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Could’ve Been A Much Worse Phone Call

, , , , , | Related | September 4, 2021

One of the few rules set in stone when we were young was: don’t drink and drive and don’t get in a car with a drunk driver. To enable us to stick to the rule, especially the latter part, my parents accepted the fact that they sometimes had to act as a taxi; we lived in a rural area with limited service by public transport and none whatsoever after 9:00 pm. This was a time before cell phones and when public phones were still plenty.

Two of my brothers had asked my parents one New Year’s Eve to collect them after the party. No curfew was given, and as my parents did not expect my brothers to call before early morning, they went to bed after welcoming the New Year. They were awoken in the early morning by fumbling at the door and my dad went to investigate. To his surprise, my brothers tumbled inside. When they made their next appearance, a few hours later and carefully nursing a hangover, my father got curious and inquired as to why they hadn’t called for him to come and pick them up.

Brother: *A bit sulky* “We did call! Why didn’t you pick up the phone?”

Dad: *Surprised* “But we never received a call. It was quiet all night until you tried to fit the key in the door.”

Those that were home that night confirmed that no phone call had disturbed the peace of the night. This went on a bit, to and fro, my brother insisting he called, my dad insisting that no call came through.

Dad: “So you called. Did you call the correct number?”

Brother: *Indignant* “Of course, I did.”

He recited the number while mimicking composing the number on a push dial.

Brother: “…five, six.” *Moving his finger downward*

Dad: “Wait. Can you do that again?”

My brother repeated himself with exaggerated movements, again going down from five to six.

Dad: “So you did five, six?”

He repeated the same downward motion.

Brother: “Yes!”

Dad: “That is not six you dialed but eight.”

Brother: “No way! But it rang!”

And yes, he did check the placement of the numbers on our extension. 

Dad: “Luckily, nobody was home. A nice night they would have with you calling them again and again, thinking you called home!”

We had a good laugh about it and my brothers had a nice walk home. It was about an hour in normal conditions, but the road they had to take was a dangerous one on foot (no sidewalk) and at night. Still, they arrived in one piece and probably walked off some of the alcohol, and we have one more tale to tell.

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A Million-Dollar Solution

, , , , , | Friendly | September 4, 2021

I live in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a Homeowner’s Association, but it does have an old retiree that still seems convinced it is his job to enforce some nebulous rules for the neighborhood that he has made up in his head.

My wife and I are expecting our first child, so my office needs to be turned into a nursery. I decide to build a detached garage/office in our backyard since I work from home and think we will need the storage. I’m building it myself but I do everything by the book and have all the proper forms, signatures, and building codes all checked and double-checked.

The retiree still takes extreme offense to this for reasons I will never quite understand and has delayed the build by months, as the city continually asks me to stop work while they investigate “anonymous” reports of me violating building code or doing work without a permit. During one of the periods between investigations, I am doing work on the building when the retiree walks up to my front yard and starts talking to me over the fence. 

Retiree: “Why are you still building that thing?”

Me: “Why wouldn’t I? My wife and I want it built, so it’s getting built.”

Retiree: “The city came out here the other day to shut you down for building that death trap.”

Me: “No, the city came out the other day to investigate the fourth ‘anonymous’ tip that turned out to be false — just like the last time, they said it was up to code and perfectly fine.”

Retiree: “What do you know? You aren’t a builder. You’re just throwing up that eyesore that will probably cave in the first time it rains! You need to pull this all down!”

Me: “Okay.”

Retiree: *Pauses* “Really?”

Me: “Sure, as soon as you give me a million dollars.”

Retiree: “Why on earth would I do that?”

Me: “For a million dollars, I’ll sell you the property and you can do whatever you please with it.”

Retiree: “I’m not paying you any money!”

Me: “Then you don’t get a vote on what I do on my land. Either turn your a** around and get off my property or the cops will remove you.”

The cops did end up needing to come to remove the man. But thankfully, the record of him trespassing and making multiple false reports discredited his future reports to the city and I was able to finish the building in peace.

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Space: The Father’s Frontier

, , , , , | Related | September 3, 2021

My surname is Kirk, and my wife took it when we got married. Shortly before she got pregnant with our first child, both her grandfathers — James and Thomas — passed away. We’ve just found out our child is going to be a boy, and she wants to honor them by naming the child after them.

Me: “My dearest, darling wife, you know that I love you more than anything else on this earth. I’m absolutely thrilled that you want to honor your grandfathers by naming our son for them. They were both wonderful men.”

I drop into a crouch so I can speak to our son inside her belly.

Me: “And, son, I love you more than anything else on the planet besides your amazing, wonderful mother. It is because of my very great love for you that I will refuse to let you be named ‘James T. Kirk’ as long as I am alive when you are born.”

Wife: “What are you going on about?”

It suddenly clicks in what I’ve just said.

