Learn From This, Readers

, , , , , , | Working | April 3, 2020

A few years ago, I was working two part-time jobs in different companies: one as a receptionist in an office and one in a CD/DVD store. One day, our area manager came into the store with forms for us all to sign. She explained that it was not a big deal, just some “dumb government thing,” and we needed to sign it, and once we did, we’d get a $50 bonus in our next pay “for our trouble.” This sounded pretty good to us; all of us were struggling with low wages and an extra $50 would make life a little easier.

It was extremely long, with pages and pages of complicated jargon I couldn’t make heads or tails of. Then, in bold at the bottom, written in plain English, was a line about the extra $50 in our next pay if we signed. My area manager hovered over me the whole time I was reading, literally standing in my personal space, arms folded, huffing and sighing and checking her watch.

Something didn’t feel right, so I told her I was going to take it home and read it properly. She didn’t like that one bit. She complained that I was making her life difficult, that everyone else had already done it, why did I have to cause such a fuss, the company was being so generous, and it would be rude for me not to get it back ASAP, etc. I dug my heels in and took it home. 

I showed it to my parents and friends, and none of them could make any sense of it, either. I took it to my office job and asked if the HR manager could look over it for me.

She did, and she was furious. She boiled it down for me: the company had been caught underpaying its employees and was now supposed to pay back the wages we were owed. The form we were asked to sign was basically us forfeiting our rights to claim that money, in exchange for a $50 “bonus”.

I called my area manager and told her that I wasn’t signing and I wanted my backpay.

Even though I had only worked for the company for a few months, I was entitled to over $800 in wages. My coworkers were devastated when I told them; they had signed without reading, took the managers at their word, and had probably missed out on a few thousand dollars.

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See If They Ever Come Again

, , , , , , , | Friendly | April 3, 2020

We were catching up with some friends for a chat. Being a gracious host, I offered them a drink. She wanted coffee and he wanted tea.

While the teabag was steeping in the cup, I asked, “Are you a two-, three- or four-minute man?”

I’ve no idea why his wife was laughing so hard.

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To Pea Or Nut To Pea

, , , , , , , | Learning | April 3, 2020

There’s a boy in my shop class who is very allergic to peanuts. For some unknown reason, there has been a large container of peanuts in our classroom since before I started at this school. Why it remains has been a consistent mystery, and every time we think it is gone one of us will find it in a cabinet somewhere.

During finals, our shop teacher gives us a free day. A lot of people are spending the class either playing games or studying for the finals of other classes, but our classmate with the allergy somehow slips out of the main classroom and into a side room. A minute or two after he leaves the room, another classmate looks up towards the door and rushes out. 

I, along with some other students, follow to see what’s going on. There’s a lot of yelling, and as I turn into the side room, I see a larger classmate holding our allergic classmate off the ground while a girl is trying to wrestle the jar of peanuts out of his hands.

Turns out that, for some unknown reason, our allergic classmate decided it’d be better for him to trigger an allergic reaction and go to the hospital than it would be for him to just study and take his English exam next period.

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No Such Thing As Too Much Garlic

, , , , , | Working | April 2, 2020

My mother and I are out at a nice Italian restaurant for dinner. At this restaurant, any dinner comes with salad and garlic knots as a starter. When the knots come out, they are completely covered in garlic, which neither of us mind too much.

My mom loves to kid around with restaurant employees and jokingly asks our server if we could possibly get more garlic. Usually, when my mom does this, the server laughs a bit, but ours says nothing and walks away.

We think nothing of it until the server returns a few minutes later with a bowl of garlic! To this day I still wonder if it was a joke or if she actually thought we wanted more garlic on our already garlic-drowned garlic knots.

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New King Of The “Jerk” Tag

, , , , , , , | Related | April 2, 2020

This happened in my early teens. My house phone was being called dozens of times at every hour for a fortnight. The caller was some poor old lady who spoke only Chinese and was trying to get a hold of her son. She didn’t stop calling, pleading day and night to speak to her son.

My mother tried to explain to her that she had the wrong number, and that she had dementia and needed help, but she could never remember the conversation and would be back to calling and pleading five minutes later. We really wanted to help her, we really did. My mom was slowly piecing together details about her and was going to call for help once she learned who that lady was.

Unfortunately, my dad had other ideas. From the start, he dismissed this poor old lady as some sort of scammer and warned us never to talk to her. After a fortnight, he lost his patience with the whole affair and decided to fix it. He had learned from my mom that the old lady was in her nineties, and thus had probably survived World War Two.

So, one day, after she called yet again, my dad picked up the phone and went to me. He told me to yell a bunch of Japanese swear words into the phone, to someone he assured me was a friend of his and was interested in me learning a third language.

I was self-teaching myself Japanese — mostly from anime, which my dad hates and calls a waste of time — so I was very pleased that he wanted me to demonstrate my skills. I proudly yelled a couple of insults in Japanese into the phone, got a pat on the head and an extra hour of leisure time to watch more anime, and never thought about it for almost a decade.

It was only way later that I found it suspicious that the old lady stopped calling after that. My mom eventually told me what my dad had done, which he quite proudly told her after three days without a call. I’m not saying that it led to their divorce later in the year, but in the immediate aftermath, my mom did start sleeping in a different bedroom. I’m not completely sure he even thinks he did anything wrong, even now. He never understood why my mom cared for a stranger and why she was angry at him.

I really can’t forgive myself for doing that now. I really hope that I did not rekindle that poor old lady’s trauma from the war.

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