Needs To Attend Electoral College

| WI, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Technology

(I’m an elections inspector; which is just a fancy way of saying I work at the polls during election days. This election, we are expecting enough of a crowd that we put the registrations and the actual voting in two separate rooms. Furthermore, we separate the registration process into three different steps, each at a different table, to try and minimize bottlenecks. I’m working alongside my mother at the first table. A woman comes in to register, clearly ticked off already. Mom starts asking questions to make sure she has the necessary paperwork for the process. It goes smoothly until the woman shows us what she has for her proof of residence: an ad from the local pizza joint. The law is very clear on what we can and cannot accept as POR, and advertisements are in the “cannot” category.)

Mom: “I’m sorry, I’m afraid advertisements aren’t valid for proof of residence. Do you ha—”

Woman: “You’re saying I can’t vote?!”

Mom: “That’s not what I’m saying; we just need to have something official as proof of residence. Now that could be a utility bill, a bank statement, maybe a—”

Woman: “Everything’s in my husband’s name.”

(I silently cringe at that. Having her husband’s name on the documents also won’t qualify for POR, because there’s no proof that she herself lives there.)

Mom: “Is there anything on this list that might be in your name?” *shows her the list of acceptable documents — she doesn’t even look at it* “Is it possible your car’s registration might have your name and current address on it? Or maybe you have a—”

(The woman snatches up her papers and storms out of the room in a huff. Mom and I just shrug and focus on helping the next people in line. About 20 minutes later the woman comes storming back in.)

Woman: “HERE!” *slams a very crumpled sheet of paper onto the table*

Mom: “Perfect! Okay, now you’re ready for the next step. If you could go to—”

(Without waiting for the rest of the directions, the woman grabs her papers and gets in line. Unfortunately, she skipped step #2 and went straight to the line for step #3, which is for people who already have their registration form filled out. While some people do bring the form in with them, most don’t, and so step #2 involves filling out that form. Mom tries to redirect her.)

Mom: “Ma’am, that line is for if you already have the form filled out. Just to be sure, did you—”


(Just then, the person manning step #2 gets her attention and directs her to a console. I turn to my mom and mutter.)

Me: “Well, since we don’t have X-ray vision…” *shrugs*

(Mom has already noticed another voter coming in and so has turned her attention on them. I do the same, but out of the corner of my eye I do see the woman spin back around to face us.)

Woman: “You know, you’re a b****!”

(After she was gone (she did finally get registered and was able to vote) and the rush had slowed to a trickle, I wrote everything up in the incident report, just in case she tried to claim we’d been blocking her from voting. Mom reads over my shoulder.)

Mom: “Is that what she said? I wasn’t even listening at that point.” *thinks about it* “You know, I do believe that’s the first time I’ve ever been called that to my face. Considering I’m tech support, that’s a pretty good record!”

(Fortunately, that woman was the nastiest person we had to deal with that day. Later on, we helped a brand-new citizen register to vote for the first time ever. She was grinning from ear to ear, and showing off her citizenship certificate to anybody who stood still long enough. It was a nice reminder of why I put myself through this every election!)

Bin There, Done That

| Wales, UK | Bizarre, Language & Words

(One of many things we do is help with the management of refuse and recycling facilities for local residents. The county is a popular retirement destination and most of our callers are elderly. Unfortunately this means we get a high volume of calls where we just can’t help people because no matter how hard we try, we cannot coax their requests out of them:)

Me: “Bore da, good morning, [Local Government].”

Elderly Caller: “BINS!”

Me: “You’ve got a query about your refuse or recycling?”

Elderly Caller: “BINS!”

Me: “Have you missed a collection? Would you like me to send some staff over to come and help empty your bins?”

Elderly Caller: “BINS!”

Me: “Was it that you needed a replacement bin? Did one of your bins get broken?”

Elderly Caller: “NUHHH. BINS. MY BINS!”

Me: “I’d like to know how I can help you with your bins, sir. Do you know your address? Or is there somebody in the room who can help you with your call? I really want to help you if I can.”


