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This Is Why I Work From Home: Pants Optional!

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: HoungryHoungryHippo | June 27, 2022

The summer after my senior year in high school, I worked collecting shopping carts at a grocery store. I lived on the coast, so it was hot as Hell during the summers. It was one of those “uppity” grocery chains so we had a pretty strict dress code: a white, long-sleeve dress shirt, tucked into khaki dress slacks. But because I worked outside for a good portion of the day, management let me wear khaki shorts and a short-sleeve button-up. All was fine until toward the end of the summer when we got a new general manager who was MUCH stricter on policy than the old one had been.

When I came in for my first shift with the new manager, he called me into his office.

Manager: “There have been some changes. Your uniform is clearly lacking in several areas and I’ll need you to correct it. We’ll need you to go home and change into pants and the provided long-sleeve button-up.”

I thought he had mistaken me for someone who worked inside.

Me: “Actually, sir, I collect carts, so I’m allowed to wear shorts.”

Manager: “Son, I said what I said. Either you adhere to the dress code or you go home.”

Me: “So, I don’t have a choice but to wear pants, in ninety-plus-degree heat, in the height of summer?”

Manager: “That is the policy. And being smart with me is not getting us off on the right foot.”

Me: “All right. Then I’m going home.”

Manager: “Good. Thank you for your understanding.”

I walked out of his office, fully understanding that he expected me to actually come back. But his ultimatum was to either wear pants or not come to work, so I chose the latter. I was going away to college in a couple of weeks, so I chose not to sweat my butt off for six hours a day for $7.25 an hour.

I was at home about an hour later, chilling, and I got a call from my manager. He was furious.

Manager: “Why the h*** are you taking so long? We are swamped and desperately need a cart collector!”

Me: “I’m not coming back.”

Of course, he didn’t take this well.

Manager: “Get back here right now or you’ll be fired!”

Me: “Well, I thought that was the idea.”

He was absolutely dumbfounded. He hadn’t expected me to call his bluff on something he considered to be so inconsequential (because he wasn’t the one outside pushing carts in the heat). He tried to talk me into coming back, but I told him he gave me two options, and I had chosen option two.

I never went back to work. I found out that the cart collectors were only made to wear pants for a few days after that until the new manager relented and let them wear shorts. I never got a call with an apology from him, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed the time off before going to college.

I fully realize that this was an immature and unprofessional thing to do. I know I was fortunate at the time to be a teenager who didn’t have a dire need for a job so I was able to make this move. He was a jerk from the initial approach, and I was in a position to return his fire, so I went for it. I’d never in a million years think of doing something like this at my full-time big-boy job.

Beware The Cave Troll

, , , , , | Working | June 27, 2022

My family and I have always been pretty avid campers and hikers. When my sister and I were little and not capable of backpacking, we did a lot of car camping.

On one of these trips, when I am about ten and my sister is six, we go to visit a national park famous for its large cave system. Of course, we go to see the caves. We are underground walking around, reading the signs, listening to explanations of various rock outcroppings and the like, when we see a large tunnel and a path going down it. We assume it leads to another part of the caves. Oddly, there are no lights, but we figure it must be lighted further in.

This part is important: in no way is the tunnel blocked off, there are no signs telling us not to go there, nothing. So, we start walking. After about a minute of this, still within sight of the tunnel entrance, there are still no lights and no one else is there. We agree that this must be wrong, so we turn around to head back, using my dad’s phone as a flashlight. This is where the jerk park ranger comes in. He’s standing at the entrance to the tunnel, and as soon as we’re in earshot, he starts yelling.

Ranger: “So! You think you’re some sort of big-shot explorers, wandering off into dangerous caves on your own with your phones and flashlights!”

I don’t remember a whole lot of it, but I do remember that he goes on in this vein for a while, just yelling at us about how stupid we were to go into the cave, with me and my sister hiding behind our parents. At some point, my sister starts to cry.

Ranger: *Still yelling* “I have half a mind to throw you out of the park!”

My dad eventually calmed him down, and we didn’t get thrown out, but we were all pretty shaken. My sister was still sobbing, and I was pretty close to crying myself.

A couple of minutes later, once we had been consoled, we saw the park ranger staring at the tunnel entrance. He walked over to some discarded fencing and sheepishly set up a barrier in front of the tunnel. From what we could gather, it was his job to block the tunnel off, and hadn’t! He didn’t even apologize afterward or look remotely sorry for scaring two children into tears. In retrospect, we should’ve taken the fact that there were no lights as a larger sign not to go there, but we figured that in a large, well-maintained cave with lots of tunnels you are supposed to walk through to get from cave to cave, this wasn’t that big of a deal.

