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Take It Back Now, Y’all

, , , , , , , | Working | September 1, 2022

The company my husband works for employs and sponsors a large number of international workers, which can sometimes lead to amusing cultural misunderstandings. Recently, he told me of a team meeting in which [Coworker #1], a Chinese national, happened to be the only person who was not American or Canadian in a room of twelve people. Their manager was giving a presentation when he ended a sentence with an unintentional cue.

Manager: “…and freeze.”

Coworker #2: *Singing* “Everybody, clap your hands!”

Cue eleven straight-faced people, manager included, raising their hands to clap in perfect, rhythmic synchronization, while [Coworker #1] looked on with an expression of growing confusion and horror.

Their meeting was derailed for another fifteen minutes while they all tried to explain to [Coworker #1] that the “Cha-Cha Slide” was an invasively popular song played at nearly every public dance function, and his coworkers hadn’t suddenly been brainwashed by a cult trigger word.

Making Assumptions Like That Is So Not Metal

, , , , | Friendly | September 1, 2022

This happened some years ago when I was in my early twenties, living and studying in Iceland. I once had to do a Uni assignment on heavy metal music. I went to borrow the only book in the city library about the history of heavy metal music.

I couldn’t find it, so I asked a librarian for help. Next to her was another patron who had been chit-chatting with her. As soon as I mentioned the book, he jumped up.

Patron: “I know that book!”

And he went to find it for me — all the while sort of complaining that it’s the devil’s music and so on (both in a joking but also serious tone).

He only pointed the book out for me but refused to touch it. As soon as I picked it up, the guy seriously made the cross with his fingers against the book!

The librarian and I talked a bit about this type of music, while the guy rambled on and on about it being bad and associated with the devil.

Then, he made the assumption of the year for me.

Patron: “Since you’re such a big fan of metal music, you must be covered in tattoos! And you probably smoke and drink and party all the time!”

None of that was true in any sense.

In his (tiny) defense, I was covered up in bicycling gear due to a fairly cold spring day, so he could only see my very plain face.

And then, he gave me the best offer ever: a promise to introduce me to the world of classical music. The joke’s on him, though.

Me: “Actually, I’ve been playing the flute since I was eleven, played in a harmony orchestra for many years, and am an avid fan of classical music, operas, and many others.”

The look on his face when I revealed that none of his assumptions and heavy metal stereotypes were true to me was absolutely priceless.

I Did My Best To Notice When The Band Took The Stage

, , , , , , , | Friendly | August 30, 2022

I’m the author of this unbelievable story from my time living in Virginia, about forty minutes south of Washington DC.

At the time of this story, my mother is engaged to a man who is high-ranking in the Secret Service. (He is now retired.) [Mom’s Fiancé] is on Presidential Protection; He escorts the President personally and is paid to potentially take a bullet for him.

[Mom’s Fiancé]’s job has had some fun perks for my sister and me while we live with them, like getting invited to certain events. White House employees are always invited to the Christmas party and a few other major holiday celebrations.

It’s the second of July, 2010, and Barack Obama is in office. My mom calls and asks if I am interested in going to the White House’s Fourth of July party. She quickly confirms that, no, we won’t be meeting Obama, as he’s in Hawaii visiting family. (We previously got to meet George W. Bush at the aforementioned Christmas party, so this wasn’t a totally insane expectation.)

The invite is so late because [Mom’s Fiancé] was supposed to go to Hawaii with Mr. President but has to stay in DC for reasons he isn’t allowed to talk about. (That happens a lot.) I am bummed we didn’t get a meet-and-greet with the first black president, but I still want to go.

I scramble to get my shifts covered, and I am ultimately able to attend the party. I am aware that there will be a USO show of some kind, but my mom can’t remember who will be performing, and I don’t take the time to look up anything else about it.

The party is on the absolutely massive lawn behind the White House. We settle in a little bit further uphill from the stage, where Cedric The Entertainer is doing stand-up comedy. After his routine, he greets people from behind a waist-high metal fence that leads to a cordoned-off area backstage. He’s extremely friendly and a celebrity I recognize, so it is fun to say hi really quickly.

Another fun fact: I am seven and a half months pregnant with my first child. I am normally fairly slim, so my baby bulge is very noticeable. It’s hot and humid, so I stretch out on our blanket, sip my (nonalcoholic) beverage, and settle in, fully intending to not move for the rest of the party. My little sister is sitting with me and we’re chatting away. Meanwhile, a sound check is going on, so I’m dimly aware that a band will be up next.

We hear applause welcoming the band, but it is not introduced by name. My sister and I are facing away from the stage, deep in conversation, and not really paying attention, when we hear some music blaring out of the speaker. It’s quite distinctive and I immediately recognize it.

My sister and I go silent and lock eyes in mutual shock. Without a single word to each other or the rest of our family, we get up and run toward the stage, me with my third-trimester belly and everything.

We manage to squeeze in pretty close. I would’ve gotten even closer if I wasn’t so pregnant! Still, we are less than ten feet from the stage, shocked and ecstatic that one of our favorite bands is right there and we are watching them! It is an amazing set and we have a blast!

Looking back, I think this was my favorite concert experience because it was a complete surprise. The shock of recognition and our sprint to the stage made it all the more exciting. It’s one of those moments I’ll always remember very vividly.

The band? The Killers. That first song? Human. Best Independence Day ever!

Creepy, Cut-Off, and Caught!

Quick! What Rhymes With “Pepto Bismol”?

, , , , , , , , , | Working | August 24, 2022

I work in a small engineering office with six others, although only two were there when this happened. If things are quiet and no one is on the phone, it’s normal for someone to whistle a bit or maybe start quietly singing to themselves. No one minds.

It was getting late in the afternoon, and I think my coworker needed to hit his silly quota for the day, to the tune of a song from a certain musical about a wannabe nun from Austria.

Coworker #1: *Singing* “How do you solve a problem like diarrhoea?”

I burst out laughing.

Coworker #1: “You like that, then, [My Name]?”

Me: “Brilliant! If they put that on in the West End, that show would run and run!”

[Coworker #1] and [Coworker #2] responded with a mix of laughing and groaning.

Maybe They Could Put The Lyrics On A Website And Just Include A Link?

, , , , | Right | August 22, 2022

I’m doing some album artwork right now for a metal band. It’s a job I wouldn’t typically take, but the guitar player is a good friend’s brother, so I’m doing the job at less than half of what I would normally ask.

We are fitting the album credits into about a half-inch below a photo on the back of the jacket.

Client: “Our names look pretty small. Could you make them a little bigger?”

Me: “Yes, but not by much; we don’t have a lot of space to work with.”

Client: “On second thought, that’s probably where the album’s lyrics should go. I’ll send them over to you.”

He proceeded to send me a fourteen-page Word document full of Tolkien-themed song lyrics that he wanted to be included in the half-inch on the bottom of the album back.

It took a little while to explain why he should think about an album insert for the lyrics.