The Only Other Option Is Hedwig

, , , , | Right | January 9, 2018

(I am running a very popular gardening program for my community. At the onset of the program, I ask each participant for their contact information, that I might send them updates about important dates and workshops. This phone call takes place about a month after the program starts for the season.)

Participant: “Hey, [My Name]. I just wanted to know what’s going on with the program. I haven’t gotten any updates from you in a while.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t you get my email?”

Participant: “I never check my email. I only have one so I can get free things from companies.”

Me: “Oh. Okay. Well, let me see; is this address correct? I should have sent you two flyers by now.”

Participant: “I’m sure it’s in my car somewhere. I just throw everything that’s not a bill onto the front seat of my car and deal with it later.”

Me: “Well, I did try to call you last week.”

Participant: “I don’t answer calls from phone numbers I don’t recognize, and I know I wouldn’t recognize yours.”

Me: *getting frustrated* “I think we’re left with carrier pigeon.”

Participant: “What?”

Me: “What other means of communication would you suggest? I’ve listed everything I can think of.”

Participant: “Hmmm… Maybe shoot me a text. But not before or after work. You know I live in an area that doesn’t have reception!”

(Her daughter eventually came to the office for a different reason. I sent her home with about five important papers to take to her mom. I’m sure she’ll never see them!)

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The Never Ending Christmas Tree

, , , | Right | December 22, 2017

(It’s Christmas time in New England. I am a short, scrawny, 17-year-old sales associate at a home and garden center that sells Christmas trees. It’s eight pm. I have been outside in the snow selling trees all day since I got to work at eight am. We have already turned off the lights to the tree area and have shut off our illuminated sign.)

Manager: “Hey, [My Name], go pull the chain!”

(We pull a chain across the parking lot entrance every night to prevent more people from coming in. I run out across the parking lot, grab the chain, and start pulling it across the entrance when a minivan pulls in going rather fast and runs over the chain, nearly ripping my arms off in the process. A small family gets out. I finish hooking the chain and walk over to them to tell them we are closed.)

Father: “Hi, you guys still open?”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, we’re closed.”

(My manager comes outside.)

Manager: “Hello, what can I help you with?”

Father: “We did come here to get a tree but if you guys are closed, we can come back tomorrow.”

Manager: “No, it’s fine. We are closed but if you are just getting a tree, then feel free to pick one out.”

Father: “Thank you so much.”

Manager: “[My Name], help this fine family pick out a tree.”

(I proceed to do the standard sales pitch to help them figure out what kind of tree they want. I ask the price range, full or skinny, tall or short, basically all the questions I normally ask to figure out which tree would be best. I start pointing them at some trees I think they would like but they keep disagreeing or pointing out every small thing about the trees. This goes on for another 45 minutes. They eventually find a set of four trees in our expensive section that they like and decide to choose between one of the four. This starts a debate among the family.)

Me: “Okay, while you decide, I’ll be inside. Come get me when you decide on a tree.”

(I scurry away because I can barely feel my fingers at this point.)

Manager: *obviously frustrated* “What’s taking so long?”

Me: “They won’t pick a d*** tree. They are currently in a debate between four trees. Don’t get mad at me. They are being stubborn and didn’t like any of the trees.”

(They debate for another ten minutes. In this time, my coworkers have left, leaving just me and the manager. Eventually, the father walks in.)

Father: “We have decided on a tree.”

Me: “Okay, show me which one you picked.”

(I follow the father outside and he points at a tree.)

Father: “We have decided on this one.” *he points to a rather large tree that comes out to around $85*

Me: “Nice choice. I’ve been waiting for someone to take this beauty home.”

Father: “Why has no one wanted it?”

Me: “It costs $85.”

Father: “WHAT?!” *turns to his children who have sad looks on their faces* “Okay, I guess we’ll get this one.”

Me: “Would you like for me to wrap it?” *I remove the tree from the stand*

Father: “No, just bring it to the van. [Wife], go pay for the tree.”

(I bring the tree up to the front door of the store which is next to the parking lot and grab some rope that we use to tie trees to roofs. I hand the tag to the wife so she can go pay. I put the tree on the roof of their van and as I’m about to tie it down, the father grabs the rope from me.)

Father: “I’ll do it.” *he begins to tie the tree down*

Me: “You sure? I mean, it is part of my job to tie trees down.”

Father: “No, you probably don’t know how to do it properly.”

Me: *taken back by this comment, because I’ve tied down around 400 trees by this point* “Okay. Have a nice night, and Merry Christmas.”

