Paying Your Bills Should Be A Priority, But… Yikes

, , , , , | Healthy | June 28, 2021

I work in the accounts billable department of one of the two major hospitals in Iowa City. It’s my job, essentially, to explain to clients why the amount they have been billed isn’t what they expected.

I’m the low peon on the totem pole, being the newest hire. That means I get to deal with the clients face to face across the billing counter.

One lady is yelling at me about her bill, when suddenly she makes a very strange, strangled sound. I figure she’s having some sort of medical event, so I immediately press the emergency medical event call button.

This turns out to be a very good idea. The lady is wearing a fairly short-skirted pantsuit, so I can see her legs. Specifically, I can see the stitches on her right leg coming undone. First, the top stitch pops, then the next one, and then the next, faster and faster until she’s got an open gash from her garters to her ankles.

Despite this, and despite her collapsing almost immediately like a puppet with her strings cut, the client continues to weakly try to discuss her billing with me, even as the orderlies pick her up and transfer her to a stretcher to carry her right back into surgery.

Still in shock from this whole affair, I stare at the massive puddle of blood in the middle of the floor, and I make the mistake of asking my coworker who’s responsible for cleaning it up.

Turned out it was me.

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Pair This Down So That They Understand

, , , , | Right | June 7, 2021

Caller: “Hi, I was in there earlier and someone sold me contacts. I was supposed to get a box of twelve, but only received six pairs.”

She had the same prescription for both eyes. I had to think for a moment about how to respond.

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Those Customers Will Have You In Stitches

, , , , , , | Healthy | April 27, 2021

I work in a doctor’s office that happens to be located inside a big box retailer. A few days ago, I had three punch biopsies done. The bandage on my shoulder blade feels weird, so I have a coworker check it for me.

An older and very condescending customer walks up and sees the bandage.

Customer: “You young people and your tattoos!”

For the record, I’m forty-five.

Customer: “What did you get, your latest boyfriend’s name? Or something else you’ll regret later in life?”

I choose my words carefully.

Me: “I have stitches on my shoulder blade from a punch biopsy to see if I have melanoma from multiple horrific sunburns in my youth. Would you like to see them?”

Don’t know why, but she walked away.


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Pretty And Witty And Very Literal

, , , , | Learning | April 6, 2021

I learned what the word “gay” means through an old song that uses it to mean “happy.” Being the oblivious girl I was, I didn’t realize that most kids didn’t know “gay” has two meanings, or that homophobia was a thing, until about eighth grade.

Once upon a time, about a dozen years ago, I was an undiagnosed autistic sixth-grader. A gaggle of girls sauntered over to me at recess, and one of them asked the strangest question.

Girl: “Are you gay?”

Me: “Which kind of gay do you mean?”

There is silence, a pause, and confusion all around.

Girl: “What?”

Me: “Well, there are two meanings. There’s happy, like—” *singing* “—‘happy and gay the live-long way.’ And then there’s ‘gay’ meaning, um, guys like liking guys or girls like liking girls.”

Again, silence. She’s not clarifying her question, but I’m going to do my best to answer. After all, maybe she’s asking to make sure I’m doing okay, or because she likes me, or maybe she’s confused, and hearing someone else’s story could help her figure herself out.

Me: “I mean, if you meant ‘happy,’ then yeah, I guess I’m pretty gay right now. I’m pretty happy. If you meant, um, the other one, then I guess I don’t know? I know I like guys, but maybe I like girls, too? I haven’t had many crushes, so maybe it’s just a coincidence they’re all boys? I know I’m not all gay, but maybe partly?”

The girls are slowly backing away. I don’t know how they expected this conversation to go, but this certainly isn’t it.

Me: “I’m like, 90% certain I’m not that kind of gay, but if I figure out I am, I’ll let you know, okay?”

They didn’t really talk to me much after that. I’ve since lost contact with them.


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

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Stations Turned On, Customers Turned Off

, , , , , | Working | April 2, 2021

I’ve been driving for a few hours coming home from a trip. Around lunchtime, I stop at a fast food place to use the restroom and get lunch. The restaurant has a pair of self-service ordering stations set up in front of the registers. I decide to use one of the stations in hopes of bypassing some of the lunch rush line so I can get my food and get back on the road a little bit quicker. I put in my order, pay with my debit card, take my receipt, and step to the side to wait for my order.

With the lunch rush, I know my order will take a bit longer than usual, but after ten minutes with no food, I step up to the counter when there’s a gap between customers.

Employee: “Welcome to [Restaurant]. What can I get for you?”

Me: “I put in my order at the self-service station about ten minutes ago. I’m still waiting for my food.”

Employee: “Oh. We just installed those systems, but there seems to be something wrong with the software. They’re turned off right now.”

Me: “No, they’re not turned off. I just used one of the machines, and it seemed like it worked perfectly fine. It even gave me a receipt.”

Employee: “Well, it shouldn’t have done that. Would you like to place an order now?”

Me: “Can I just give you my receipt from the machine and have you put my order in? I already paid at the machine; that’s how I got the receipt.”

Employee: “Sir, the machine is turned off right now.”

Me: “No, it’s not. Look at the screen. You can see from here that it’s lit up like it’s working perfectly fine.”

Employee: “Sir…”

Me: “Is there a manager I can speak to?”

The manager makes his way to the front counter and refuses to budge at my insistence that the self-serve order machine was turned on. Finally, he looks over at the machines and sees the screens fully lit up.

Manager: *With an indifferent shrug* “Oh. I guess nobody turned them off yet. I don’t know how you got that receipt, but I’ll give you your food this time.”

So, with my quick five-minute lunch stop now having taken over thirty minutes, I finally got my food and got back out to my car… only to find out that, of course, they had gotten my order completely wrong.

I walked back into the restaurant with the incorrect order — the self-service order screens were still fully lit and had not been turned off at all, in case anyone was wondering — shoved my way to the front of the line at the cash register, told the cashier — very loudly — that my order was wrong, and demanded the correct food. The same manager came back to the counter and tried to argue with me, but I shouted him down until he put my order in and then waited right there at the cash register — where I could see into the kitchen, because at this point, I was paranoid about someone spitting in my food or something — to the annoyance of several customers behind me. When my new order was brought out, I checked to make sure it was correct — still standing right there at the cash register — and finally headed back out to my car after verifying everything.

Yes, I was an a**hole about it, but I did finally get my correct order. I also took some petty satisfaction that most of the customers in line behind me had left without placing their order; whether they left because I was being an a**hole or because they saw how sleazy the manager was, I can’t say, but at least the restaurant lost a lot of lunch rush business that day.

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