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.”

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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.

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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.

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Way To Keep Your Cool, Daddy-O

, , , , | Related | March 4, 2021

I’m a known sperm donor. I’ve donated sperm for a few individuals who needed help. I make it clear that, while I’m always happy to help, I always prefer if I can meet the children I donated for, and luckily, a few parents have allowed me that opportunity. In particular, the parents of two kids have made me an “honorary uncle” for their kids. I often visit and play with them, and these two kids in particular have also become close friends and playmates with each other.

My “nephew” is around three and my “niece” is closer to four. The niece’s mother has been very open about explaining how I donated sperm for her. Meanwhile, my nephew’s parents haven’t chosen to explain my donation for him.  

There is an annual fair that I always attend with my niece happening this day, and we invite my nephew, as well. His parents are both busy with moving to a new home on that day, so we offered to take him with us to the fair as a way to keep him out of their hands while moving.

Nephew: “Daddy, can we… Oh.”

Me: “I’m not your daddy!”

This was clearly just a slip-up on my nephew’s part; he forgot who he was talking to for a second. Unfortunately, despite knowing better, I was foolish enough to comment on it. My nephew decides that this is funny and proceeds to call me Daddy over and over as a joke. The problem is that my nephew already has a wonderful dad, even if that dad wasn’t able to produce sperm for him, and as a donor, I am quite aware of how important it is that he not call me daddy, even as a joke.

Me: “[Nephew], you shouldn’t call me that. I’m not your daddy.”

Niece: “Well, actually, you gave his mommy sperm, so…”

Now I’m freaked out. I was aware that my niece knew I donated sperm, but I honestly didn’t think she had connected “gave Mommy sperm so she could have me” with the concept of “father” yet. I absolutely did not expect her to interrupt my attempt to distract him with this little speech.

I rush to cut her off.

Me: “Which makes me a donor, but that’s all I am!” *To my nephew* “I really don’t like being called Daddy; it makes me feel bad. How about we think up some better names to call me? Like ‘The Amazing Uncle’ or ‘Sir Awesome McCoolName’?”

Thankfully, my nephew was easily distracted enough at that age that he didn’t appear to have registered or understood my niece’s statement at all and was quickly distracted with funny names to call his uncle.

Later, when I could catch her in private, I spoke with my niece about how some parents weren’t as open as her mother was and that it was important to respect parents’ wishes when it came to what to tell their kids. She promised not to tell any of the other donor siblings about my donating to them unless an adult told her she could, and she has been very careful about not doing so ever since. Luckily, she is one of the few kids you can trust to actually keep a secret when asked! And so, I barely scraped by our fair visit without any upset parents!

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Not Painting A Pretty Picture Of Themselves

, , , | Right | February 18, 2021

I am selling two types of hand-painted products at a craft fair. A customer can purchase a pre-made item or a custom one that they can order and come back for in a few hours. I require half the payment before starting, unless they want a name on it. If they want a name, I require the full payment, because it’s harder to resell if they walk away.

[Product #1]’s colors tend to be more pastel, while [Product #2]’s colors are darker. I cannot use [Product #1]’s colors on [Product #2], and vice versa. I tried to get the same rainbow for [Product #1] and [Product #2], but they are off, especially the warm colors. To prevent confusion, I make separate pricing charts and color samplers for both products. I’ve had some customers get upset at the limitations on their color choices, but this was a new one.

Customer: “I love your stuff! I want a custom [Product #2].”

Me: “Thank you! What colors would you like?”

Customer: “Hmm… this light red, the dark pink, and the bright orange!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but the red and orange can only be used on [Product #1]. Is it okay if I use the darker red and orange?”

Customer: “But it’s all paint.”

Me: “Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”

Customer: “Yes, it does. Paint is paint is paint!”

Me: “Actually, no.”

I explain the different materials and drying times.

Customer: *Scoffs* “Just do it anyway!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but it’s not going to look right, and it definitely won’t last.”

Customer: “I don’t care. Do it anyway!”

Me: “Okay. But I would like to be paid up front in full.”

Customer: “What?! Your sign says that I only have to pay half up front on designs without names!”

Me: “Yes, but you’re asking me to use the wrong paint. I can’t resell it.”

Customer: “But it doesn’t have a name!”

Me: “Sorry. I need you to pay in full or no sale.”

Customer: *Smugly* “I can call the cops on you for violating a written agreement. Wouldn’t like that, would you?”

Me: *Shrugs* “You’re welcome to call them.”

The customer just stormed off, defeated.

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