They’d Have To Throw Them Away When They Died Anyway

, , , , , | Working | January 27, 2021

It’s the annual Christmas raffle at work. I’ve missed the last three, as I always book the week of the draw off. The prizes are always naff things bought by the HR manager, things that she seems to like — flowery soap, sayings on signs, cheap perfume, etc. So, I tell whoever will be there to make them redraw the ticket if I win. For some reason, this really annoys the HR manager!

Unfortunately, I have had to use up my holiday early this year and end up working. I am getting on with my work while they perform the spectacle of the prize draw; I almost don’t hear my name. I go up to claim my prize, and it’s a bunch of flowers. Great.

As a single man who doesn’t even own a vase, I pretend to graciously accept the prize. Then, I try to give it away to anyone who will listen when it is all over. I get no takers, so on my way to the car, I ditch them in the dumpster. 

I arrive the next morning to an email from the Human Resources manager; she wants to see me. I dutifully visit her office.

HR Manager: “What is this?”

She has the flowers on her desk.

Me: “Looks like a bunch of flowers.”

HR Manager: “No, these are the flowers you won in the raffle — the flowers you threw in the bin.”

Me: “Oh, yeah, that’s where I’ve seen them before.”

HR Manager: “You are very lucky I don’t write you up for this.”

Me: “For what? Putting my rubbish in the bin when I was off the clock?”

HR Manager: “Rubbish? Just go.”

I can see from my desk that she goes right up to the director. She gestures at me, but he seems less than interested and motions to the door. He does, however, come see me later.

Director: “[HR Manager] was… upset with your actions yesterday.”

Me: “To be frank, do you want a flowery soap, a bunch of cheap flowers, or a reed diffuser?”

He stares at me for a while with a deadpan expression.

Director: “Well, I’m sure the others don’t feel that way.”

Me: “I’m not trying to be rude, but the staff talk, and most of what is won ends up in the bin. The raffle is a great idea, but no one wants it because no one wants to win.”

Director: “Okay, well, thanks for that.”

I didn’t hear much more of that. The next year, the HR manager made a big fuss of not having time to do the raffle, perhaps expecting some big reaction. But she did it anyway; we at least got a few better prizes in the mix.

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Is This A Department Store Or Santa’s Workshop?

, , , | Right | January 19, 2021

I start wearing a Santa hat through the winter holidays, starting from Black Friday until the end of December. Every single shift, I wear that silly hat along with my nice dress and shoes. I get some friendly teasing about it from my coworkers, but my managers don’t care and even encourage it.

I’m in the staff room with some coworkers on Black Friday, sharing stories about the impossible customers they’ve had to deal with that day.

Coworker #1: “Ugh, I can’t believe I have six more hours to go.”

Coworker #2: “If that one lady is still down there when my break is over, I’m going to hide.”

Coworker #1: *Turning to me* “How’s your day been?”

Me: “Fine. I haven’t had any trouble yet.”

Coworker #1: “Seriously, no one’s yelled at you today?”

Me: “Nope.”

Coworker #1: “Ugh, lucky. You have fewer people to deal with in Jewelry.”

Me: “Nah, we’re slammed, and plenty of them are jerks.”

Coworker #2: “But you’re always so energetic and smiling, I think they’re less likely to get mad at you.”

Me: “Oh, I get screamed at plenty during the rest of the year, but people hold back during the holidays.”

I flick the pom-pom end of my Santa hat.

Me: “No matter how much of a jerk someone is, very few people want others to see them being the kind of jerk who screams at a girl in a Santa hat during Christmas.”

My coworkers both stare at me in silence, before [Coworker #1] slams up out of her chair.

Coworker #1: “I’m going to the [Holiday Store] next door! Be right back!”

Coworker #2: “I’m coming, too!”

And that was how half the staff started wearing Santa hats in the following weeks.

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You Gotta Think Fast When Santa’s Involved

, , , , , | Related | January 9, 2021

I love reminding my twenty-two-year-old daughter of this story. Several years ago, when my oldest children were six and four, my husband — their step-dad — dressed up as Santa and came to my parents’ house where we were visiting on Christmas Eve. He did the whole bit, dropped off presents, and headed out the door with a “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

After he left, I had the following conversation with my little girl, who was four.

