Sandwich Hero Saves The Day

, , , , , , | | Working | July 10, 2019

(At the expense of buying a house anytime soon, I pop in to a local cafe for an avocado and egg breakfast while out running some errands. They make your sandwiches to order here, and I see the woman in front of me getting a delicious-looking creation of Turkish bread, the mushy green stuff, poached eggs, cheese, and bacon. I locate it on the menu and excitedly order it from the other employee who has come to take my order. She crinkles her nose when I order, but I don’t think much of it, too excited for my mega sandwich. After the bread toasts, she plops it on the counter and gingerly spreads maybe 10% of the avocado the woman in front of me got. My hopes fall.)

Me: “Sorry, could I have a bit more, please?”

Employee: “Ugh.”

(She adds maybe one more teaspoon of avocado to the bread.)

Me: *attempting to lighten the mood and get that holy grail sandwich into my mouth* “I just really want what she’s having.” *points to the woman in front of me, who laughs while clutching her Nirvana sandwich*

Employee: “Oh, gross.”

(The other employee speaks up.)

Sandwich Hero: “[Employee], come on. You know how much goes on a sandwich.”

(My sandwich-joy-thief employee aggressively slams the right amount of avocado on my sandwich. Her entire face is screwed up in disgust. At me? My innocent sandwich? The other employee? The cost of living? I do not know. She adds my cheese and bacon liberally and with gusto. She reaches for the large metal container holding… scrambled eggs. No dice. My tiny prehistoric brain had seen those poached eggs — and had read it on the menu — and no other sandwich would do.)

Me: “Excuse me, but can I have poached, please? I’m not a huge fan of scrambled.”

Employee: *physically recoils* “NO!”

(My sandwich driven brain skips a beat. I look around for my earlier hero — my sandwich maestro employee that had powered the way to my avocado ratio. She, alas, is busy making coffee for the woman in front of me, and I don’t think has heard the other employee refuse me my rightful eggs. My fellow customer, to her credit, is looking at me and the employee with incredulous indignation. I decide she is on my side and I cannot, in good conscience, knock her down and steal her brown-bagged prize.)

Me: “Uh, it says poached eggs come on it on the menu?”

Employee: “Poached. Eggs. Are. Disgusting. And you’re just going to complain in five minutes that your eggs aren’t cooked enough and there’s too much gross avocado on your sandwich. No.”

(My sandwich hero realizes customers have bottlenecked behind me while I prepare to stage a good old-fashioned sit in to get the sandwich I deserve.)

Sandwich Hero: “[Employee]! Put the eggs on his sandwich and hurry up!”

Joy-Thief Employee: “NO. Poached eggs aren’t even cooked; he’s going to complain.”

(My sweet sandwich hero rolled her eyes, muttered something about “not again,” and reached over to take my sandwich away from the woman who was Marie Kondo-ing my breakfast. She deposited my prized eggs on my sandwich and wrapped it up, sliding it towards me and telling me it was on the house. I hastily escaped to protect my sandwich from further unwarranted judgement, and devoured it in my car with the speed of a Labrador whose owner has told it to drop what’s in its mouth. Not all heroes wear capes. Mine wore a black apron and defended my sandwich rights fiercely.)

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Not What You Expected Skinny Noodles To Be

, , , , , , | | Working | July 8, 2019

(I am at a mall and decide to get lunch at the food court. I’m not up for fries and don’t feel like eating meat, so I take some fried noodles with veggies at a place with the usual westernized Asian fare. I get a plate and pay, then start to eat. After a couple of bites, I feel something in my mouth and pull a very long, thick, black hair from my mouth. I’m not the most squeamish person, but my appetite is gone. I decide to tell the lady who served me and is currently turning over the mountain of noodles they keep on their flat stove. She is not wearing a hat or hairnet, and has, well, quite a long, thick, black ponytail.)

Me: “Hi. I ordered these noodles and found a hair in them…”

(Almost before I can finish my sentence the lady barks back at me.)

Server: “That is not my hair. That is your hair. You put it in the food to get more free food!”

(I have a braid, but my hair is brownish-blond at the outgrown roots and a faded red in the lengths. It’s obviously not mine. The black hair is so thick, you can see it coiled on top of the yellowish noodles without having to look too close.)

Me: “Well, I can’t tell you whose it is, but it’s not mine. And I don’t want…”

(“…any free food; I just wanted to let you know!” is what I intend to say, but she again loudly speaks over me.)

Server: “No! You fat Germans always just want more food! Eat half and more, complain, and get another plate free!”

