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There Is No Silver Lining To This Deal

, , , , , , | Right | March 18, 2023

I am showing a friend of a friend the self-made silver jewelry I am wearing while we are chatting, proud of my work. I am not a jeweler by trade, but I put a lot of time and effort in and try and make every piece unique. I get compliments quite often. My friend is very positive about them. It’s a great start and a confidence boost!

Friend: “I want you to make me a ring.”

My spare time is limited, but I figure, “Well, let’s hear her out; it’s been a pleasant conversation so far.”

Me: “While yes, I make silver jewelry for fun for myself and presents occasionally when the mood and time are right, I don’t have the time and the resources generally to make rings or such on demand.”

Friend: “Oh, I totally understand, and of course, I’m willing to pay for it. I won’t need it for a long time, so you can do it at your leisure.”

I’ve done freelance work before; I’m interested. She then suggests the most intricate gem-set piece I would have ever made.

Friend: “I’m willing to pay €35 for it.”

Me: “Well, the ring you want is difficult and at least a few full evenings of work. Also, the base material cost of the precious metals and gems alone will be triple the €35. And that’s not counting other materials and costs, let alone time.”

This sets her off. Tirade incoming!

Friend: “What?! You should be happy that you’ll have a project to work on. Why should I pay for your time? You’re not doing it as a job, after all. Plus, it would mean practice for you. And on top of that, it means money for you to put back into your hobby to keep it going. Surely, you can get plenty of silver and gems at a big discount somewhere? And you must have some laying around, anyway — might as well put it to good use. You shouldn’t ask more than €35 until you go professional, as that’s enough for a ring made by a hobbyist who’s still learning.”

I try to interrupt, but she’s on a roll.

Friend: “Look, I promise to show my friends the ring at the party in two weeks and tell them all about our arrangement. I am absolutely sure you’ll get many more requests like mine from them if the ring turns out pretty enough. This will make sure you can practice even more!”

She was convinced she was doing me a favor and that I was silly if I could not see the boon in building a steady clientele that way. I could end up not making just one, but up to seven like this!

I never made the ring. I’m not sure I want to use all my spare time and spend a truckload of my own money for the “privilege” of making jewelry for strangers.

They’ve Cracked The Code!

, , , , , , , | Working | March 3, 2023

In high school, my friend and I worked at a fast food burger place. The sandwiches were made to order, where the customer could select any combination of eight different condiments. The register employee would call out the type of sandwich followed by the list of condiments. The order receipt would also detail the condiments. Since this was the 1980s, the receipt had a limit of characters it could print. A single cheese with catsup, pickle, and mustard would be listed as: “SC, C, P, M,” with each condiment listed on a separate line.

On nights we were closing, we would be assigned to the dining room and/or salad bar duty. But on school nights, we’d be on the front line: he’d be on the grill and I’d be the sandwich maker. Our duties often included having to walk off the line to get supplies. So, if an order came in, standard practice was to go to the counter and read the receipt. We found that time-consuming, so we would help each other by telling the other the order when we returned to the line. Being geeks, as well, we would just rattle off the abbreviations. A typical interaction:

Friend: “DC, MA, P, M.”

Me: “Okay.”

He’d then give me two patties with cheese in between, and I’d have the mayonnaise and pickles on the top bun. He’d place the patties on the bottom bun, then I’d swipe some mustard on top of the meat, put on the top, and then wrap it.

Our manager always gave us an odd look whenever we’d have one of these exchanges. But we were efficient.

Kids Really Do Say The Darnedest Things

, , , , , | Friendly | March 3, 2023

This happened years ago when my younger brother was very small. We have a community of Hungarians who live in our town in Germany. One year, someone had the brilliant idea to invite another Hungarian community from another town to our Christmas party. Two groups of Hungarian people sharing the experience of living in Germany, right?

Well, it didn’t take long for the adults to start arguing. Our guests insisted on kicking a family off the party, as they aren’t ethnic Hungarians, which our group disagreed with. Once the argument calmed down a bit, my younger brother went up to one of the guests.

Brother: “Why don’t you like [Woman]?”

Guest: “Her family’s bad; they’re [slur]s.”

Brother: “What did they do to be bad?”

Guest: “They don’t need to do anything. They’re [slur]s.”

Brother: “So, [slur]s are bad because they are [slur]s.”

