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A Potentially Toxic Recommendation

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 29, 2022

When I was growing up, there weren’t many kids my age whose company I enjoyed. At church, I usually ended up in the little library, which was frequented almost exclusively by elderly women. I befriended a few of them enough that one asked if I had any book recommendations.

After a few seconds of thought, I gave her the title and author of a creative nonfiction book I’d recently finished and thoroughly enjoyed. She thought it sounded interesting, so she went and got a copy from her local library.

Two weeks later, she’d finished the book, so I asked her how she’d liked it.

Old Lady: “You know, it’s the funniest thing. When I started reading it, my husband gave me an odd look and asked if everything was all right. When my son saw me reading it, he pulled me aside to ask if everything was okay with me and my husband. My daughter-in-law wanted to know if everything was all right at home. And my granddaughter — she’s eleven — asked if everything was okay, as well!”

At that moment, I remembered that I’d recommended to her a book titled “The Poisoner’s Handbook.”

I wonder how much worry I inflicted on her family with a simple book recommendation.

Why Wouldn’t They Be Sure?!

, , , , | Learning | June 21, 2022

My foster daughter does online school, but she has to go to the youth center to take her PSATs. We walk in a few minutes early and are greeted by the woman in charge.

Woman: “Good morning, girls. Are you both here to take your PSATs?”

Me: “She is. I’m in my thirties.”

Woman: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Yes.”

Squished In The Window Of Opportunity

, , , | Related | June 18, 2022

When I was little, my family’s main vehicle was a huge silver minivan. While the front windows rolled down like normal car windows, the back windows were in a “child-safe” style; instead of rolling down, the bottom pushed out, presumably so no child could fall or throw anything out. This meant that sticking one’s fingers in the gap allowed the enjoyment of a nice breeze on the fingertips.

One afternoon, I had my fingers in the gap for just a touch too long, and my mom pushed the button to close the back windows a bit earlier than I was expecting, so with a little whirr, they closed, squishing my fingers. It didn’t hurt, but I pulled a little and they didn’t come out.

Me: “Hey, Mom?”

Mom: “Yeah?”

Me: “Can you open the window again for a second?”

Mom: “Why?”

Me: “My fingers are stuck.”

She freaked out, immediately opened the windows so I could get my hand out, and fussed over me for a while no matter how many times I told her I was fine.

Their Computer Knowledge Is A Little Floppy

, , , , , , | Learning | June 17, 2022

In the late 1970s, I worked as a lab assistant in the computer department. A sense of humor was required for the job. We had yellow vests with the label “Lab Asst.” on them, and we had a bit of yellow tape covering the T. Collectively, we considered buying a T-shirt for our department secretary that featured images of floppy disks and the banner “mini-floppies.” Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and that didn’t happen.

This all was years before the first IBM PC and when the only real alternative to big computers was the Apple II. The computer our department depended on was a PDP-11. It was over seven feet tall and roughly the shape of a filing cabinet. It featured a 200-Mb internal hard drive and a 50-Mb removable drive for backing up data. By modern standards, that’s pretty pathetic, but by the standards of the day, it was already light years ahead of using floppy disks for storage. For those too young to remember, the floppy disks of the era held about 180 Kb of data.

The computer could also handle a dozen users connected by terminals. The terminals were just a screen and keyboard. Students had no access to the actual computer itself, which was in a room separate from the computer lab.

As an example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing, a student came into our offices one day.

Student: “You guys need to listen to me!”

Coworker: “What’s wrong?”

Student: “Your computer memory space. You don’t have enough.”

Coworker: “What do you mean?”

Student: “I was doing some reading about keeping everything in memory.”

Coworker: “And?”

Student: “You guys need to add a floppy disk drive to the computer.”

We all looked at each other in bewilderment.

Coworker: “Okay, we’ll keep that in mind.”

Student: “Great! I just wanted you to know.”

You Mean You’d Have To Do Your Job?! The Horror!

, , , , , | Working | June 16, 2022

I own a flower shop and get several orders going to a funeral service. I call the funeral home to arrange for delivery, and someone I do not recognize answers the phone.

Me: “It’s [My Name] from [Flower Shop]. Can you let me know when and where you need the flowers delivered for [Deceased Man]?”

New Employee: “Yeah, umm, the family will be arriving at 9:00 am next Friday, so as close to that as possible after you open.”

Me: “Well, if the family is going to be there at 9:00, would it be better if I delivered the flowers the night before so you have time to set up before the family arrives?”

New Employee: “Oh, that’s a better idea, thanks.”

Me: “No problem. I’ll probably deliver them after I close at 5:00 on Thursday.”

New Employee: “Actually, could you deliver them before 4:00? That’s when [Regualar Employee] leaves for the day.”

Me: “I’ll see what I can do. If we have everything done by then, sure.”

New Employee: “Thanks, that would be great. Otherwise, I’ll have to deal with it.”