Daughter: “I know that wasn’t Santa. That was [Step-Dad].”

Me: “What makes you think that?”

Daughter: “Santa isn’t that tall.”

My husband is 6’2”.

Me: “Okay, you’re right. That was [Step-Dad]. Santa asked him to help out tonight because he’s really busy and running behind.”

Daughter: *In shock and awe* “[Step-Dad] knows Santa?!”

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Keeping Your Health In Line

, , , , , | Right | January 5, 2021

I am an at-home caregiver for two family members of poor health who haven’t been out of the house all year due to the health crisis. As such, I make sure I am as vigilant as possible when I need to go out for shopping or errands with a mask, hand sanitizer, and the works. Also, due to the cold weather, I am covered nearly head to toe with only my hands and eyes showing.

I am mailing packages to family members with their presents and cards because I told them there was NO way we are entertaining this year. Way too many kids and grandkids!

The borough’s post office is in an old, hundred-year-old brick building. When you walk in the large glass and wood doors, there’s a makeshift vestibule that you turn left or right to get into the lobby.

I don’t even make it through the first door, and there’s another man waiting there in line. Everyone’s got masks on, but even without stickers on the floor, everyone’s staying away from each other a few feet.

I set the boxes down as I’m waiting, but the line’s moving fairly quickly, so I take to just holding them as I wait. I am halfway through the line when the man behind me — way too close for my comfort — pipes up.

Customer: “You could probably set your packages down there while you wait.”

Me: “No, I’m good.”

Seriously, they are only about fifteen pounds and not oversized. A few seconds lapse.

Customer: “You could set them on that trash can there.”

He points to one a few feet in front of us.

Me: *Rather sternly* “They’re not heavy.”

I’m normally chatty and nice, but I’m in a hurry and have a bit of anxiety around people in general.

Once more, he pipes up.

Customer: “I only have to ask the lady one question.”

I don’t even bother responding. I assume he wants me to give up my place in line because he only had “one small question,” but hey, we’re all in a hurry. It’s the holidays, it’s cold out, and we’re in the middle of a health crisis.

I steadfastly keep my place in line, and what do you know, within a few seconds, I’m at the counter. My packages take only a minute or two to mail as they are all going priority. One swipe of a credit card, a receipt, and we’re good to go.

I leave and pause outside the door to tuck the receipt in my wallet, and the guy barrels past me. Sorry, dude. We all have to wait our turn!

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When All Else Fails, Blame God

, , , , , , , | Right | January 5, 2021

Since almost the beginning of the global health crisis, I’ve been volunteer grocery-shopping for the elderly and vulnerable through a secular local charity. As the winter holidays approach, my volunteer leader reaches out to me asking my availability over the break.

Me: “Oh, I can shop anytime. I’m not going anywhere and I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Volunteer Leader: “You’re Jewish?”

Me: “What? No. I’m atheist.”

Volunteer Leader: “Wait… Why are you volunteering?”

Me: “Excuse me?! I’m shopping for these elderly people because it’s too dangerous for them to go out right now. I’m helping because there’s a need.”

Volunteer Leader: “All right. Okay. Sorry. I just don’t see the reason you’re volunteering.”

Me: “Seriously?! Okay. So, why are you volunteering?”

Volunteer Leader: “I help in the name of God.”

Me: “Oh. To get in his good graces.”

Volunteer Leader: “No. To get the word out of his goodness.”

Me: “To proselytize.”

Volunteer Leader: “Well… no.”

Me: “Look, your questioning my reason to help others means you don’t grasp doing something good for its own sake.”

Volunteer Leader: “What? No. Goodness starts and stops with God. That’s why I am here to help. Why would you volunteer if it wasn’t for Him?”

Me: “Because it’s the right thing to do. How do you explain my volunteering?”

Volunteer Leader: “God’s making you do it.”

Me: *Sighs* “Just give me the info of the people who need their shopping done over the holidays; I can help whoever needs it.”

I’m not going to ask for a different volunteer leader, but he might ask to not oversee me anymore; I’m not sure. I know that, as the months go on, volunteers are dropping out and those of us sticking with it as our lives get busy again are more and more valuable to the charity. Hopefully, next year, our services will no longer be needed and the elderly and vulnerable can get back to the lives they had before.


This story is part of our Volunteer roundup!

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