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It’s The Most Busiest Time Of The Year

, , , , , | Right | December 23, 2021

It’s a couple of days before Christmas and, as expected, it’s busy. I’m working the self-checkout area and often have to deal with customers who will completely disregard the line that has formed and check out. The line is fifteen-plus customers deep.

I notice a customer cutting in line to use a register.

Me: “Excuse me, sir, but the line for this register starts back there.”

I point to the long line of patient patrons.

Customer: “YOU CAN KISS MY A**!”

Me: *Taken aback* ” Excuse me?”

Customer: “I’m not waiting in that long line!”

Me: “Then you’re not using this machine.”

I go to my station where I have access to all the machines and get ready to shut down this guy’s register if he tries to use it. I’m looking at him and he’s looking at me. Finally, he gives up and walks furiously toward me.

Customer: “Fine. Then you can put it back on the shelf, a**hole!” *Storms out*

A Russian Christmas Saga

, , , , , | Right | December 23, 2021

I do a little shopping the day before Christmas Eve. I’ve recently learned that my little brother wants a specific toy and my mom needs me to pick up some wrapping paper. She has given me her card.

I find a small child playing with said toy. He’s standing beside an empty cart, so I assume his parents just left him there while they shop. I look around, wondering where they could be. I go looking for another toy and find one which my little brother would love.

The kid has noticed this and I point at it, trying to make small talk, but he ignores me, talking some gibberish. I keep looking around for his parents but don’t see them.

Me: “Hey, where’re your parents?”

No response of any kind. Not even a glance.

Me: “This is a nice toy, isn’t it? It’s for my little brother.”

He’s still not listening. This is a really little kid, and given I come from a very large family, I’m not exactly surprised by his behaviour, but I really want to find this kid’s parents. Eventually, I decide to just go, still thinking that the kid’s been left here by his — irresponsible — parents. I am sure they’ll get him from the toy section and fully intend to just let them have it.

I’m walking through the aisles looking for wrapping paper when the kid just runs right in front of me. Does this kid think I’m his babysitter now? Has he been following me or something? I begin following him, even more worried by this point.

The kid and I reach a display area next to the cash registers, and he’s pretty much stopped by now. He’s busy looking at the various toy cars on it. I start asking him questions now. I ask him where his parents are, and he doesn’t respond. He just stares and touches the toy I’ve picked out. He’s trying to take it from my hands and I’m still trying to explain that this is for my little brother. I wonder if he might be autistic because he’s absolutely not engaging with me, just trying to play with the toy. He’s holding his hands out politely, like a good little boy. I give it to him, thinking this will help somehow.

As I am listening to his gibberish, it starts to dawn on me that this isn’t gibberish; it’s some Eastern European language — I’m guessing Russian. I ask him his age. He understands that and holds out three fingers, saying, “Three,” with a noticeable accent.

I’m the only adult in this store who seems concerned about this unattended, three-year-old Russian kid who doesn’t speak English. I’m finding this kid’s parents and that’s it.

I think I can just leave the kid by the display area, since I have no way to make him follow me without grabbing his hand, and, well, that’s way too risky for me. Turns out, I don’t have to worry. The kid begins following me, holding out his hand for the toy. I hold it out a little and am now leading this kid along using a toy.

I run into a mother and her kids who I’ve already seen. I know what they are probably thinking and decide that enough is enough.

Me: “He’s not mine.”

Mother: “What?”

Me: “He’s not mine. I just found him in the toy section and have been trying to find his parents.”

Mother: “Oh, Lord, [Daughter], take this baby up to the front.”

Her kids do what she told them, taking the little kid up to the front where they hand them off to the employees. When I get to the register, I get in line, ready to pay up. I see the kid is still there, and nobody can find his parents. Fully believing the kid has been left behind, I decide to try and find someone who might have seen this kid, because I want to know how long he’s been left here for. I see an older man marching toward the front. I decide to ask him.

Me: “Excuse me, sir, how long have you been here for?”

Older Man: *In a heavy Russian accent* “About an hour.”

Me: “Are you missing your grandson?”

Older Man: “Yes, have you seen him?”

Me: *Pointing to the register* “He’s up there.”

He thanks me and I accompany him. There are only two people in a small store with Russian accents, in America, so I assume they’re related.

One of the store employees — not unreasonably — doesn’t see it that way. She immediately demands for this man to prove he’s related to the kid, whose hand he’s already taken. The employee is going to take him back, as are some others. I realize I might have messed up, with everyone shouting at each other now, when the older man protectively wraps an arm around the kid, glaring at the employees.

Older Man: “He run from me. I was going to get him from the toys.”

That’s it. That’s literally his excuse. His grandson just ran from him, and he couldn’t keep up, so he decided to just get his stuff and then pick him up from the toy section an hour later. I’m standing off to the side, watching this, when things get a little more heated again.

