and pulled up a page with bars and charts.

Manager: “See this? These are the performance records of all the stores belonging to this chain for the year. This here is our performance!”

He pulled up a sheet full of bars marked red.

Manager: “This store underperformed in three quarters out of the last year, and the corporate office is fed up! That’s why they sent the last general manager packing and shipped me over here. I’m here on a rescue mission to save this restaurant before they pull the license and order it shut down! I’m not the one saying you are performing at half speed. They are! I’m trying to save your jobs!”

We ended up talking for about half an hour, and we both got to understand each other’s positions and feelings. And we finally compromised that, as long as we put in effort and double down on our speed and quality, he would stop yelling and try to be more helpful with his criticism.

And he kept up his part of the deal! Never again did we hear him yell. If someone made a mistake, he would simply show it to them and say, “Come on. I expect better!” If he thought someone was lagging, he would quietly jerk his thumbs upward to let them know to pick it up. And as I heard, he discarded everyone’s write-ups that he’d issued. 

I ended up working there for four years before moving on to other endeavors. He’ll always be remembered as the bulldog that was actually able to take blunt negative criticism from employees, explain his reasons instead of saying, “Because I’m the boss and I said so!” and drastically improve his attitude, making it once again tolerable for employees to come in and work without internal pressure. Boss of the year medal from me!

The Kayak And The Sinking Feeling

, , , , | Right | July 31, 2022

When I was in high school, I worked for a midsized retail company. My particular store was located near a state park and got super busy during the summers.

On one such busy summer afternoon, a couple came in looking to buy a kayak. The kayak was brought around to the front of the store, so it was all ready for them to purchase and go. Right as it was time for them to check out, we got hit with the lunchtime rush, and the entire checkout area was crowded with customers and staff.

All of a sudden, someone realized that the couple was taking off into the parking lot with their kayak.

Coworker: “Hey, did they pay for that?”

Front End Supervisor: “No, I didn’t see them come through any of the registers.”

My manager happened to be hanging out near the front, so he set off after them into the parking lot. Apparently finding themselves caught in their ruse, they surrendered the kayak and took off.

My manager came back with the kayak. Usually, this would go straight back to storage or display, but it was still super busy, so instead, he just puts the kayak upright in our returns section which was a couple of shelves at the far end of the registers.

We continued checking folks out and trying to clear the crowd. Folks were a bit grumpy and looking to get out of the store, and we were all just scrambling to keep up with everything. The front-end supervisor was running back and forth getting prices and returning damaged or rejected goods. As she went to return one such item to the return section, she knocked into the kayak.

I was in the process of checking out a customer but looked up when I heard a loud bang and crack. The kayak was now resting against one of the giant panes of glass that made up the front of the store. The whole busy storefront collectively held its breath as we looked at this enormous kayak resting against the front window. And then, suddenly, just a couple of seconds after the first crash, the kayak broke through the window, completely shattering the enormous pane of glass and falling to the ground.

My supervisor looked absolutely dumbstruck and terrified while everyone else just looked on in shock. Luckily, no one was injured, and not much was damaged aside from the one window, but I’ll never forget how a couple of attempted thieves did far more damage than they might have ever imagined by trying to make off with an entire kayak during a busy summer day.

The Young Teaching The Young

, , , , , , | Related | July 24, 2022

Some sixty years ago, Mom purchased one of those skinny sets of encyclopedias one found at the grocery store. If you spent a certain amount of money each week, you got each progressive volume for a discounted price or for free.

According to my mother (I remember NONE of this except the encyclopedias themselves), I could not get enough of those encyclopedias. I would start at A, read it through, and keep going all the way to Z. Then, I would start over. I also read them aloud to my younger brother, which means I had to be at least eight years old.

On a Sunday, after we got home from church and were still sitting in the car, my little brother piped up out of the blue to ask:

Brother: “How does the baby get in the mommy’s tummy?”

Mom said that she and Dad looked at each other, looked at my brother and at me, and then looked at each other again.

Mom: “We were expecting that question, but from you, not your brother. And we had no idea what to say.”

They didn’t have to say anything, as it turned out.

I apparently sighed with all the frustration of a very old person put through the wringer and said:

Me: “For heaven’s sake, [Brother]. Don’t you remember? I read you the article about whales. It said in the story how whales make babies, and Mommies and Daddies do things pretty much the same.”

Brother: “Oh, yeah. I forgot.”

My parents heaved a huge sigh of relief. And I probably went into the house, grabbed the encyclopedia, and began another reading cycle.