TV And Dinners And Bisque, Oh My!

, , , , , | | Working | May 26, 2019

(I’m working in a call center that pays above minimum wage, but not by much. I’m an extremely frugal person, which serves me well in this job. My coworkers sometimes have a harder time with it. The following describes several conversations with one such coworker.)

Coworker #1: “Ooh, that smells good! What are you eating?”

Me: “Tomato-basil bisque with cornbread muffins.”

Coworker #1: “Wait, from [Expensive Restaurant]? How the h*** can you afford that?!”

Me: “No, I made it, from some tomatoes I canned up last summer. Only about fifty cents worth of ingredients, and it made about three quarts worth!”

Coworker #1: “D***, girl, nobody has time for crap like that!” *eats her $10 takeout meal*


Coworker #1: “Hey, did you see [TV Show] last night?”

Me: “No, I don’t watch much TV, sorry.”

Coworker #1: “WHAT?! What the h*** do you do with your time?! I’d be bored out of my mind.”

(Another day, she overhears me talking with another coworker about a good-quality grain-grinder I bought.)

Coworker #1: “How the h*** can you even afford that?!”

Me: “I’ve been saving up for it for two years now. I have a ton of wild grains growing in my backyard. If I can—“

Coworker #1: “Just buy your food like everyone else does!”

(Another day, I catch part of a conversation happening near my desk:)

Coworker #1: *in tears* “How can they evict me? It’s not my fault I didn’t have money for the rent! Our fridge broke down. Do you know how much it costs to eat restaurant food three times a day? What am I supposed to tell my little boy?”

Coworker #2: “Wait, didn’t your fridge break down months ago?”

Coworker #1: “Yeah, I couldn’t afford a new one! If I had a fridge, I’d have a place to keep TV dinners, and then we wouldn’t have to eat out every meal.”

Not Changing His Methods

, , , | | Right | May 24, 2019

(The insurance company through which we write typically does not allow cash payments; HOWEVER, they do make an exception for our agency, since most of our book of business does not have bank accounts. One of the stipulations is that we NEVER have more cash on hand than we are going to deposit each night. As such, we generally do not have the ability to make change. MONDAY:)

Customer: “Yeah, I want to put $70 on my policy.” *hands me a $100 bill*

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t have change for this.”

Customer: “Well, what am I supposed to do?”

Me: “There are two banks across the street, and one two doors down. They’ll be happy to make change.”

Customer: *huffy* “Well, if I leave, I’m not coming back today!”

Me: “I understand. Your bill is due by Friday.”


Customer: “I want to put $70 on my policy.” *hands me $100 bill*

Me: “I’m sorry, I still don’t have change for this.”

Customer: “Well, when will you have change?”

Me: “I really can’t tell you. We are not allowed to have any more cash on hand than we receive throughout the day; that’s corporate policy. In fact, we are one of the few agencies in the state permitted to handle cash at all.”

Customer: “Does anyone here have change?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we are not allowed to personally give change, either. Again, corporate really has strict rules about agencies handling cash.”

Customer: “Then how does anyone pay?”

Me: “We have several options: check, credit, debit, automatic withdrawal, money order… In fact, if you want to get a money order, the two banks across the street, the grocery store next door, or the big box store down the street are happy to help.”

Customer: “THIS IS BULL!” *storms out*


Customer: “I have $80. I want to put $70 on my policy.”

Me: “Again, we do not have change.”

Customer: “THIS IS BULL! JUST CANCEL MY POLICY! I’D RATHER GO TO JAIL FOR NOT HAVING INSURANCE THAN DEAL WITH THIS S***! YOU’RE A B****! GO TO H***!” *runs out the door, slamming it so hard it bounces back open again*

Not Asking For Special Treatment

, , , , , | | Working | May 23, 2019

(My mother is grocery shopping and sees that an item that she normally cannot afford is on special, so she puts one in her trolley before heading to check out. She notices that the item has rung up as full price.)

Mother: “That price should be [sale price]; it’s on special.”

(The cashier calls for a staff member to go and check the price tag.)

Staff: “The tag says [full price].”

Mother: “I know I saw it at [sale price]; there was a sign.”

Staff: *rolling their eyes* “There’s no sign. It’s full price. You’re just trying to get this for free; it’s not going to work.”

