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Coal Is The Stuff Santa Brings You When You Don’t PAY ATTENTION

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: nathan5660 | December 3, 2022

I used to work at a narrow gauge steam railway a few years ago. We had a decent collection of engines ranging from total rebuilds to World War II trench locomotives. There were three steam locomotives on the roster, with one that was too small to be used regularly.

At the time, I was training to be a fireman, stoking the fire, shoveling coal, and maintaining the boiler water level. It’s a fairly complicated job if you don’t know much about it already, and quite a responsible job, too. If you ain’t got enough coal on the fire, you have no steam to move.

I was on the footplate in the cab keeping an eye on the water level while the actual fireman was poking about up the shed trying to find some oil to refill our oil cans with. He left me to check the water level, and the driver wasn’t far away if anything went wrong. It’s not unusual for people to come up to the engine and want to have a look in the cab. If there are children, nine times out of ten, we open the fire hole doors to show them the fire.

Then, this guy turned up. He was asking how old the engine was, why it was built, where it worked, and all the normal stuff people ask. THEN, he asked where the petrol (gasoline) goes.

Me: “It’s not petrol-powered. It’s a steam locomotive, so it uses coal and water.”

Guy: “Water doesn’t burn! Where does the petrol go?”

Me: “It doesn’t use petrol. It uses coal and water.”

Guy: “What’s coal?”

I took a step back, asked him to clarify his question, and then showed him the coal in the coal bunker and the fire. I even threw a shovel full of coal on the fire, too.

Guy: “So, does the petrol go in these tank things on the side, then?”

Me: “I… It doesn’t use petrol, sir. It uses coal, that black stuff I just showed you. That heats the water in the boiler from the tanks. There is no petrol, diesel, or any form of liquid fuel on this locomotive. It’s coal-fired. Solid fuel.”

I was starting to get stressed out and pretty angry at this guy. The driver noticed, came back to me, and asked how the water was looking. It was fine, and the guy walked off.

I then looked at the driver, who looked at me. Both of us blank-faced.

HOW could someone not know what coal is? Actually, genuinely how?

At the end of the day, I was helping with loco disposal, shoveling clinker and ash out of the ashpan and ash from the smoke box to make it ready for the next day’s use. I also had to refill the coal bunker, which is hard work by yourself on a summer evening.

As I was finishing up running about with shovels and wheelbarrows, I overheard the guy from before talking to someone.

Guy: “So, where do you get the petrol from for the steam trains?”

I wanted to throw myself into the firebox and smash my head against the firebox wall until I passed out.

We Wish It Was Like Bridgerton, But Alas…

, , , , | Right | September 26, 2022

I work at a museum that depicts how Britain used to look during Victorian times. We sometimes have mannequins dressed up in period-appropriate clothing. We tend to stick with the Dickensian part of the nineteenth century, as this was before most of the laws concerning the poor’s rights were introduced in our country.

On this particular day, some Americans are visiting. One of them approaches me after I have given a talk about life for the poorest citizens while I am standing in a mock street.

Tourist: “Hey, we were wondering why y’all don’t have any Black mannequins?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Tourist: *Scoffing* “I can’t see any Black mannequins. Y’all got the costumes right and everything, but if you wanna be accurate, why don’t y’all have Black people? They matter, too, you know.”

Me: “There were very few Black people in the Victorian era. Even then, I think that most Black people would have been servants, rather than living in slums.”

Tourist: *Taken aback* “Really?”

Me: “Yes. Even as late as 1945, there were only about 20,000 non-white people living in Britain.” *Pauses* “How many Black people lived in America during the nineteenth century?”

Tourist: “About one-fifth.”

Me: “That would explain it.”

To be fair, he did seem to become interested in how different our countries are.

This Exhibit Is Just Divine!

, , , , , | Right | September 2, 2022

I work as a gallery guide at a museum looking after the public, answering questions, and patrolling the galleries. We currently have an exhibition about Christianity in the Roman empire. In one room, they have lots of statues, crosses, and the like, low lighting with just the objects lit in the cases, and a soundtrack of Latin chanting that goes off randomly.

I’m patrolling the galleries and I enter this particular room to find a man standing in the centre, stock still, arms wide, mouth gaping, with a look of confusion and awe on his face.

Me: “Are you okay, sir?”

Guest: *In a nervous and overwhelmed voice* “I can hear… religion.”

I had to explain most gently that he wasn’t, in fact, hearing the voice of God but a CD. He seemed both relieved and disappointed in equal measure not to have been the recipient of a divine message.

A Textbook Case Of Elitism

, , , , , , | Right | August 22, 2022

I’m working in a museum, running the coat check. A woman turns to her teenage daughter and says:

Patron: “This is why I’m making you go to college — so you aren’t an uneducated idiot who hangs coats.”

I just so happen to have my graduate school textbook, “Strategic Planning for Arts Non-Profits”, under the counter. I slam it on the counter.

Me: “Would you like to discuss the regulations for 501c3 organizations, or maybe you’d like to edit my graduate thesis?”

The jerk took her coat and just walked out.

Tech Support Can Fix Anything That Runs On Electricity, Right?

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: LenryNmQ | August 21, 2022

Our tech support company worked for the local museum from time to time. Our digital department helped create one of their permanent exhibitions.

That department’s manager found me one day.

Manager: “The museum called. Their plotter has gone wrong, so you have to go there and fix it.”

Me: “What the h*** is a plotter?”

Manager: *Pauses* “It’s a… It’s a printer-like thing. I dunno.”

In the meantime, I Googled it. Printer-like, yeah.

Me: “It wasn’t part of the expo we made.”

Manager: “No, it wasn’t. They just called us.”

Me: “Okay, but I have zero experience with these, so no, I can’t fix it.”

Manager: “But can’t you just take a look? Maybe—”

Me: “I’ve never used one. I don’t exactly know what is it for. I’ve never even seen one, so no. It’s absolutely pointless to ‘take a look’. Tell them to call a technician.”

Manager: “But I already told them you’ll fix it.”

Me: “Then you had better call and tell them not to wait for me any longer.”

There were multiple reasons why I didn’t care to take a look at it.

I’d be paid the same money for doing my actual job at my actual workplace for the company that actually hired me to do so, not some side-gig for a completely unrelated institute, working on something I’m not qualified to. I couldn’t personally bill them as I’m not a private contractor or any other legal entity (as a private person, you are unable to issue bills in my country), and they were unlikely to pay me out of their pocket (which would be illegal). And the whole thing sounded like a favor, so I doubt my company would ever see a single cent from this, either.

The other reason is: just think of it: if they didn’t have anyone to do basic troubleshooting, it meant they didn’t have an IT guy. That meant that if I went there and helped them ONCE, you know what would happen next time any IT-related problem occurred: they would call me again. I didn’t want that. Hire your own IT. If they DID have someone to do basic troubleshooting, then they had already tried what I would try.

And the last reason: if it broke again after I fixed it, whose fault would it be? Oh, the last guy who touched it! I didn’t want that, either.