Excuse Me While I Play The World’s Most Expensive Violin

, , , , | Hopeless | August 27, 2019

I took a trip to visit New York with my dad after graduating from high school. One of the places on his list for us to visit was a “rare violin shop,” since I played violin all four years and participated in the honor orchestra, as well. We made our way down the crowded streets and eventually stopped in front of a ritzy-looking, tall building. 

This sleek-looking building was not what I had pictured when I heard “rare violin shop.” I’d been imagining some street-level shop, open to the public, with some interesting and older violins on display, maybe with a luthier in the back. As we walked inside, took the elevator to the sixth floor, and stood in front of what appeared to be a private condo, I knew something felt off. I voiced my concerns to my dad as he rang the doorbell but was ignored. My dad had never been great at interpreting social standards. 

We were greeted by a receptionist who asked if we had an appointment, since they were by appointment only. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole and I was instantly hyper-aware of the sweaty, summer tourist outfits we had on. My dad eagerly told them that no, we didn’t but, gee, my daughter plays the violin with her high school orchestra and isn’t that great? And we would love to just pop inside and browse! Don’t mind us!

The receptionist gave him an odd look but took it in stride and excused herself to talk to someone behind a door. She came back with the owner, a well-dressed man, who told us that since he had no other appointments right now, he would love to give us a tour!

The starting price for a violin here, we found out, was 10k. He showed us around a very private-feeling and swanky-looking condo, pointed out a room where he casually mentioned he would chat with Joshua Bell when he came by, and opened the most interesting two-person safe I’ve ever seen to show me several multi-million-dollar violins. My jaw was on the floor the entire time. He dutifully and cheerfully answered every question my dad or I asked, and asked me questions in return about my orchestra and what pieces I liked to play, as well.

At the end, the man picked up a — lower-end, but still worth at least a million dollars! — Stradivarius and asked me to pizz a string while he held it. I very gingerly plucked a string and he triumphantly said, “There. Now you’ve played a Stradivarius.”

I don’t remember his name at this point, but to that man, I’m so glad that you ignored my dad’s bad manners and lack of social awareness and decided to take the time out of your day to show a no-appointment, non-customer around. You helped inspire me to continue loving and pursuing my instrument after high school! I still play to this day, and I’ve picked up some other instruments along the way, too!

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Cancer And Comas And Cash, Oh My  

, , , , , | Right | August 27, 2019

(My store has a really lenient return policy. We’ll even return things past the return period as long as the customers have their receipt, albeit for the item’s current, often much reduced, price.)

Me: “Hi. How are you doing today?”

Customer: “I need to return this s***.”

Me: “Oh… kay… Do you have your receipt?”

Customer: “Yeah, yeah, right here.”

(She has two bags of kids’ summer clothing. It is April and the receipt is from a year ago, WELL past the full return period of three months.)

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but these are from last summer.”

Customer: “So what? I have my receipt! They’ve never been worn; they have their tags on and everything!

Me: “Yes, but I can’t give you the full refund. It says right at the bottom that returns must be made within ninety days for a full refund. I can return them for you, but only for their current prices.”

Customer: “And how much is that gonna be?”

Me: “Probably not much, to be honest. These items are from last year.”

Customer: “So, how f****** much?!”

Me: “All right, well…”

(I scan a few of the items and they come up about a fifth of their original prices.)


Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but this is our policy.”

Customer: “You’re all a bunch of liars and scammers! I didn’t have time to come here before now!”

Me: “That—”

Customer: “My mother has cancer!”

Me: “I’m… sorry about that.”

Customer: “Yeah! I haven’t had any f****** time to do anything! I’m with her twenty-four-f******-seven. I take care of her!”

Me: “I am really sorry, but there isn’t anything I can do. You can talk to a manager, but I don’t even think they can override this.”

Customer: “I can’t believe this. You won’t give me my money back because my mother is in the hospital dying of cancer.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “This is bulls***. You’re bulls***. This place is bulls***. You’re f****** scamming customers and screwing me out of my refund. It isn’t my fault my f****** mother is dying! She has cancer!”

