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Once A Frenchman, Always A Frenchman, Apparently

, , , | Working | May 5, 2022

My father is not a French citizen. He worked and lived in France for a few years in his late twenties. When he turned sixty-two, a beaten-up letter arrived in the mail with many, many forwarding stickers on it.

He opened it to find a very threatening letter from the French government demanding his French citizen’s ID number so they could pay him his accrued French retirement of one euro per month.

The letter said that failure to respond or lying in response would result in jail time.

Dad figured that his employer had filled out the wrong paperwork back when he was in France and said he was a citizen. He figured it was probably easier to simply never return to France than to try to figure out how to reply to the letter correctly.

Seeing The World In Shades Of Dull

, , , , , | Working | April 22, 2022

I used to work in a tech service company where I grew to be the only designer on a team composed of many experienced developers. The Chief Technology Officer was especially on my back, since everything I did took too much time for his tastes and/or wasn’t something he thought we could sell to clients.

One time, I got to work for a client located in French Polynesia and was asked to design an administrative tool that would be open to public use. I pondered for a while about what design would be pleasing to the eye for people looking for land information on exotic islands. I finally decided to start a mock-up with the most vibrant, vacation-looking colors I could get, and proceeded to get feedback from the team.

Me: “I used different images here and here to give a feeling of looking at a beach when this window and this one are opened.”

Team Member #1: “Yeah! Nice colors! I really like the different tints of blue.”

Team Member #2: “It is more green than blue, though, isn’t it?”

CTO: “What are you all babbling about? It’s ugly, it’s dull, and he spent too much time doing it. Looking at a beach… Pfwah!”

Team Member #1: “Dull?! No way!”

CTO: “Meh, yes, kind of way.”

As the team started debating about colour preferences, I was thinking about what the CTO said. I was used to his harsh remarks, but “dull”? And suddenly, it hit me.

I speed-Googled for an Ishihara test and showed the first result to the CTO.

CTO: “Why are you showing me this stupid thing? I could never see anything in these optical illusions.”

Me: “Well, chief, you might want to try a few other ones, but this is not an optical trick. These are part of a test to detect if you are color blind. Did they not test you when you were a kid?”

As it turns out, no, he had not been tested, and yes, he was awfully color blind. We all spent the rest of the day exchanging Ishihara pictures, and in a team of eighty people, there were eight who were color blind to different degrees and didn’t know about it.

Glad to be of help!

Label This One A Failure

, , , , | Working | April 11, 2022

I order sleeves for cards on the Internet. The seller ships them to my house and provides me with a tracking number. On a Thursday, I get a text from the delivery company informing me that my package will be delivered the next day. Since I won’t be home that day, I use their online service to switch the delivery to a nearby shop where I can pick it up when I come back.

I do so the next Monday. The clerk hands me what seems to be a very large and heavy package for sleeves, but I figure the seller just padded it down with stuff to avoid any damage.

I get home and open it. It’s a drill battery and its charger. I snap a pic and send it to the seller with several question marks before actually having a look at the packaging. It has been obviously relabeled. I say “obviously” because not only does it have a second label peeking from under the top one but it also has an additional label that says, “Relabeled for pickup by [Delivery Company]”.

Before I call the company’s helpline, I figure I can check the pickup place first. I go back there and sprain my ankle on the way, but the clerk can’t do anything for me. I limp back home and call the helpline. I explain to them that I got someone else’s relabeled package.

Employee #1: “You must contact the seller. They labeled your package wrong.”

Me: “No, you don’t get it.”

I reexplain that it was relabeled.

Employee #1: “You must contact the seller. They labeled your package wrong.”

Me: “But you guys relabeled it!”

Employee #1: “You must contact the seller. They labeled your package wrong. [Delivery Company] does not relabel packages.”

I give up, hang up, and call again, hoping to be put through to someone who can go a bit further than reading from a script tree. I have no such luck and get the exact same response. Exasperated that I seem to be the only one trying to fix [Delivery Company]’s mistake, I ask to be put through to a manager.

Employee #2: “But ma’am, they’ll just tell you the same thing I’m telling you!”

