So Much For No Child Left Behind

, , , , , | Related | May 19, 2020

In the late 1990s, my dad and step-mom decide to take a vacation to Mexico and take me. I am about seven or eight at the time and I am excited. I have barely ever been out of the state, and many kids at my school have gone overseas or to fancy destinations. I don’t have a passport, so my single mom takes the time to get one and update me on vaccinations, and also to give me my own spending money.

Fast-forward to the night she drops me off. My step-sister, who is ten years older than me, her boyfriend, and her best friend are also coming. They are not at the house, which I think is weird. My step-mom has to work until eleven, so I knew she wouldn’t be there.

Dad: “Okay, let’s get your stuff in the car.”

He starts loading everything.

Me: “Is everyone else’s stuff already in the car?”

Dad: “Sure is. Let’s go. We have to go by your grandma’s to drop something off.”

We drive about twenty minutes to his mother’s house. When we get there, he starts unloading my stuff. This upsets me a bit because I didn’t know the “something” we were dropping off was me!

Dad: “Okay, here is all of her stuff. We will be back in ten days. Her mom is out of town, too. She told me that I couldn’t take her, but she didn’t tell me until we had paid for everything. I appreciate this. I know it’s a hassle.”

I should make it clear that I am the oldest grandchild, but between her and my other grandmother, they constantly argue over who will have me. This is never a hassle for her. In fact, my grandma is acting like she hit the lottery. I seldom stay with her because she still works full-time and my grandfather isn’t a great babysitter because he has no rules.

I spend ten days at her house, in an area with no other children and with the same toys that have always been at her house. I’m bored, so I decide to take out my disposable camera and take pictures outside because we are in a rural area.

Me: “Grandma, I can’t find my camera. Have you seen it?”

Grandma: “Sweetie, why would you need a camera to come to stay with me?”  

Me: “Uh, it was for the beach?”

Grandma: “Sweetie, your dad said he told you weeks ago you couldn’t go. Maybe your mom decided not to pack it.”

Me: “No, she definitely did. I didn’t know I wasn’t going until I go here.”

Grandma: “Maybe you just forgot. Well, we can call your mom and ask— Oh, wait, didn’t she go out of town?”

Me: “Yeah, she went with her sister somewhere.”

Cue my grandma calling my mom’s house, getting no answer, and then calling my aunt’s, where she also gets no answer. I never do find my camera, and strangely, when we go to the store, I notice my tiny wallet is empty of my seventy dollars worth of spending money. My ten days are boring and bleak.

Right on schedule, my dad retrieves me and takes me back to his house. I notice that the little girl my step-sister babysits and takes nearly everywhere is at his house and is sunburned. I find out they took her.

Dad: “Okay, your mom will be here tomorrow after dinner. I just talked to her. There’s some serious traffic in North Carolina. She will get back too late to pick you up tonight.”

I pout in my room, wondering what I did to be left out. When my mom picks me up the next day, I have a bad attitude and won’t tell anyone goodbye. My step-mom is confused, and my step-sister and her boyfriend seem somewhat concerned. My dad decides to lie to my mom on the spot.

Dad: “She’s mad because I won’t let her prance around here in her new swimsuit all day long and do whatever she wants.”

My mom accepts this, but I am not giving in. I won’t talk to her, thinking she is in on it. When we get home and unpack, I find that my camera film has been developed and is in an album. Most of the pictures are of the water and beach, not of anyone on the trip. I also find a hideous green bathing suit with tags attached that is not mine. None of my money is anywhere. I go running to my mom.

Me: “I didn’t take these. Daddy took them! And my money is missing!”

Mom: “Well, did you lose it? And you know he likes cameras. Maybe he was just trying to help.”

I am fed up. I am tired of being punished for no reason.

Me: “Mom, I didn’t go on the trip! He took me to Grandma’s as soon as you were out of sight! I’m not sunburned. I always sunburn no matter what. He took [Little Girl my step-sister babysits], not me!”

