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You Can Be Pompous In Any Language

, , , , , | Right | October 25, 2017

(I am serving a customer when an older woman comes up and speaks to me in a language other than English.)

Me: “Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

(The older woman shrugs and wanders off.)

Customer: *in a snooty voice* “She was speaking Arabic; she asked you for a bag.”

Me: “Oh, did she? I’ll get her one when I’ve finished serving you.”

Customer: “You don’t speak Arabic, then?”

Me: “Uh, no.”

Customer: “You mustn’t be very well-travelled, then.”

Me: *annoyed now* “Unfortunately not. I’m afraid I only speak four languages: English, Spanish, French, and Polish. Had she spoken to me in any of those languages, I could have responded, but unfortunately I have not yet learnt Arabic.”

Customer: “Well, I speak the language fluently. It’s quite an important language in Australia.”

(I’ve just finished an Anthropology course on migration in Australia, so I know this fact.)

Me: “You’re right; it’s currently spoken by almost 1% of our population.”

(She went red at this and we finished the transaction in silence.)

Another Reason To Celebrate Easter

, , , , | Friendly | October 25, 2017

(I’m a woman in my 20s, and have just moved into my first apartment six months prior to this incident. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and my mom is visiting, when I decide to hang a picture. My walls are hard concrete and require special hooks, so it takes a minute or two to work the hook into the wall. Thirty seconds into the hammering, someone bangs on my door. I answer. It’s my neighbor, a man twice my age and size, red-faced and fuming, yelling and threatening to call the disturbance hotline on me and get me evicted. He’s been awful with me and with other neighbours before, so I am prepared.)

Neighbour: *screaming* “Are you stupid!? It’s Easter; the rules say—”

Me: *interrupting* Actually, the rules say…” *points to the sign where the rules are posted on the wall and quoting it* “’It is forbidden to hammer, drill, or make excessive noise on red days.’”

(Sweden has both common holidays and so-called “red days,” which are specific holiday days. Red days usually refer to Sundays and days AFTER we celebrate major holidays, but NOT the holidays themselves. This is why holiday-related rules are suppose to specify that they are in effect on “red days AND the day before red days.” Our rules, however, are only written to be in effect on red days.)

Neighbour: “Exactly! It’s Easter—”

Me: “…and according to Swedish custom, Easter is not a red day. It is a holiday. Red days are Sundays and the days after religious holidays. Today is a Saturday, and Easter Even. This rule does not apply.”

(Absolute silence falls. He looks like a deer in the headlights. I coldly stare him down as the slow realization of what has happened dawns on him. I’ve just robbed him of the only justification for his behavior.)

Neighbour: *meekly* “O-okay… Um… Are you going to be drilling a lot more?”

Me: *sickly sweet* “Oh, no. We’re almost done! Just another minute, and then we’ll be quiet for the whole rest of the weekend.”

(Looking utterly deflated, he slowly turned and wandered back into his own apartment without another word. My mother barely managed to wait until I closed the door before she fell over laughing, undoubtedly remembering when I called her on the phone crying over how this man had treated me. Perhaps I took it too far. But then again, that was two years ago, and he hasn’t dared to confront anyone since.)

Team Leading The Way To Quitting

, , , , , , | Working | October 25, 2017

(I work at a big national department store. My initial availability is basically “all day, every day.” After having been there for about a year, they start looking to promote me to “team lead” status, but at the same time my mother’s health takes a serious downturn, and the following occurs:)

Assistant Manager: “We were looking to make you a team lead, but I see you just changed your availability until only six?”

Me: “Yeah, unfortunately my mom’s just been through several health scares, and I’m the only one that lives with her.”

Assistant Manager: “Well, if we’re going to give you this promotion, you need to be a bit more flexible. You can’t work closing at all?”

Me: “I can occasionally, if it’s absolutely necessary, but not on any sort of permanent schedule. Why is this such a big deal for being a team lead?”

Assistant Manager: “Well, when you’re a team lead, you need to be available to close one day and open the next day, twice a week. It’s just the regulations. We’d really, really like to give you this opportunity; you’re one of our hardest workers and we think you’d be a great fit.”

Me: “I’d like it, too, but unless you can find someone who’ll voluntarily be a 24/7 live-in nurse for my mom with no compensation, I just can’t do it right now.”

Assistant Manager: “Are you sure? This could be a really big opportunity!”

Me: “As you said, but my mom’s health comes first.”

