Window To A Different World

| IA, USA | Learning | July 28, 2017

(I’m giving a gallery tour to a group of kids from a nearby middle school, and a few of them are beginning to get bored and act out.)

Student: *pointing* “What I don’t get is how THAT is supposed to be art.”

Me: “Well, that’s because that is one of our window shades.”

Verily, A New Hope

, | Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, UK | Right | July 27, 2017

(I work in the gift shop of one of the Shakespeare houses in Stratford, and we sell the Shakespeare’s Star Wars books by Ian Doescher. These are the Star Wars movies, but written as plays in Shakespearean language. They quite clearly have the author’s name on the front cover.)

Customer: *noticing the books* “Oh, so, did Shakespeare write Star Wars, then?”

(She turned out to be completely serious.)

Not The Time To Ask For A Job

| Stockholm, Sweden | Working | July 10, 2017

(I work as a receptionist at a museum. I’m from Sweden and have a pretty common Swedish appearance. A customer stands right outside the glass door, staring at me, while I get ready to open. A couple of minutes before opening the door to get out to place the street signs outside, the customer grabs the door and tries to force himself in.)

Me: “I’m sorry, we open in a couple of minutes.”

Customer: *looks me up and down and says with a snarky voice* “Well, here in Sweden we are punctual.”

(Too baffled to answer, I just walk past him and place the signs outside. I go back in, put the last thing in order, and get seated at the reception. The customer walks confidently up to the counter.)

Customer: “I want a job here!”

Common Sense Not Included

, , , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

(I work in the souvenir shop at a museum. Aside from sales, our responsibility is to be knowledgeable of everything inside the museum, both exhibits and the products we are selling, which isn’t hard if you make the effort. Generally, everyone I work with is enthused by the museum theme and knows a lot about it but in the last year or so my line manager has been hiring people don’t know anything about what we do and don’t want to learn, which is pushing down targets and satisfaction. One day one of the recent hires and I are serving a group of people at the tills and I overhear the following exchange.)

Coworker: “Hi, how can I help?”

(Coworker begins ringing through the customer’s goods.)

Customer: “My daughter wants to know if she needs to buy batteries for this products or if they are included?”

Coworker: “I don’t know; I’ll just ask my colleague.”

(Coworker refuses to acknowledge large obvious ‘batteries not included’ signage.)

Coworker: *to Customer* “I’m so sorry, I’ve only been here three months!”

Customer: “What do you mean? You work in a toy shop don’t you?”

Me: *pointing to battery information signage* “[Coworker], it’s right here. Batteries not included.” *to Customer* “Did you want to by some batteries with this today?”

Customer: “Yes, please!”

(I hand batteries to my coworker; the transaction goes through and the customer departs.)

Coworker: *to me* “Wow, you’re really brainy. How do you know so much about products?!”

Me: “We’re supposed to. It’s our job.”

(This isn’t the only example. Another one of our coworkers who used to work with her has been working with us for over a year. When I supervise them I frequently get tales about management ‘being mean’ to them; not allowing them to have access to drinking water, for example. It turns out management caught both of them leaving open cups of drinking water right near electricity outlets, putting the whole workplace at risk, and they construed this as an attempt to deny them human rights. I shouldn’t have had to explain the risk to 30-somethings but not only did they not get it, they told me it was ridiculous.)

Parenting Is A Vicious Merry-Go-Round

| MI, USA | Right | May 27, 2017

(My local museum has a refurbished antique carousel patrons can ride on, which is manned by volunteers. Before admitting any riders, the volunteer has a small speech they have to give — a short summary of the carousel’s history, followed by a warning that, because it’s an antique, there are several horses that no longer “jump,” and then moving on to the rules and whatnot. My friends and I are there and decide to take a ride, so we go to the carousel pavilion. The volunteer begins to speak, and it is obvious she is on the verge of losing her voice. My friends, and several other museum patrons, are trying to listen to her talking about the history of the carousel when a four-to-five-year-old boy runs over, grabs at the rope divider, and begins shaking it while loudly jabbering about the horse he is going to ride. I get his attention, put my finger to my lips, and point to the volunteer, who has started to explain the safety procedures as loud as she can, which, again, isn’t very loud at all. All of a sudden I feel a hand grab my arm. I turn and there is an irate woman glaring daggers at me.)

Mother: “Did you just tell my son to shut up? How dare you try to parent my child!”

Me: “I’m sorry; I just figured that letting this poor girl tell us the carousel rules, so that we can ride the carousel, was really important, and I didn’t want her to have to strain her voice doing it.”

(The operator thanked me afterwards; I gave her a couple of throat lozenges and told her to hang in there.)

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