The Hangry Mob

, , , , , | Right | July 23, 2020

I am in high school, working at a local bagel store on weekends. Every morning is practically packed out the door with customers waiting in line for breakfast sandwiches and coffee. 

On this particular morning, I am the only cashier for a line of over twenty people, while all of my coworkers are busy making orders. 

A girl from one of my classes gets to the register. I notice that something seems off about her while she walks.

Friend: “So, how’s your history paper coming along?”

Me: “All right, I guess. I finished it a few days ago. You?”

Friend: “I just stayed up forty-eight hours straight finishing it.”

Me: “Wow, that’s—”

I get cut off mid-sentence when the girl collapses to the floor, hitting her head on the way down. I hop over the counter to help her. I call for help from the crowd, but the only people to come assist are my coworkers. I turn to the line of customers.

Me: “Somebody call 911!”

Twenty pairs of blank stares look back at me.

Me: “Lots of you have cell phones! Please! Somebody call for a paramedic!”

Customer #1: “I placed my order for some food; aren’t you guys going to finish it?”

Me: “Unless some of you come to help this poor girl instead, none of us can do our jobs!”

Customer #2: “I don’t have all day! Get back to work!”

Me: “Has anyone called 911 yet?”

Customer #3: “I have hungry kids at home! Hurry up!”

Taking this as a sign that 911 has still yet to be called, I pick up the store phone to call 911 myself. My coworkers manage to revive her, but she’s still in serious condition. By now, the crowd is starting to get unruly, and they focus on me.

Random Customer:Great! Now he’s on the phone! Kids are so disrespectful these days!”

911: “911, what’s your emergency?”

Me: “I’m at [Store] and a teenage girl passed out and hit her head!”

Another Random Customer: “YOU JUST LOST A CUSTOMER! THIS IS RIDICULOUS!”

Me: “There’s a mob of angry customers forming, so please hurry!”

911: “Did they cause her injury?”

Me: “No! She just passed out from lack of sleep!”

911: “Are you in any danger?”

Yet Another Customer: “F*** YOU! I’M LEAVING!”

Me: “I’m not sure… They’re just violently hungry!”

911: “Sadly, I understand the situation all too well. Stay calm until paramedics and police arrive. Just to be safe, extra officers have been dispatched.”

She stayed on the phone with me and gave my coworkers and me instructions on how to help the girl out until paramedics arrived. By the time the police arrived, most of the customers in line had left out of frustration. The girl was taken to the hospital; she ended up being just fine, though.

I would have lost my faith in humanity that day, except that my manager immediately transferred me to a different store that wasn’t nearly as crowded on weekends, promising me that I’d have a better experience. The store was newer, the location was better, and the customers and I quickly got to know each other on a first-name basis. Thanks to them, I realized the whole ordeal was just an isolated incident.

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No Use Crying Over Spilled Tea(cakes)

, , , , , , , , | Working | July 23, 2020

Sitting upstairs in the cafe in our village, I was in view of people going up and down the stairs. At the table across from me was a little old lady who had ordered a toasted teacake — a sort of bready thing with currants and sultanas and things in it.

Up the stairs came the waitress with the teacake on a plate. She tripped and stumbled, and the teacake slipped off the plate and landed on the stairs. “Oh, s***,” said the waitress, and quickly grabbed the teacake and put it back on the plate and delivered it to her customer.

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Group Projects Are Often Torturous

, , , , , , , | Learning | July 23, 2020

This takes place during what is supposed to be my last semester of college. I’m majoring in finance, and all business majors are required to take a capstone course before graduation. In this class, we basically do nothing but group work, and we are stuck with the same group for the entire semester.

I wind up in a group that has a marketing major, an international business major, and an independent studies major; she made her own major using business classes and classes from another degree program but still had to take the capstone class. The two girls in my group are who I mostly talk about because the one guy in the group does seem to sympathize with me but never does anything about how the girls are treating me.

The first few assignments aren’t that big, and we make it through all right. Then, we get to the first big project. The assignment is to take a well-known tech company and find a way to improve it. The first step is to look at the financials for this company as well as three competitors. Since I’m the finance major, we decide that I should do the financials for the tech company while each of my teammates does the financials for one of the competitors.

To properly do the financials, you must first go the SEC website, find the 10-K doc for your company, and copy the Balance Sheet, the Income Statement, and the Cash Flows statement into an Excel doc. My accounting professors all drilled into me that part of this process includes finding all the totals on these statements ourselves and not just copy/pasting them into Excel. Once you have these statements in Excel, you must then calculate about thirty different ratios using the data you pulled from the SEC site. Most of the ratios are straight-forward, but the last two or three give me some trouble. All in all, this whole process takes me about two hours to complete.

