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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.

What Happened To Miss Independent?

, , , , , | Learning | April 2, 2021

When I am a senior in college, I am a Resident Assistant on my floor. One night at one am, I get a frantic knocking on my door. One of my residents found a girl passed out in our bathroom. I go in and she is barely conscious, crying for her mom and trying to call her on her phone. I get the resident to sit with her and stay as a witness, text my coworker with the emergency phone so he can contact emergency dispatch, and try to calm the girl. She keeps sobbing, wanting her mom, and not telling me what’s going on.

I take her phone from her and help her call her mom just to get her to calm down. Her mom answers in a panic and springs into action when I tell her what’s going on on speaker, calmly talking to her daughter.

Eventually, the paramedics come and take over, and the girl is taken away.

That weekend, her mom and dad show up to check in on their daughter — I never did find out what was going on, but that’s none of my business. Her mom comes to my room to talk.

Mom: “Thank you so much for helping [Resident]. I’m glad her RA is so calm.” 

Me: “It’s what I am here for. I’m just glad she got taken care of.”

Mom: “I’ve been trying to help her more, but she just won’t let me… Could you give me your number?”

Me: “I’m sorry, what?”

Mom: “Just to keep in touch. You could check in on her once a day and text me updates or something.”

Me: “Ma’am, that is absolutely not what I am here for. It’s an invasion of privacy for your daughter, for one, and secondly, I have a responsibility to this whole area, not just your daughter.”

Mom: “But [Resident] has never been on her own and look what happened!”

Me: “She had a scare and now she is fine.”

Mom: “Well, could I at least call you once a week and force her to talk to me? She just doesn’t talk to me since her dad and I got divorced, but she wanted to come here and—”

Me: “Ma’am, I do not think I am qualified for this. My boss is at the front desk and has a degree in psychology; maybe he would be better fit for this?”

I know some parents will always overstep bounds when their child goes to college, but what on Earth did this mom think I could do with all of this?!

Flowering Discontent, Part 3

, , , | Right | March 30, 2021

I’m a florist. An individual calls us. He’s a little bit brusque but not what I would call rude. Yet.

Customer: “I want to send flowers to someone at the [Our City] hospital.”

Me: “Sure thing! Are they at [University Hospital] or [Hospital Chain]?”

Customer: “Uh, [University Hospital].”

[University Hospital] is HUGE, and the different sections have numbers and names, along with the specific room numbers. It’s not necessary for us to have the patient’s location information, but it does help.

Me: “Do you know what section of the hospital she’s in? It’s okay if you don’t, but I’ll take it if you do.”

Customer: “I have the room number. It’s [number]. Wait. No. It’s not [University Hospital]. It’s [Hospital Chain].”

Me: “No problem; we’ll send it out.”

Customer: “What was that room number?”

Me: “[Number].”

Customer: “Uh, yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Okay.”

Our delivery driver takes the flowers to [Hospital Chain] and calls us from there shortly after. She says patient information has no patient by that name. No problem. These things happen. My boss calls [University Hospital]. They don’t have her, either. Usually, when we run into this, it’s because the patient has been discharged. I call the customer back.

Me: “We checked at both [Hospital Chain] and [University Hospital] and neither of them have her listed as a patient. Is it possible she was discharged?”

Customer: *Getting irate* “Well, that’s impossible, because I just talked to her daughter, and she’s sitting right there with her.”

Me: “That is very strange. Could I double-check to make sure we have her name spelled correctly?”

He checks. We do.

Customer: “What’s the room number?!”

Me: “[Number], but having a room number, unfortunately, doesn’t help us if they have no record of her being there at all—”

Customer: “I gave you her room number!”

Me: “The issue is that the hospital says she isn’t a patient there. Could you ask her daughter—”

Customer: “She’s there!”

Me: “I’ll do some more digging and let you know when I find out what’s going on.”

I hang up, nonplussed, and see my boss with an odd look on her face.

Boss: “You know… she might be at [Hospital Chain] in [Neighboring Town a half-hour away].”

Me: “No way. How could he not even know what city she’s in?”

Boss: “I bet she is.”

Me: “I’m calling them.”

I call the hospital in [Neighboring Town] and, lo and behold, the lady he’s trying to send to is listed as a patient there. I call him back to tell him this. Of course, he’s extremely grateful to us for going the extra mile and making all these phone calls to make sure his order gets taken care of… right?

Me: “Hey, I called [Hospital Chain] in [Neighboring Town] and it turns out she’s actually down there! We can easily forward your order to one of our other shops in town and they can still deliver it to her today, no extra charge. Should I go ahead and do that?”

Customer: “Well. I was dead sure she was in [Our City]. Are you sure you didn’t just make that up?”

I admit I am struggling to maintain my chipper customer service voice.

Me: “Nope, I called the hospital in [Neighboring Town] and she’s definitely there! We’re going to forward your order unless you’d rather we didn’t.”

Customer: “You do that. But I’ll be calling her daughter.” *Click*

We forwarded his order. He never called back. My consolation prize for being called a liar for no reason was knowing how completely stupid he must have felt when he found out I was right.

Flowering Discontent, Part 2
Flowering Discontent

Being Considerate Is Twice The Music To His Ears

, , , , , | Right | March 24, 2021

When my son was little, we used to shop at a used record store. The albums were $1 per disc. A double album was $2, and so on.

One night, I notice it is almost 8:00 pm. My son and I are the only customers in the store. I really don’t know the clerk at all; I have just seen him in there.

Me: “What time do you close?”

Clerk: “Eight o’clock, but we have to stay open if we have any customers.”

Me: “I heard the other guys saying you just got married. I’m sure you want to get home to your wife. We’ll leave now.”

Clerk: *Ringing up my purchases* “I’ll count this double-album as one.”

This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for March 2021!

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