Listen Here, Sugar…

, , , | Learning | September 10, 2018

(This happens during training for Customer Service Representatives at a large online store.)

Trainer: “For this exercise, I’m going to need five people.”

(I raise my hand, as do another four people.)

Trainer: “Your challenge is to make me a hot tea with the things in this kitchen. You only get ten seconds to discuss how and ten seconds to do it.”

(We discuss and quickly decide each of us gets one task. I get putting the sugar in. [Person #1] grabs a cup. [Person #2] asks about the flavor and runs for the tea. I see him go for the tea, so in the meantime I pour the sugar in. [Person #2] comes back and puts the tea bag in. [Person #3] pours the hot water. [Person #4] walks the cup over to the trainer while mixing in the sugar.)

Trainer: *looks at the rest of the class and points to me* “What did she do wrong?”

Everyone: “She put the sugar in before the tea.”

Trainer: “Exactly. That is not how you do it.”

Me: “Why? That’s how I do it at home.”

Trainer: *taken by surprise* “Because… you don’t.”

Me: “Did it not mix?”

Trainer: *smug look* “Class, what is she doing wrong now?” *no answer* “Here in [Online Store], we always do things like the customer wants it.”

Me: “So, if a customer wants his small purchase to be put in giant box with packing peanuts, but the peanuts have to be put in last… can we actually do that?”

(I know I got a little defensive, but I don’t like being singled out. And much less for something so irrational.)

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My Business Lunch Is None Of Your Business

, , , , , | Related | September 10, 2018

(One of my first jobs is as a secretary and receptionist. I am angling for a promotion, so I make myself as indispensable to my boss as possible, and I persuade him to allow me to accompany him on a business lunch with our marketing reps. I am talking to my mum about it.)

Me: “I’m pretty excited about this. It’ll be my first business lunch.”

Mum: “Who are you meeting with?”

Me: “Our marketing team: [Employee #1] and [Employee #2].”

Mum: “[Employee #2]? No kidding! I know her! She’s really nice.”

Me: “Cool! Good to know.”

(I go to the lunch and conduct myself with as much poise and professionalism as a 22-year-old is capable of. I am quite nervous, but I pretend that I do this sort of thing every day. I think I’ve done a pretty good job. Later, when talking to my mum again…)

Mum: “How’d the lunch go?”

Me: “Great! I think my boss was impressed. I saw [Employee #2] talking to him afterwards and pointing at me; she was smiling.”

Mum: “That’s probably because I called [Employee #2] beforehand.”

Me: “Uh… You did?”

Mum: “Yes! I told her it was your very first business lunch, and that you were really excited and nervous. I also told her that since you’re just a kid, she should be nice to you.”


Mum: *bewildered* “What? What did I do?”

(Sigh. I love my mum, and I know she only had the best of intentions. I might have gotten that promotion after all, despite or because of Mum’s “help,” but another job opportunity came my way first. I jumped at it.)

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Centering On The Wrong Thing

, , , , , | Learning | September 8, 2018

(I’m in year two of primary school. My teacher has basically said my work is rubbish — all because I spelt “centre” with an “er” instead of an “re” — and has called my parents in.)

Teacher: “We can’t have this sort of mistake. If we don’t pull him up on it now, then he won’t learn.”

Mum: “Is that all? Two letters the wrong way round from a seven-year-old? Considering using ‘er’ is actually a correct way of spelling ‘centre’…”

Teacher: “Not in this country.”

Mum: “No wonder everyone calls you a dragon if you get so picky over something so minor, even if it’s correct to begin with.”

(Thankfully I moved up to year three soon after and never had that trouble again.)

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Smearing Your Education

, , , , | Healthy | September 8, 2018

(At the age of 19 my mother decides it is time for me to get my first pap smear and checkup with a gynecologist. My appointment starts out normally; the nurse is very nice and explains what will happen, before leaving me alone to change into a gown. I settle myself on the table before the doctor comes in. He is an older man in his late 50s, rather heavy set, and with a bulbous nose.)

Ob/Gyn: “Good morning! So, what brings you in today?”

Me: “I recently turned 19, and my mother suggested it was time for me to get my first pap smear, since I am sexually active.”

Ob/Gyn: “Your mom is silly to worry about that. You really shouldn’t be here before you’re 23.”

Me: *remains silent as the doctor explains the procedure again*

Ob/Gyn: “So, are you a student? What are you studying?”

Me: *not wanting to explain my complex writing major* “Oh, I’m majoring in English.”

Ob/Gyn: “So, what are you going to do with that other than be unemployed?” *chuckles* “Serve burgers?”

(The rest of my appointment was spent in stony silence while the doctor began an already nerve-wracking and intimate procedure.)

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Guys And Dollies

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 7, 2018

(I work in a vet’s office. My coworker Meredith and I have been friends since we were small children. She is not, and never has been, a feminine woman. She has short, spiked hair and almost no curves on her body, and could without much effort pass as a teenage boy. I work the front desk and she works in the exam rooms, so I am used to clients checking out and saying things like, “That young man in the room was so nice,” or, “Tell the doctor that I loved the way that gentleman handled my cat.” Meredith knows they don’t mean anything by it, so she says to not bother correcting them. If they ask directly something like, “What was that nice man’s name?” I won’t lie, because I enjoy the looks on people’s faces. One day we have a new client come in, and on his way out we have the following conversation.)

Client: “Hey, that ‘girl’–” *he actually does air quotes* “–in the room, what was ‘her’ name?”

Me: “You mean Meredith?”

Client: “Yeah, ‘Meredith.’ Is that the legal name, or just what you call ‘her’?”

Me: “Legal.”

Client: “So ‘she’ had it changed then?”

Me: “Yes.”

Client: *turns to his wife* “See? I told you; I can always spot them. That one wasn’t even all that hard.”

Me: *interjects* “It was Dolly.”

Client: “What?”

Me: “The name on her birth certificate is Dolly. But she said that made it hard to be taken seriously, so she had it legally changed about ten years ago.”

(The man turned multiple shades of red and stormed off, while his wife started laughing.)

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