Me: “…”

Customer: “I can’t believe you. You must hate people with cancer, like MY MOTHER IN THE HOSPITAL WHERE I HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF HER DAY AND NIGHT.”

(She crams stuff back into her bags until they rip. I give her new bags but have no idea what to say.)

Customer: “My mother is dying and f****** has cancer and she’s in a coma, and you a**holes won’t refund me even though I have my receipt and had no idea there was a time limit.”

(She walked out, still ranting. To this day, I have a weird suspicion that she was lying about her mother with cancer, just from the way she was talking about it, probably as some kind of sympathy ploy, which frankly makes her behaviour even WORSE.)

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A Ploy For A Toy  

, , , | Right | August 27, 2019

(I am opening the store on a Saturday, and it is having a special event for game figurines. Immediately after I unlock the front door, approximately ten customers rush in. One comes directly to the registers, and the others go to the figurines on the wall next to the registers.)

Customer #1: *a youngish guy* “Hi! I’d like to return this game.”

Me: “No problem!” *looks over receipt while talking* “Did you have any problems with it?”

Customer #1: “Yeah, I did. I tried several times to get it to—”

Customer #2: *middle-aged woman, interrupting by yelling and waving her arms in the air at me* “HELLO? EXCUSE ME? YOU HAVE CUSTOMERS OVER HERE, TOO! GET OVER HERE AND HELP!”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m in the middle of helping this guy. I’ll be over when I finish.”

Customer #2: “No! He isn’t the only customer in here. You have to help us, too. We have questions!”

Me: “Listen, he was first in line and I’m in the middle of a transaction. You’re going to have to wait.”

Customer #2: “NO! You need to get over here NOW!” *turning to the other customers sifting through the items with her* “Can you believe her? Why the h*** is she even here?! She doesn’t want to help me? She should just go home. Plenty of people are out of jobs right now and would line up to take her position!” *then yelling to me while I’m still helping [Customer #1]* “You hear me? Why are you here?! You should quit if you don’t want to do your job!”

Customer #1: *to me* “I feel your pain. I used to work at [Big Box Store] so I know what it’s like to work with ridiculous people who have no manners.”

Me: “I know, right?! Thank you for understanding and being patient while she yells at me.”

([Customer #1] walks out and [Customer #2] gets in line behind a few other people. I help out those people and she comes up to the counter.)

Customer #2: “Yeah, it’s me.” *with attitude as she steps up with her daughter* “We’re getting this.” *hands me her merchandise*

(I ring up her stuff, give her the free poster that I have on hand to give out during the special event, and send her on her way. Halfway to the door, she turns around and yells at me while I’m in the middle of another transaction.)

Customer #2: “Whoa, whoa! Wait. We were supposed to get the free toy with our purchase!”

(She moves the customer in front of me out of her way.)

Me: “No, ma’am. Actually, the free toy was with the purchase of a select few items.”

(I show her the list of things she had to buy.)

Customer #2: “No! I have the email right here.” *shows me* “And it says we just had to buy this!”

Me: “I was told by upper management that the toys are reserved for these—” *showing her the select purchases* “—only.”

Customer #2: “I want them! Give them to me now!” *to the other customers in line* “She’s just hiding them for herself! She’s going to take them and give them to her friends!”

Me: “Look, I’ve never even played this game and I don’t give a d*** about these toys.” *puts a toy on the counter* “But here, anything to get rid of you.”

(She grabs the toy and storms out of the store while the other customers stare at her behavior in shock.)

Customer #3: “Hello! I’d like this, please, and I promise I’m not here for those toys.” 

Me: “What a relief!”

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He Gin-uinely Tried It

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 27, 2019

(I am a student nurse, about a year from graduation. A friend of mine calls.)

Me: “Hello?”

Friend: “So, you’re a nurse, right?”

Me: “I already don’t like where this is going, and I’m a student nurse. Not–”

Friend: “Okay, well, I have some gravel deep in my hand. Can I just pour some gin on it and be fine?”

(Gin also happens to be his favorite alcohol.)

