A Ride For Life

, , , , , | | Hopeless | May 24, 2019

Near Christmas time, I was on my way from Southern California to Kalamazoo, Michigan to visit my family. This trip was extra special to me, because my older brother was in the last stages of battling stage-four lung cancer. Every second that we could spend together was precious, so I was very frustrated when my next flight at O’Hare Airport was delayed due to weather.

While waiting at the gate, I struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler who was making his way from New Orleans to spend his holidays with his family in the Kalamazoo area. Although he was several years younger than me, we knew a lot of the same places and activities around the area where we grew up and had a grand time talking about anything and everything. We talked about what had led each of us to leave Michigan and what our lives and careers in our current home states were like, and I told him about how much this trip to spend the holidays with my brother for what I knew was the last time meant to me.

As we talked, the weather conditions in the air apparently worsened — even though I don’t recall it snowing — the flight kept being delayed, and finally, late into the evening, it was cancelled altogether. The airline offered nothing in the way of relief, there were no cars available to rent, and the flight was rescheduled for the next morning, about eight hours away. We were stuck in O’Hare overnight.

Since it was quite late and near the holidays — most travelers apparently got on their flights successfully — there were few food outlets still open. My new friend and I walked and walked through the massive airport until we found a coffee place, grabbed some food, and found a bench where to settle for the duration. I called my brother and told him about the delay, and couldn’t help but cry a few tears of frustration. My friend called his dad and they talked for a little bit, and we continued our conversation. Even though by that point we had been talking for hours, we weren’t running out of things to say, and I found myself thinking that if I were a few years younger and he didn’t have a girlfriend, this was a special man I would like in my life.

A while later, his dad called back, and my friend’s face lit up at the conversation. He turned to me and said, “Would you like a ride home?” His father decided that since the weather issues delaying the flights weren’t ones that affected driving, he was going to drive the two and a half hours to come to get his son. I gratefully accepted, then called my brother to let him know. He went all protective big brother on me and questioned, “Are you sure this person is okay?” I unhesitatingly replied yes, and in due time, the father arrived and drove us back to Michigan. My friend was asleep in the car when we arrived at my brother’s place. I quietly thanked the father and went upstairs to where my brother was still waiting up for me at three am.

I never got my friend’s full name and I never gave him mine, yet my few hours’ connection with him is one I will cherish for life. That holiday was indeed the last time I got to see my brother, as he passed away after a two-and-a-half-year fight the following February.

N, if you see this and remember, thank you and bless you.

A Merciless Mercy Rule

, , , , , | | Learning | May 24, 2019

(In the late 2000s, I am playing for my school’s baseball team. During a heated game at home against our rival school, we fall behind by 12 runs in the top of the first inning with nobody out. The umpire suddenly calls time.)

Umpire: “Okay, break it up, everyone! Game’s over. [Rival School] wins by mercy rule.”

Coach: “Hey, wait! You can’t do that! You cannot call the mercy rule so early!”

Umpire: “I’m the umpire here, buddy, and what I say goes.”

Coach: “We didn’t play long enough for the mercy rule to be called! H***, our team didn’t even get a chance to bat!”

Umpire: “You know what? If your team of pansies didn’t suck, you’d have gotten that chance! Instead, you give up a dozen runs without an out, so guess what? You don’t get that chance! Game’s over, moron! You lose! Pack it up, now!”

(Incredibly, the game actually was officially recorded as a 12-0 victory for [Rival School]. It didn’t last long, however; the next day, the league fired the umpire for intentionally violating league rules and forfeited the game to us. It didn’t end there; an investigation revealed that the coach of [Rival School] had paid several umpires under the table to call games in their favor. That one umpire’s fatal decision to call the game against us in the top of the first inning exposed everything. [Rival School]’s coach and four other umpires were fired and bribery charges were pressed against everyone involved in the scandal. In addition, [Rival School] was forced to forfeit all the games they had already played and their remaining schedule, and was banned from postseason play for three seasons.)

Your Mental Health Is Not Worth Ours

, , , | | Right | May 22, 2019

(I am a general manager at a gym that bills members through credit card only — no debit card; it would have to be billed to the checking account number. I get a phone call about a member needing to update their billing and I explain to them our billing policy, including that all billing updates must be done in person and cannot under any circumstances be done over the phone. This is also stated in our membership agreements that the members sign upon beginning a membership and again when any changes are made to the agreement. About an hour after I receive this phone call, a woman enters with her boyfriend.)

Woman: “I need to update my billing.”

(She hands me a card that very clearly states, “DEBIT.”)

Me: “Do you have a non-debit credit card, or your routing and account number associated with your bank? We can’t bill it to debit cards.”

(There is literally zero hesitation before a deafening tantrum ensues.)

Woman: “What the f***?! I just called and was told to bring this in, you b****-a** motherf*****! And now you’re telling me I can’t?! F*** you!”

(The woman continues rambling incoherently, and I immediately disregard her tantrum.)

Me: “Okay, you’re cancelled.”

(By this point, there are probably fifty members all staring in our direction wondering what set her off so quickly. It is a somewhat sizable gym, and the front desk is closer to the entrance, and members all the way in the back are staring. My staff and I disregard her tantrum and she leaves, but not without screaming while her boyfriend leaves with her. Of course, she protests, but we do not have to continue engaging with customers once they throw out profane insults and psychotically scream at us. Furthermore, my staff and other respectable members do not feel safe around this unpredictable woman. Later, her boyfriend calls us.)

