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We Have No Barrier In Asking You To Leave

, , , , | Right | September 30, 2021

I work as an interpreter at the house of a very famous historic individual. Not all the furniture in the house was owned by that historic individual, but those pieces that were are both valuable and fragile. There are barrier bars that keep people away from them, but as the interpreter, I am on the protected side of the barrier. It is a small house, but it is often filled with quite a few people because it is a popular tourist stop. While talking to visitors in one room, I’d have to keep an eye on another room, too, and, through a small, 250-year-old doorway, it wasn’t a perfect line of sight. 

In particular, I had to watch out for kids, as they could slip under the barrier. Once, while I was talking to a mother in room one, we both noticed that her three-year-old had disappeared. Rushing into the other room, we found that he had gone under the barrier, politely taken his shoes off, and crawled into the bed. I got him out of there, assuring the mother that the bed was a replica, but the little guy got an appropriate talking-to from mom. This was the normal way that went.

However, once, while I was talking to visitors in room one, I could see a woman in room two motioning at the barrier and talking, holding a camera. Photography was prohibited there, so that was already a problem, so I excused myself from the other visitors and rushed over. What I found is a sad-looking kid past the barrier, sitting in the famous person’s authentic and fragile rocking chair, as the mother tried to get the girl to pose for a photo. From what the mother was saying, it was clear she sent the girl under the barrier for the photo.

With an “Oh, no!”, I gently lifted the girl out of the rocking chair and set her on the other side of the barrier with her mother. As I started to explain the obvious, that the warnings to not touch were serious, the mother proceeded to yell at me for touching her child — a child she couldn’t reach because of the barrier. I’m a gentle mommy-aged woman. She really, really yelled. I asked her to try and imagine how much money she’d be on the hook for if the chair had broken, but the yelling continued and I had to insist that she leave. The other visitors did not mince words about how they felt about how that person conducted herself. 

Outside, she yelled until my boss appeared who, of course, told the woman who sent her child under museum barriers, past no touching signs, when staff were in another room, only to freak out at getting caught, to leave.

Dad Jokes Are Supposed To Be Unfunny, Not Unfriendly

, , , , , | Right | September 24, 2021

I work at a museum that has a suggested donation in lieu of a set ticket price. Part of my job is greeting visitors as they walk in and explaining about the donation, etc. A man with his wife and young son comes in one day and ends up providing me with one of the most uncomfortable and absurd exchanges I’ve had while working there.

Me: “Hi! Welcome to the museum! How are you today?”

Man: “Fine, thanks. How are you?”

Me: “I’m doing well!”

Man: “No, you’re not.”

Me: *Confused* “I am doing well. It’s been a good day so far.”

Man: “You’re lying.”

I don’t really understand what he’s getting at, but I take the bait.

Me: “Why would you say that?”

Man: “Because all women are liars.”

I honestly don’t know what to say, so I remain silent with a slightly horrified expression.

The man gestures to his wife.

Man: “Well, she’s a liar.”

My horrified silence continues; I’m wondering how throwing his wife under the bus makes this any better. I think he thinks this is somehow a joke?

He gestures to his son.

Man: “Well, he’s a liar.”

At last, I find my voice.

Me: “I… I don’t think gender has anything to do with trustworthiness.”

Then, the man laughs in my face. It’s so incredibly and weirdly sexist that my soul leaves my body to go on customer service autopilot. I look at him with dead eyes and speak with an overly sugary sweet voice.

Me: “Would you like to make a donation to the museum?”

He seemed at least slightly sheepish about his weird, not-funny attempt at a joke and made a fairly large donation. For the sake of his family, I hope he’s not normally like that.

When Two Idiots Become One

, , , , | Right | September 12, 2021

We strictly require that masks be worn inside where I work. I hear my manager speaking to a man not wearing one while sitting on a bench inside.

Manager: “Can you please put your mask on?”

Customer: “Huh?”

Manager: “Please put your mask on. We require them while you’re inside.”

