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Cleo Versus The Technician

, , , , , | Related | December 4, 2022

My mom was a big foodie and loved cooking for people. Barbecues were always a huge thing with my family, and my mom loved to try new recipes. She also never made a fuss if anyone asked for accommodations. She was always willing to make adjustments so everyone could have at least something they could enjoy, and everyone was welcome at her table.

Once, my nephew had a girlfriend who was… a bit strange. Let’s call her Cleo.

It wasn’t so much that she was inherently a bad person, but her thought processes were sometimes hard to follow, and she had a tendency to hog conversations and make them all about her.

Cleo also followed all kinds of trends when she thought it was fancy. If social media hyped depression, she was all depressed and proclaimed that happily to everyone, totally oblivious to the fact that several of my family members battled with diagnosed depression and that my mom and I had to spend significant time in mental hospitals for depression.

When one of Cleo’s favorite actors was advocating for women’s rights, she became a ferocious women’s rights activist, blaming all women around her for not caring enough and buying into the “paternal narrative” — whatever that was supposed to mean. She accused them of wanting all women to be stay-at-home moms, completely disregarding that my family is mostly blue-collar and all the women have been workers all their lives. No one, from my great-grandmother to me today, has ever been a stay-at-home mom.

When social media claimed pescatarians were en vogue, Cleo claimed to be a pescatarian — no matter that she didn’t eat fish at all. She proclaimed that it meant eating only chicken.

At the time that this story happened, Cleo got it into her head that she was a vegan. And no, being vegan was not a problem for my family, nor would it have been a problem on this special day if Cleo really was a vegan. The problem was that she wasn’t a vegan; she just fancied herself being one.

We had a barbecue planned, and my whole family was there. I also brought my friend and roomie who was a vegetarian. My mom created a group chat on a messenger app and asked [Friend] and Cleo what they would like to eat. When Cleo answered that she didn’t know what she could ask for, my mom offered several options for them to choose from. [Friend] said, to make it easier for my mom, she would also eat the vegan option Cleo chose, knowing from my tales that Cleo was a very picky eater.

Cleo then wrote that some veggie shashlik and hummus would be nice, so my mom made that. She told both of them specifically what she planned to put in the shashlik. She also made several salads and a chimichanga for dips along with them, as well as vegan mayonnaise, the promised hummus, and several other vegan-friendly dips to choose from, and foil-baked potatoes. Cleo knew exactly what would be there for her to eat and happily agreed with everything, enthusiastically writing back how much she would enjoy eating all that. Despite being asked repeatedly if she would like anything else, she always answered everything was fine.

Knowing how nitpicky Cleo was, my nephew brought a separate grill to put the veggie options on so they wouldn’t touch the meat. This was solely for her since [Friend] doesn’t really care much about all this; she’s the type who eats what’s available as long as it is vegetarian-friendly. She’s also a bit picky, but when push comes to shove, she eats bread and some salad and is happy as a clam; she doesn’t make her own peckishness into other people’s problems.

The day came, and everything was finished. Madam Cleo walked over to the vegan dishes, scrunched her nose, and proclaimed:

Cleo: “I can’t eat all this; it’s not really vegan.”

After pushing a bit, she proclaimed:

Cleo: “I don’t think this will taste good, either; it looks strange.”

Then, she marched to the kitchen and prepared herself some toast with butter! Yes, real butter,  which was totally not vegan. She could not eat the butter right there at the table — no, that was not vegan — but it had to be the new piece of butter from the fridge and the store-bought toast, because — and this is a verbal citation — “homemade bread is NEVER vegan!”

Cleo then proceeded to complain that no one had asked her for her opinion before, although she had been engaging in a messenger group generated just exactly for that and not telling anyone anything and agreeing with everything for a whole week!

When [Friend] very gently inquired why she didn’t say anything during the chats, Cleo claimed that she felt overwhelmed by my mom’s suggestions and didn’t dare to voice her concerns after my mom had “decided” what she should eat.

At this point, my mom was fuming, so I decided to keep Cleo away for the rest of the evening and engage her in talk so my mom and the rest of the family would not have to deal with her silly and self-centered nonsense.

[Friend] stayed with me because she knew me and found my way of dealing with such situations amusing.

So, we engaged in talk. I prompted Cleo to tell me about herself, and she willingly obliged.