My mom calls and my dad is adamant that I went and I am lying. Curious, she calls my grandma, who says my dad told her that my mom refused to let me go that far. My dad then changes the story to say I was so sick he was afraid to take me.

My mom doesn’t buy it and calls my step-mom, who tells her that my dad fed her the same line about me not being allowed to go.

When the dust settles, my dad admits he was mad at me for not agreeing to come live with him so he wouldn’t have to pay child support anymore.

Mom: “I should have known that he would do this. If he had told the truth, you could have come with me. I went to Six Flags with your aunt and cousins because I thought you were going to have fun!”

Surprisingly, she still made me visit with him. After that, things were better, and I was never left behind again.

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The “Splash Zone” Crone

, , , , , | Right | May 18, 2020

This happened about ten years ago, when I worked for a national electronics retailer who has since gone out of business. 

I was a shift supervisor and the only one on site on this shift with refund authority.

I had been assisting at our front register, having been summoned by one of the less technical members of staff, and had just concluded testing a customer’s item, so I had one of the store multimeters on the table.

A new customer approached, wanting a refund on a “faulty” universal power supply they had bought recently. We’d had a lot of returns recently and my directive from the store manager was to aim for store credit when there was no fault with the item being returned.

I had the test kit in front of me, fired everything up and, lo and behold, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the PSU. I explained this to the customer, and told her that I would happily give her store credit or exchange for other goods, but I was not prepared to refund the item just because the item she wanted to power was broken.

She, perhaps quite understandably, wasn’t happy with the outcomes I was offering, but how she responded beggars belief.

After arguing for a few moments, she turned and checked behind herself, saw a child — who, based on what happened next, I assumed was with her, but turned out to belong to another customer who was queueing at the register — and pointed to one side of herself in a “stand there where I can see you” kind of way. She then threw herself to one side, colliding with a display unit, dislodging stock, and nearly pulling the shelf down on top of her.

She then demanded I complete an accident report, which I was going to do anyway, and insisted on adding her own comments about how our displays were hazardous and occluding the standing area around the register. They weren’t.

The customer to whom the child belonged was outraged but kept his composure while he was assisted by one of my colleagues.

Eventually, the mad woman left, and I called the store manager at home to explain what had happened.

The next day, we reviewed the CCTV together and it was incredibly obvious that she’d moved the child out of the “splash zone” before deliberately falling over nothing and colliding with the display.

We contacted the head office, who sent someone from the liability team to take copies of the CCTV. When he turned up and reviewed the footage, he laughed at how obvious her actions were and said that any claim she might submit would be thrown out.

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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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You Say Tomato, I Say Liar

, , , | Right | May 14, 2020

The customer comes to my register, places her purchases on the lane, and shows me a plastic case of cherry tomatoes.

Customer: “I just noticed one of these tomatoes has gone bad. Could I get a discount?”

Me: “Unless that’s the only case of tomatoes left, I’m sorry, but I can’t. Would you like to go get a new case?”

Customer: “Oh, no, I’m in too much hurry! Are you sure you can’t do anything?”

Me: “I’m sorry. I’m not even authorized to give discounts. I’d have to phone someone who’d just tell you to get a new box.”

Customer: “That won’t do. I don’t want them, then. I just don’t have time.”

The customer didn’t buy the cherry tomatoes. I rang her through extra fast, seeing as she seemed to be very busy. After the customer paid, I noticed her staying around for at least fifteen minutes, happily chatting with someone, before leaving.

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Boris Can See Through You

, , , , , | Right | May 12, 2020

The mall is located right next to the airport, so we tend to get a lot of foreigners. Two customers enter the store.

Me: “Hello, is there anything I can—”

Customer: *With a thick accent* “We do not speak English; we are Russian.”

Me: “Добрый вечер.”

Customer: *Drops accent* “Okay, we aren’t Russian.”

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