Guest: “Yes. Finally, someone here gets it.”

Brother: “Why don’t you just say you’re Nazis?”

Sometimes Your Priorities Can Get A Bit Scrambled

, , , , , | Friendly | February 18, 2023

My friend and roommate had some serious and unexpected medical issues this particular semester. She ended up missing about a month’s worth of classes and assignments, which is very much NOT an easy thing to make up at the college level, so she’s currently bouncing between talking to the school, her professors, and her parents to figure out what she’s going to do.

I walk into her room to show her something, and she’s crying while on speakerphone with her mother. Before I can say anything, she chokes out, “Can you give me a moment?” so I leave her be.

I eventually head out to the main area of our apartment and see that she has relocated to our couch.

Me: “Are you okay?”

Friend: *Still clearly choked up* “Yeah, my mom and I are just discussing school options.”

I just nod and leave her be since she’s still on the phone, assuming she’s just over-stressed from everything going on. Half an hour later, she barges into my room half-hysterical and half-bawling.

Friend: “Good news! My dog isn’t being put down!”

Me: What?!

Friend: “So, my mom told me [Dog] has been having pain at night and then immediately followed it with, ‘Can you please come home soon?’ All in a very sad tone. I thought she was implying she was going to be put down.” 

At this point, I’m just dumbstruck and staring at her.

Friend: “She thought I was crying over everything going on with school until I yelled, ‘CAN WE PLEASE NOT TALK ABOUT SCHOOL S*** WHEN YOU JUST TOLD ME MY DOG IS GOING TO DIE?'”

Me: “Let me get this straight. You thought your mother was having your dog put down and you didn’t ask for any sort of clarification?”

Friend: “I thought it was implied!”

Me: “And you just accepted that without getting any answers about the situation?!”

Friend: *Pauses* “Yes.”

I love my friend dearly, but she makes me want to put my head through a wall. [Dog] is fine and was prescribed some doggy pain meds.

That’s Seriously Messed Up

, , , , , , , , , | Working | February 16, 2023

I own a small retail store in which we also repair items in the category of what we sell — think like a cell phone store that also repairs phones — but with various items.

I bumped into an old friend at a trade show where I was selling my wares, and we got to chatting. She mentioned she had recently gotten surgery on her arm due to a workplace accident, and the employer (a multi-million-dollar corporation) was fighting her tooth and nail on paying compensation and benefits that she was entitled to. I sympathized, as the reason I opened my own business was similar to the situation she was in. She mentioned she was out of work and trying to collect disability but was also getting pushback.

She asked if I had a position she could work in, and of course, I obliged.

At first, everything went great. [Employee] caught on quickly to how I operated the store and was excellent with customers. About a month into the job, I started to feel quite comfortable and gave her a key to the store for emergencies. I have a young child, and as a single parent, sometimes things happen (such as an ill babysitter or ill child) and I have to close for the day or end up coming in late. She took the bull by the horns and would cover for me on days such as that. It was a blessing!

Two months in, [Employee] asked me if she could have a week off to take a mental health vacation. She was still fighting with the compensation board and disability board, so I understood. She asked for a pay advance, and there was no reason not to give one, so I sent her off with a week’s pay in advance. I wasn’t well off financially, but I have a bleeding heart.

She returned a week later seemingly much happier, and all was well… until payday. I had given her $800 in advance, and her hours and commissions for that week were a net of $840, so she received the remaining $40. She came in the next day with a horrible attitude and made a few snide comments throughout the day, but we were incredibly busy so I couldn’t address it right away.

After the rush, I sat her down and asked what was wrong.

Employee: “I don’t work for free. How dare you only pay me $40 for all the hours I worked last week?!”

Me: “Oh, gosh, now I understand! Remember when you left on vacation, I gave you the $800 advance? So, last week was thirty hours, and you made $240 in commissions. That’s $840. Subtract the $800 advance, and that’s $40.”

Employee: “Um, no. That was a gift. You told me it was a gift.”

Me: “I’m so sorry, but no… See, we wrote it down on your payroll sheet for that week, and here is this week’s based on the hours and sales you filled in.”

Employee: “This is so stupid. I can’t afford to live on $40!”

Me: “I’m sorry, [Employee], but that’s what we agreed.”

She still didn’t seem to understand entirely but accepted it, and we moved on from it.