Boyfriend: “I’m sorry; it was my fault for not relaying the billing information. I was the one who called. Can she have her membership back? She’s been struggling with her mental health for a while and the gym has really been helping her, and I’d like to keep going with her.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but my staff and other members don’t feel safe around her after witnessing what happened. You’re more than welcome to sign up for your own membership since I know you enjoy coming as her guest, but she isn’t allowed back here.”

(Neither of them ever came back.)

A Customer’s Definition Of Rude: “Everyone But Me”

, , , | | Right | May 22, 2019

(I work at a membership-only club that requires members to scan a barcode upon arrival, to ensure the person checking in is, in fact, the member, and also to receive any alerts about payments or other issues. One particular member stands out to me, as she is quite rude and accuses us of being rude to her on multiple occasions.)

Member: “Oh, you do have [product]!”

Me: “Of course! We’ve always had them!”

Member: “You told me you didn’t have any!”

(I’m confused, because I have known since I was hired that this product was sold here, and also we have thousands of members so I don’t recall every conversation with every member.)

Me: “I’m sorry. If I did, I’m sure I just misunderstood you. Sometimes we sell out of [product type #A] but we still have [product type #B].”

Member: “You told me you didn’t sell any!”

(Luckily, the phone rings and I rush to answer it in order to avoid escalating an argument stemming from the member accusing me of lying to her. Another time:)

Member: “Your bathroom stall is broken.”

Me: “Which stall?

Member: “The handicapped stall. The lock doesn’t work!”

(I am slightly annoyed because the member is not handicapped and because many of our members use the handicapped stall to change clothes for our athletic services instead of using the designated changing rooms. Furthermore, the lock works.)

Me: “Oh, that one. Yeah, it locks; it just sticks a bit. You have to push it in and then move it over. Our manager knows and he’s looking to get the lock replaced.”

Member: “Well, it’s been that way for a long time. That seems like poor management to me.”

Me: “I’m sorry for the inconvenience. We’re kind of at the mercy of the shipping company. Sometimes it takes a while for them to deliver the lock replacements, but we’ve already placed the order so it should be here any day now.”

(The member still will not let it go, but I don’t remember what else is said. Another time: the same member asks my coworker for assistance. As I have been employed for a little over a year and was recently promoted to assistant manager, my coworker turns to me to ask a question she does not know the answer to, since she has been employed for less than a month. I am standing about five feet away from her.)

Member: “Well, that was rude!”

Me & Coworker: “What?”

Member: “I had a question that you didn’t know the answer to. You could have been more polite and walked over to her instead of shouting to her from here!”

(Again, I’m only a few feet away. It is not noisy, and we are able to speak at low volumes and still be heard. Also, it would have only taken two steps to approach me from where she was standing. I decide to just apologize and let her think she’s right, instead of arguing over something trivial. I put an alert on her member page, something we typically do with problem members to alert staff. That way, if a member complains about the staff and is known to be a problem member, we know it most likely isn’t something staff has done wrong. Also, we value communication and like to keep people informed of what’s going on. I put detailed messages on her account explaining everything mentioned above, as we are all getting irritated with her. Another time: months later, I am no longer an employee of said club. However, I have just gone out to eat with some friends at a restaurant close by and decide to stop in and say hi to my coworkers. Who is there but [Member], needing a detailed account of her payment history, which staff was able to print out for her. However, the printouts also display the “PROBLEM MEMBER” alert.)

Member: *to coworker, furiously* “What’s this all about?! I’ve never been anything but nice and respectful to everyone here!”

Coworker: “Sure, let me look at the details and see if there is a note. Usually, it’s just a payment issue.”

Member: “Well, ask her!*pointing at me* “She’s the one who put that garbage on there!”

Me: “I don’t work here.”

Member: “Why did you put that on there? I haven’t done anything to deserve that! Take that off of there right now! My name is [First Name]. Take it off now!”

(By now I’m thinking, “How could you have possibly known it was ME who put that message on there unless you recall having an unpleasant interaction with me?” I also don’t recognize the member, as I have been gone for a while.)

Me: “I wouldn’t worry about it too much. We have a lot of members named [Member], so if there’s nothing you can recall, it probably just got put on the wrong member’s account by mistake.”

(My coworker looks up the account, and I remember her immediately from the number of notes left on her account and also her unique last name. I don’t say anything, though, since I don’t work there anymore.)

Member: “Well, I want to sit down with you and also with the manager to straighten this out. It’s clear that we need to address the issue of leaving nasty notes on people’s pages! That’s very unprofessional!”

Me: “I don’t work here anymore.”

Member: *to coworker* “Call your manager. I’m getting this straightened out right now!”

Me: “I don’t work here anymore. I have no obligation to do what you want me to. So, bye! Not happening because I don’t work here!” *smirks and leaves*

Never Take A Shot At Guessing Pregnancy

, , , , , , | | Friendly | May 21, 2019

(I’m at a bar and I’ve ordered a shot. The bartender sets it on the bar in front of me, but before I can drink it, a woman storms up, grabs it, and dumps it out on the floor.)

Woman: “What the h*** do you think you’re doing? You’re going to be a terrible mother.” *to the bartender* “And you should be fired! This is the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever seen!”

Me: “Um—“

Woman: “No, you listen to me. You can’t drink when you’re pregnant! I should report you to the police; you’re going to—”

Me:Lady. I’m not pregnant; I’m just fat. Jeez.”

(She stared at me for at least a minute, then stammered out an apology and told the bartender to replace my drink on her tab.)

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