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Don’t You Have Your Own Town Meetings To Rant At?

, , , , , | Right | December 5, 2022

I grew up in a rural seaside town that was popular with tourists. It was a lovely place, but it was hard to find work because what few jobs there were in such a small town were usually seasonal, so most people who lived there worked in the nearest city or larger towns. Then, a national supermarket chain tried to bid on a piece of land so they could build a supermarket there.

Most residents were supportive of this because it meant more jobs locally and more options for weekly shops; the nearest full-sized supermarket was a twenty-five- to thirty-minute drive away at the time. But there were a few residents — mostly the retirees — who were not thrilled with the idea of [Chain] setting up shop in our town because they thought it would ruin the look, history, and culture of the town.

The land [Chain] was bidding for wasn’t used for anything. It had no historical significance. We had several small chain supermarkets and shops in town already, and the piece of land was right on the outskirts of town. There wasn’t anything on the land, either: no buildings or sites of historical importance. It was just a weed-riddled patch of land that people occasionally fly-tipped on. (Fly tipping is illegal waste dumping.)

The [Chain] land bid quickly became a source of controversy which residents butted heads over, with meeting after meeting called, but it took several years before an agreement could be made.

The weirdest thing about this wasn’t so much that the town was divided on the issue, but the fact that the tourists felt they had a say in it. People who spent two to four weeks a year in our town felt entitled to a say in anything that happened here, from how and when roads were maintained to what shops and businesses they would “allow” to open. Naturally, the land dispute with [Chain] quickly got their attention.

At the time that this battle was raging on, I was a teenager, and I had a part-time job at a local fishmonger. It wasn’t the best, but it was better than a long commute into the city.

It was a lovely day and tourists were flocking to the town to spend the day at the beach, so I was very busy with people buying various seafood treats to eat as they walked along.

As I was getting ready to close, a customer came in and asked for a seafood pot. I had run out not too long ago, and as we were due to close, I hadn’t bothered to make any more. Still, I happily made her a fresh one while she waited. As I was pottering about making it, we had a chat.

Me: “How are you enjoying your time here? Have you been to visit the model railway or the gardens yet?”

Tourist: “I went to the gardens yesterday. They’re gorgeous. It’s just a shame they’re going to be ruined by that stupid [Chain].”

Me: “Oh, the gardens are on the other side of town from where they’re hoping to build [Chain]. They’ll still be there even if they build it.”

The woman sniffed disdainfully.

Tourist: “Well, they’d better not build it. I don’t spend all this money just to see [Chain]. We have [Chain] at home. It’ll ruin this town if they build one.”

Not wanting to start an argument, I just nodded.

Tourist: “The meeting at the town hall about [Chain] is this week, isn’t it?”

Me: “On Friday, I think.”

Tourist: “Good. I’m going. I won’t let them destroy my holiday.”

Me: “The meeting is only for residents.”

Tourist: “Nonsense. I spend thousands every year when I come here. I have just as much right to vote on this as anyone else.”

I didn’t respond and instead finished up her seafood pot.

Tourist: “Well, I’m sure you don’t want [Chain] to be built. It’ll put you out of a job.”

Me: “[Supermarket] in [Town] isn’t allowed a fish counter, so it doesn’t affect the local fishing trade. The council has said the same thing to [Chain]. If they get the go-ahead, they won’t be allowed a fish counter, either. So, you’ll still be able to enjoy our seafood whenever you come.”

The woman huffed and started digging through her purse, ready to pay.

Tourist: “I just think it’s wrong. I don’t want [Chain] here. I come here to get away from all the boring stuff I have at home.”

Again, I just nodded and feigned sympathy.

The woman paid and left.

My parents went to the meeting on Friday. When they got home, they told me that a crazy woman tried to force her way into the meeting. She wasn’t a resident but demanded to be let in to “save” us from [Chain]. I don’t know if it was the same woman, because it wasn’t the first time a tourist had tried to force or bluff their way into one of the town meetings despite numerous signs plastered on the hall doors announcing this was a meeting for residents only.

Several years later, [Chain] got the go-ahead to build their supermarket. The town is still there. It’s still a thriving tourist hot spot. The world didn’t end after all.

Football Isn’t More Important Than A Paycheck!

, , , , , , | Working | September 30, 2021

When we moved into our house, it was December, and all the trees were bare. An engineer from [Satellite Broadcaster] installed our satellite dish for us, but it had to go on the side of the house as he could not get a signal from the back. He did say it might need raising in the summer, but we will see how things go.

It is now June, and at the time of this story, both the health crisis and a major football tournament are taking place. A rather large tree in our neighbour’s garden is in full bloom. Our satellite signal keeps cutting out and the channels are patchy at times. We know what the problem is and that we can’t do anything about the tree, so we decide to contact [Satellite Broadcaster]. I go online and find they have an appointment free that afternoon. Excellent! [Engineer #1] arrives at about 3:30 pm.

I explain what the problem is and what we would like done.

Engineer #1: “Yeah, I think I can do that.”

Due to the ongoing health crisis, I have to keep my distance from the engineer, so I let him get on with things and do a few jobs around the house. He gets several phone calls and I do hear him saying something about, “I can’t; I’m on a job,” but I don’t really pay much attention to it. After about fifteen minutes, he comes back in.