(She then TOOK THE PLATE from the counter between us and CHUCKED THE REST OF THE NOODLES at me! I instinctively stepped back but got some on my shoes nonetheless. I moved awkwardly and slipped on the saucy mess, falling rather unlucky on my hand. It hurt. A lot. I started crying and felt very shaken. A couple from a nearby table came over and some others got up, as well. Somebody told me to get up and sat me on a chair. Meanwhile, the server was shouting stuff in a language I didn’t understand. A guy in a suit from mall management came over and asked if I needed an ambulance. The man from the couple helping me talked to me, told me he was some sort of sports coach, and asked to see my wrist. He gently prodded it and moved it, proclaiming that it was probably not broken but I should get it checked anyway. I declined the ambulance; the suit-guy got me an ice pack from somewhere. They stayed with me until my boyfriend could pick me up, as I was still quite queasy, to drive me to the emergency room near our home. In the end, nothing was broken. The owner of the Asian shop contacted me through the mall and apologised a lot. He said his sister was going through some rough personal stuff and just snapped. I was almost sorry for her. But I will never enjoy Asian noodles without a bad feeling in my bones.)

Getting The 411 On The Situation

, , , | | Working | July 6, 2019

(This happened in the 1980s, at which time phone numbers were only available through phone books or through directory assistance — 411. By this time, 411 calls were no longer completely free. Instead, one got maybe five free 411 calls per month, and could request two phone number on each call. After that, you were charged for each 411 call. I was trying to arrange certain outdoor activities, and was, therefore, seeking the phone numbers of various facilities, such as state parks, YMCA camps, etc. When one looks at a street map — as this was well before the likes of Google Maps — one can’t necessarily tell what town such a facility is located in. The typical 411 calls went something like so:)

Operator: “Directory Assistance. For what town, please?

Me: “I need the phone number of [Facility] which is near [Nearest Town].”

Operator: “Sir, I will need the name of the town that is in.”

Me: “I don’t know the town, but the closest town on the map to it is [Nearest Town].”

Operator: “Sir, I cannot look up the phone number without the name of the town.”

Me: “Don’t be silly. Directories in this state are by county, not town. [Nearest Town] is in [County] County, and that’s all you need to look it up.”

Operator: “Sir, I need the exact name of the town it’s in!”

Me: “Fine. Give me the phone number of [Facility] which is in [Nearest Town].”

Operator: “That number is [phone number].”

(Then, the operator HANGS UP without letting me ask another phone number! After a few such calls, all pretty much with the same conversation, I get pissed because I am going to have to PAY for 411 calls when I should get two numbers on each call. So, I contacted the Board of Public Utilities with FULL details of what has transpired on these calls. It turns out my state has a very effective BPU. Within a few days, I get a phone call from a phone company manager that goes something like this:)

Manager: “Hello, Mr. [My Name]?

Me: “Yes?”

Manager: “I’m calling about your recent complaint to the BPU. I’ve investigated your claims and found you to be completely correct. The same thing happened to me several times when I called Directory Assistance and tried getting such phone numbers. I will reverse any 411 charges to your account and [Phone Company] will be retraining our directory assistance operators so this doesn’t happen again!”

Did Not Volunteer For This Treatment

, , , , , , | | Working | July 4, 2019

(I volunteer at a miniature science museum during summer break, which is characterized by its “Mess Kits,” little boxes with science experiments for children in them. Volunteers work at the Mess Kit Desk and provide information or kits to anyone who comes up to it. The owner is rather lenient when it comes to phone usage during lulls in activity. I’m 16 and quite obviously autistic, as I tend to stim in public. One of the paid workers has been on my back for several months, constantly berating my work, speaking to me in an extremely condescending tone, and telling me that the way I speak and treat people is very rude. She screeches at me for drawing, reading, or checking my phone no matter the situation and has nearly brought me to tears several times. My brother and another volunteer are working at the desk with me in this story. My brother notices the painful lull, takes out his phone, and sits in front of the desk. The other volunteer glances up and looks back down at her phone. I finish sweeping, which was the only other job available, and sit on the floor behind the two since there’s no other chairs up front. I’m there for not even a minute when the paid employee walks up to the front of the desk.)

Paid Employee: “[My Name]! You need to stay off your phone! We’ve discussed this. Do I need to take it away?”

(I gape, as my brother and the other volunteer are in her direct line of sight on their phones and she has to strain to see me specifically, clearly singling me out.)

Me: “B-but…”

Paid Employee: “You need to learn to follow directions!”

(My brother’s phone is a foot away from her face.)

Me: “I j-just swept…”

Paid Employee: “Then find something else to do!” *leaves without saying a word to the two volunteers directly in front of her*

(I barely make it to the bathroom before I start crying, inconsolable, and my mother picks me up. My brother backs up my story, so she urges me to draft an email to the owner explaining the rude and condescending treatment I’ve suffered thanks to [Paid Employee]. The owner apologizes, saying she will speak to the employee about her behavior, but also suggests I just work shifts the employee doesn’t take. I work up the nerve to return as a volunteer, and to my luck, I see the rude employee about halfway into my shift.)

