It’s A Cents-less Law

, , , | Right | August 4, 2020

I am working the register and a family approaches me with their purchases. The woman has an empty bottle without any label in her hand.

Woman: “The reverse vending machine didn’t accept this bottle!”

Me: “Well, it doesn’t have a label or barcode, so the machine can’t scan it.”

Man: “Yes, of course, we can see that.”

The woman tries to hand me the bottle.

Me: “What do you expect me to do with that? I can throw it in the trash for you, if you so wish.”

Man: “No, we want our money! It’s twenty-five cents!”

Me: “I can’t do that as it doesn’t have a label.”

Man: “But you are obliged by state law to take all bottles back, even those without labels!”

Me: “I don’t know about such a law, but I do know that I can’t take that bottle back.”

Man: “You have to! It’s the law! I want to speak to the boss!”

Me: “Let me just get the store manager.”

While I lean over to the microphone to call for the store manager, the man goes on and on about how it’s the law and how we have to take the bottle back. Finally, the store manager arrives.

Manager: *To me* “What’s up?”

Me: “Well, these customers want—”

Man: “We want our deposit back for this empty bottle! It’s twenty-five cents! You are obliged by law to take those back!”

Manager: “We won’t take them back. It doesn’t have a label anymore.”

Man: “You have to by law!

Manager: “I’ve never heard of such a law.”

Man: “There is!”

Manager: “What do you expect us to do with it? We can only throw it in the trash; this would be a loss for us.”

Man: “But it’s only twenty-five cents! Don’t make this harder than it has to be! I want to speak to your boss! This can’t be right.”

Manager: “The boss isn’t in today.”

Man: “Then call him immediately!”

Manager: “No, I won’t do that. He has better things to do. I am simply enforcing rules our boss made; we are not supposed to take unlabeled empties. It’s a direct order by him.”

Man: “But you have to; it’s the law!”

By this time, a big line of around ten people has formed behind him, all rolling their eyes and getting more and more annoyed and impatient over the delay that guy is causing.

Me: “Listen, you heard him. Our boss told us to not take unlabeled empties. Neither he nor I can do anything about that. But if you’re so certain that it’s law—”

Man: “It is law!”

Me: “—if you’re so certain about that, a few meters down the street is [Grocery Store]; they take empties, as well, so you can try there.”

Man: “This is horrible service! I will never shop here again!”

The manager speaks with that weird kind of smug smile and tone he can put on.

Manager: “Good, then don’t shop here again. I don’t mind.”

I scan their items and they pay and leave. I go through the queue, checking everyone out as quickly as possible. Once I have no customers again, the store manager approaches me.

Me: “Man, I think I lost brain cells over this.”

Manager: “You know they’re gonna tell them the same at [Grocery Store]?”

Me: “I guess, yeah. I just wanted him out of here. Besides, I want him to run around town for ‘just twenty-five cents’.”

Manager: “Fair.”

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A Number On The Board Is Worth Two Burgers In The Bag

, , , | Working | August 3, 2020

I’ve had a fairly stressful day and am at a popular fast-food chain to treat myself. I’ve ordered and paid for my meal at a self-service machine. I got a receipt with a number — let’s say it’s 72 — which is supposed to be called out and shown on a board when my meal comes up.

I wear headphones but sit down in a seat with a clear view of the board and don’t let it out of sight for more than a few seconds at a time. The ones currently on the board are 36, 37, and 124. Order 73 comes up after a while, but not 72. It’s packed and I don’t want to be THAT customer, but after waiting for twenty minutes and watching several people who came in after me collect their orders, I go up to the counter.

Me: “Excuse me. I ordered some time ago, but my number still hasn’t come up. It was order number 72. Did I miss it?”

Waiter: “Oh! Yes, that was up quite a while ago!”

Me: “Oh, really? I’m sorry, the number didn’t show up on the board.”

Waiter: “Huh, that’s strange. I believe it was on the board.”

