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Spray Away From The Customers

, , , , , , , | Right | June 24, 2022

I work at a theme park. I’m stationed at the bumper boats, and it’s very close to closing time.  We have twelve boats total. Our bumper boats have squirters that are very easy to accidentally trigger. I’m the only person working the ride because my partner was pulled to help with sweep. These are my last few customers before I can sign out and go home. This is all one big group.

The bell rings, signaling the end of the round.

Me: “All right, people, let’s come back to the dock! Please stop spraying!”

Most customers are coming back to the dock and being patient with me as I run around and hook up their boats as quickly as possible. One customer cannot figure out how to direct her boat back and is just spinning in circles attempting to navigate.

Me: “Miss, please let go of your ‘go’ button! I can help you get back!”

I’m raising my voice slightly as she’s a fair distance away and the motors can be loud. A kid sprays me.

Me: “Hey, can you please not spray me? I don’t enjoy being wet.”

I get sprayed by another kid.

Me: “Hey, let’s make sure our hands are off our spray buttons, please!” *Raises my voice* “Okay, miss, can you point the arrow on top of your engine at me?”

The customer starts spinning in circles again and I’m slowly losing my patience as it’s ten minutes past close and I have a wet shirt and pants from sprayers.

Me: *To a different kid* “Okay, kiddo, can you hop out of your boat? I need to go get the person out there!”

The kid hops out, and I get in with our retrieval rope, grab the boat, and pull it in. I then start unloading boats, talking to myself in German as that’s the language I turn to when annoyed. I am speaking very quietly.

Me: “All right, you guys, have a wonderful night!”

The mom comes over to talk to me.

Mom: “Hey, where would I find your manager?”

Me: “Uh… I’m not quite sure. I could probably call him for you, though.”

Mom: “Yes, please.”

I call, get told he’s “backstage” (employee area), and relay this to the mom.

Mom: “Okay, and what’s your name?”

Me: “[My Name].”

Mom: “I’m going to report you to your manager. I cannot believe you were cursing at my kid. She only speaks Spanish, and she got scared when you yelled at her!”

Me: “Ma’am—”

Mom: “You need to be more respectful. We paid good money to be here, and now our night is ruined because you had an attitude!”

Me: “Ma’am, I apologize if that sounded like cursing. I was simply talking to myself in German, as that’s my native language. Also, I didn’t mean to yell at your child. I wanted to make sure she could hear me, and I assumed she could speak English as we are in the US.”

Mom: “That’s still not okay. Where is the employee area? I’m going to talk to your manager.”

I give her directions, struggling not to let my voice waver and not show how much she’s affecting me. She leaves with her group. I ask the remaining five or so kids in line to wait for a moment while I take a breather and get a drink of water. The dad of these five kids, who’s been waiting near the exit, comes over.

Dad: “Hey, are you okay?”

Me: “I’m fine. That was just my first negative customer experience.”

Dad: “You get off after our group, right?”

Me: “Yes, I do.”

Dad: “Would you mind walking me over to the employee area, as well? I know that you were doing your best to be patient with that group, and she had no right to yell at you like that. I’d like to reverse her complaint.”

Me: *In shock* “Uh, yeah. I can do that.”

I turned to the kids with a smile on my face that was actually genuine this time.

Awesome Dad, if you’re out there, thank you so much for looking out for that sixteen-year-old girl that night! You honestly made my entire week so much better.

If You Need Your Mother To Do It For You, You’re Probably Not Ready

, , , , , , , | Learning Related | June 23, 2022

Many years ago, I received a call from a new college student’s mother.

Mother: “Hello, is this Professor [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes, it is.”

Mother: “Oh, good! I wanted to talk to you about getting my son into your class.”

This particular class is a 300-level course, meaning that it’s unusual for incoming freshmen to take it. They generally wait until their sophomore or junior year. As registration takes place in the order of credits earned, the class is generally full by the time freshmen begin registration. I should also mention that I do have the flexibility to permit extra students into the class if need be. While students often contact me about being added to a full class, it’s unusual for a student’s parent to call about getting into a class (though not unknown).

Me: “I’m sorry, but that class is full.”

Mother: “I know. And my son was so disappointed. He wants to be a [major I teach in] and was so excited to get started with your class.”

Me: “Typically, new students will start with their general education classes. I don’t have many incoming freshmen taking this class. It’s also a challenging class and may not be the best way for him to start a college career.”

Mother: “Oh, I know he can handle it. He did so well in high school in similar classes, and he was so disheartened that he couldn’t take your class. He was just so sad about it. Couldn’t you let him into the class? He would do so well in it.”

We went the rounds with me trying to be respectful to this woman (she was persistent but polite), and her just repeating her assertions about her son’s disappointment and his readiness for the class and the major associated with it.

Finally, against my better judgment, I gave in. I added him to my class. When the semester began, he showed up (it’s a small class) and was very quiet. He didn’t seem particularly engaged with the material but attended faithfully… for about the first month. His performance on tests was poor, and eventually, he started attending sporadically and then stopped altogether. He got an F in the class and dropped out of college completely after the first semester.

I don’t know if it would have made any difference in the end, but I do wish I had followed my instincts on this — for both our sakes.

No One Here Is A Happy Camper

, , , , , | Right | June 17, 2022

The worst crime one can commit at a restaurant is camping out at your table, long after your meal is over.

