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Mama The Dumbo

, , , , , , | Right | March 15, 2023

I am working near the African elephants and rhinos in the zoo. Their enclosures are next to each other.

Child: “Mom! What is that?”

Customer: *Pointing at a rhino.* “I think that’s some kind of elephant?”

Me: “That’s a rhino.”

Customer: “Look, [Child], it’s ‘Arhino’ the elephant!”

Me: “No, it’s just a rhino.”

Customer: “So, am I pronouncing ‘Arhino’ wrong, then? I don’t know African names.”


*This story has been provided added context by the OP.

Never A Plain Jane

, , , , | Right | February 13, 2023

My first name is a fairly common one that is frequently mixed up by customers for a much more common one. Let’s say my name is Joan and the other name is Jane. This has never caused a problem for me or offended me. It didn’t this time, either, but this is the story of the oddest time it happened.

In the late 1990s, I was working for a locally-owned store that sold home decorating things — wallpaper, lamps, etc. In between helping in-store customers one busy Saturday afternoon, I took a phone call from a man.

Me: “Thank you for calling [Store]. This is Joan. How may I help you?”

Customer: *In a friendly, upbeat voice* “Hi, Jane. This is [Customer]. I need [list of disparate items]. Can I have those put on hold?”

Me: “Sure. May I make take your information and call you back?”

He agreed. I searched for and found all the needed products. Then, I called him back.

Me: “Hello, this is Joan calling from [Store]. I’ve found all the items you requested, and they are on hold at the service desk through tomorrow.”

Customer: *Again in a friendly, upbeat voice* “Great. Thanks, Jane. I’ll pick them up in an hour.”

An hour later, I was at the service desk when a smiling middle-aged man walked up to the counter.

Me: “Hi! How can I help you?”

Customer: *In the same friendly, upbeat voice* “Hi, I’m [Customer]. Jane put some things on hold for me.”

Me: “Oh, yes, that was me. Let me find your hold. Just so you know, my name is Joan, not Jane.”

Customer: *Suddenly and loudly* “OH, THANK GOD!”

I stared at him in surprise and shock for a moment. At the same time, his facial expressions rapidly went from relief to embarrassment, but he regained his composure quickly and explained.

Customer: *In a quiet, serious voice* “My ex-wife’s name is Jane. Our divorce was recently finalized. My teenage children and I are redecorating the family home now that she’s moved out. I’m glad to be talking to a Joan and not a Jane.

I quickly tried to redirect the conversation back to home décor.

Me: “Ah… I’m sorry to hear about that. Let me get your hold.”

After that, our interaction was normal, but he was much more subdued than he had been. I got his hold, answered his questions about the products, and helped him find a few more items he needed. He was nothing but polite to me the whole time.

People still mess up my name frequently, but this is the only time it has triggered somebody.

Baby Names Shouldn’t Make You Hungry

, , , , , , , | Romantic | February 10, 2023

Back in college, I started a long-term relationship with a guy. At some point, the subject of someday having children came up, and we began keeping a list of names for our potential future babies. I viewed the list more as a form of lighthearted romantic entertainment than anything else. We both knew I wanted to go to graduate school after finishing undergrad, and any kids we would have were in the far distant future at least five to ten years away.

My boyfriend was of Italian ancestry, so many of the names he suggested were Italian — Silvio, Antonio, Dino, etc. The names were uncommon for our city in the western US where most people were of Anglo-Saxon, Latino, or Germanic heritage, but they were hardly outlandish.

He was also very fond of Italian cuisine, and pretty decent at cooking it.

Boyfriend: “I’ve come up with the perfect names for two kids, regardless of their genders.”

Me: “Oh? What are they?”

Boyfriend: “Aglio and Olio.” *Proudly* “They’re Italian for ‘garlic’ and ‘oil’, as in olive oil. I’m completely serious.”

We later broke up for much less entertaining reasons, but the experience led me to decide I would not name any of my future children after foodstuffs.

The Call Of The White Spaniel Is Loudest At The Dawn

, , , , , , | Related | February 10, 2023

After my parents got married, in the late seventies, they decided they wanted to get a puppy together. My mom had several dogs growing up. My dad didn’t but really wanted a dog and had read every book on dogs and taking care of them he could get his hands on. They found a reputable breeder — yes, I know, “Adopt, don’t shop,” but that wasn’t really a thing yet back then — and got everything prepared.