The day this assignment is due, we meet an hour before class starts to compile everything together and so I can look over their ratios. I quickly notice something is off with all of their documents. Instead of manually calculating all the ratios, they just Googled the current ratios for their company. “It’ll be fine; just check and make sure the ratios are fine,” they tell me.

“I can’t check them; there’s no math for me to check!” I explain.

“Then do the math,” they say.

Yes, they want me to do about six hours’ worth of work in forty-five minutes. I instead compare their numbers to mine, fix anything that looks really wrong to me, and let it be. They are livid when our professor gives us back a poor grade, saying 90% of our ratios were wrong and we didn’t show the math most of the time. Turns out, all but two of my ratios were correct.

Things get worse for me a few weeks later. The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have a small assignment I think is due on a Thursday but is really due on a Tuesday. I find out an hour before class that I have my dates wrong. Luckily, I have the assignment half-done, so I quickly finish it up so I have something to turn in. My teammates do not like that, and this is the point when two of them decide I am a bad group mate.

I am taking a full course load that semester, and my teammates don’t like that I insist on going to my other classes, specifically my English class. I have put off taking my last 200-level English class, and the school actually has an attendance policy for 100- and 200-level classes. I am only allowed three unexcused absences a semester, and we use a clicker system to take attendance.

“We all skip our other classes to get this done, you should, too,” they reason. They even purposefully schedule meetings with our professor during my English class so they can make a case that I am not doing anything to help with the project.

As the time for our big presentation grows closer, we spend most of our spare time in the library. This is when I learn that I am the only stress-eater in a group of stress-starvers. If I insist on taking a thirty-minute meal break, they throw a fit. If I bring snacks, they say I am too distracting. If I bring headphones so I can listen to some soft music while I work, they say I need to contribute more to the group. When I say I need to leave by eleven so I can actually get some sleep, they whine and say I need to stay and help with the work. When I say I need to study for a quiz for another class, they say this is the only class that matters. There is no pleasing these people, so I stop trying.

In our presentation, we’re supposed to use an Adobe product — not PowerPoint — for our slides. Now, one of my other classes is also doing group presentations with this same program, so I am the only one on my team who is familiar with the program. As such, I volunteer to handle the slides. My groupmates aren’t quite ready when I ask for their parts, so I change my password on the site to something generic — I’m already using my college email address — and give them the login info so they can update the presentation on their own time. The night before the presentation, I check the slides, make a few adjustments, and go to bed.

The next day, I’m pulling up the slides on my laptop and to my horror, one of the girls has gone in and totally changed everything. There isn’t time to fix it, unfortunately. No surprise, we get a bad grade on the presentation. But when they have the gall to say I was the one in charge of the slides and making sure everything looked nice, I am furious. I go to our professor after the fact and tell him I cannot work with them any longer. He won’t put me in another group, but he does say I can do the work by myself.

I ended up dropping the class. I signed up to take my capstone class online that summer and begged the school to still let me walk at graduation. They said I could. Unfortunately, my grades in my other classes suffered that semester, and I only passed two of my classes. I did walk at graduation, but I had to retake most of my classes online that fall.

After I dropped the class, I was over at a friend’s dorm. Her dorm was more like a suite with one common area and three bedrooms with two or three beds in each room. Turns out, one of my groupmates was one of my friend’s suitemates, and my friend said she was a horrible suitemate. 

By far, this was the worst group project I ever had.

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I Don’t Support The Arts Before Noon

, , , , , , | Working | July 20, 2020

I work in a library. Some years ago, my department was told we needed to come up with creative arts programs for adults. Adult patrons had complained that there were art programs for kids, but none for adults, so we’d better pick up the pace and start thinking about our adult patrons! 

We all knew how this would play out but went ahead with it anyway. We contracted with an artist whose programs were relatively inexpensive and who was known for being fun to work with. Then, we purchased the materials we would need and advertised all over the building, on our website, and around town by newspaper and radio.

We had indicated that, as materials were limited, it was necessary to sign up in advance. The program was set for a Saturday morning, which all fifteen of the signees indicated was a good time for them.

The day rolled around and I helped the artist set up for fifteen patrons.

And we waited.

Eventually, five people showed up. None of them were the people who signed up for the program, but oh, well, a good time was had by almost all.

When the program was over and I returned to my department, the phone calls began:

1) “Hi, is the program still on? I know it’s for an hour and I know I said I liked the idea of it early, but I didn’t feel like getting out of bed.”

Too bad. So sad.

2) “Hi, I just couldn’t get in this morning. It was too hard. Can you get the artist to come back tomorrow? I could be there then.”