Employee: “Sir, you cannot leave until you’ve proved you’re related to this boy.”

Older Man: “I don’t have to prove anything to you.”

I went back to my place in line, just watching what was happening because I kind of wanted to see how this ended. Another employee walked by and informed [Older Man] that the police had been called.

I got in the back of the line, and it was moving somewhat smoothly. When I reached the till, I forgot the PIN for my mother’s credit card. She was outside now, so I went to ask her. As I headed off to do that, I passed the Russian grandfather and grandson. The grandfather was trying to exit the store, but the employee wouldn’t let him.

I asked my mom for the PIN, and then I went back into the store and the police arrived. I decided to see if I should give a statement because I was the guy who kind of sounded the alarm here.

The police officer was talking with the grandfather. During this, he asked the kid’s name. I mentally slapped myself for not having thought of that. But I also realized that the grandfather had never given us the kid’s name, either, or even called him by a name. It occurred to me that this man had made no effort to even try to keep his grandson by his side.

Well, it turned out, I didn’t need to give a statement and I could leave.

I don’t know what became of the two after that, but looking back, it was obvious the grandfather, while caring about his grandson, was just a little too lazy in taking care of him.

Just Call It Angel Aerobics

, , , , | Related | December 13, 2021

Due to distance, I’m no longer greatly involved in the church I grew up in, but I still hear some stories from my father, who is on the church board. I’m a bit of a Bible nerd and have read a lot about church history.

Dad: “I’m going to have to go to church for a meeting tonight.”

Me: “Deacon duties?”

Dad: “No, the council is arguing about a program, and we’re trying to figure out what to do. Someone wants to start a church-led yoga program, but people are raising a fuss because of yoga’s roots in Hinduism.”

Me: “No one tell them where Christian holidays come from.”

I can only imagine the people at my church gasping in shock and clutching their pearls upon learning that almost every Christian holiday was placed where it was on the calendar to overwrite another holiday.

The yoga program never came to fruition.

An Alarming Brush With Disaster

, , , , | Learning | December 13, 2021

This happened when I was a sophomore in high school, the fall of 2006. It was the passing time between the first hour and second hour. I was walking right next to the wall, sort of dragging my shoulder along it. I walked past the fire alarm and bumped into it. One step past it, the fire alarm went off. Everyone in the hallway froze and looked at each other, and then we very calmly walked out. 

As I walked outside the building, it dawned on me that I was the one who set the fire alarm off. I felt panicked and guilty. I knew that this was a big deal; setting off the alarm when there wasn’t really a fire could get you in legal trouble. I didn’t know who I should tell about this while outside, so I decided to wait and tell my second hour teacher when we got back inside. 

When we were allowed back in, I went straight to my second hour teacher. She was already talking to a student.

Student: “I saw the girl who pulled it. She totally did it on purpose.”

Me: *On the verge of tears* “Mrs. [Teacher], can I please talk to you in private?”

Teacher: “Yes, of course.”

We went into the hall.

Me: *Full-on crying* “I set off the fire alarm. I didn’t mean to do it; it was an accident! I bumped into it!”

Teacher: “It’s okay, [My Name]. It’ll be okay. But we need to go to the principal and tell him what happened.”

We walked to the principal’s office. We had to wait a little bit before we could come in. Once in, I explained the story to him, sobbing the entire time.

Principal: “Thank you for coming to me and being honest about what happened. One of the reasons you had to wait so long was because we were reviewing security footage. It clearly shows a student pulling the fire alarm. You are not in any trouble. Just so you know, you cannot set off the alarm by bumping into it. You have to pull the white lever.”

I felt so relieved knowing I hadn’t set off the alarm. My teacher gave me a few minutes to calm down before I had to go back to class. I’ve never brushed up a fire alarm again.

This Seems Like A Really Simple Concept

, , , , , | Working | December 6, 2021

My manager has just reamed a coworker for sitting down on the clock when none of his tasks are done. We’re about to hit shift change so there are some things that NEED to be done before a certain time. [Coworker] gets back to work but passes me sitting down in the break room.

Coworker: *To the manager* “How come she gets to sit down?”

Manager: “Because [My Name] is done with all of her tasks. In fact, she did all of her tasks, some of yours, and a few of mine. She gets to sit down when we don’t have customers.”

Coworker: “But that’s not fair! I have to work and she gets to sit down!”

Manager: “No, what’s not fair is that you were sitting down when there was still work to be done — your own work, which you still have not finished — and she was standing, trying to help you do it after lending me a hand and finishing her own tasks. You can sit down when you’re done.”

Coworker: “No, it’s not fair! I’m telling [Head Manager] about your favoritism first thing in the morning.”

I wasn’t there for it, but apparently, the head manager watched the tapes and saw that I was able to complete my tasks and help the others while [Coworker] played around on his phone and ignored everyone else around him working. He got written up. I got a bonus.