Be Glad She’s Not Here Monthly

, , , | Right | January 1, 2021

I’m a senior sales assistant. I come up to the counter to check on the new girl who seems to be held up with a middle-aged customer. The customer is miffed. She wants our “best customer” badge that gets them 10% off full-priced items, but you have to buy something on a near-weekly basis to maintain it.

Colleague #1: “Your total, ma’am, is 380$.”

Customer: “What about my discount?”

Colleague #1: “Sorry, but none of these items are on sale apart from the yellow dress.”

Customer: “But I’m a ‘best customer’! I get a discount!”

[Colleague #2], who is a senior, steps in.

Colleague #2: “Of course, ma’am. Let’s just look up your account; it will tell us if you get the discount.”

Customer: “Of course I get the discount! I shop here and I had it before!”

Colleague #2: “Actually, sorry, ma’am, but you aren’t a ‘best customer’. You don’t have the stamp on your account.”

Customer: “You’re wrong! I had it before! You don’t know anything! Get someone who knows what they’re talking about!”

Colleague #2: “Ma’am, the system updates each month. If you haven’t come in in the past two weeks, you’ll have lost your badge.”

Customer: “This is ridiculous! You don’t know anything! I know I have the badge and you’re simply withholding my discount!”

Finally, my manager turns up. Both colleagues are frustrated and dejected by now.

Manager: “Hi, how can I help you?”

Customer: “I want my discount!”

Manager: “I’m sorry, but only the dress is on sale, ma’am.”

Customer: “No! I want my ‘best customer’ discount! I shop here plenty! I had it before but they’re withholding it!”

Manager: “Well, let’s just see what’s going on, shall we?”

I look up the account history and contact our call centre.

Manager: “Well, you did have it previously, but, unfortunately, you lost it due to inactivity. Sorry.”

Customer: “That’s ridiculous! How active do I need to be?!”

Manager: “Well, the last time you bought something from us was three years ago, and we renew our ‘best customer’ accounts monthly, so I’d say just a tad more.”

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Taking Shelter In Some Weird Notions

, , , , , | Friendly | December 9, 2020

I have a semi-regular weekly dinner with a friend who’s been suffering from depression and anxiety, to help get them out of the house. Unfortunately, this person can be very intense and draining for me, an introvert. They also don’t believe that “quiet and alone” is how I regain my mental energy, and so they think me leaving to be alone is terribly dangerous for MY mental health. They are always convinced they are correct, especially if they’ve seen a video about something on Youtube, to the point of telling someone who had studied the subject they were “wrong” on more than one occasion. Still, depression, anxiety… so I try to be a good friend and make sure they get some world time.

This is the story of when I realise I need to cut them out of my life to stop myself from spiraling into heavy depression and anxiety trying to help them.

We are having dinner in a pub, discussing what provisions there are in place for victims of abuse; there is a sad amount of abuse in our country, and my friend was a victim of it in another country. Wonderful dinner discourse, but it’s interesting and needed nonetheless. Then, this gem pops out of their lips.

Friend: “[Woman’s Shelter Group] is an anti-men hate group.”

I’m startled, thinking I’ve heard them wrong.

Me: “What?”

Friend: *totally straight-faced* “[Shelter] is biased against men; it won’t let men into the shelters and it’s teaching women to hate men. It’s an anti-men hate-group.”

I just stare for a good half-minute.

Me: “I’m sorry? They have ‘women’ in the name, and we have an overwhelming majority of women needing shelter. I don’t know if they’d be able to find a shelter for men, but they’d try to help. They’re not… anti-men?”

Them: “No, they totally teach those women to hate and fear men; they won’t even make them interact with them. They shouldn’t be allowed!”

Me: “What? I just… Wow. Nope, that’s it. I’m done.”

And with that, I walked out on them and haven’t seen them since. I’d already paid for and finished my meal, so no dining-and-dashing was involved. They sent me some… interesting texts afterward about how it was very rude of me to just up and leave and that I was a bad friend for it. They also ranted that saying a guy was in the “friendzone” was the worst insult a man could receive.

To this day, I don’t know what they wanted out of that interaction, and I support that group more than ever to try and level out that weird, fixated bigotry.

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Just Another Day In The Hogwarts Library

, , , , , | Right | December 4, 2020

A student comes to the information desk.

Student: “Someone has taken my bag and laptop while I was away. I left them with my friend but my friend has gone, too, and I can’t get in touch with her. I wonder if staff moved my bag when the bookshelves were moved?”