Other Customer: “Uh, excuse me, I was just in the same aisle as this lady when she picked up that. You—” *indicating the staff member* “—were there, too, and as soon as she left you took down the special price and put a new price tag up.”

Staff: “I know I did. It’s not on special anymore.”

(This time the cashier rolled her eyes, apologised to Mum and gave her the item for free. As Mum walked away, she could hear the staff member arguing with her for letting a customer “get their own way.”)

Un-Fee-sably Expensive

, , , , | | Working | May 23, 2019

(I have a flight to the US on this airline booked for early this year. I have been trying to reserve an exit row seat — one of the ones that costs a ludicrous amount of money to reserve — since late 2018, to no avail. After another failed attempt, I decide to call the airline. I explain the problem…)

Agent: “What’s your booking reference?”

Me: “It’s [booking reference]. That’s Z for ‘zebra,’ A for’ anaconda,’ P for ‘panther’…”

Agent: “Hold on, hold on, hold on. Your booking reference will be six letters. What are the six letters? “

Me: “They’re [booking reference], but I—“

Agent: “Okay, and can you spell those out with words for me, honey?”

Me: “That’s what I was doing, but okay.”

(I spell it out. She corrects me to the “right” words to spell out letters, because I just made them up as I went along, but I decide to ignore it; it doesn’t bother me.)

Agent: “So, it looks like you’ve booked with an external company, so there’ll be an extra $80 fee for selecting a seat for your flight.”

Me: “Oh. Okay, well, I’m not paying that on top of the fee for the seat, so I’ll wait until the airport. Thanks for your help, bye!”

(I try to hang up, but she keeps talking, rushing to get in extra words before I can hang up.)

Agent:But if you’d booked with us, first, there wouldn’t be that fee.”

Me: “Oh. Well, but I didn’t, though.”

Agent: “Yes, but if you had, you would be saving $80.”

Me: “Well, yes, but that doesn’t really help me at all, because I didn’t. Thank you again for your help. I’m going to hang up now. Goodbye.”

Agent: “Okay, but—“

(I hung up.)

The Points Saga

, , , , | | Working | May 23, 2019

(This story takes place over a time span of five years. It starts when my husband and I move to a new city and start going to another movie theater. After a few months, they offer us a new rewards card that can be topped up with money which we can use to pay for the tickets — which makes the tickets cheaper — or only use it to collect reward points. They tell us explicitly that we do not need to have money on that card and that we can just collect the points and get rewards, like free tickets, for them. So, we get one. We are only going to the movies on Mondays and Thursdays, on which days they have special deals from third parties — two tickets for one, etc. — but they assure us that we can still collect the points when we use those special deals. For about six months, everything is great. We go to the movie theater, use the deal, pay, and then give the cashier the card to get the points for the money we just spent. Then, one day:)

Cashier #1: “You know, if you use that special deal, you cannot collect any points. You can only collect points if you pay with the money you have on the card.”

Me: “What? That’s not what they told us when we got the card. Also, we have been doing this for six months and it was fine.”

Cashier #1: “I don’t know. You cannot do this; the system won’t allow it.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Cashier #1: “Yes.”

Me: “Fine, I guess.”

(We are annoyed, but let it slide since we think that maybe they have changed the system, but the next time:)

Cashier #2: “And I will slide your card and you will get your reward points.”

Me: “The girl last week said that we cannot get reward points anymore if we pay cash!”

Cashier #2: “What? No, this is fine. You don’t need to pay with the card if you want to get the points.”

Me: “Okay, great. Thank you!”

(We are happy, because we believe that the cashier the week before was simply inexperienced and we can keep collecting our points, but the next time:)

Cashier #3: “You cannot collect any reward points if you do not pay with the card. You know that, right?”

Me: “This is not what they told us when we got the card, and also not what they told us last week.”

Cashier #3: “Yeah, it’s new. You cannot collect any anymore.”

Me: “But we did collect them last week?!”

Cashier #3: “No, that can’t be true because the system won’t let you do it.”

Me: “Of course, it does. Could you please ask your colleague?”

Cashier #3: “No, I know it doesn’t work.”

(There is a long line of people waiting behind us.)

Me: “FINE. Just give me back the card, please.”