Giving Her Two Cents About Five More Pence

, , , , , , | Right | June 27, 2022

I’m shopping at a discount shop. At the tills, they have bottles of Coke for a few pence each. The woman in front of me places her items on the till, spots the pile, and then asks:

Customer: “What’s wrong with the Coke? Is it out of date?”

Cashier: “No, but it nearly is.”

Customer: *Accusingly* “This one says it’s out of date!”

Cashier: “That is the best before date, and that’s today.”

Customer: “Let me have a look.”

She begins to paw through the bottles. Each one of them (surprise, surprise) has today’s date on it. She then turns to the guy with her and has a conversation about whether it’s safe to drink, what happens to the Coke after the date, how it’s just a conspiracy etc., etc. — all while the line behind her grows.

Me: “If 5p is such a topic of conversation for you, I’m happy to buy you one myself. But if we could hurry this along?”

Customer: “Some people have no idea of patience.”

Me: “Nor do some people have any appreciation of others, it seems.”

She finally pays and leaves. I place down my items and the cashier puts a bottle in my bag.

Me: “Oh, I was joking about buying a bottle.”

Cashier: “Oh, don’t worry about it; I’m throwing these out later. I didn’t realise there would be such drama over some cheap Coke — may as well give them away.”

Me: “Thanks!”

It was only a few pence but a nice gesture. The Coke tasted fine and probably would have for days after that. I wonder if that woman takes all her purchases that seriously; she must have no time for anything else in the world.

American Boy — The Version NOT Featuring Kanye

, , , , | Related | June 27, 2022

Back when I was in primary school, I was relentlessly teased for my accent. They kept calling me “American Boy” even though I’d lived in Singapore my whole life. Even showing my classmates my birth certificate (which clearly showed I was born in Singapore) didn’t stop them.

And for the record, my accent was Canadian. My best friend was Canadian, and I had been neighbours with him since I was three. Guess who I learnt most of my vocabulary from?

My Canadian accent grew a lot less pronounced over my teenage years, and the whole “American Boy” thing got forgotten… at least until my mother dug out an old portrait of me my father had been given when I was born.

Me: “Why am I beside the American flag in that portrait?”

Mom: “Oh, it’s because you were conceived in America. Your father spent a year there for a sabbatical, and I visited him while he was there. I realised I was pregnant once I got back home.”

Me: “Really?”

Mom: “Oh, yeah. What was it those kids used to call you in primary school? American Kid?”

Me: “American Boy.”

Mom: “I guess they were somewhat correct. You are my American Boy.” *laughs* “Maybe I should get a ‘Made in America’ T-shirt for you.”

I muttered some choice Malay swear words under my breath.

Don’t Worry, Kid; It’ll Hit You One Day

, , , , , , | Learning | June 27, 2022

I was a fairly unpopular fifth-grader — good academically, bad socially. I somehow got the idea that I could solve my popularity problem with advice from books.

This was pre-Internet, so my book selection was not only limited but difficult to search for. I felt embarrassed looking for books about how to make friends, so my only hope was to find a book at the school library during our weekly visit, check it out, and read it in secret. I searched and searched, and the closest resource I could find was a book called “Male Manners.” I don’t know what I was thinking.

Sure enough, the book turned out to be irrelevant. I don’t remember most of what I read, only that if I was ever eating at a place where I’d finished my meal but wished to keep enjoying a rich sauce, I should gently drop bits of bread into the sauce, then eat them with my fork — not exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

The next week, when it was time to return the book to the library, I didn’t want anyone to see me with it, so I tried to quickly slide it across the counter of the Returns desk on my way in and then hustle off into the library.

Unfortunately, in my haste to get away from the book, I slid it a little too vigorously, and it slid off the other end of the counter and hit the librarian.

Librarian: “HEY!”

Me: “Oh… uh, sorry.”

Librarian: “Do we throw books?”

Me: “No, sorry, I wasn’t throwing it, I just pushed it too hard… but sorry.”

The librarian looked at the book cover.

Librarian: *Extremely loud* “And it’s a book about manners!”

She showed it to the other librarian.

Librarian: *Still extremely loud* “Look at this! It’s a book about manners! He threw it at me, and it’s a book about manners!”

I wanted to crawl under a desk. Fifth grade is awful.