Wife: Oh! Yeah, that would be bad. Thanks for catching that, honey.” 

Our two wonderful sons were born three years apart. The older has the middle name of James, and the younger has the middle name of Thomas. I love them and my wife more than life itself.

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These Electronic Assistants Are In The 25th Century!

, , , , | Right | September 3, 2021

I’m expecting some deliveries, one of them being the TV series “Buck Rogers” on Blu-ray. I also have Alexa. Alexa makes an alert sound.

Me: “Alexa, what’s my notification?”

Alexa:Buck Rogers has arrived!”

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There’s No Room For Error When Working With Family

, , , , , , | Related | September 3, 2021

My first job, when I was too naïve to know any better, was working for my uncle. He wanted a programmer to maintain the website and database for his nonprofit and to help with a startup. Neither the nonprofit nor the startup could afford to HIRE a programmer, so he offered me free room and board, an allowance of $100 a week, and “experience and a spot in the company if the startup takes off.” It was stupid to work for so little, but I agreed to, and I wouldn’t complain if he’d held up his end of the bargain.

Of course, of the odds and ends that made up my “salary,” the room was the most important and valuable. My uncle lives with his girlfriend, and I moved into her basement. This story begins maybe a year after I moved in.

Uncle: “Has [Girlfriend] talked to you about her friends coming to stay?”

Me: “No?”

Uncle: “Well, she has some old friends coming next month and the basement room is the biggest and nicest spare room, so they’ll be staying there. You can take the upstairs spare room or go back to [Home State] for two days.” 

Me: “But all my things are down here! I have furniture in this room that’s too heavy to move and won’t fit in the upstairs room anyway. And I’m trying to tame the cat that lives on the basement patio; how can I do that if strangers are in this room? Not only won’t I be able to see when she’s around, but I can’t even approach the patio from outside without feeling like I’m intruding on the guests!”

Uncle: “That’s up to you. I just came downstairs to make sure you know you’ll need to leave on those days.”

I agree, reluctantly, to take the upstairs spare room. The day before the guests are supposed to arrive, I’ve almost finished cleaning my room. I plan to wash my dishes and take the items I want to keep with me upstairs that evening. I’m at the nonprofit when my uncle’s girlfriend texts me.

Girlfriend: “Hi, [My Name], my friends showed up early, so I went ahead and took all your things upstairs.”

I’m furious that she went into my room and moved my things without so much as asking for permission, let alone asking what I wanted where. But I text back, “OK,” because what else can I do? She’s already done it; I can’t exactly tell her no.

That afternoon, when I get home, I go upstairs to assess the damage. I can’t find any of my books. There’s a dirty knife, covered in jelly, at the bottom of my laundry basket, which has been repurposed into a junk basket. Various electronics are piled in it willy-nilly, some missing their charge cords. All my dishes, apart from that one knife, are in the dishwasher, even though many aren’t dishwasher-safe. I have to go down to the basement to collect clothes, because [Girlfriend] didn’t bring any up.

I also show the guests where I keep the kibble and ask them, since they have the patio, to please feed the cat. They agree, but for the rest of their stay, the kibble dish is empty every time I look at it. I eventually sneak into the basement when they’re not there to get kibble with which to refill it.

The next day, I discuss what’s happened with my uncle, trying to make him see why the situation bothers me.

Me: “First of all, she just kicked me out of my room! I didn’t get any choice in the matter.”

Uncle: “Sure, you did. You got to choose whether to stay upstairs or leave the house.”

Me: “I mean I wasn’t given a choice of whether or not to give up my room.”

Uncle: “No, you weren’t. The room is in [Girlfriend]’s house; it belongs to [Girlfriend], and just because she’s nice enough to let you use it, that doesn’t mean it belongs to you. I think you need to appreciate how [Girlfriend] has bent over backward for you. She didn’t have to let you stay in her house.”

Me: “That’s most of my salary! I earn that room!”

Uncle: “[Girlfriend] doesn’t get anything from you. You don’t write code for her; you write it for me.”

Me: “If you’re stealing from her to pay me with something that was never yours to offer in the first place, that’s between the two of you. Either the room is charity, given to me out of the goodness of [Girlfriend]’s heart — in which case, she does have the right to kick me out, but I’m working for practically nothing — or it’s part of my salary, in which case, I have the right to stay there as long as I keep doing my job. Which is it?”

Uncle: “I’m not going to discuss this.”

Later that day — while I’m still living in the upstairs guest room — we’re discussing the startup’s prospects and how much longer I can continue working with him before I start looking for a “real job”.

Uncle: “I know, I don’t pay you very much. But if you include the room and board—”

Me: “Seriously?”

Sadly, this is not the incident that led to me quitting that “job” — although it probably would have been if it weren’t for the cat, who wasn’t tame enough to transport yet. A few months and a lot of kitty treats later, after an even stupider argument, I packed her into a carrier and left for good.

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