When the puppies were eight weeks old, my parents went to pick up the one of their choice. While my dad sorted out paperwork and payment and such, my mom played with the puppies and chatted with the breeder’s children. One of them asked her a question.

Kid: “What are you going to name him?”

Mom: “We’re naming him [Puppy]. Do you have a name for him?”

Kid: “We call him Wolfie.”

Mom: “Really? Wolfie?”

Kid: “Yep!”

Mom was a bit surprised. The puppy was a fluffy little brown and white thing with floppy ears that didn’t resemble a wolf in the slightest; he was a spaniel-type breed. She wanted to ask the kid why they called him Wolfie, but they were distracted by something, and then my dad announced it was time to go, so she never found out. She did relay the story to my dad on the way home, and he was surprised by the name, as well. But you never know why kids might name an animal something, so they put it out of their minds.

That night, after an exhausting day of exploring his new home, backyard, and neighborhood, the puppy curled up contentedly in the little nest my parents had prepared for him, complete with a hot water bottle, and went to sleep. My parents went to bed, hoping he’d sleep through the night but prepared to deal with nightly whining.

What they were very much NOT prepared for was to be awoken in the middle of the night by ear-splitting howling. They’d never heard a wolf howl, but this was pretty much how they’d imagined it sounding except higher in pitch. My parents rushed downstairs to find the puppy sitting upright in his nest and howling his lungs out at the moon, which shone through a crack in the curtains. They watched the howling puppy for a moment, too dumbfounded to respond, before my dad picked him up and gently shushed him.

Dad: “Well, I guess now we know why those kids called him Wolfie.”

They called up the breeder the next day, and he confirmed that, yes, “Wolfie” had the odd habit of sometimes howling at the moon, but it was harmless and he’d probably grow out of it as he grew older. Still, he advised closing the curtains, since he only did it when he could actually see the moon. My parents looked at each other, shrugged, and basically decided, “Well, we wanted a dog, and we can live with this.” Curtains were closed from that point on.

I’m happy to say that “Wolfie” lived a long and happy life with my family full of long walks, bike rides, hunting trips with my dad, and camping holidays in several countries, as well as all the ear-scratches and belly rubs he wanted, but he never completely grew out of his habit of howling at the moon. When he got two “brothers”, my parents were worried they’d pick up this habit as well, but they didn’t. They were even more worried when they brought home a hairless, two-legged “sister” for Wolfie — me. Though I learned to bark before I could talk and accidentally ate dog food on several occasions, I was much too sound of a sleeper to pick up howling at the moon, much to my parents’ relief.

Some Queenie-ly Advice

, , , , , , , , , | Friendly | February 3, 2023

My dad is gone now, but he was an easy-going, jovial kind of guy with the gift of gab. In the 1960s, he owned a fast food restaurant that specialized in hot dogs called “Queenie’s Weenies”. At the restaurant, nobody called my dad by his real name; everybody just called him Queenie

At the time, I was fifteen years old. I would work with my dad at the restaurant on weekends. One Saturday, we were driving to work and stopped off at a supermarket to pick up some supplies.

We grabbed our purchases and got into the checkout line. I noticed something while we waited in line: our cashier was in a very, very, bad mood! She offered no smiles, no greetings, no small talk, no “have a nice day”. Her “anger aura” was palpable and kind of scary to me.

When it was our turn, I was thinking that we should just get our stuff and leave quickly before the cashier went “Death Star” on us. My dad had a different idea. When it was our turn, he started chatting her up, looking at her name tag.

Dad: “Hi, [Cashier], how are you today? Isn’t this weather great? This is my son; we work together. Do you like hot dogs? I have a restaurant. It’s called ‘Queenies Weenies’. We specialize in chili dogs. Do you like chili dogs, [Cashier]? Drop by my restaurant sometime and I will treat you to a chili dog made special, just for you, by me, Queenie.”

By the time we were done checking out, [Cashier] was smiling.

Cashier: “Thanks, umm… Queenie. I hope you and your son have a very nice day.”

Back in the car, he “dad-splained” it to me.  

Dad: “[Cashier] was obviously having a bad day. Who knows why, but it happens to everyone. A warm smile and a few kind words were all it took to brighten her day. I made her a little happier and it didn’t cost me a dime. Try it sometime.”