(This is getting really annoying. Sometimes we are able to collect the reward points, sometimes not. They always argue that “the system won’t let them do it,” although some of the cashiers are able to do it. Since we are going to the movies quite regularly — once or twice a week — we have lots of these encounters. Since I am not sure if I am in the right or not, I write to their headquarters. They assure me that, in fact, I am able to collect the points even if I do not pay with it, and even give me the number of the manager so that I can call him if they refuse to do it correctly. From that point on, I have the letter with me, which helps, but I still don’t get my points every time. However, I never actually call the manager. Then, one time:)

Cashier #4: “I just want to let you know that you cannot collect reward points if you pay cash.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Cashier #4: “Yes, the system won’t allow it.”

(I realise the cashier on the register to her left is actually the manager of the movie theater, who has already cashed us out in the past and has allowed us to get the points.)

Me: “Isn’t that your manager next to you? Could you please ask him?”

Cashier #4: *very annoyed* “FINE. But I’m telling you, this won’t work. Hey, [Manager], could you please help me for a second?”

Manager: “What’s up?”

Cashier #4: “They want to pay cash and still collect the reward points.”

Manager: “Okay, so?”

Cashier #4: “That’s not possible!”

Manager: “Of course, it is.”

Cashier #4: “What? How?”

Manager: “Let me show you.”

(We keep going to that cinema and have to have this discussion with many cashiers over the time, but either asking for the manager or actually having the manager come over mostly fixes our problem. Sometimes we still let it slide, for example when the queue is very long, but mostly we get our rewards points. Then, about two years ago, we started to put money on our card, because you are able to skip the queue on the buffet if you pay with the card there. And since we already have money on the card, we also want to pay for the movie tickets with the card.)

Me: “I have a reservation [reservation number] and this special deal here, and I would also like to pay with the card.”

Cashier #5: “You cannot pay with the card if you are using the special deal.”

Me: “Really? Why not?”

Cashier #5: “The system won’t allow it; you need to pay cash if you are using the special deal.”

Me: “Well, fine. But I still get the points, right?”

Cashier #5: “Of course.”

Me: “Fine.”

(It seems like a strange system, but fine. However, the next time:)

Cashier #6: “Okay, that’s two tickets for [Movie] and the special deal. Would you like me to take the money from you card or would you like to pay cash?”

Me: “I thought we could only pay cash if we used the special deal?”

Cashier #6: “No, paying with the card is also fine.”

Me: “You do have a real communication problem here, guys. They said something differently last time.”

Cashier #6: “I am really sorry about that, but it is fine if you would like to pay with the card.”

Me: “Yes, thank you.”

(But the next time — you guessed it — we aren’t able to pay with the card anymore. At this point they have actually got a new computer system, so we guess that they really aren’t able to do it anymore. Since it isn’t a difference in price, only in the form of payment, we don’t care and just accept that we have to pay for the special deal in cash. All goes well from there, except for this occasional scene:)

Cashier #7: “You cannot collect rewards points if you are not paying with card.”

Me: “Fine, then I would like to pay with card.”

Cashier #7: “Okay… but you cannot pay with card if you are using the special deal.”

Me: “So, you are telling me I am not getting any reward points if I use the special deal?”

Cashier #7: “Yes.”

Me: *sarcastically* “Well, that’s strange, because I have been doing that for the last three and a half years.”

Cashier #7: “Yeah, they changed the system.”

Me: “They changed the system three months ago. I am here twice a week and everyone except you can do it.”

Cashier #7: “The system won’t let me do it.”

Me: “Then call your manager and let him show you how it is done.”

(In most cases, the cashiers then either ask the manager or another cashier and — surprise, surprise — then they are able to do it. We have no problems with this system anymore for quite a while and everything seems fine. Until…)

Cashier #8: “Would you like to pay for the tickets and your special deal with the card or cash?”

Me: “I thought card payment was not possible? We haven’t been able to do this for years!”

Cashier #8: “No, sorry about that. It is possible, of course.”

Me: “Okay, then we would like to pay with the card, please.”

(But then the next week:)

Me: “Two tickets for [Movie], here is the special deal and we would like to pay with the money that is on that card.”

Cashier #9: “I am so sorry, but you cannot pay for the special deal with the money on your cart.”

Me: “But we did it last week.”

Cashier #9: “That’s not possible; the system cannot do it.”

Me: “You know what, just forget it. Here, I would like to pay cash.”

(At this point it is not annoying anymore; it’s only funny. I am pretty sure I am better trained for this computer system than most of the cashiers at that movie theater. We keep going back there, nevertheless, and I am curious how this is going to continue.)

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