All in all, I kept her occupied for several hours, never letting her feel bad, and constantly keeping her talking. [Friend] quietly sat next to me, dipping bits of her freshly made and completely vegan baguette in fresh olive oil and salt, smiling and nodding to Cleo who explained to her how that was not vegan.

My family members dipped in and out of the conversation, looking at me with disbelief and shaking their heads, but gracefully not saying anything to aggravate her.

When it was time to say goodbye, Cleo beamed at me and proclaimed loudly:

Cleo: “Thank you for the nice evening! It was a joy talking with you! It’s really nice to meet someone who’s open to new knowledge.”

Then, she left her stage.

My sister approached me.

Sister: “I listened to part of that conversation. How the h*** did you stand that? How could you be so calm? I only listened to bits here and there, but I wanted to strangle her halfway through.”

[Friend] chuckled and answered before I could.

Friend: “Don’t you remember what [My Name] does for a living? She works from home, so I listen to her when she works. Cleo might think she got a nice conversation, but I know what she really got: the world’s longest technician service call! [My Name] pretended it was a work call; she even used her script to prompt her in between. Cleo didn’t know it, but she called her Internet provider today and got troubleshooting. What you heard was her giving her technician a top rating. I just waited all the time for [My Name] to tell her to restart her router.”

And what could I say? She was right; that’s exactly what I did. I never thought that eight years as a tier-three service technician working escalations at a call center for a service provider would pay out this way. But I guess if you’re able to get a non-cooperative idiot to follow your instructions to get his equipment to run properly without shouting at him for his stupidity, keeping a delusional wannabe vegan with a mission to tell everyone their opinion away from your mom is a piece of cake.

The story has a happy ending; my nephew ditched her later. He’s now dating another girl. She’s a vegan for real. She really enjoys barbecues, and guess what? She’s always happy with the food because she helps with preparations and cooks her preferred food herself.

Kids Are So Freakin’ Weird

, , , , , , , | Related | August 15, 2022

I was visiting my sister, and her young son stopped playing on a tablet to run up to me to greet me. I gave him the usual greeting and a hug and a kiss.

Nephew: “I didn’t give you a kiss.”

Me: “Oh, I’d love a kiss from you.”

I knelt down so he could reach my cheek, but rather than the quick peck I’d expected, I got an open-mouthed attack on my cheek, followed by his licking my cheek during the kiss.

When he pulled back, he had a big grin on his face showing he was intentionally playing some sort of prank on me and was proud of it.

Me: “Did you just lick me?”

Nephew: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “Why?”

Nephew: “I’m French!”

He then ran back to his tablet and whatever game he had on it, giggling.

Me: “Did your son just try to give me a French kiss?”

Sister: “I don’t know where he learned that!”

Jimmy Stewart, Is That You?

, , , , , | Right | August 3, 2022

I work in a Chinese restaurant. When taking pick-up orders over the phone, we usually only get the phone number unless customers tell us their names on their own. When people come in to pick up, we ask what they ordered or what their phone number is. Occasionally, we can see addresses if they’ve ordered for delivery in the past, and we will also use that as an extra confirmation when they pick up to ensure we give the correct order.

We have two orders in for pick-up. A customer comes in and stops in front of my coworker’s computer where she’s taking an order over the phone. I gesture for him to come over to my computer and ask if he’s he’s picking up.

Customer: “I’m picking up for someone.”

Me: “What was their phone number?”

Customer: “I don’t know a phone number. He called in.”

Me: “I have two orders that were called in. Do you know what it was?”

Customer: “No. It’s for Harvey.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we weren’t given a name. You don’t know the phone number they may have used at all?”

Customer: “No, I don’t know his number. It’s for Harvey!”

Although I only have two orders on my computer, I don’t want to tell him what they are in case he agrees to an order that isn’t theirs by mistake. It’s not uncommon for some orders to be very similar, and since he can’t tell me anything about the order, I don’t want to risk it. Sometimes, people think they’ve ordered from us but have called another restaurant nearby by mistake.

I try to explain to the customer that I can’t give him an order if he can’t tell me what is in it or the phone number, but he continues to interrupt me every time I try to speak. Each time he interrupts me, I stop and wait for him to finish talking before I ask if I can finish speaking. He always tells me to go ahead, but as soon as I get a few words in, he interrupts me again.

