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We Hope This Wasn’t Memorable For Either Kid

, , , , | Friendly | October 21, 2021

After nearly two years cooped up due to the recent global health crisis, after finally getting vaccinated, we’ve decided to mask up and go to the county fair out near my mother’s house. My four-year-old has never been to a fair — that he’s old enough to remember — and today is his very first day on the rides.

This happens just as I’m placing my son onto the mini dragon coaster, intending to ride with him since I’m rather short, he doesn’t want to be alone, and it’s our first big family outing with him as a big boy.

A random grandma shoves in front of me just as I’m getting him settled in his seat.

Grandma: “Here, baby! Ride with him; there’s plenty of room!”

She promptly TOSSES her tiny barely-three-year-old granddaughter into the seat next to my son, just as I’m putting my leg into the cart. The girl CLEARLY wants nothing to do with the ride.

Me: “Uh… I was just about to—”

Grandma: “This boy looks nice! Ride with him, dearie!”

She proceeds to shove me out of the way. Given that I’m arthritic and left my cane down at the walkway with my wife, I nearly fall over.

Grandma: “Watch where you’re going, fata**!”

I choose to ignore the insult.

Me: “I was going to ride with my son on his first roller coaster.”

Grandma: “Ohhhhhhh, you were going to ride with him? I didn’t know they’d let you on the ride! Well, thanks for the seat! I’m sure they’ll be friends!”

She proceeded to body-check me out of the way by crowding so closely that I was forced to back up away from my now distinctly worried child or risk falling onto the track.

The ride operator, not hearing the exchange, was pissed at this point and demanded we both leave the platform so he could get going. I was forced to wait at the exit gate while the random grandma wandered off for a smoke and the ride operator glared at me.

Thanks to that grandma, her granddaughter spent the entire time screaming in terror in my son’s face and flailing her arms around to smack anyone within reach, which had my son crying for Daddy halfway through the ride. He climbed over the little girl to get out as soon as the ride stopped, sobbing his eyes out and demanding to go home.

Thirty dollars were wasted on unlimited ride wristbands, only three rides were ridden, and we drove straight home so my poor kid could hide under his weighted blanket and ask me why I didn’t ride with him.

So much for a memorable first fair with my kid.

Pure Howling Entitlement

, , , , | Right | August 5, 2021

I volunteer with a non-profit wolf hybrid rescue. We have wolfdogs of varying degrees, from low-content wolf to high-content wolf. About half the facility houses the adoptable animals in separate pens.

We have a permanent group of wolfdogs that we can never allow to be adopted. They live together as a pack. If wolfdogs were continually coming in and out of the pack, it would be traumatic for them.

These wolfdogs also act as ambassadors for the rescue, helping to raise money to keep the rescue going. On weekends, for a fee, people can visit with the pack inside the pens and interact with the wolfdogs — under close supervision, of course.

Some of the pack will travel to events like county fairs. We set up a chain-link caged-in area with three wolfdogs. People can pay a fee to enter the pen, pet the animals for a few minutes, and have their pictures taken with them. There are always two volunteers in the pen for safety reasons. While the wolfdogs are mostly domesticated and well-behaved, they are still, after all, part wolf! We have to be careful that their tails will not get stepped on, etc., and generally make sure that the humans are behaving appropriately. We also have a few volunteers outside the enclosure selling merchandise, answering questions, and making sure safety protocols are followed.

Me: “Ma’am, please don’t allow your child to put his fingers through the fencing into the enclosure. Fingers look suspiciously like hot dogs to a wolfdog.”

Lady: “Oh, okay, then.”

Not two minutes later:

Me: “Ma’am! Do not put your fingers inside the enclosure, either! They look suspiciously like even bigger hot dogs to a wolfdog!”

Later, I’m tasked with a wolfdog for a walk — on leash, of course. We give each animal a break to stretch its legs. It is customary for people to stare and ask questions. The top two questions are, “Can I pet him?” and, “Can I give him something to eat?” The answers to those questions are, respectively, “Of course!” and “Absolutely not!”

