Curbside Pickup Of Disease

, , , , , | Working | May 22, 2020

We were in the middle of a widespread health crisis, but I still needed some lumber and other supplies, so I placed the order online — and paid for it in full — with the option to pick it up at the store. When I got the email that my order was ready, I headed to the store.

I parked by the door nearest the pick-up registers and found it locked. There, an employee told me I needed to enter at the pro entrance — at the other end of the store.

Since my purchases included a significant amount of lumber, I moved my truck to the pro entrance, which was also near the lumber dept. There was nobody outside from whom I could request curbside pickup, so I entered and asked where I could pick up my order. I was directed to the pickup registers — at the other end of the store.  

But since that door was locked, I had to walk the length of the store inside, through all the other (unmasked) customers. I got there, waited a moment for an employee to call on me, and handed her my order confirmation. She called it in and we waited… and waited… and waited. 

Another employee started coughing during this wait, so I stepped several feet away. I didn’t know what we were waiting for because I’d been emailed that the order was ready to be picked up. Around this time, I told the employee that I wanted to exit the pro door because that’s where my truck was parked. She assured me that I’d be exiting that door.

Then, another employee showed up with a cart loaded with my purchase. Now I would have to go back through the crowd to the pro door. I was really miffed, so I asked if I could get out the nearer door. She said no, but that I could exit through the — relatively close — garden center.

I chose that route, as it got me outside quicker, but now I had an even longer way to push the load — and the sidewalk had been blocked by a couple of delivery trucks so I had to push it through the car lane.

And that’s how this septuagenarian got his exercise today. I am so glad I wore a mask, face shield, and broad-brimmed hat to minimize my exposure to all the yahoo customers and employees wandering around the store with no PPE at all.

So much for “curbside pickup.”

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Sometimes Winging It… Works

, , , , , | Learning | May 22, 2020

Back in high school, I was the type of student who procrastinated and often did my homework at the last possible minute.

One day in class, at the end of the week, we were put into pairs, given an opinion on a topic, and then told we’d be debating for our opinion in two weeks, as another group had gotten an opposite opinion on the same topic. During the following week, we were to research our topic, find points to argue for our opinion, and together plan some sort of strategy. Every group had been given a few papers on their topic, but it was up to each group to find out more.

Unfortunately, I got a cold for a week and a half and stupidly did not look up anything, as I completely forgot about the assignment. Come Friday, upon entering the classroom, my mind was flooded with the memory of papers shoved into the bottom of my bag, my partner and I sitting together, and the deadline of today, the second of two weekly lessons with that teacher.

I more or less rushed over to my partner, asking her if she’d found anything, and her face said it all; she also hadn’t looked anything up. After asking around, we found out that we and our opponents would be the last to debate; everyone else got done during class earlier that week.

Fishing up the papers from two weeks before, we began hastily scrabbling for any information that would stick to our brains, when we looked up and saw the other group looking through their papers, pointing at some words, and discussing with each other. It was at that moment we knew we were screwed, and that our teacher would probably reprimand us for not doing anything.

Eventually, our teacher entered the classroom and everyone took a seat. She asked the two remaining groups to come up, and we solemnly made our way to one of two tables set up in the front of the classroom, ready to get an a**-kicking and a stern lecture on doing your homework.

The topic we’d been given was about prenatal care, and more specifically about screening pregnancy; my partner and I were for screening, while the other group was against it.

We both realized they had studied the subject, and they more or less took the lead in the debate. We did our best trying to lift up our opinion with what little we’d managed to remember from our short read-through, but we knew it would eventually turn into us going in a circle, repeating the same facts.

I somehow got into how a screening might tell if a fetus was at risk for a birth defect, which then delved into abortion, with them strongly making their case that abortion was bad, and thus screening was bad. It was then, when I knew we had nothing else left, that I pulled this line out of my a**:

“I’m not saying I stand for abortion, but I stand for women to have the choice and chance to prepare for a baby who might be born with a defect.”