A week later, [Employee] didn’t come in on time to work. I sent a text but heard nothing back until 1:00 pm when she called me crying. She said her boyfriend had been in a horrific car accident and was in surgery as we spoke. I was immediately forgiving, expressed my condolences and well wishes for him, and told her to take as much time as she needed off work.

Two weeks later, she returned to work in a rotten mood. I checked in but didn’t want to push. Then, she asked for her pay for the last two weeks.

Me: “Oh… well… you didn’t work the last two weeks, so there is no pay.”

Employee: “What? You told me to take as much time as I needed, though! I thought it was paid leave!”

Me: *Visibly frustrated* “I’m not sure when or where that was ever said or even implied, but no, you don’t get paid when you’re not at work. I have a child I need to take care of. I can’t pay you for time you haven’t put in.”

Employee: “Well, I was in a pretty difficult situation, as I’m suuuuuure you can imagine! I need money for bills!”

Again, my bleeding heart took over, and I gave her a $500 advance, but I made it CLEAR that it was an advance, and we both signed a contract stating this.

Over the next week, [Employee] showed up HOURS late and/or left HOURS early, if she showed up at all. I’m talking about showing up at 10:00 and leaving at 1:00 in the middle of a rush. In total, she only netted five and a half hours and did only $24 in commissions. She was to be paid $134, leaving her owing me a balance of $366 from the advance.

The following Monday, I was immediately met with hostility again over her inability to pay bills because I “didn’t pay her”. By this point, I was done with the games, and we had a very serious conversation about her future, if any, working with me.

She apologized profusely as soon as the phrase “may have to let you go” left my mouth. She explained that she was struggling with her mental health, her boyfriend was using a wheelchair still, she was behind on all their bills, their electricity is due to be shut off, etc. I gave her another chance, and she asked for the rest of the week off, which I agreed to.

Cue the insanity. [Employee] showed up the following week in a different car and then bragged to me and a customer how she’d”only” spent $4,200 on it. She showed off her new shoes that she’d “only” paid $110 for. Honestly, her attitude had done a total one-eighty. Long story short, I let her go that week after discovering she was pocketing some money from the till after a customer accused her of shorting their change.

I was so confused about how, since she’d started, the store had begun struggling financially and how she’d suddenly changed her tune toward the end. I went through the receipts, finances, customer database, and everything that night, and I found that for every hour she worked, she would write down two hours. For every $100 in commission she made, she wrote down $200. I was missing over $2,500 in stock and parts from the storage room, including a $400 machine reserved for special repairs that was rarely used so it was pretty much ignored until I needed it. You get the picture.

I attempted to confront [Employee] but found that she had blocked my number AND blocked me on all social media. The next morning, I awoke to a bombardment of one-star Google reviews and both comments and messages to my social media pages calling me a crook and a bunch of horrible names, all from friends of [Employee]’s. According to her friends, I verbally abused her, never paid her on time if at all, owed her over $3,000 in wages, was manipulative, cheated my customers with inferior products and shoddy work — you name it.

I chose to block and ignore these people, but the damage was done both financially and reputationally. My business went bankrupt a month later.

While job hunting, I met with a friend who worked at a competing store to mine who also happened to be [Employee]’s cousin. He and I grabbed a coffee and caught up… and then he mentioned [Employee]. Apparently, she had gone in there for an interview while working for me and casually mentioned that she had also been doing side work in the evenings and on days off. She said if they hired her, she had a “special machine used for special repairs” she could bring with her — aka my machine. They didn’t end up hiring her as her schedule conflicted.

I asked how [Employee]’s boyfriend was recovering from his accident and was met with the most bewildered look I’d ever seen. [Cousin] said, “Accident? What accident?” So I explained what I was told and mentioned the dates. He pulled out his phone and showed me photos of [Employee], her boyfriend, [Cousin], his wife, and their three other cousins, drunk on a cruise ship, dated THAT WEEK and several days after! [Employee]’s boyfriend was never in an accident.

[Cousin] went on to say that their grandfather passed away last year, and finally, after the family fighting over it, they got their inheritances a week before the trip… to the tune of around $40,000 each. All the cousins (grandkids) took a vacation together and went on a cruise last minute and had shopping sprees galore.

It is years later now, and I’m nearly done with my bankruptcy hit on my credit, but I have struggled immensely since then. It goes to show that not all friends are true friends.