Man: “Wow, is that one of those wolfdogs?”

Me: “Yes, it is. This is [Wolfdog].”

Man: “He’s huge. Can I pet him? Can my daughter pet him?”

I notice his three- or four-year-old daughter eating ice cream.

Me: “Of course, you both can. He loves a good scratch between the ears. But your daughter is eating an ice cream cone. She can’t have that in her hands when she approaches [Wolfdog]. He will try to eat it and that’s a food that he cannot have.”

The man goes to his daughter and takes the ice cream cone from her hands. The little girl approaches. I kneel down next to [Wolfdog] so I can greet the girl and show her how to properly pet him. While my attention is on [Wolfdog] and the girl, the father comes up out of my vision line and suddenly thrusts the ice cream cone in front of the wolfdog, who promptly scoffs it down before I can do anything.

Me: “He is not supposed to have food like that! I told you! Why on earth would you do that?”

Man: “I wanted to show my daughter what it looks like when a wolf eats. It’s just an ice cream cone. My dog eats them all the time. It’s no big deal.”

Me: “Yes, it is a big deal. He’s a high-content wolf. He eats 100% raw meat only. That’s it. Nothing else. You have fed him something that he’s never had in his life, and we have no idea how it might affect him.”

Man: *Backing off with his daughter* “I just… wanted to show her… not a big deal.”

I stood and walked in the other direction. When I returned to the wolfdog exhibit, I let the leader of the rescue know what happened. He told me it would be okay, that one ice cream cone certainly would not do any harm. But if we let every person who approached feed the wolfdogs junk? That would be unhealthy.

Some Guys Just Want To Watch The World Burn

, , , , , | Learning | June 4, 2021

I’m working as a student representative for my university at a really large university fair for graduating high school students. My job is to talk to prospective students, promote my school, and answer questions about my program. When we aren’t occupied with a visitor, we are supposed to reach out to the people standing outside of our booth and try to draw them in. I’m currently free and I spot a group of three guys standing close to me, so I go to them and start my pitch.

Me: “Hi, are any of you interested in studying for [University]?”

Guy #1: “Nah, I want to study [program we don’t offer] at [Other University].”

Me: “That’s fair, and you?”

I turn to the next guy.

Guy #2: “I don’t want to continue studying.”

I’m starting to sense that I’m not going to get anywhere with them, but I turn to the third guy anyway.

Me: “And you, what do you want to do when you graduate?”

The guy looks me in the eyes.

Guy #3: *Deadpan* “Burn down buildings.”

I have absolutely no idea what to say, so I just blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind. 

Me: “I… don’t think you need further education for that.”

Harass Not Lest Ye Be Judged

, , , , , | Right | CREDIT: Tom_Marvolo_Tomato | May 13, 2021

Back in the late 1980s, I was invited to help judge the vegetable contest in a neighboring county for their 4H Fair. Each crop had different score sheets, and different points were awarded for different attributes. Were the tomatoes ripe? Were the beets trimmed? Were they all uniformly sized? And so on. The total points determined which ribbon the vegetables earned.

We didn’t meet the kids who submitted the vegetables and nobody was supposed to be in the building with us while we judged.

I got started. I was looking at green beans first. There had to be twenty on each plate, the beans had to be uniform — all straight or all curved — their stems had to be trimmed to less than half an inch. Lots and lots of rules. And I had maybe forty or fifty plates of beans to look at.

I was working along, minding my own business. I did notice several people walking through the building — fair officials, most likely. Most of them ignored me, so I returned the favor. But one woman stopped and watched me work for a while. She asked me what the points meant, and I, being a good educator, explained that each attribute was rated one to ten, and that this plate got an eight for uniform shape, a six for stem trimming, a nine for cleanliness, and so on. She seemed okay with my explanation and left.

Next, I was working on sweet peppers. Again, I had forty or fifty plates to examine, and I was now rating them for uniform size, uniform shape, uniform color, same number of bumps on the bottom, etc. The woman stopped by again and watched me for a bit. She then pointed to a plate I had already finished and asked why it got only forty points. I explained the points I had given for that plate — seven for not-quite-uniform size, four for different colors, etc. She “hmphed” and left.