Me: “No, I’m sure it wasn’t. Order 73 was up for quite a while, but not 72.”

Waiter: “Really? Well, anyway, let me get your order.”

He walks to a table with several bagged orders piled up, picks up a bag, looks at the receipt, and trashes it. He then picks up something else, stuffs it into the bag, and comes back to hand it to me.

Waiter: “Here you go. Enjoy your meal!”

I look into the bag and find not only my order, but also two extra cheeseburgers.

Me: “Excuse me, there are two cheeseburgers I didn’t order.”

Waiter: “Yes, those are for you to make up for the wait.”

Getting free extra items as compensation isn’t very common in Germany, so I’m pleasantly surprised.

Me: “Really? Thank you so much!”

Waiter: “You’re welcome. Have a wonderful day!”

I went to sit down to eat — free cheeseburgers, yay! Only then did I realize that since he’d trashed the receipt, I had no idea if they’d accidentally displayed it as 73, or not at all, or if I’d somehow missed it. I keep wondering, was this a Not Always Working or Not Always Right?

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A Complete Num-Dum

, , , | Right | August 3, 2020

I work for a small IT service provider. A lot of our customers are rather inept with computers, but at least they know what they need to do their jobs. Every now and then, however, there’s one that takes the cake. The phone rings.

Me: “[My Company], [My Name] speaking; how can I help?”

Customer: “This is [Customer] from [Company #2]. My keyboard is broken.”

Me: “Okay, what seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “Well, the number buttons don’t work anymore.”

At this point, I have to admit I don’t make the connection. I figure, since he can’t type numbers, remote support won’t, either, as our remote support software works in such a way that we give the customer an ID comprising eight numbers he has to punch in. However, since the customer’s office is only a five-minute walk, I grab a spare keyboard — we always have those laying around — and go there. I arrive and try to reproduce the problem.

I type the numbers via the number keys above the keyboard.

Me: “I can’t seem to reproduce the problem. The number keys work just fine.”

Customer: “Not those, the others.”

He types on the num pad, and indeed, no numbers.

Me: “…”

I press the Num key. The customer types and numbers appear!

Customer: “Oh. Oooh… That’s what that button does? I never used it.”

Me: “Yes. Sometimes it turns off when you restart the computer. Just make sure the LED is on. If it isn’t, press the key.”

The customer thanks me and I leave. At this point, I am slightly annoyed, mostly at myself for not making the connection. But being a professional, even in support, it’s hard sometimes to consider that people don’t know even the simplest stuff. Then again, there are lights on my car’s dashboard of which I don’t know the meaning, either.

The following day, the phone rings.

Me: “[My Company], [My Name] speaking; how can I help?”

Customer: “[Customer] from [Company #2] here. I think my keyboard is really broken this time. It won’t type numbers again.”

Me: “Did you check the light?”

Customer: “Of course I did! It was off and I pushed the button. It’s on now, but it’s still not working.”

At this point, I considered trying remote support, as I now knew he could still type numbers, he just insisted on using the num pad. So, again, I grabbed a spare keyboard, just in case, and walked over.

The customer remembered he had to push “a button on the right side of the keyboard which turns on a light”. However, he couldn’t remember which one. He also couldn’t remember which light was supposed to turn on. He actually found a button that turned on an LED, but it wasn’t Num; it was Roll. The customer now has a post-it on his screen stating, “In case numbers don’t work, press NUM” with a drawing of where the key is located and which light is supposed to be on.

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A Charitable Response To Harassment

, , , , , | Working | July 31, 2020

I’m doing a little shopping in the city with my mom since we have a little time to kill before an appointment. We’re chatting a little and not really paying attention to our surroundings until someone all but jumps in front of us.

Guy: “Hi! My name is [Guy] and I’m from [Charity Organisation]! Do you have a few minutes?”

Mom is a bit startled and wary but still willing to listen.

