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Time To Pull Out The Get-Off-My-Lawn Voice

, , , | Working | February 5, 2022

In Latvia, we don’t have Social Security Numbers, but each citizen is assigned a Person Identity Number which is used to uniquely identify people. It’s an eleven-digit number and it used to be that the first six digits represented the birth date. With the advent of privacy laws, however, a few years back, it was changed to contain just random digits, and anybody who wants can change theirs ONCE to the new version. A colleague of mine has done this.

Recently, [Colleague] had trouble with her Internet connection and decided to switch from mobile Internet to cable. She filled out the online form, and today they called her back.

Representative: “Hello. Can I speak to [Colleague], please?”

Colleague: “Hello! Yes, I’m [Colleague].”

Representative: “I’m sure you’re not. I can tell by your voice.”

Colleague: “What? What’s wrong with my voice?”

Representative: “Stop fooling around! Either give me [Colleague] or I will terminate this call!”

Colleague: “I’m not even your client yet. How can you possibly know my voice?!”

There’s a long pause, and then the representative proceeds sheepishly.

Representative: “Oh, you have the new person number. I only looked at the year digits and thought you were eighty-nine.”

My colleague — who is in her early thirties — also shared that she managed to get vaccinated early because seniors were a prioritized group.

Putting A Wedge In Your Pledge

, , | Right | May 23, 2021

My grandparents own a camping site near a lake and offer to rent pedal boats and cabins. They are the only workers there, so I, a fourteen-year-old girl, decide to help them during the summer and look after the reception.

It’s kind of a boring day and only one of the pedal boats is being used. A middle-aged woman comes into reception.

Me: “Hello!”

Customer: “I would like to rent a pedal boat. How much for an hour?”

Me: “3€. But I will need a pledge.”

Customer: “A pledge?”

Me: “It can be anything you don’t want to lose during your trip.”

This is a standard process for safety and we add tiny papers with their start time to them. She hands me 20€ cash.

Me: “Sorry, I can’t accept cash. But people usually leave some documents—”

Customer: “Documents? I won’t give my passport!”

Me: “I can’t accept passports, either. You can leave your driver’s license, ID, wallet, phone, etc.”

Customer: “But I’m renting a cabin in this camping area and I left all my belongings there.”

Me: “It’s our policy.”

Customer: “Actually, how old are you? Can you even work there?”

Me: “I’m fourteen, and from this age, you can legally work with parents’ permission.”

She starts asking for some “grownups” and so on. My father comes into reception and sees me almost crying.

Father: “What’s the problem?”

Customer: “She doesn’t want to accept my pledge or my passport!”

Me: “I said that neither cash nor passport is an acceptable pledge.”

Customer: “I’m staying there. Why can’t she just accept the money?”

Father: “Because the money doesn’t give a guarantee that you won’t go across the lake and steal the boat.”

I don’t remember what happened next because I was crying, but at one moment, my grandfather came into reception. It turned out that the customer’s kids had rented one water bike just a few minutes before and left their phone as a pledge.

Look At All Those Estony Faces

, , , | Learning | November 12, 2019

(I’m attending a crash course along with twenty other people. The lecturer starts off by asking each of us to tell others a bit about ourselves. The course is in Latvian, the only official language of Latvia, but about a third of attendees are of Russian-speaking minority. This minority is infamous for expecting to be able to converse in Russian everywhere, although these particular people, obviously, must understand Latvian language well enough. Still…)

Lecturer: “I think we’ll allow everyone to introduce themselves in their native language; does everyone agree?”

(People nod and make agreeing noises, but I prick up my ears. When my turn comes, several minutes after the previous non-Latvian speaker…)

Me: “May I speak in my native language, too?”

Everybody: *nodding toward me in a friendly way* “Yes, of course!”

Me: “But… do you all understand Estonian, then?”

Everybody: “Hahaha, no! You will need to translate your introduction for us afterward.”

(So much for equality.)

Age Is But A Guessable Number

, , | Right | January 21, 2019

Me: “Hello!”

Customer: “Hi. I’m looking for a gift for my kid. Can you recommend me something?”

Me: “Of course! Are they a boy or a girl?”

Customer: “A boy.”

Me: “And how old is he?”

Customer: *looks at me as if I’m stupid* “I know how old my kid is.”

Me: *confused*

Not The Number One Solution

, , , | Related | July 6, 2018

(With another family visiting us, we bring the children to a local water supply museum. Among other things, the guide tells us that it is the only water supply station in Europe that gets water from underground to collectors by vacuum pumps, which work similarly to sucking water through straw. He suggests we try that out ourselves later. So, back at home, we give each child one full and one empty cup and tell them to get all water from first cup to second through a straw. Some manage it sooner, some later, but one boy manages to just drink all his water.)

Boy: “Would it count if I now peed into the second cup?”

His Mom: “I don’t think the townspeople would care much for your solution.”