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When Your Sister Has To Be Your Mother

, , , , , , , | Friendly | August 19, 2021

I am staying at a hotel with my husband. There are a couple of kids running around, and their mother is gossiping away on her cell phone and letting them get away with murder. As I’m walking out of the breakfast area with a hot coffee, suddenly I feel something hit the back of my legs, hard. I stumble and hot coffee slops over my hands, and then I hear a scream.

Mother: “You b****! You hurt my baby!”

She slaps the coffee out of my hand and starts screaming in my face incoherently. I’m confused and offended, but then another woman comes to my rescue.

The other woman spins the mother around.

Other Woman: “[Mother]! Mom raised you better than that! I wish I’d said something sooner. I’m sorry, ma’am, I’ll buy you another coffee. [Mother], call your kids over right now! They’re being menaces!”

The mother blushed and called her kids over.

The second woman did buy me another coffee and alerted an employee to the spill. I could hear her raving at her sister all the way down the hall.

Bigots Can Be Such A Drag

, , , , , , | Friendly | July 31, 2021

My family and I are visiting the USA for a family holiday. Before this trip, my sister and I have never been to North America before in our lives. We live in the UAE, which is located in the middle east. My family is biracial; my dad is German/Brazilian and my mum is Indian. I’m bisexual, and the rest of my family is straight.

We are in the streets of New York, our final destination. This trip has simultaneously been the best and worst we have ever been on. It’s about 12:00 pm and some drag queens avidly speaking in Spanish walk by us, and a nearby man turns to speak to my father.

Man: “Can you believe those f****** [gay slur] [Mexican slur]s? This is why we need the walls — to keep the immigrants out of here.”

Dad: *Smiling* “That’s exactly my thought; the indigenous people need to finally take a stance. I mean, after what your ancestors did to them, it’s only common courtesy for you to go back to Europe.”

Man: “How f****** dare you?! My family built this country! Take your [Mexican slur] wife and kids and get out of here.”

Mum: “I’m from India.”

Man: *Pissed* “Whatever. You’re probably both [gay slur]s.”

I finally speak up.

Me: “No, that’s me.”

Surprisingly, he did not want to talk to us any longer, but the drag queens, who had heard everything, came up to us after and thanked us for standing up to him. They even bought my sister and me a hotdog!

Not Being A Jerk – What A Novel Concept

, , , , , | Working | May 5, 2021

I’m at a cafe where I usually hang out on Saturdays to work on my novel. Most of the staff know me, but they recently hired a new manager, and one of the baristas admits that they don’t really like her.

One day, I sit down in front of my computer at the cafe and prepare to type the words of a future bestseller. I have my earphones in, listening to music.

After a few minutes, I realize that there’s a lady beside me, tapping her foot. I take the earphones out.

Me: “Can I help you?”

Lady: “I’m the manager here.”

Me: “Okay… Am I doing anything wrong?”

Lady: “Are you even prepared for the interview?”

Me: “What interview? I’m just a customer here.”

She looks at the clipboard in her hands.

Lady: “Aren’t you [Job Seeker]?”

Me: “No, actually, my name is [My Name].”

A man in the corner speaks up.

Job Seeker: “I’m [Job Seeker]. I was here for an interview about the baker position?”

The lady huffed and stomped over to him. My barista friends tell me that she’s still there after a year and a half, and they hate her even more because she’s incompetent and rude.

The Grind Keeps Starting Younger And Younger

, , , , , | Working | February 17, 2021

My daughter has special needs and receives SSI — Supplemental Security Income — which is a federal supplemental program, funded by tax revenues for the disabled and seniors with little or no income. I do work and make wages but my daughter still qualifies because I am within the federal poverty level. Before the sixth of every month, I have to go to the office to submit proof of my wages — paystubs. Since the start of the health crisis, the office is closed to the public, but I am still required to submit my wages.

I am what is called a “Representative Payee” on behalf of my daughter and can’t use the wage reporting app because it clearly states that the SSI recipient is the only one that can report with the app. After several months, I finally receive word that I can report my wages by faxing; I just have to include all information on the fax cover sheet. After a few months of reporting, I receive a letter saying that they’re canceling my daughter’s SSI because of “changes in the household that show there is no need for the benefit.”

Under the suggestion of my mom, I call the general SSA number instead of calling the local office; it is after 4:00 pm on a Friday. I wait on hold for close to an hour before finding an agent who looks up my daughter’s account and instantly realizes what happened.