(This conversation happens about once every two or three months with a couple different assistant managers. They even start sneaking closing shifts outside of my listed availability onto the schedule, despite me repeatedly saying I can only occasionally cover someone as an emergency, so it becomes a weekly ritual of finding someone to switch shifts with. After about a year and a half, my mother passes away, right in the middle of me landing a more standard 9:00 to 6:00, Monday through Friday job. Unfortunately, in order to score the job, I basically have to give in my notice on Thursday that I’m starting the new job on Monday, and end up talking with the very first manager that started the cycle.)

Assistant Manager: “Listen, I’m really disappointed you’re looking to go through with this.”

Me: “I know, but it’s a stable position. It’s about 50 cents less per hour, but it’s more hours and more stable hours without constantly having to shift my schedule around, and honestly, I have more potential for improvement there. I’ve already found people to cover my scheduled shifts here the next two weeks.”

Assistant Manager: “But you’re finally free up to switch to team lead!”

Me: “Really? That’s your take-away from my mother dying? That my schedule’s more free?”

(At least he had the sensibility to look embarrassed about that. I still took the new job, and got several rapidfire raises and promotions, well past what I would have in the department store. Here’s the funny part! About six months later I was shopping in that store, and the assistant manager saw me. He actually asked me if I “came to my senses” and wanted my old job back!)

Carry You To Great Heights

, , , , , | Working | October 25, 2017

(I’m tiny, at 5’2”, with a baby face. Despite being in my mid-20s, I get mistaken for a high-schooler or even middle-schooler all the time. My coworker is around six feet tall, and has a mature face with a stocky build. The following happens a lot.)

Manager: “[Coworker], help this customer with a carryout.”

Coworker: “I’m disabled and can’t lift more than 20 pounds.”

Me: “I can! Let me do the carryout.”

Manager: “No, I’ll find someone else.”

(Later on, I am carrying a heavy item for a customer.)

Manager: “Oh, [My Name]! You shouldn’t be carrying that! I’ll get [Disabled Coworker] to do that.”

Me: “He can’t lift more than 20 pounds.”

Manager: *already gone*

Coworker: *later* “[Manager] asked me to do a carryout for you. Again.”

Me: “I wonder when they’ll remember that I have to carry my sister’s wheelchair up and down a flight of stairs every day.”

Pogo Bounce Out Of That Marriage

, , , , , , , , | Related | October 25, 2017

I’m the lead singer in a metal band that does both original songs and covers. When my brother got engaged, his bridezilla fiancée asked my band to perform at the wedding. At some point she realized that they were going over budget, so her solution to cut back on costs was to tell us at the very last minute that she expected us to work for free because I was family and therefore “obligated,” even though we had already agreed to work at a discount because we were playing for a family event. I was furious, and the only reason we didn’t cancel was because it would have been too late for them to find a replacement and I love my brother and didn’t want to ruin his wedding.

Between her refusal to pay us, her constant treating of my brother and our family members like crap, her refusal to make me a bridesmaid solely on the grounds that I wasn’t “pretty enough”, meaning I’m tomboyish, and several underhanded insults she levied at one of my bandmates for being a transman, we were all very displeased with her come the morning of the wedding. She was either oblivious to our displeasure, or she just didn’t care.

While we were setting up, an hour before we were supposed to play, the bride came up to us, stood in our way, and suddenly announced that she didn’t like our chosen set because it wasn’t “romantic enough,” even though she and my brother both approved of it in advance. She was apparently under the impression that musicians can learn songs on the fly without practice or having ever performed them before, and asked us to play the Celine Dion song from Titanic, to which our drummer replied, “You realize we’re a f****** metal band, right?”

Our bass guitarist suddenly had a light-bulb moment and told her that he knew a love song we could play for her. She got excited and told us to play that one first. When she walked away and he told us what song he had in mind, we all agreed it was a great idea.

When it came time for our set to start, we opened up with a cover of “Bounce” by System of a Down, which is technically a love song. I don’t think I ever saw my brother’s fiancée run so fast, in heels, and my brother was dying of laughter.

After the wedding, we found out my brother didn’t even know that she had decided not to pay us, and he made sure we got paid, even though his new wife insisted that we didn’t even deserve it for ruining her wedding with our stunt.

They got divorced just two months later, because it turns out that when you marry someone who’s controlling and abusive, they don’t stop being controlling and abusive. No one was really surprised at the divorce, and my brother cited our spontaneous song choice as his only good memory of the wedding, anyway.