Brother: “Look out!”

Paid Employee: *blanches as soon as she sees me, quickly looks away, and rushes to finish her task!*

(She avoids me as much as I avoid her, now. I guess she really didn’t expect anyone to report her discrimination!)

Boredom Kills

, , , , , , , | | Working | July 3, 2019

An older pickup truck was left at the far end of our parking lot for repair. Apparently, it would not start. I am bored, so I grab the keys and go out to see if I can start it. Why it was left so far away, I have no idea. I don’t plan on being out for long, so I don’t bother to put on my coat. Minus 20C? That’s nothing… So, I get in and close the door. I slide the key into the ignition and turn it, nothing.

I give it a couple of seconds and try it again. Still nothing. Not a sound. No whirring, no clicking, not even one measly little click. I give up after trying a couple of more times. Only mildly disappointed, I reach for the door handle. The handle flops down as soon as I touch it, broken. No big deal. I reach for the passenger door and pull on that handle. That, too, falls down.

Uh-oh… I look down for the window crank. Missing? I look over at the passenger door window crank. That’s missing, too. You’ve got to be kidding!

The rear passenger window will never move. It has been fixed firmly in place since the day the truck was built. Nope, no sliding hatch at the rear window, either. And to top it off, I didn’t bring my phone. Cut off from the entire world, in a parking lot, at work.

Now what? I am at the far end of the parking lot – a good 100 meters away from the store entrance. It is -20, and I am locked in with no coat. The truck is facing away from the store so frantic waving won’t do much good. The windows are starting to fog up and I am starting to feel the cold. If someone even bothers to look from the store into the parking lot and see the back of the truck, they will not see my head. And with this old, worn-out bench seat, I can hardly see over the steering wheel, the curse of being 5’3”. No one will see me from the back or the front. On my left is a long strip mall, but a huge mountain of snow is in the way. I’m pretty much isolated.

I wonder how long it will take for someone to realize that I have not returned, and then how long after that before they start to look for me — if they even try. Hours? Days? Weeks? I start writing my last will and testament in my head — a lot of good that will do.

Finally, I see someone driving towards a store over the right side of the hood of the truck. [Nearby Store] is open! The gentleman gets out of his car and walks towards the store. He’s only about 50 meters away. I have a bright idea: honk the horn. That will get his attention, and of course he will come over and open the door for me. I push on the horn… Silence. I push it harder. Still nothing. I pound on the horn. Not even a fart. Whoever said silence was golden got it so wrong!

Maybe, just maybe, I have been locked up so long that I have gone deaf, or my ear drums are frozen, or this old rust bucket has extremely good sound proofing. The horn has to work. I look over to see if he reacts to my frantic pushing on the horn. Nope, no reaction. Apparently, the horn doesn’t work; either that or this truck is equipped with an ultra-high-frequency horn that only dogs can hear. Either way, I’m screwed.

Resigned to my fate, I come up with an idea for those that eventually find me. I will make a scratch in the door for every day that I survive in the truck. At least they will know how many days I survived in the wilderness, a mere fifty meters over the right fender from [Nearby Store]. The doors are so scratched up already, they probably wouldn’t even notice my survival scratches. When it rains…

I sit there for a few more minutes. It’s probably my imagination, but the air seems to be getting stale. Locked in a dilapidated old pickup truck. Who cares about being embarrassed? I just want out!

Something catches my left eye, beside and behind my left shoulder. No way! Duct tape? I look over my left shoulder, with a near perfect shoulder check, and find a thick plastic sheet duct taped over where the back seat side window used to be! YES! Why didn’t I notice that before?

I may not be able to blow bubbles with bubble gum or swim more than four feet at a time, and I don’t weigh enough to operate a skid steer, but I can proudly say that I can tear my way through a plastic bag. Oh, yeah! Woot… Woot…

It takes a while, but the plastic was really, really thick, okay?!

I squeeze through the slit I made in the plastic window — thankfully, I weigh less than 130 pounds — and drop to the ground head first. It is not the prettiest of exits, but no one knows I am here, anyway. Who cares? I am free!

I dust some of the snow off my clothes, feel a slight bump on my forehead, no blood. Good!

I feel like I just broke out of prison. I am sure the guilt about ruining a perfectly good plastic-n-duct tape window will diminish soon… Yup, gone already, no guilt left at all. Suhweeeet! And I was still clocked in, too! Nice!

I race back to the shop at least a half hour after I left. Whose bright idea was that, anyway?

I’ve learned my lesson. Next time I am bored, I am going to stay put and just close my eyes. I am never again going to underestimate the value of being bored.

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