For A Government Line, It Could Have Been Much More Boring

, , , , | Right | December 10, 2019

(I’m standing in line at one of the local government offices when I hear a commotion at one of the other lines.)

Customer: “Well, I can’t go to the d*** doctor because I don’t have a d*** [medical] card.”

(The cashier tries to explain something and he continues to argue with her when I hear this.)

Cashier: “I understand, sir, but I don’t know who you are.”

Customer: “You don’t need to know me! I don’t want to know you! I just want to go to the doctor, but you ain’t gave me my d*** card!”

Woman: *in one of the other lines* “Oh, lord, y’all need some Jesus up in here!”

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No Incentive To Do It Properly

, , , , | Working | December 5, 2019

(I’m trying to process an early hook-up incentive for required work going on in my county to switch homes from septic to the county sewer system. I call in to check on the required documents.)

Me: “I just need to know which documents I need to send in for the early incentive.”

County Employee: “You’ll need copies of the permits and your original paid-in-full invoice for the work you had done.”

Me: “Okay, great! My invoicing was all done electronically, so do I just print that?”

County Employee: “No. It has to be the original.”

Me: “I don’t think you understood me. My contractor deals exclusively in electronic invoicing. The original is electronic. No paper version exists.”

County Employee: “It has to be the original paper copy.”

Me: “Which doesn’t exist.”

County Employee: “I don’t know what to tell you. They’ll reject your incentive if it’s not the original.”

Me: “So, is there an email to forward you the original?”

County Employee: “No. It must be mailed in.”

Me: “I really don’t know how else to explain it.”

County Employee: “It must be the original.”

(I never could figure out what this employee didn’t understand about no paper copy existing. My contractor printed a color version and signed it for me. I felt bad making them go through the trouble when I later verified with a different county employee that the printed version would be fine.)

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Copy Error

, , , , , , | Right | November 8, 2019

This takes place in a government office where people often come to do research. There is one copy machine in the entire room for however many people are in there, usually 10 to 20. Everyone who is there regularly is careful not to take too much time on the machine out of respect for everyone else. 

On this particular day, an older gentleman decides to make some copies of pages in a book. He gets to the machine just before I do and stares at it for a good half minute. I offer to help him, tell him where to position the book, show him where to put the money in, tell him it’s 50 cents a page, and show him which button to push for copies. He makes one copy, waits until there is no more noise coming from the machine, looks around for the copy, takes it out, reads it carefully, then puts it down on the table next to him. He then reads the book some more, looking for the next page he wants to copy. Same routine: make one copy, read it carefully, put it down. Then, he needs more money. He digs in his pocket for his zippered pouch, which takes half a minute. He opens the zipper, digs around in it for a while, pulls out a plastic bag, digs around for a dollar bill, puts the rest of the money back in the bag, puts the bag back in the pouch, and then put the pouch back in his pocket. He looks for the next page he wants to copy, copies it, reads it carefully, etc. He runs out of money, digs the pouch out of his pocket again, takes at least two minutes extracting another dollar bill, puts everything away again, and slowly and carefully makes two more copies. He realizes he needs more money, takes the pouch out of his pocket again…

I finally suggest that he take the book off to the side to figure out which pages he wants to copy rather than stand there. 

It takes him a full twenty minutes to make seven copies. The three people in line behind me give up and find something else to do.

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Marshalling Kids Is Harder Than Catching Criminals

, , , , , | Learning | November 5, 2019

(I’m the kid of a federal defense attorney, and my dad signed me up for a take-your-kid-to-work day event, which takes kids whose parents are employed by the government in the judicial branch and helps them learn all about court, complete with some lectures, sentencing, mock trial, and court marshall activities. We’re on the court marshall activity, and keep in mind that I’m pretty small, especially my wrists. One court marshal asks for a volunteer for a demonstration, and I eagerly raise my hand and he picks me.)

Marshall: “So, we’re going to be showing you how we handcuff people now, with our lovely volunteer.”

(He goes through all the steps and fastens the handcuffs, but I quickly notice they aren’t made for children, so if I squeeze very hard, I can get them off. I hold the cuffs with one hand in front of me while the marshall continues to talk, one hand on my shoulder to demonstrate that you should not let go once they are handcuffed. The other kids start to giggle, noticing I got out.)

Marshall: “What’s so funny?”

Random Kid: “She’s escaping!”

(The marshall looks back at me in surprise.)

Marshall: “Well, I guess you’ve demonstrated the need to keep your eyes on the person you’re handcuffing!”

(Later, on a different activity, he started to teach me a move on how to use my small size to my advantage. He was a pretty awesome guy, especially as a volunteer!)

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Those Prices Are Not Healthy

, , , , | Healthy | October 21, 2019

I’m an American living and working in Japan. One day, I get severely ill, so I call an ambulance and am taken to the hospital. It turns out to be an easily treated condition, but they keep me in for observation overnight.

During checkout the next day, they keep warning me and apologizing that payment will be expensive, even with my insurance. “I’m so sorry but it will be pricey,” is something I hear from several people. 

At that point, I’m a little worried about the cost, but checkout is almost done and they present me with the bill — about ¥30,000, a little under $300 US.

I surprise them when I start laughing, then horrify them when I say that an ambulance ride, hospital stay, and followup medication in the US would easily add up to at least ten times that price!

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