Yes, because it’s easy to convince an artist to return at short notice on a day we are closed to the public.

And then, there was this one.

3) A patron who is known for being dense charged into our department at 3:30 pm, four and a half hours after the program ended. “I was just upstairs in the art area and there’s no program! I signed up for this program! Why isn’t it on?”

I explained, “You agreed that you wanted the program early in the day. It was on at 10:00 am. It’s over now.” 

“But I really wanted to attend,” she insisted, waving a program flyer in my face. “I thought it went all day.”

I took the flyer from her and pointed to the spot that said, “10:00 am to 11:00 am.”

“Well, I slept through my alarm clock because you didn’t call me,” the patron said. “You are supposed to call me. You know how I am.”

“[Patron], how old are you?” I asked. She told me she was thirty-three. So I asked her, “Don’t you think thirty-three is old enough to set alarm clocks and make decisions for yourself?”

“But I am a taxpayer,” the patron said, “and I should get wake up calls if I need them, and I didn’t get one, and now I can’t have my art program.”

She finally left, grumbling all the while.  

We still try to have various programs to get in the adults and teens, and we always get a whole bunch of people who sign up in droves and promise to be there… and never are. We wasted more money on stuff like this and the admin couldn’t figure it out. We want to get patrons to come in, as well, but with folks like this, it’s kind of tough to commit cash to something no one is going to show up for.

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Big Company, Cut Me Loose, Set Me Free

, , , , | Working | July 17, 2020

We’re in the process of setting up new phone and Internet service through a new — to us — IT company. The IT company requests that we call our current provider to confirm cancellation.  

I make the first call to the small business line.

Me: “Hi. I’m calling because we’ve switched our service provider to [New Company] and I’ve been asked to call and confirm you’ve disconnected our service with your company.”

Representative #1: *Asks verification questions* “Okay, well, no one can help you with this in our department. You’ll have to call the Wholesale Department at [number].”

I make my second call to the wholesale line.

Me: “Hi. I’m calling because we’ve switched our service provider to [New Company] and I’ve been asked to call and confirm you’ve disconnected our service with your company. I’ve just spoken with [Representative #1] in Small Business and he said I have to speak with you.”

Representative #2: “I don’t know why they’d have you call me. I see that a port request was made, but it wasn’t for all numbers, and one repeats. Plus, this wasn’t made by [New Company]; this was requested by ‘Level 3,’ but I don’t know who that is and there’s nothing in the notes.”

Me: “I don’t understand what you’re referring to. We’re working with an IT company that is working with [New Company] and I’ve just been asked to call and make sure all our services are canceled with you.”

[Representative #2] repeats the same information over again.

Me: “Again, I’m just calling to confirm our services have been disconnected with you. If they haven’t yet, then we need to have them disconnected.”

Representative #2: *Repeats the information again* “—and that’s all I can help with. Here’s your ticket number; you’ll have to call [New Company].”

I disconnect the call as I’m frustrated and only have so much time to spend on this at the moment. I email IT and explain that I’ve tried to disconnect and they are just telling me to call [New Company], which I have not done because there’s nothing [New Company] can do. I’m hopeful that IT will have something to offer as to why this is so difficult.

IT Email: “Just call the number for customer service on your [New Company] bill. Give them your account number and request that all services be canceled ASAP. Ignore anything they say about your phone numbers being lost, etc. They may give you a little bit of a last-ditch sales pitch, but just hold firm and tell them you have already switched everything and just need to cancel.”

I’m frustrated since this is what I’ve been trying to do. I call customer service again, changing my wording a little.

This is now my third call, which is to general customer service for business.

Representative #3: “Hi, my name is [Representative #3]; how can I assist you today?”

Me: “Hi, I’m calling because we’ve switched our service provider to [New Company] and our services with you need to be disconnected.”

[Representative #3] hangs up on me.

I make my fourth call, also to general customer service for business.

Representative #4: “Hi, my name is [Representative #4]; how can I assist you today?”

Me: “Hi, this is my fourth call today. I’m calling because we’ve switched our service provider to [New Company] and our services with you need to be disconnected.”

[Representative #4] tries to talk me into staying, gives me price options, etc.

Me: “No, thank you. I just want the service disconnected. There’s no need for any of that.”

Representative #4: “Okay, give me just a few minutes and I can disconnect your service.” 

This representative comes back on the line with a confirmation number.

Me: “I appreciate your help today; as I said before, you’re the fourth person I’ve spoken with, but the only one that has helped me with this.”

Representative #4: “Yeah, I looked at the notes while I was performing the disconnect, and I can see all the other times you called today requesting a disconnect. No one else ever took action. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.”

Wow!

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