Me: “If you can’t give me a phone number or—”

Customer: “I don’t know his d*** number! Just give me the food.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what order you’re picking up for. I can’t give you anything.”

Customer: “I just told you it’s for Harvey! I told him to say Harvey!”

Me: “No one told us the name Harvey. I cannot give you anything without you giving me a phone number, what is in the order, or maybe an address if we have it on file.”

Customer: “[Street]!”

Me: “I don’t have an order with that street listed as its address, either.”

I know that by this point I am getting increasingly frustrated and he can probably visibly tell by my face reddening and by the tone of my voice.

The customer is already getting loud and yelling at me, and he continues to do so until he is interrupted by a woman who comes in sometime during our interaction.

Woman: “Now, Uncle [Customer], this kind young lady just explained to you why she can’t just give you an order. You need to talk to her nicely. I’ve never seen you speak to a woman like that before. You know better than that!”

Customer: “I’m trying to pick up food for Harvey and she won’t give it to me!”

Woman: “Harvey who?

The man stammers, and she rolls her eyes.

Woman: “See? You don’t even know, so how is she supposed to know who you’re picking up for?”

Customer: *Mumbling a bit* “Harvey…”

Woman: “Who are you picking up for?”

Much more loudly and clearly, the customer gives a second name that sounds nothing like “Harvey”!

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t have an order under that name, either.”

The customer gets more frustrated and angry but the woman cuts him off.

Woman: “You need to leave, Uncle [Customer]. Go ask [Name #2] what he ordered and come back and tell her nicely. I’ve never seen you be so disrespectful before.”

Customer: “I don’t wanna walk back. My feet hurt…”

The woman gets him to leave. Then, she turns to me.

Woman: “I can’t stand drunk people.”

Me: “Thank you for your help, ma’am. I really appreciate it.”

Woman: “It’s okay, dear. He had no right to talk to you the way he did.”

At this point, my coworker takes the woman’s order as I answer a phone call. By the time the man returns a few minutes later, my coworker and I are both taking orders over the phone, and the woman is waiting for her order to be done.

I hear the man loudly say what the order is, but since both my coworker and I are busy, he is ignored. I have the pleasure of being done first and addressing the man.

Me: “You said you’re picking up [item]?”

Customer: “That’s what I said, isn’t it?”

Me: “I’m just making sure since I was just on the phone with another customer. I don’t want to give you the wrong order because I misheard you.”

The customer grumbled, and the woman sternly berated him about the way he was acting. She made him apologize to me, but he grumbled some more, instead. I opted to run to the kitchen to get his order rather than attempt to engage with him so that he could get out of the store quickly.

After he left, I thanked the woman again and left for the night, as my shift had ended.

I know some people will probably say that I should have just read out what the orders were to see if he recognized them since there were only two, but I’ve done that before in the past and ended up giving them the wrong order because it was very similar to what was actually ordered. They had to bring it back and the customer that had that order had to wait for a new one to be made fresh. If you’re picking up for others, please at least know SOMETHING about the order so we can work with you!

Christmas Shopping Just Got A Lot Cheaper

, , , , | Related | July 28, 2022

I was babysitting my niece the evening before her sixth birthday while her mom was working and her dad (my brother-in-law) was at his rehearsal. I had just arrived, and my brother-in-law was getting ready to leave, when a package was delivered.

Brother-In-Law: *To my niece* “It’s probably for your birthday. Do you want to open it now or wait for mommy?”

My niece started jumping up and down excitedly.

Niece: “Open it now!”

My brother-in-law opened the package, and the first thing we can see was the packing air pillows that are used to cushion the contents.

Brother-In-Law: “Oh, look! It’s air!”

Niece: “Oh, I always wanted air!”

At Least You Gave Her A Laugh When She Needed It

, , , , , , , | Related | July 19, 2022

My aunt was staying with us for a bit so she could attend a funeral. I didn’t know any details about it.

I was doing dishes when I came across a note on the counter with the name of a recently deceased former senator on it. I thought this was rather odd.

Me: “Hey, didn’t [Late Senator] die recently?”

Aunt: “Yes, he was my grandfather.”

Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

There was silence for about a minute.

Me: “Wait, that’s the funeral that you’re here for.”

Aunt: “Yeah.”

Needless to say, it made her laugh. I was thoroughly embarrassed, though.