Acting Like A Fish Out Of Water

, , , , , , | Right | July 28, 2020

I work in a fast food sandwich shop located within a supermarket. I am a closer and it’s about an hour until closing. I only have a trainee with me in the back doing dishes when a family comes in: a grandma, a mom, and three kids. They have already done their shopping and bought a live fish in a plastic bag full of water. The mom is arguing with one of the kids, demanding that he order a sandwich.

Kid: “I don’t care; I just want that chicken.”

He points to the teriyaki chicken.

Me: “Okay, would you like the whole thing toasted or just the meat warmed?”

Kid: “I don’t care. Yes, toast it.”

The kid gets into a fight with the grandma, but I don’t catch why they start fighting. He then runs around the corner with the grandma chasing him.

I prepare the sandwich and, as I am sliding it into the toaster I hear this awful noise come from near the soda machine. I assume they have broken something. The kid and the mom then begin to yell at the grandma and I quickly look over to see her bent over and picking up their fish, out of its bag. Apparently, they dropped it and the water got all over our rugs. The kid is yelling at her more and the mom begins yelling at him.

Kid: “You killed my fish!”

He runs out of the store and out of the supermarket. The mom goes after the kid, leaving the other two kids in the store. I gave the grandma a water cup for the fish and she then leaves to go back into the supermarket to get water for the fish. The two kids stand around awkwardly until the mom comes back with the little brat. They continue to fight and argue the entire time while ordering three more sandwiches, two pretzels, and three or four Icees. All the while, the kid is yelling about his grandma killing his fish, and she even paid for everything!

I have a conversation with the trainee when the family leaves.

Me: “So… there’s fish water on the rugs out in front of the soda machine.”

Trainee: “Umm… what? H-how?”

Me: “Yeah… Well, I’m gonna go call the manager.”

I called her but she did not answer. I ended up having to text it to her and she simply told me to hang the rugs to dry. The next day, I talked to the manager about it and she said, “That isn’t a call you get every day.”

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Weed Out The Cheapskates In Your Life

, , , , , , | Related | July 28, 2020

My paternal grandmother is notorious in her cheapness. She will have a pantry full of canned goods and take out one can of soup every two weeks, mix just a bit of the contents with a quart of tap water, and cook that on the stovetop. She does this to “make it last.” She will also go to swap shops and come home with the same junk my father is trying to get rid of. This is just to set up for the story of her greatest incidence of cheapness.

Almost twenty years ago, my church’s youth group is trying to raise money to send the kids to a weekend convention. The youth leader has figured that for tickets, accommodations, and gasoline for multiple vehicles, they’ll need to raise six hundred dollars.

My grandmother has a job they can do. Her property has a clay tennis court and a gravel driveway that needs to be weeded. Twelve teenagers arrive at her house at 8:00 am and weed both surfaces until 7:00 pm. As I am one of those teenagers, I am hoping we’ll get what we need for the trip.

I walk in to hear this exchange between the youth leader and my grandmother:

Youth Leader: “All right, [Grandmother], do you need to go to an ATM to get the rest of the payment?”

Grandmother: “Oh, don’t be silly. That’s the whole payment.”

Youth Leader: “[Grandmother], we just had a dozen people working in hundred-degree heat for eleven hours, and you’re saying that was only worth eighty dollars?”

Grandmother: “Well, of course. They’re not adults, so why pay them as adults?”

Some of the oldest kids in the youth group have joined me in time to hear this and, while the leader is biting his tongue, the oldest kid lets her have it.

Kid: “That explains why you couldn’t find a professional to do it. You probably tried to cheat them, too. Next time you need some chores done around here, don’t come to us.”

Even to her dying day, my grandmother never saw anything wrong with underpaying us that day. It’s part of the reason I cut ties with her before she died.

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When They Use Their Grandkids As Ammo

, , , , | Right | July 22, 2020

I am working at the box office at our theater when an older woman comes up to buy tickets to a popular kids’ movie.

Me: “Unfortunately, earlier in the day the film burned and we are still fixing it, so we won’t be able to play it.”

She looks very angry and storms off. She comes back a couple of minutes later with a very young girl who it turns out is her granddaughter and says:

Customer: “Fine. You can tell her she can’t see the movie on her birthday! That’s all she wanted to do and I promised her we’d see it.”

I try to explain to the woman again that there’s nothing we can do and she just points to her granddaughter. So, I’m forced to explain to the girl as simply as I can:

Me: “The movie caught on fire a little bit and we have to fix it. We can’t play it, honey.”

She is immediately crestfallen and starts to sob. The grandmother looks at me and says:

Customer: “I hope you’re happy.”

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It’s Not Your Cake But You Can Have It And Eat It, Too

, , , , , , , | Related | July 10, 2020

When I am five years old, my grandmother decides to buy me a personalized cake. It’s not for a special event like my birthday or anything, so I am even more excited. She arranges a meeting with the cake maker.

Cake Maker: “First, which flavor do you want?”