That apparently threw them off, because they just stared silently at us and had nothing to say back.

We got a little applause from the rest of the class, and our teacher asked the class which one of the groups the rest of our classmates thought had made the stronger case on the topic, and they actually picked mine and my partner’s, pointing out my line as the “winning argument.”

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Making That Call Is Not His Calling

, , , | Right | May 20, 2020

Customer: “Can you make a phone call for me?”

Me: “Sorry, we don’t have a public phone. The building across the street has three in the lobby, though.”

Customer: “Ugh, I have to walk all the way over there?

Me: “Yep, just across the street.”

Customer: “You’re making this so difficult!”

It’s only a two-lane street, nothing difficult!

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Drunk, Malevolent, Or Vapid?

, , , , , | Working | May 19, 2020

I recently moved to New Hampshire so I go to the DMV to apply for a new driver’s license. After filling out all the proper paperwork, making sure I have proof of residency and blood type and mother’s dog’s maiden name, and waiting in line for the typical ninety minutes, I finally get to the counter.

The woman behind the desk looks through all my papers, and everything seems to be in order, until:

Clerk: “Okay, can you just review all the info on that screen and confirm that everything is correct?”

I look at the first line.

Me: “Uh… actually, there’s a problem. My address isn’t correct.”

The clerk seems slightly offended that I’m accusing her of entering in my info wrong.

Clerk: “What’s wrong with it?”

Me: “The street number is supposed to be 25. It says 75 here.”

The clerk looks at the forms I filled out.

Clerk: “Oh. That looks like a 7 to me.”

She says this despite the fact that the other documents I had given her, including a lease agreement and an electric bill, all confirmed it should be 25.

Clerk: “Okay, so, everything else is correct?”

I look at the second line.

Me: “Uh… nope. My birthday is [date], and this says [different date].”

Clerk: “Seriously?”

The clerk sighs and then goes to correct all of the info on the computer.

Clerk: “Oh, I guess I need manager authorization to change the birth date. Hold on one second.”

A manager comes over and authorizes the birth date change and gets my temporary license printed.

Manager: “Okay, you’re all set! We just need to take your old [Other State] license away. You can’t have both at the same time.”

I have never heard of this before, but it seems to make sense, so I comply.

Manager: “Your new license will arrive within sixty days. Have a nice day!”

About a week later, I go to a local specialty store and attempt to buy alcohol. As I have not yet received my permanent license, I hand the cashier my temp license.

Cashier: “Oh, I’m so sorry, but we can’t accept temp IDs here. Can I just see your old license to confirm your age?”

Me: “Oh, I don’t have it anymore. The DMV took it away when I applied for my new one.”

Cashier: “What? That’s odd; they usually just punch a hole in it so it’s not valid on its own, but so you can still use it to confirm everything on your temp one. I’ve never heard of them taking it away!”

Me: “Yeah. Me, neither.”

I don’t get any wine that day.

After that, about a month and half goes by and I still have not received my new license. I am getting very concerned as it has never taken me this long to receive a new ID in the past, and my temp one is almost set to expire. I am worried it got sent to the wrong address, so I even try going to number 75 on my street to see if they received it by mistake, but they are never home when I go.

Finally, I give in and call the DMV.

Me: “Hi. I still haven’t received my new driver’s license, and my temporary one is going to expire in about a week and a half. I’m worried it might have been sent to the wrong address, because my address was entered incorrectly the first time.”

Support #1: “Okay, can I have your name and address?”

I give them to her.

Support #1: “All right, I see your application right here, and it looks like all your info is correct but the license just hasn’t been printed or sent yet. If it doesn’t come by [date next week], call us again and we will expedite it to you.”

Sure enough, a week goes by and still no license. I call the DMV again.

Me: “Hi. I called last week to say that my license hadn’t come in yet and was told to call back today if that was still the case and you would expedite it to me.”

Support #2: “Okay, can I have your name, please?”

I give it to her.

Support #2: “Okay… Huh, I can’t seem to find you. Is it [Different First Name]?”