Me: “What?! Hang on; how did you get gravel in your hand and how deep is it?”

Friend: “I was on my bike and some a**hole opened their car door right in front of me and I went down pretty hard. And here, let me just take a picture.”

(He sends me a picture of his hand, showing that the gravel is dug in pretty deep and firmly stuck in so rinsing it with anything won’t get it out.)

Me: “You need to get tweezers and pull out the gravel, rinse it with water, put something like Neosporin on it, and cover it with a bandaid.”

Friend: “Well, I don’t have tweezers or any of that, really.”

Me: “You live in NYC. There’s definitely some kind of drug store or corner store you can get this stuff in.”

Friend: “I don’t want to spend money on things I already have at home, so can I just pour gin on it?”

Me: *sighs* “I cannot condone this at all but rinsing it with water is probably the best option.”

Friend: “So, gin is okay?”

Me: “If you’re intent on using alcohol, use straight vodka, instead, BUT I CANNOT CONDO–”

Friend: “Okay, thanks, bye!” *hangs up*

(He texts me a picture of his hand. He has used a prong of his watch to dig out the gravel, causing himself to bleed more and making the entire area fairly red. He texts me an hour or so later.)

Friend: “The barkeeper wouldn’t just give me some vodka, so I had to buy it and go into the bathroom to rinse it. Thanks again!”

Me: “This still was not your best option and I cannot condone this behavior.”

(He never replied.)

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Unfiltered Story #160928

, , | Unfiltered | August 27, 2019

I work in IT for a university. One of the systems my team manages is the users server, where our faculty, staff, and students can host personal websites if they choose to do so. We recently got a support ticket from a member of our faculty. The exchange went something like this:

Faculty: My site isn’t working correctly and my colleague says I probably need to do [task].

My coworker looks over his site, confirms what’s wrong, and replies.

Co-worker: Your colleague is correct. You can find a tutorial on doing that at [URL].

Faculty: I don’t know how to do that. Will you do it for me?

Since the amount of support we are supposed to give to personal sites is minimal, we specifically designed the system so that we only have read access to users files. That way we can help identify a problem, but it is up to the site owner to fix it.

Co-worker: Sorry, but no, I don’t have access to your account to make the change, but the tutorial I sent you explains exactly what you need to do.

Faculty: Well this is typical of IT Services! You’re too good to ever help someone out. GO AHEAD, SEND ME THE SURVEY [referring to the satisfaction survey that our ticket system sends out when close a ticket] I CAN’T WAIT TO FILL IT OUT!!!!!

Me: I’m sorry you didn’t like [co-worker]’s response, but it was not inaccurate. As a matter of policy, we are not allowed to make changes to user’s sites, in fact, we don’t even have the access required to do so.

Faculty: You can close this ticket now. I found a student who was able to fix it for me in 2 minutes. I assume you must be [co-worker]’s boss. I certainly understand that there have to be policies and restrictions, but the way [co-worker] handled the interaction could have been much better. Please use this as a teaching moment for [co-worker]. These would have been appropriate ways for him to respond:

* Dr. [faculty], I’m sorry that I’m not able to make that change for you, but please stop by my office at your convenience to ender your password and I’ll do it for you.
* Dr. [faculty], I’m sorry, but I can’t change the file for you on my own, but let me come to your office and do it for you there.
* Dr. [faculty], I’m sorry that I’m not able to make this change on my own, but please call me to set up a meeting where I can do it for you.

I’m not sure what he didn’t know how to do, because he had already, somehow, posted his website and the tutorial he was sent showed every step necessary to do exactly what he needed. Also, keep in mind that both my co-worker (who I do not manage, by the way) and I are both senior software engineers, and are probably about the same age as this faculty member, judging from the picture on his site. Our team frequently has to turn down project requests because there is such a demand for our services, so contrary to what this guy seems to think, we aren’t just sitting around waiting for his ticket to come in.

Our boss tried to set up a meeting with the faculty to discuss “reasonable expectations” from our team. After the faculty cancelled, for the third time, all at the very last minute, he stopped trying.