A Towering Pile Of Stupid Questions

| USA | Right | April 21, 2017

(I cashier at a museum that is very near our city’s most well-known tourist attraction, a very famous retro-futuristic tower. Despite the fact that it is 600 feet tall, distinctively shaped, internationally recognizable, and not physically connected to the museum in any way, we have conversations like this on a regular basis:)

Me: “Hi, welcome to [Museum]. What can I do for you?”

Tourist: “Is this the [Tower]?”

Me: “No, sorry, this is [Museum]. The [Tower] is a little farther down that way.”

*gestures towards unmistakable 600-foot-tall tower*

Tourist: *peers around in confusion without looking upwards* “But where do you buy the tickets for the [Tower]?”

Me: “You can buy those at the [Tower]; they’ve got a ticket booth right at the base.”

Tourist: “Okay. So, can I make a reservation for [Restaurant on top of Tower]?”

Me: *at this point, struggling to keep a straight face* “They can do that over at the [Tower] as well! It’s just down there.” *points AGAIN at the enormous tower visible from my register*

Tourist: “Thank you!” *wanders off in a different direction*

Coworker: “Was that another ‘where’s the [Tower]?’ question?”

Me: “HOW do they not SEE IT?!”

Not Quite The Summer Of Fun

| Alphen a/d Rijn, The Netherlands | Working | April 18, 2017

(It’s October. I have been to the park’s office to get the key of our staff room. Suddenly my mobile phone rings. It’s the park manager.)

Park Manager: “Hi, could you come back to the office. [Director] wants to talk to you about the expiration of your contract.”

(With leaden feet I go back. The director is an unpredictable man, over two metres tall, suddenly aggressive and very bad at empathy. For all I know, the man might be a light form of a sociopath. I enter his office and sit down.)

Director: “Sorry, your contract expires next January. And according to the law, it can be prolonged only three times, which we did. If I prolong again, I have to give you a permanent contract. This means I would have to give you a permanent amount of working hours in the week, and put in pension money. You’re a great guy and I would really love to do all of this, but I can’t afford to. There is of course a law that three months after termination of the contract, we can start over again. Stupid law, but we have to obey. And after those three months, of course, I’ll take you back!”

Me: “I see.”

Director: “Of course I’ll give you as much work as possible in the last weeks, so that you can get a higher unemployment check! And maybe… well, it’s kinda illegal, but I could even give you work during the three months out and then put it on for the time after. I don’t see why it shouldn’t be possible.”

Me: “Ehm… well..”

(I don’t like the sound of committing fraud, but don’t dare to protest it. So I just put on a sour face about it.)

Director: “And I think you should get a higher payment then, and vacation money. You’re a good guy, really, despite being a man of few words.”

(The only reason he thought me to be “a man of few words” is that I’m scared of him and don’t dare to speak. In reality, I talk so much that I annoy people. A few months later, my contract expires and I become unemployed. After some months, the start of the new season gets near. Suddenly, lots of old employees aren’t asked back, due to a new law. This law says the “new start” can’t be made after three months, but after six, together with a so-called “transition compensation” in case of redundancy. These rules will not apply until half a year later, but they will work retroactively. Therefore, lots of old employees aren’t taken back, but I receive the document for returning employees anyway. When the end of the three-month period comes, in April, I still haven’t got any response. I send an e-mail and am invited in the park’s office again. Here are the park manager and the HR manager.)

Park Manager: “Sorry, [Director] isn’t here. He had a meeting.”

HR Manager: “The story is as follows. If he takes you back, it will be a new start, a first contract in a row. But [Director] still will have to pay you a transition compensation if he fires you later. Unfortunately, he has to make the decision himself.”

Park Manager: “You’ll hear tomorrow.”

(Next day I receive a phone call by the park manager. The director decided that I should wait three months longer. It is an emotional blow to me. Three months later I put out an e-mail again. The answer is that the park has enough staff, yet there might be a chance that I can start again after summer vacation, when several employees might go back to college. Halfway through  August, I contact them again and I am invited for another talk with the park manager.)

Park Manager: “I’m warning you that if you return, there won’t be much work for you. I have to call people off everyday now. Business is bad.”

Me: “All right, but what I really need is a clear answer. A yes or a no!”

Park Manager: “[Director]’s answer is yes. Really. But I’m just warning you, you won’t get a full-time job from it.”

Me: “Hmm… that’s tough…”

Park Manager: “Need time to think it over? That’s okay. You can send me a message this weekend.”

(Next day, a Saturday, I send the man a message that I will take the job anyway. On Sunday, my phone rings. It’s the park manager.)

Park Manager: *sounding ashamed* “Erm… I have sad news. [Director] came back on the deal. I’m sorry, I really feel in sad telling you this. He says he wants to treat everyone equal and that it isn’t fair to other old employees.”

Me: “I was already surprised by this generosity.”

(By next February I received the return document once more. Since my unemployment dole had expired last September, I had been living off my savings for months, so I filled the document in and applied again. When I hadn’t heard anything back at the start of the season, late March, I sent an e-mail to the director telling him I was done with the situation and that I considered his behaviour very unprofessional and un-charming. His response showed that he didn’t understand my complaint at all. I never loathed anyone so much.)

You’ve Been Benched

| Alphen a/d Rijn, The Netherlands | Working | April 12, 2017

(We are clearing out a room to make space for a school class who are staying over for the night. We have taken out the benches and put them on each other in a corner next to the room. The plan is to decide what to do with it later; first, we want to finish the dorm, which we are filling with mattresses for the kids. Then the director of the park arrives. Saying the man is a loose cannon is an understatement. He is known to be short-tempered, distrustful, and easily stressed.)

Director: *angry, almost aggressively* “Guys, come on! Don’t put that stuff all on a heap like that! You can’t do that! This is an outrage!! All these benches have to be put apart with the cushions on them, one here, one there, one there! Not like this! This is a disgrace to the park!”

(He angrily storms away. My colleagues and I start to handle all the benches like he “asked.” The school kids look really bewildered by what they just saw.)

Kid #1: “Who is that man?”

Kid #2: “Yeah, and why was he so angry?”

Me: *trying not to make a fuss about it to the guests* “Oh, that’s our boss, the director.”

Kid #2: “Gosh, he should really relax. He’s really letting himself overcome by the stress.”

Kid #1: *to me* “Now I know why I saw you picking up all the litter outside. He was so angry, of course.”

Me: *smiling* “Oh, no, picking up the litter is just daily routine.”

(Still I couldn’t help wondering what was a bigger “disgrace”: a few untidy benches and cushions, or the owner/director lashing out at his employers in front of those school kids.)

Meet The Camouflage Family

| MA, USA | Working | January 25, 2017

(A family comes into the museum all wearing matching camouflage print jackets. I greet them as I always do and they begin exploring the museum. A few minutes later, my coworker joins me at the front desk.)

Coworker: “Did you see that family with no torsos? They were just legs and floating heads!”

Jurassic Park Doesn’t Live Up To Expectation

| China | Right | November 20, 2016

(I work in a museum of paleontology at an information desk. The word in Chinese for paleontology literally means “ancient animals study,” so there should be no mistaking what it is. I am chatting with my coworker when a visitor starts looking around, very confused.)

Coworker: “Can I help you?”

Visitor: “Yeah, where are the living animals?”

Coworker: “Excuse me?”

Visitor: “Where are the living animals? These are all dead.”

Coworker: “Uh… at the zoo?”

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