Me: “Nope, [My Name].”

Support #2: “Okay, let’s try your social.”

I give her that.

Support #2: “Nope… Birth date?”

I give her that.

Support #2: “Huh. All right, what is the number on your temp license?”

I give her that.

Support #2: “Wait, your license number is [number] but your birth date is [date]? That doesn’t make sense. The number is based on your last name and birth date.”

Me: “Well, the woman who took my info at the DMV office entered my birthday incorrectly the first time…”

Support #2: “Ohh… Okay, I think I know what happened, then. Let me just look into this further.”

She puts me on hold for about fifteen minutes.

Support #2: “I just confirmed with my supervisor. There cannot be a license account with more than one birthdate. If the date is changed, our system completely erases the old application. The clerk should have reentered all of your info in a new application and retaken your picture. She basically deleted your application when she made the change.

“Here’s what I can do for you: if you can get back to the DMV this afternoon, I will tell them to let you go straight to the front of the line. Make sure you bring in all the paperwork you had last time, and we will expedite a new license to you within two business days. I am sorry for all of the inconvenience this has caused!”

This last support person was very helpful and, true to her word, I was let up to the front of the line when I got to the DMV office. However, I don’t know what bothers me more: the fact that the original clerk AND her manager made so many fumbles with handling my application and didn’t know that the mistake would completely erase all my info, or the fact that it seems the first phone support person blatantly LIED to me saying she saw that my application was in process. 

Bonus: my new license finally arrived, no less than a month later.

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Leaving Your Kids In One Social Service, Ending Up In Another

, , , , , , , | Right | May 17, 2020

Connecticut state law prohibits leaving any children under the age of twelve alone in public places. There has to be an adult, eighteen or older, with them. It continues to stun my colleagues and me, even in this day and age, that parents don’t think twice about literally abandoning their kids in a big room filled with people they don’t know.

I work in a library. A mother and seven children, approximately nine years to twelve months, come to the children’s department. Then, the mother turns on her heel and prepares to leave. My boss sees her and runs after her.

Boss: “Ma’am, you cannot leave your children here. You need to stay with them or take them with you. We are not babysitters.”

Mother: “No hablo inglés.”

My boss repeats everything she just said in Spanish. The mother stares at her and shrugs, coming back inside.

We go about our work and things are peaceful until we catch two of the kids with a very large stuffed animal that is our library mascot. One child has found a hole in a seam — which has been stitched over many time —  and is digging the stuffing out. The other child is trying to put the next to the youngest ON the animal.

My boss steps in before any of us can say anything and asks where their mother is. The kids, who had been shouting at one another in perfect English, suddenly cannot speak ANY language.

My boss realizes that ALL seven children are also sick and the baby is the worst. He has thrown up in a corner. Oh, joy.

She goes looking for the mother and finds her in a faraway part of the library where she is holding court with her friends and our security guard, who seems to know her. My boss heads to the guard and says:

Boss: “Hi, [Guard], I’m going to need your help. Someone abandoned seven kids in my department.”

The mother is looking smug because she thinks she got away with something, as my boss is pretending not to know who she is.  

Boss: “All seven kids are very sick, sneezing and coughing, and at least one of them has vomited all over himself. As you know, protocol says I have to ask you to call the police since they are clearly abandoned and are all sick. They need to be taken to Social Services and—”

She doesn’t get any further as, suddenly, Mom speaks perfect English, too.

Mother: “Those are my kids! You can’t call the police!”

Boss: “Well, I will, if you are not down there with them to stay in the next thirty seconds, and yes, I can call the police and I will if you ever do something like that again.”

The mother tore back to the children’s department and dragged all her kids off, but not before they had wiped their noses on our mascot and coughed on all of us and the baby had tossed his cookies again.

We were all sick within the week, but we never saw the mother or her kids again. My boss said later that she wished she could have called the police, but at the time, we weren’t supposed to call the police for anything but people having violent altercations or stumbling about in drunken stupors.

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