Mom: “Well, we’ve got a little time to spare, I guess…”

Guy: “Great! Could I have your name, please?”

Mom: “It’s [Mom].”

He writes that down. During the whole discussion, he uses the informal variant of “you,”which in German is mainly used for friends and family but not strangers.

Guy: “So, [Mom], as I said, I’m from [Charity] and we—”

Mom: *Cutting him off* “Before you start, maybe you can save your breath. I know what [Charity] does, but I’m not interested in giving money to some stranger that stopped me in the streets.”

The guy smiles, but it starts to seem a little forced and condescending.

Guy: “[Mom], why don’t you just listen and let me talk?”

He then launches into an extensive spiel about his charity and what they do. During his last sentences, he almost pushes an empty form into my hands.

Guy: “So, now, if you just enter your information and sign here—”

Mom: “Wait a minute. I just told you I won’t give away any cash and that includes not signing any membership application. If you have some flyers or pamphlets, I’d happily take them with me so I could make a donation via money transfer, but I’m not comfortable giving my bank account information to someone I don’t even know.”

Guy: “No, I don’t have any pamphlets. I told you I’m [Guy], so we’re not strangers anymore, right? Now, just fill in your information and sign here, please. Why wouldn’t you want to?”

Mom: “For one, it’s my decision how I spend my money. And besides that, I’ve had bad experiences with a scammer that pressured me into signing a contract when I was younger.”

Guy: “Well, we’re no scammers; we are [Charity]!” *Points to his name badge* “[Mom], it’s really not difficult. You could be really making a difference with your donations!”

Mom: *Getting really fed up* “Look, I’ve repeatedly told you I won’t be signing this. You say you are with [Charity], but anyone could print a badge like yours and claim that.”

The guy tries to speak up again but she raises her hand to stop him.

Mom: “Besides, we’ve got an appointment and need to go now so we’ll be there on time.”

He tried to keep us for a little longer but we left. On our way back, we made sure to take a different route just to avoid running into him again. It’s not like my mom or I don’t want to donate money for a good cause, but if an organisation doesn’t offer pamphlets or accept one-time donations via money transfer, they can’t really expect people to sign a membership form just because someone on the street pushes it at them.

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Everyone’s Got Baggage, Not Just Orphans

, , , , | Related | July 31, 2020

I’m at a friend’s house. Her aunt is currently visiting. My friend is a lesbian, and this aunt has been giving my friend a hard time about her homosexuality. While she is not totally homophobic, she just doesn’t understand what it means. I’m a witness to the following exchange.

Aunt: “I still can’t understand why you wouldn’t even try to find a husband. I’m sure if you found the right person—”

Friend: “[Aunt], I’m lesbian; you know that. I’m not attracted to men. Like, at all.”

Aunt: “But you are a woman. It is your God-given duty to marry a man and have children!”

Friend: “At this day and age, that’s just nonsense.”

Aunt: “Don’t you want to start a family and have children?” 

Friend: “At some point, I might.”

Aunt: *Triumphantly* “Well, how can you have children if you don’t have a husband? Don’t tell me you’re thinking about going to a sperm bank. That’s gross and unnatural.”

Friend: “If I decide to have children, I’ll adopt.”

Aunt: “Adopt? Why?”

Friend: “There are enough children out there who don’t have parents. I don’t need to make more. Besides, if I adopt an older child, I don’t need to bother with not being able to sleep at night and having to change diapers all the time.”

Aunt: “But adopted children often have… issues.”

My friend takes a moment to understand what she means and process the statement.

Friend: “[Aunt], I have ADD and PTSD, I was born with diabetes, and I’m allergic to half of the things on the planet! I’d say I have more issues than most orphans, and I’m home-grown.”

Her aunt didn’t say anything after that. But from what I’m told, that wasn’t the first or last time she brought that up.

To clarify, my friend’s PTSD comes from her home burning down when she was little. She never fully got over it and is still very afraid of fire.

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