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Relentless Puffs Of Addiction

, , , , | Working | June 9, 2021

I’m the author of this story. For a while, I work in a call center located in a shabby apartment. There are two rooms: one for the smokers and one for the non-smokers. One of the workers is a drama queen, barely eighteen and chain-smoking already. One day she is caught slacking and the boss transfers her to the non-smokers room as punishment. She goes to her assigned desk and starts placing calls, moaning and whining as she waits for the connection. This starts to grate on everyone else’s nerves pretty soon.

Smoker: “God, I wish I could have a smoke.”

Smoker: “It’s not fair that I can’t smoke.”

Smoker: “How am I supposed to stay here until nine and not have a smoke?”

Other Worker: “How am I supposed to stay here until nine and listen to your b****ing? Give us a rest.”

Smoker: “No, you give me a rest! You don’t get it. I’m gasping. I need to smoke! SMOKING IS BETTER THAN ANYTHING!”

There was a moment of silence and then everyone lost it, even those who were in conversation with customers. Blushing up to her hairline, the girl stood up and left. It’s the only time I saw someone actually laughed out of a room.

Relentless Puffs Of Irony

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The Anchovies Aren’t Filtered And Neither Is Auntie

, , , | Right | June 2, 2021

After the lockdown restrictions are loosened, my parents, two of my many aunts, and I have decided to go to a pizzeria to celebrate my dad’s Name Day. We get seated, get our menus, and pick our dishes: I choose a seafood carbonara, my parents and [Aunt #1] go for pizzas, and [Aunt #2] says she wants to ask the waiter something first.

Aunt #2: “Hello, I’d like some pasta with tomato sauce, but can you make it with raw tomatoes?”

Waiter: “I am sorry, madam, but we can’t do that.”

Aunt #2: “Why not? Just stick some salad tomatoes in a blender and pour it on the pasta or something.”

Waiter: “That would be a health code violation, I’m afraid.”

Aunt #2: *Irritated* “What do you mean, ‘it’s a health code violation’? How’s that possible? Do you pick them up covered in cow dung or something?”

Waiter: “No, we aren’t allowed to serve uncooked tomatoes here.”

Aunt #2: “What do you think dried tomatoes for [pizza] are, then? Those are raw; you must have raw, undried tomatoes, too!”

Waiter: “No, madam, we buy those dried tomatoes; we don’t make them here. We wouldn’t have the space to, anyway.”

Aunt #2: “Fine! Bring me pasta with anchovy filtering.”

Waiter: “We don’t have anchovy filtering, sorry. Would using full anchovies be fine?”

Aunt #2: “Absolutely not! I’d rather have white pasta, thank you very much!”

Waiter: “All right, one white pasta, coming up.”

And off he goes. As soon as he’s back into the kitchen, she speaks up again.

Aunt #2: *Pouting* “Stupid health code. Why does everything good have to be forbidden? What kind of pizzeria doesn’t stock fresh tomatoes, aside from those crappy Moroccan places?”

Aunt #1 & Mom: “[Aunt #2]!”

Aunt #2: “Look, I don’t know what’s the latest weird fashion to make pizza. No place in my youth would’ve refused to serve you pasta with raw tomatoes, that’s for sure.”

Aunt #1: “In our youth, we also didn’t shout at waiters, and we didn’t expect places to have luxuries like anchovy filtering.”

Aunt #2: “Any respectable place should!”

Dad: “Have you ever seen any restaurant serving anchovy filtering? Because I never have.”

Aunt #2: “My friend’s place back in Salerno did, so there!”

[Aunt #2] glares and keeps pouting as I awkwardly sit there waiting for things to arrive. Meanwhile, my parents facepalm and my other aunt sighs. When our dishes arrive, we eat it up with gusto, while [Aunt #1] eats her dish of cheese-and-oil pasta very slowly, grunting every time she sees the waiter pass by. The day after this dinner, [Aunt #2] is conversing with one of my cousins.

Aunt #2: “[Pizzeria] is horrible and doesn’t have anything; it’s just a fancy place so that youngsters can drink swill and look cool.”

I resisted the urge to shake her until some sense entered into her.

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That’s One Way To Learn

, , , , | Learning | May 30, 2021

This happens during a catechism lesson when all the kids are drawing or otherwise occupied with manual activities. My daughter, who’s six or seven, is a combination of sheltered and curious and has no filter whatsoever.

Daughter: “If coffee contains caffeine and tea contains theine, does Coke contain cokeine?”

The teacher reprimanded her a LOT, and gave us a piece of her mind when we picked up our daughter, as well. That evening, we imparted to my daughter a crash course about drugs.

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My Mother Would’ve Killed Me If I’d Acted Like This Kid

, , , , | Friendly | May 7, 2021

After we move away from our old town, one of my children makes a new friend.

Son: “Can I invite [Child] from school over for lunch?”

Me: *Gladly* “Yes, but don’t ask him yet. I want to talk to his parents first.”

I manage to meet the child’s mom during a parent-teacher conference. After the standard greetings, I decide to go for it.

Me: “[Son] wants to invite [Child] home for lunch one of these days. Is there anything I should know? Allergies, likes and dislikes?”

Mother: “Oh, that’s great! [Child] has really struggled in finding other children to talk and play with; I’m glad to hear they’re becoming friends! He isn’t allergic to anything, but he really likes pasta with tuna and tinned meat, so you might want to keep that in mind for when I send him to lunch with you.”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

When I get home, I pass this on to my son, who then actually invites him to our house. I make sure to pick up some good tuna and upper-label tinned meat, since it isn’t something we usually eat in my home, and while I am at it, I also set aside some time to make a chocolate cake.