I moved on to other veggies, scoring and grading as I went. And every so often, the woman would come back and question what I was doing and why I was scoring how I was scoring. I tried to remain polite and explain what I was doing, but I was beginning to notice that she was asking about specific plates. All of the names and personal identification were hidden from the judges, so I didn’t know whose plate was whose… but apparently, she did.

I was beginning to get a little annoyed with her constant questions and became more annoyed when she suggested I was being too tough on my judging.

Woman: “That cucumber is trimmed just fine! Why are you picking on that poor kid?”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m supposed to be here by myself; I shouldn’t be talking to anyone. I don’t want you to get in trouble for disrupting a judge.”

Woman: *Sniffing at me* “Don’t worry about me. I’m the wife of the fair board secretary. Nobody will dare to say anything to me.”

Fine. I continued on with my judging.

After a long while, I was doing my last crop: tomatoes. I was nearly done when the woman swooped in again, this time with a young boy in tow. The kid was looking around and picking his nose and altogether didn’t seem to care about anything being judged. The woman looked over the plates and then screeched at me.

Woman: “Why did that plate get a red ribbon?! What is wrong with those tomatoes?! Those are excellent looking tomatoes to me!”

Now, don’t get me wrong; these were perfectly fine tomatoes, if I was going to slice them up and eat them. But compared to the other tomato entries, they weren’t quite up to snuff — certainly not what anyone would call a “blue-ribbon tomato.”

She continued screeching at me about how unfair I was being. And I finally had enough.

Me: “Let me understand. You don’t think these are red-ribbon tomatoes?”

Woman: *Snarling* “No!”

Me: “You want me to change the ribbon?”

Woman: *Smugly* “OF COURSE, I do!”

Me: “Fine! I will.”

And I did. I took off the red second-place ribbon… and put on a green “Thank you for showing up and participating” ribbon. Then, I turned to her son.

Me: “Young man, 4H is meant to be an educational association, and you are supposed to learn something. I hope you learn to leave your mother home next year.”

And with that, I gathered up my scorecards and walked out. As I was leaving the garden crops building, I looked back. The boy was still looking around aimlessly, not caring about anything going on, but the woman looked like a catfish someone had hooked and left on the side of the creek, her mouth opening and closing and her throat puffing up like she was gasping for water. I don’t think anyone in her entire entitled life had ever talked back to her before.

I turned my scorecards in, collected my judge’s fee, and never heard a word from anyone at that county fair about taking that woman down a peg or three.

I’m A Loser, Baby

, , , , | Working | March 23, 2021

I’m unlucky in games and lotteries. I once participated in a board game where everyone else finished and I never went beyond square fifteen, if I reached that one at all. Somehow, I managed to land on the “return to start” field, and when I skipped it, I was thrown back so I could try again. My nieces and nephews loved playing games with me when they were little. Whereas my brother had to cheat massively to lose a game or at least barely win it, they were almost assured the win when playing with me.

One day, I’m at a fair and a man with a lottery type of game approaches me with the “always win” slogan. The cheapest option has you drawing three tickets.

Me: “So every number wins?”

Seller: “No, ma’am, I couldn’t do that, but every draw has at least one winning ticket. Only numbers ending in [three different numbers, each with increasingly more valuable prizes] are winning.”

Me: “Not interested, thank you.”

Seller: “But ma’am, look at the fine prizes you can win.”

Me: “Not interested. Besides, I would be throwing money away since I’m not going to win anyway.”

Seller: “That won’t be happening; people never leave without at least one prize.”

Me: “People might. I won’t.”

He keeps insisting until I cave.

Me: “Okay, I will prove it to you. Give me three tickets and I’ll show you that I ain’t winning a thing.”

The man happily sold me the tickets. I drew three envelopes. First one: nothing. Second one: nothing. His jaw dropped as I showed him the final number: nope. To his credit, he awarded me the pick of one of the least valuable prizes. It wasn’t needed, but it was appreciated, so I guess I won after all.