Me: “I don’t really care. Please transfer me.”

Employee #2: “All right, please hold.” *Hangs up*

I’m kind of fuming by this point between having been hung up on, spraining my ankle, and not getting my actual package. I Google the battery, find out it’s three times as expensive as my sleeves, and decide to sell it on eBay to recoup my losses.

The next day, I get woken up by the doorbell. I have to point out that I sleep naked and am almost literally blind without my contacts. I answer the intercom and hear:

Voice: “Hello. Can you come down? I have a package for you.”

Still limping, I rush to put on a T-shirt and pants, completely foregoing underwear in order to save the delivery driver some time. I also don’t put contacts in. I hobble my way down two flights of stairs and across my courtyard. I am handed a package that feels much more like the one I expected, and I sign for it.

Driver: “Next time, can you please hurry? I had to wait for you for too long!”

I leave without saying a word to avoid murdering the idiot.

For a week, I forget about the whole thing. Then, the phone rings.

Caller: “Hello, Miss [My Name]?”

Me: “Yeah?”

Caller: “I am [Caller], head of the local [Delivery Company] branch. I am calling you today because you might help me to locate a package.”

Do you mean the package that I called to try and give back to you guys but you hung up on me? That package?

Me: “How so?”

Caller: “You did pick up a package from [Pick-Up Place], right?”

Me: “Yep.”

Caller: “See, we assume there has been a relabeling mistake. Did you pick up one or two packages?”

Me: “Only one, sir.”

That’s true; the second one was delivered to me.

Caller: “Oh? That’s weird. We have two pick-ups in our system. What a mess!”

Me: “I’m sorry about that, but I don’t think I can be of much help, I’m afraid!”

Caller: “Nah, it’s okay. Now we know for sure that it must be at [Pick-Up Place]. Sorry for bothering you. Have a nice day!”

I wanted nothing more than to be able to help him. However, he was calling about a relabeling mistake, and I know for a fact that [Delivery Company] does not relabel packages!

Who’s Panicking?!

, , , | Healthy | April 8, 2022

I have a chronic disease, so I have blood tests like twice a year. I’m used to it and not afraid of needles or blood at all. This particular day, I have to get some more tests at the hospital so I’m here for the day. A nurse puts a catheter in my arm so they can get blood several times.

At the end of the day, another nurse comes by to take it off.

Nurse: “Okay, I’m gonna take it off. It might bleed a little bit, so please stay calm.”

Me: “Sure.”

She gets the needle out, and maybe because I moved too much during the day, some blood gets out and runs along my arm. It’s more than I expected but it’s really not a big deal. I don’t say a word, thinking she’s going to give me something to wipe it with.

Nurse: “OKAY! STAY CALM, PLEASE! DON’T PANIC!”

Me: “Well, I—”

Nurse: “IT’S OKAY, MA’AM! IT’S GONNA BE OKAY!”

Me: “I… know?”

She frantically wipes my arm and takes my hand.

Nurse: *Gently* “Calm down. It’s over… It’s okay…”

Me: “Errr… thanks?”

Nurse: “Yeah, everything is fine now. I know, this was kind of stressful, right? Just a little bit of blood.”

Me: “Yeah… sure.”

Maybe she just wanted to add a dramatic touch to her day? She was very nice, though.

That… Sounds Nice?

, , , | Working | April 7, 2022

Coworkers told me this story that happened some years before I joined this company. It’s a software company, so everyone works on computers.

One day, a woman arrived in the office and claimed she had to do a workplace inspection. The boss let her in and followed her around the office while she was taking lights’ measurements, inspecting desks, and making multiple remarks about how far people should stand from their screens and that kind of thing.

It seems her face was priceless when she saw an intern slumped on his chair, not even remotely trying to sit properly.

But this visit became memorable when she declared:

Inspector: “You should do ‘horizon breaks’ every two hours.”

Employee: “Horizon breaks?”

Inspector: “Yes, you get up, go to the window or the balcony, and let your gaze travel toward the horizon.”

And that’s how “smoke breaks” or “coffee breaks” became “horizon breaks”.