Me: “Chocolate!”

Grandma: “No, do a white cake. Chocolate is for boys; little girls have white cake.”

She pulls that one on me each year; my brother gets chocolate and I get white. I have learned that it’s not worth the fight; she never gets me a chocolate cake anyway.

Cake Maker: “Okay. We can do anything. So, what design do you want?”

Me: “I want a cake with three layers! With a lot of flowers, like a princess!”

The cake maker turns her gaze to my grandmother so she can confirm that it’s all right.

Grandma: “No, you can’t have that; it’s too big. And such flowers will cost too much.”

They then proceed to discuss ornaments, price, and the size in between themselves. It turns out that the size they agree on only comes in round cakes, so I don’t even get to choose the cake shape.

Already, to have adults tune me out of a conversation and to speak about me or stuff directly concerning me as if I’m not even there really irritates me as a child. Like, “Hello! I’m here! I can hear you!”

I’m not excited about this anymore.

They finally get back to me. 

Cake Maker: “So, what design do you want?”

My dream princess flower cake idea got scratched off from the start; I did not think I would need a backup idea, so…

Me: “I don’t know.”

Cake Maker: “Halloween’s coming; why not do a Halloween cake?”

Me: “Sure?”

It’s late August, so that doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever; if it’s what they’ll let me have, it’s fine. 

Cake Maker: “What makes you think about Halloween?”

Me: *Suddenly getting inspired* “Cats! A black cat!”

Grandma is a dog person and hates cats.

Grandma: “No, I’m not getting you a d*** cat cake.”

Cake Maker: “How about a witch with a little cat in front of the moon or something?”

I’m thinking, “Anything to get my cat here!”

Me: “Okay. I love the night sky and stars! Can we have stars and the moon in the background?”

Cake Maker: “Yes. Do you want to see the witch fully from feet to hat top or just the face?”

Me: “Full!”

I’m thinking, “A pretty dress and hat outfit, yay!”

Cake Maker: “Okay, maybe we can do her on a broomstick or with a bubbling cauldron. Which color do you want her dress?”

Me: “Black.”

Cake Maker: *To my grandma* “We can’t do black. We have to mix a bunch of coloring together and it tastes terrible.”

They are — again! — ignoring me and picking the color between themself. 

They get back to me.

Cake Maker: “Which color do you want the cat? It can’t be black.”

I default to my favorite color.

Me: “Pink?”

Cake Maker: *Almost concerned* “Oh, pink cats are not real, darling.”

Grandma: *Laughing at me* “Yes, cats are not pink.”

Now, I’m angry. I’m thinking, “It’s a cake! I can color a cat pink in my coloring books, so why not on a cake? Witches are not real either, but we are having one! And why are you laughing at me?!”

Knowing this kind of talk won’t pass with Grandma, I resort to just answering with the color that seems to agree with her.

Me: “Okay, then white.”

I didn’t care about this cake anymore. I was done. They blamed my crankiness on a child’s short attention span. I just threw random colors at their last questions: “Which color do you want her skin?” “Green.” “Which color do you want her hair?” “Orange.” And they tuned me out — again! — to pick whatever was left themselves. 

Months passed and I forgot about the cake. It was November when I got a call from Grandma telling me it was ready. Grandma, Mom, and I went to pick it up, and they made a big show of the “reveal” for me, expecting a huge explosion of happiness and my mind being blown. They opened the box… and… my face, in one word: DECEPTION. 

It was nothing I wanted.

There was no cat, no night sky, no stars, no dress, no hat, no broomstick, no cauldron… all the little details I chose and was hoping for were not there!

It was just an ugly witch face on a huge yellow circle with a blue rim. To me, it looked the same as the cheap, ready-made grocery store cake. It had nothing special or personalized! I forced myself to say, “Thank you,” to the maker and Grandma, because it’s what you should say. The only fun element was a gum used to make a 3D tooth sticking out of the witch’s mouth, and quick enough, my mom mindlessly picked it for herself. 

I got chewed out by Grandma and the cake maker for not being grateful or happy about “my” cake, as they spent a lot of money and time to get me this, etc. 

I don’t know how they proposed me a Halloween theme when I originally wanted a flowery princess theme. I don’t know what they expected when they overruled all my choices. I can only guess they were under the impression that I would be delighted with their choices or that a child would be happy with anything presented to them.

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At That Age, You’ve Earned The Right To Sleep In

, , , , , | Related | July 5, 2020

My eighty-four-year-old grandmother recently moved into a nursing home. Naturally, it’s been a bit of an adjustment for her. I’ve called her up to chat and she’s complaining that she has to wait until 8:15 to go down for breakfast.

Me: “Well, can’t you just go down an hour earlier so you eat at the same time you would at home?”

Grandmother: “No! I wouldn’t go down that early. There are old people there then!”

We both promptly started laughing hysterically. She meant there were older men down at that time that she had no interest in talking to, but it’s nice to know she doesn’t think eighty-four is old!

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