Customer: “But my wife is outside.”

Manager: “That doesn’t matter because you are inside.”

There’s No Freeing Yourself From This Awkwardness

, , , , , | Related | September 7, 2021

My goddaughter’s mother was eager to go to a museum that was just opening up while she happened to be in town visiting me, so I went with her to the opening day ceremony. The museum was well put together, but since we were there on opening day, it took forever just to get in, and it was extremely crowded once we finally got in.

My goddaughter was a toddler at the time, and I’d strapped her into one of those wearable carriers to carry her when it was clear she was falling asleep. After a long nap, she finally woke up and started to get restless in the carrier. She was a very active child who didn’t want to be held when she could be exploring. Because of how crowded the area was, for a while, I tried my best to distract her to keep her in the carrier so she wouldn’t be underfoot, but eventually, she was too restless and had to be let out.  

Me: “Okay, okay, I give up. I’ll set you free.”

I worked her out of the carrier and set her on the ground.

Me: “There you go! You’re finally free!”

I lifted my arms as if celebrating, and my goddaughter did the same back at me before starting to toddle off. We had done this whole routine, including her lifting her arms to celebrate being set loose along with me, a few times before, so I didn’t think much of it until I looked up and noticed someone looking at me funny.

It was only then that I realized that I, a white man, had just made a big deal about setting my black goddaughter free at the opening day of the African American History Museum, in a section explicitly dedicated to the time period leading up to freeing of the slaves.

Let’s just say I have never been accused of having an excess of tact and my people skills are pretty much limited to persons with an age of twelve or lower. I tried to give the person giving me the odd look an apologetic smile and slunk off after my goddaughter.

Someone’s About To Catch Both Of These Hands

, , , , , | Working | September 6, 2021

My friend and I are visiting a local museum. I am disabled and use a cane when walking, especially important when walking longer distances, such as through museums. Since both legs are affected by my disability, I often alternate the cane between hands, which often gets me accused of faking. I’m also sixteen, which gets me odd looks because most people associate canes with older folks. So, using my cane isn’t an ideal situation, but I have to do it. 

Employee: “Hi, welcome to [Museum]! Can I see your tickets, please?”

Friend: “Here.”

I switch my cane to my other hand because my other leg has started hurting. We start to enter the museum, my cane now in my left hand

Employee: “Ma’am?”

I’m a trans guy, so this already pisses me off a little

Me: “Yeah?”

Employee: “You’re going to need to leave that outside.”

Me: “What, my cane?”

Friend: “But he needs it to walk!”

Employee: “That’s bulls***. I saw her switch it to her other hand.”

I’m already in tears because I have really bad anxiety.

Me: “No, I have a disability that affects both my legs, so I need to use it for both sides.”

Employee: “That’s ridiculous. If you really had a disability on both sides, you’d be in a wheelchair.”

I should be using a wheelchair, actually, but I can’t afford one right now.

Employee: “I bet you stole it from a disabled person, just to get accommodations.”

Friend: “Why the f*** would he do that? That’s ridiculous! Please just let us into the museum.”

Employee: “No way. You’re obviously faking a disability. I have to report you to management.”

Friend: “Go ahead. We’ll wait here.”

The employee calls management over.

Manager: “So you’re… faking a disability, apparently?”

Friend: “The employee claims my friend is faking a disability and refuses to let us in the museum.”

Employee: “She’s obviously faking! She was holding her cane in one hand and then switched it to the other!”

I’m completely sobbing at this point.

Me: “I, I have a disability in, in both legs, and I have to use the cane on both sides.”

Manager: “[Employee], meet me in my office.” *To us* “I’m so sorry about that. Are you all right, sir?”

He puts an emphasis on the “sir”. He likely saw my trans flag button and he/him pronoun button on my bag.

Me: “Yeah, thank you so much.”

He offered us credit to the gift shop. We initially refused but he insisted, and I picked out a very nice stuffed animal. We had an amazing time at the museum, and we made sure to thank the manager again on our way out.