Agent: “It seems whoever input your wages also input the same wages for your daughter. But how is your daughter making a wage when she’s only six?” *After some typing* “I put a note to your local SSA office to correct the mistake.”

Here is the problem I have with my local SSA office: every time I go there, different workers have told me to do a certain action or sign some paperwork, and either the paperwork gets lost or is incorrect, or I wasn’t supposed to do the action they told me to do in the first place. As a consequence, I have to pay back an overpayment because of their misinformation. (I do not object to paying back what doesn’t belong to my daughter.) They sometimes send me paperwork that belongs to other people and even put another child’s name on a letter instead of my daughter’s. Because of all these problems, I try to deal with the SSA office as minimally as possible.

A few days later, I receive a letter from the local office with the same date as the first letter, saying my daughter’s wages and my wages are too high to receive benefits. I decide to call the local office to see if they made the changes to my daughter’s account. When I finally get through to a live person, I explain to her the situation. At first, she doesn’t see anything wrong. This goes on for a few minutes, until I finally get her to understand the problem.

Me: “My daughter is six and doesn’t make wages, but you have listed that she makes the same wages I make.”

Worker: “Ma’am, you need to understand how the letter is read. We break down your income and show you that you make too much for your daughter to receive SSI. We know your daughter doesn’t make wages. You need to read the letter carefully.”

Me: “Your letter says my daughter’s wages are [amount] for the month and my wages are [same amount]. Look. I already called the main SSA number and the agent already found the problem and wrote a note for your office to correct it. Where is the note?”

The worker became quiet, except for the sound of typing, and asked if I could be put on a brief hold. After a few minutes, the worker returned and informed me that whoever had input the wages thought that they had to input the wage information under both my daughter and me, being that we are a part of the same household. The worker informed me they had fixed the mistake and my daughter would continue to receive her benefits. When we did receive the benefits, it was only half of what was expected, so I had to call the local office again. I did receive the second half a few days later. I never did find out why the note that was sent to them from the SSA was never abided.

This Is A Lying-Doesn’t-Fly Zone

, , , , , , | Working | December 31, 2020

I work in a department that creates graphics and presentations for the rest of the firm. We have regulars that routinely use our services, but we’re available to anyone in the company.

I’m alone in the center overnight two days before Christmas when I get a call from an unfamiliar employee asking if we can edit a PDF. It’s not an uncommon request; sometimes documents are converted to PDF for sharing or printing, only for a typo or alignment problem to be discovered at the last minute.

Me: “Sure, that’s most likely not a problem.”

Employee: “Great!” 

The employee emails me the file.

I open the file and stare at it, aghast. It’s a note from this employee’s doctor. Evidently, a long-scheduled plane trip over the holidays had been imperiled by a serious injury a few weeks back; the note states that the employee is cleared to fly.

The instructions are to add the word “not” into the note so that it would appear to read that the employee was not cleared to fly.

I’m ready to refuse this outright when I hear the internalized voice of my boss. Like most “cost centers,” our department doesn’t have a lot of cachet within the company, and recent complaints involving a few of us trying to enforce certain standards that not all of the senior officers care about have led to firm instructions from our boss not to refuse anything our requesters ask for.

Basically, our option to say, “No, we don’t do that,” has been taken away, leaving me wondering how best to handle this employee’s request to help them scam their airline without violating departmental directive.

I call the employee back.

Me: *Politely* “I’m sorry, but I do not feel I can ethically handle your request.”

The employee persists.

Employee: “It’s just inserting a word! I simply want to get my plane tickets refunded now that I’ve decided not to take the trip.”

After going back and forth a while, I finally have to say outright that I’m not comfortable falsifying medical documents on the employee’s behalf.

The employee tells me they understand and hangs up, only to call back to say they’re going to try to do it themselves, and asking if I can tell them how to do that.

I’m thinking about PDF-tampering permutations of the old “feed someone a fish” adage as I take another look at the document. It’s an image, not a text-based PDF, so modifying it isn’t as simple as clicking “Edit” and typing in “not.” I tell the employee that the change is not something they can do themselves; they accept this and hang up. I then document everything for my boss, wondering what the response will be.

After the holidays, I hear back from my boss. My refusal to do the job was supported, not because the request was unethical but because it was personal and not business-related.