The day comes and I pick up both [Son] and [Child] from school, ask the maid to add a seat to the usual setup, and then put everyone at their seats. I serve them both, I serve myself, and then I sit down to eat, too. As I start to eat, I notice that [Child] is staring at his pasta with a confused expression.

Me: “Is everything all right, [Child]? Don’t you like it?”

He looks up from his plate.

Child: “Hmm… Mrs. [My Name], this isn’t tuna pasta.”

Me: *Chuckling* “Don’t be silly. It’s tuna; just try it.”

Child: “But… it’s not tuna pâte; it doesn’t look like it at all. This is tuna from the can. I don’t eat canned tuna.”

Colour drains from my face. I’m feeling confused, ashamed, and annoyed all at the same time, but I mask it the best I can.

Me: “Ah, well, at least try it. If you really don’t like it, I’ll just give you the meat afterward.” 

He does try to eat a few tentative forkfuls, but his face scrunches up in weird ways and, in the end, he pushes his plate away and puts his fork down. My maid comes, picks up his still-full plate and my son’s empty one, and then comes back with two tins of meat each.

Child: “What’s this? This isn’t [Store Brand] canned meat; this is [High-End Brand]! How can I eat it?”

Son: “Wait, you like canned meat?”

Child: “Well, yes, but not this one.”

Me: *Sighing* “Have you ever tasted it?”

Child: “No, but I know I won’t like it because it’s not [Store Brand].”

Me: “Fine, do you like salad?”

Child: “Nope!” 

I’m torn between feeling bad that I couldn’t feed a guest properly and feeling angry that he is being so picky while his mother didn’t bother to tell me any details. Knowing it’s pointless to push it, I just let him stare at his unopened can while my son keeps on eating his meat and salad quietly. My maid brings out the freshly-squeezed orange juice, to which my son’s friend crosses his arms and pouts, so I don’t even bother asking. With a single gulp, my son finishes his juice and then looks at me pleadingly. Figuring I can’t go wrong with it…

Me: “All right, [Son], fine, I’ll bring out the cake. Do you want any, [Child]?”

Child: “Is it from [Supermarket Chain]?”

Me: “No, it’s not, but I swear—”

Child: “Then I don’t want it. Homemade cakes suck.” 

I would be very offended if I wasn’t just done, so I let it slide and let them both get up to go play. I relax a bit in the living room and then go to work. When I come back that evening, I do the obvious.

Me: “How did your time with [Child] go?”

Son: “It was super boring. He wanted to play ping-pong but didn’t want me to get too close to the edge, and all he could talk about was about how his dad was an exterminator or how much he liked ACE. I was almost happy that he got picked up by his mom.”

Couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t long before the two drifted apart due to major differences between them, and I’m still miffed that the mother didn’t think of warning me about her son’s narrow diet.

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So Much For The Compassion Of The Clergy

, , , , | Working | May 4, 2021

Sadly, my dad has recently given up the ghost due to the current health crisis. Since my family lives in a region that doesn’t allow people from other areas of Italy to enter without a work or health-related reason, his side of family cannot come and participate in the traditional mourning ritual, but we still try to fulfill his funerary wishes to be buried by Catholic rite. To that end, my mom calls up the priest of the parish where my dad used to go in life.

Priest: “Hello and good day, parochial office of [Parish]. How may we help you?”

Mom: “Father [Priest]… my poor husband, Mr. [Dad], has died. I was wondering if you were available to give him the funeral blessings, despite this horrid situation.”

Priest: “My condolences, Mrs. [Mom]. May God rest his soul, given what he’s gone through. I’m available, but I think that, given how things are going, something outside of the church might be better.”

Mom: “That’s understandable, but how would it work?”

Priest: “I don’t think your husband would’ve wanted to have a lot of pomp during his last journey to God. I’m of the idea that I shall come to your house, read a passage, and then have his sons and his daughter read a poem related to him before the hearse comes to bring him to the cemetery.”

My mom is rather taken aback; my dad was a bit crude in his manners, but he did explicitly request a solemn funeral, incense, and specific passages read.

Mom: “Seriously?”

Priest: “Yes, I’m sure that’s what he would’ve wanted anyway.”

Mom: *Upset* “No, that’s not what he would’ve wanted at all!”

Priest: “Eh, I mean, a full ceremony definitely doesn’t suit his personality. I think that reading poetry from his children would be more fitting than just reading a few impersonal passages. Besides, right now, it’s not possible to do a full funeral, so his requests are sadly moot. You can always have that proper funeral at a later date.”

Mom: *Very upset* “I know how things are! We would be just me, my family, and you! If it’s really not possible to use the church, our garden will be fine. I just want to satisfy his request to read his favourite passages and have some incense spread.”

Priest: “I still think the poetry is the best option. Reading the Holy Bible in a garden really isn’t very appropriate, anyway. Just hold off until things are better to read those passages.”

Mom: *Holding back tears* “We have nothing more to discuss, goodbye!”

And with that, my mom hung up and started crying quite a bit. Later that day, my brother and I did manage to find a priest that was willing to conduct a proper-as-possible funeral. Seriously, what kind of priest refuses to read the Bible for a ceremony?

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