(I walk inside and get a cup of hot chocolate because I’m freezing. I drink it, shut off the store and warehouse lights, lock up all the doors, and go get my stuff from the office and punch out. This whole process takes about 10-15 minutes. The father is still trying to tie the tree down.)

Me: “Do you want me to go help him?”

Manager: “No, I’ve already tried. You can go home. It’s been a long day. I’m sorry; I won’t let anyone in when the chain is being pulled ever again. This was a mistake.”

(I leave. The man was there for another five minutes but eventually tied his tree down and left.)

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Under An Umbrella Of Entitlement

, , , , , , | Right | June 14, 2017

(I work outside in a plant nursery and this particular day it has been bucketing down right since I woke up that morning. I am down at the info desk trying to dry off a bit when an middle-aged woman comes up.)

Customer: “You guys wouldn’t have any umbrellas to borrow, would you?”

Me: “No, ma’am, I’m sorry; we don’t.”

(She looks at me as if I had offended her.)

Customer: “Well, why not?! It’s raining outside! How am I meant to get any plants!”

Me: “I’m sorry. We used to, but people kept stealing and walking out with our umbrellas so we’ve stopped now.”

Customer: *rolls eyes and sighs* “Well, that’s just an inconvenience. You really should have a couple of umbrellas!”

(She walked off and I went into the office nearby. Only a couple minutes later I walked out after drying up to see the same woman walking back into our store with her own umbrella from her car.)

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Workers Like These Don’t Grow On Trees

, , , | Friendly | June 13, 2017

(I’m at the garden centre when I hear my name called.)

Cashier: “[My Name]! Can you help this lady? She wants to know about fruit trees.”

Me: “Sure thing.”

(The lady comes over to me and we discuss fruit trees, pollination groups, and rootstocks for a while. It’s quite a technical area of gardening that people often need assistance with. We decide between us what would be the best fruit tree for her.)

Me: “…so, it seems that the best tree for your garden would be a self-fertile Cox on an M26 rootstock.”

Customer: “Okay, do you have any in stock?”

(I shake my head theatrically. I was looking forward to this bit.)

Me: “Haven’t a clue.”

Customer: “Uh… what?”

Me: “I don’t work here.”

Customer: “Then… um… why…”

Me: “I’m a professional horticulturist and [Cashier] is a good friend of mine. He had a long queue of customers and knew I’d be willing to chat to you about my favourite subject for a while. Also, I have a working relationship with this garden centre: I answer the more technical enquiries for them, and they advertise my business for me. It’s win-win.”

Customer: *still looking very baffled and embarrassed* “Oh… well, that’s… good. Thanks for your help.”

Me: “No problem! I’m not in a rush, so would you like me to help you choose a good apple tree?”

(She said yes, so we went and found her a nice quality tree, and happily, they had exactly the one I had recommended in stock. I have to admit, though, I love confusing the garden centre’s customers like that, and Cashier finds it funny as well!)

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Climbing Out Of This One

| Right | May 10, 2017

(I work in a garden centre in the plants section. My job is, among other things, to give technical advice.)

Customer: “Excuse me, do you have any climbing Chlamydia?”

(Where I work is a place people go for a nice day out, so we get relaxed customers making jokes, so I get ready to make a humorous reply, but I realise that they’re entirely serious. I force my face straight.)

Me: “Umm, could you describe it to me?”

Customer: “Yes, it’s pink and climbs up, really fast.”

(Ouch! Nasty mental image right there!)

Me: “Ah, I think you might mean Clematis. Follow me and let’s see if this is what you want.”

Customer: “I’m certain I want Chlamydia!”

(I’m very certain you don’t, ma’am.)

Me: “I think you might mean this plant, Clematis montana.”

Customer: “Oh, yes, you’re right. That’s the one! Can you pick me out a good one, please?”

Me: “Sure thing!”

(I choose a nice healthy one, and we walk back towards the till. She looks thoughtful.)

Customer: “So… what’s Chlamydia then?”

Me: “Well… truth is, it’s a sexually transmitted disease.”

Customer: “…I beg your pardon?”

Me: “It’s a sexually transmitted disease, and I’m happy to say we don’t stock it here!”

Customer: “Oh, God, I’m so sorry! My son told me to come in here and ask for climbing Chlamydia. I’m going to KILL him!”

Me: *laughs* “Don’t worry about it. I’ve been asked for worst things. I had a gentlemen the other day who came in wanting a dwarf Pinus. He got that name badly wrong, and I had difficulty keeping my face straight!”

Customer: *grins in relief* “Did you tell him that size didn’t matter?”

Me: “You know, I wish I’d thought of that…”

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