Engineer #1: “Um, I left my drill at my previous job. I’ll just need to go and get it.”

And off he goes. A couple of hours pass and it is very clear he isn’t coming back. We suspect he has bunked off to watch the football! Furious, I call [Satellite Broadcaster] and explain the situation.

Operator: “I am so sorry about this! There are no notes on the system about this. If he had to leave for a reason, he would have put something there. Can I put you on hold for a moment whilst I try and contact the engineer and see what happened?”

He comes back to the phone a few minutes later.

Operator: “I tried both the engineer and his manager and can’t get a hold of either of them. Once again, I deeply apologise.”

Me: “That’s okay; it’s not your fault.”

The operator gives us a voucher worth £14 to download some movies onto our box and then speaks to his manager to see what they can do.

Operator: “The next available appointment is not for a few days; however, we do have a team that deals with emergencies that can get to you faster. They will contact you later tonight or tomorrow morning, to book a time slot.”

Me: “Thank you! I appreciate that.”

We have also had a few problems with our broadband, also provided by [Satellite Broadcaster], which the operator notices, so he helps us with that, as well. He is a very friendly and helpful guy and I end the phone call feeling relieved that something will be done.

The next morning, I have to head to work, so my partner, who is working from home, keeps an ear out for the phone. The phone rings.

Scammer: “Hello, I am from [Satellite Broadcaster] and your broadband will be cut off within twenty-four hours…”

Partner: “…unless I download a program which allows you access? No, thanks. I am terminating this call.”

He then called [Satellite Broadcaster] to double-check and to report the call, and they were also able to sort out a new appointment for the engineer. Once again, we were in luck; a spare slot was free that afternoon. [Engineer #2] arrived.

My partner explained what we wanted done and what had happened with [Engineer #1]. [Engineer #2] was genuinely shocked at this and was able to move our dish so the tree was no longer blocking the signal. He did this with no problems at all, and whilst doing so, he made phone calls trying to see if [Engineer #1] was anyone in his team. To his relief, he wasn’t.

Our satellite signal has been absolutely fine ever since, with no more pixelly programmes. We never found out what happened to [Engineer #1], but if he did skive off to watch the football, we hope it was worth it.

The Scammer From The Broadband With The Bugs

, , , , , | Working | November 27, 2020

I receive a phone call from an unknown number. As I am in the process of moving house and have had various phone calls from estate agents, mortgage advisers, etc., I answer.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Hello, is this the homeowner? I am calling from the [TV/Broadband Provider] broadband.”

Yes, he did add the “the.” Straightaway, I recognise this as a scam call! After reading some of the stories on this site, I am finally able to have some fun!

Me: “This is he.”

Caller: “Hello, valued customer.”

The real broadband provider would address me as “Mr. [My Surname].”

Caller: “We are calling because there have been reports of bugs and hacking in your area.”

Me: “Oh, dear, that sounds very bad.”

Caller: “We are contacting all of our customers at the [TV/Broadband Provider] broadband to warn you. We are able to make your computers much more secure.”

Me: “Well, that sounds good.”

Caller: “We need to check your router first.”

Me: “Oh, is that the big box filled with the Internet?”

Caller: *Pause* “It has some lights on the front. Can you describe them for me?”

My router has three green lights.

Me: “Uh, it has two flashing blue lights. Is that normal?”

Caller: “Yes, that’s what we have on our screen.”

Yeah, right!

Caller: “Are there any lights on the back?”

There aren’t.

Me: “There’s a big flashing red light. Is that how they’re hacking me?”

Caller: “Yes, we see that on our screen. Now, we need to run a program on your laptop. The Chinese and the Russians could be hacking your Internet and giving you bugs.”

Me: “Oh, no! Does that mean I’ll get that nasty Chinese bug I’ve seen on the news through my Internet? I’ve been shielding and had to stay inside!”

That last part is true!

Caller: “No, we can help. Is the laptop on?”

Me: “Yes.”

Of course, it isn’t.

Caller: “Right, I need you to obey these instructions.”

I pretend to mishear the instructions or not understand, having to check with my (fictional) roommate or asking how quick a “double-click” should be. This goes on for about fifteen minutes or so. Eventually, he says I should see a box with options on screen.

Caller: “What does it say?”

Me: “It says I can’t do this as I need admin access. I don’t know what that means!”

Caller: *Pause* “Let me get my supervisor.”

I hear him speaking to his mate at the desk next door, and then the “supervisor” comes online.

Supervisor: “I understand you are having trouble, valued customer?”

Me: “I don’t understand what’s going on. Oh, it’s so scary!”

The “supervisor” begins repeating what his colleague said, but he accidentally cuts me off and I get a dial tone. Oh, well, I’ve been on the phone for twenty minutes and had some fun, and I stopped them from targeting someone else.

But seconds later, the phone rings, showing a completely different area code and number. Knowing this is the scammers, I ignore it. They ring again with a third number. And a fourth. This one has an area code that doesn’t exist!

I go to YouTube and load up a clip from the movie “Independence Day” of the cities exploding, turn the volume up really loud, and then I press “answer” on their fifth attempt and play the clip.

This doesn’t work and they try another three times before I answer again.

Me: “Hello, [Fictional Police Force from Popular TV Drama] Cyber Crime Division, [Fictional Detective] speaking. How may I help?”

They didn’t call back!