I’m waitstaff at a fine dining restaurant. We even have a Michelin star. The point is that we’re in high demand and tables go fast.

A family of seven comes into the restaurant around 8:30 am, so it’s not hard to find them a table. It’s Mom, Dad, four kids, and Poppop. They tell me that they’re from Indiana, they’re very excited to be here, and they’re proud to be Hoosiers.

They order some food. A lot of food. It’s a seemingly unreasonable amount of food, but I don’t say anything about that other than politely confirming the portion sizes for them.

Between our prices and the amount they’ve ordered, I worry they will be upset about the amount of the bill; they’re ordering more than $250 of food per person between the multiple entrees, sides, appetizers, dessert, and drinks.

We get it all out to them with no hiccups. They eat some, can’t finish it all (no surprises there), and ask for to-go boxes. I drop them off, along with a receipt.

It’s around 11:00 am at this point — and they stay at that table for hours, talking on their cellphones and watching videos at the table. They do gradually make progress on filling the to-go boxes in this time. By 1:00 pm, they’ve got all their boxes stacked, I’ve removed their plates, and I’ve politely asked them if they’d like to order anything further or if they’re done with my services at least twice. They repeatedly ask me to keep their non-alcoholic drinks filled. I also drop off a second receipt as a not-so-subtle hint.

As the day passes, whenever I pass their table, I politely ask if they’re ready to go yet or if they would like to order anything further. I always present it as a choice between those two options. They always take a few minutes to discuss and consider it while I stand there, and they always reply that they’re not ready to leave yet, and they don’t want to re-order anything, but could I top off their drinks?

Every so often, I drop off another receipt “just in case you lost the last one”. The tab remains unpaid.

In the back, I repeatedly ask the manager if I could boot them out, but with the amount they are spending, I’m told repeatedly I can’t.

They are there through both the lunch and dinner rushes, and they do not order more despite repeated claims by my manager that they will, and despite my repeatedly asking if they’d like to order anything further.

Despite this, they demand that we keep their drinks filled, though they do not refill any of their alcohol, which would have produced additional revenue for us.

We close, but my manager is still too spineless to ask them to leave. Despite that, they remain, even as my manager heads home, leaving me and the remaining staff to deal with them.

Eventually, about forty-five minutes after close, they ask if I could have the kitchen reheat their leftovers which is, of course, a health code violation. Also, the kitchen is closed and being cleaned.

They’re very unhappy about this, but without the manager’s simpering requests to appease them, I am able to firmly but politely tell them no, and tell them to leave. I’m done asking at this point.

They get upset about it, and after eleven total hours camped out at our restaurant, they leave without tipping. Remember how I said it was a party of seven? Automatic gratuity doesn’t kick in at our restaurant until eight.  

F*** my life.

Still, about eight months later, the manager did eventually get fired for this and other poor decisions, and the owners interviewed me for his position, though they ended up hiring someone else.

Try Not To Flubber Your Lines

, , , , | Right | June 8, 2022

In the ’90s I worked for a now-defunct retailer that sold books, music, and movies, and also did movie rentals. When we were slow in the other departments, we would help out putting returned movies away. As I was doing so, I heard this exchange (which has been burned into my brain for twenty-five years) between a customer and our video manager:

Customer: “What’s this one about, this Hamlet?”

Manager: “That’s Shakespeare, the Shakespeare play. They did a movie of it.”

Customer: *Pointing at Mel Gibson on the cover.* “You mean him?”

Manager: “Right, Mel Gibson plays Hamlet. Glenn Close is in it too, Alan Bates. Good cast.”

Customer: *Looking at the pictures on the back.* “So who does Shakespeare play? Which one’s he?”

Manager: “Um, he isn’t in it…”

Customer: “So he’s the director or what?”

Manager: “No, he wrote it…”

Customer: “But he’s not in it?”

Manager: “No, he… he’s been dead for some time…”

Customer: “Well, what’s it about?”

My manager gives him a two-sentence summary of the plot, to which the guy responds with nine words that instantly became an employee inside joke for ages afterward, and I quote:

Customer: “So it’s not a family movie like Flubber, then.”

He left with ‘Flubber.’

I Just Learned Something New

, , , , , , | Healthy | February 10, 2022

My cat passes away, and in the stress of dealing with his illness, I do forget to wear a mask outside a couple of times. The following days after his death, I suddenly get very sick, and naturally, all I can think of is that I caught something when I forgot to wear a mask. I have almost entirely lost my voice. So, I decide to get tested.

The nurse looks down my throat.

Nurse: “Yeah, you look a bit torn up in there from coughing. Let’s get the tests started.”

She swabs for a couple of different things, and while we are waiting for the results, she says:

Nurse: “Also, your tonsils looked kind of inflamed and oddly shaped…”

Me: *Croaking* “My what?!”

Nurse: “Tonsils, in the back of your throat?”

Me: *Coughing* “I had a tonsillectomy seven years ago!”

Nurse: *Pauses* “That would explain the odd shape they’re in. Well, you’re negative for [contagious illness], strep, and flu, so it’s probably tonsillitis.”

It turns out that, much like if you have part of your liver cut off, your tonsils can grow back, too. I’m the first person I know to have tonsillitis after getting tonsils removed. Good grief!