Me: “Huh?”

Student: “There are shelves now where they weren’t before.”

I suggest that she may have mistaken which floor she is on, and her friend is still there with her phone switched off. She doesn’t think so but goes off to check the other floors. 

Because, of course, the totally reasonable explanation is that the librarians are building shelves, reshelving books, printing new shelf labels and signage, moving the study tables, updating the website, and hiding your bag and friend, while you are downstairs buying a coffee!

No, the student didn’t come back!

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Pizza, Wailer, Order, Cry

, , , , | Right | December 2, 2020

A friend and I have a standing dinner out one night a week. Because I have some funny food habits, we usually go to the same few places, but this time we have branched out to a pizza joint neither of us really knows.

Unlike most pizza places in the city, they have slices under a heat lamp as well as offering full freshly-made ones. They also have a few sides. I order a few slices from the display and a side.

Employee: *Nervously* “I’m sorry, sir, the side will take around twenty minutes.”

Me: “It’s fine. It’s a side; it won’t kill me to wait.”

Once our orders are placed and our immediate food is handed over, we sit to wait. It’s a small place, so it’s hard not to notice when another table starts grumbling about the wait.

We keep waiting, eating what we have. I finish up my slices, and maybe ten minutes later, my piping-hot side gets rushed out to me, as does the large order for this other table. It looks like a minimum order of three large pizzas and half a dozen sides. I would have no reason to notice this if the man had not gotten in the waiter’s face — while he is trying to set this feast down! — to start on a big rant that starts at, “We’ve been waiting half an hour!” and ends at, “We’ve waited forty-five minutes and no one told me it would take so long!”

I get angry. The waiter clearly has no power. He wants to put the food down and probably go back and get a manager to help. I sincerely doubt he was not told about the wait. So, I stand up, and get his attention.

Me: “Hey, you’re complaining about the wait? Well, your food’s here, so sit down, shut up, and eat!”

He turns around, towering over me and angry. The waiter runs off.

Customer: “F*** off! I’ve been waiting an hour for this and they didn’t tell me it would take so long!”

Me: “I agree, they should have told you. But your food is here now, so why don’t you eat?!”

There was an awkward silence. The man still looked pretty angry but did seem to be going to sit down and eat. I left with my friend trailing after. Goal achieved: the waiter had gotten away.

What got to me, though, is that I found a Google review a few days later saying how sad it was that this poor man had been made to wait so long and then have this “large, interfering woman” make a scene with comments that “her boyfriend couldn’t cash.” I was smaller than both the women the man was with… and I’d stand up for my own comments! I know I wasn’t polite, but yelling at the waiter over something he can’t change does not make things better.

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And Y’all Thought New Math Was A Pain

, , , , , | Learning | November 11, 2020

Back in March 2020, New Zealand went into its first lockdown. The university had to very quickly take courses that had been taught fully in person with few resources other than lectures and transition them into something that could be provided online, and for the most part, they did a great job under that extreme pressure.

But the rapid transition caused some fun quirks in the system.

We came to the first big exam of one of the most academically challenging courses of the whole degree.

The questions were all in multi-choice format so it could be all marked by computer. And because it was marked by computer, as soon as you finished the exam and your two-hour timer ran out, it immediately automatically showed you your mark, and you could look through the correct answers and see what you did wrong.

Only there was one small problem.

As with paper exams, online exams are set up so you can mark questions you’re unsure of and move on, coming back to them later, so you can manage your exam time by answering the easy things first.

But there had been a glitch.

The back button between the different pages of the exam, for some inexplicable reason, did not work. Once you moved on to the next questions, there was no going back to change or even check what you had answered.

The lecturers were obviously inundated with frantic emails from students.

Student #1: “I wanted to check my answers before I submitted the exam, but I couldn’t go back! And I skipped a couple to go back to, and now I can’t answer them at all!”

Student #2: “I made a point to carefully read all of the questions on the test before I started on them, but I couldn’t go back at all. I was forced to submit an empty exam! Help!”

These students weren’t alone; many had done the same things and met the same issue.

So, what choice did the lecturers have?

They called IT, they fixed the glitch, and they reopened the exam. Instead of us all doing it in the two hours between noon and two pm, now we all had until nine pm to retake it.

Thus, we retook the exam of the most challenging exam in the whole degree… after they had shown us the answers.

Online learning was definitely more of a learning curve for the university than the students.

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