(I heard the phone clatter to the table or floor and the line went dead shortly thereafter. I have set up regular direct debits to dementia charities since I started working here. We get several calls like that every day and I always wish I could do more! I especially wish we had 999-style call location technology so we could trace calls and call people back who’ve hung up on us by mistake. Maybe one day…)

Not Talking About An Auto Dealer

| UK | Bizarre, Criminal & Illegal

(I work in admin for local authority parking enforcement. It’s a 50/50 split between making sure people paid their legitimate fines, and catching errors/fakes by incompetent or dishonest wardens. Part of the job is chasing down people who have outstanding fines for long periods. We obtain address details from the DVLA and make contact. Usually they call us after getting an intimidating letter. This young-sounding woman is one such. She sounds…distracted. Bear in mind that she is calling local government.)

Caller: “I got this letter saying I owe money for a parking fine but that’s not my car.”

Me: “You’re on record as the registered keeper.”

Caller: “Really? What car is it?”

Me: *make/model/colour/registration*

Caller: “Oh, yeah. That was mine. I haven’t got it now, though. I only had it a few days then I gave it to my dealer.”

Me: “Your dealer?”

Caller: “Yeah, my dealer. I traded it to him for drugs. You know how it is. I gave him that car for drugs. So, it’s his fine.”

Me: “Right… Well… You should probably tell the DVLA you don’t own the car anymore.”

Caller: “What…?”

(The weirdest part for me was the way she kept saying she was buying ‘drugs’. Somehow I wouldn’t have expected someone buying illegal narcotics to phrase it like that.)

A Fee-ble Attempt

| Silverdale, WA, USA | Money

(I work for a sub-agency for the state that has a five-dollar fee per transaction. There is also an optional five dollar donation on every transaction.)

Me: “Your total is [total].”

Customer: “No, I don’t want to make the donation today.”

Me: “I took the donation fee off, but we do have a five dollar office fee here that sort of cancels it out. So your total is [total].”

Customer: “What?! How dare you charge me just to come to this office? I demand you take that fee off!”

Me: “I am sorry, sir. I cannot do that. We are not run by the state, so the only income this office has is that five dollar fee. If I didn’t charge it to you, I wouldn’t get paid.”

Customer: “Do you think I care if you get paid?”

Me: “Probably not, but I do. I cannot take the fee off. If you would like to avoid paying it, you can always pay through the courthouse. They don’t charge it.”

Customer: “Fine!”

(The courthouse in question is over 30 miles away. He will most definitely be paying more than $5 in gas just to get there!)

Accredited With Being Stupid

| SC, USA | Crazy Requests, Extra Stupid, Technology

(I work security and administrative actions at a government agency on Fort Jackson. Our agency, like most, has initials that are very similar to NCAA.)

Me: *answering phone* “National Center for Credibility Assessment. My name is [My Name]. How can I help you today?”

Caller: “Hi. This is probably going to be the stupidest question you answer all day.”

Me: “Okay, go ahead.”

(The caller then begins to go on about how she is in need of taking accredited classes for her physical trainer courses and she needed to know how to go about getting those classes.)

Me: “Ma’am, I am not entirely sure you called the right place. This is a polygraph school.”

Caller: “Right, so how would I go about being accredited? Can you direct me to another department?”

Me: “I’m sorry, the only thing we do with any physical education is within the first two weeks of the polygraph course, when the students get college level anatomy.”

Caller: “Well, your website brags about being NCCA accredited.”

Me: “No, ma’am, I assure you it does not. I think you are tying to—”

Caller: “You are NCCA right?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, but we don’t offer the courses you would need to physical therapy. I think you mean NCAA.”

Caller: *legitimately confused* “I don’t understand.”

Me: “This is the NCCA, the polygraph school. You may need to revisit the website and try a number within the site.”

Caller: “But I was just on your site. YOU accredit people.”

Me: “Ma’am, will you go back to the site you visited?”

Caller: *heavy sigh* “Okay”

Me: “Now will you read for me the letters at the top of the page?”

Caller: “NCAA… Ooh.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, the initials are very close but you do in fact have the wrong number.”

Caller: “I am sorry I wasted your time; I will search another number.”

Me: “Okay, thank you, have a great day.”


(The lady calls back again and when I answer she begins to complain that I lied to her to get out of doing my job. I walk her through the NCAA website to find a number for the courses she is interested in. She then begins dialing the number with me still on the phone. When they answer this is all I hear…)


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