The Naked Fire Drill Versus Japanese Politeness

, , , , , , , | Learning | February 1, 2020

I’m a counsellor for students with mental problems, mostly stress-related anxiety or teenage mood swings. One day, I got a new patient who was said to have anger management issues. His teacher claimed that he threw a tantrum, complete with shouting, screaming, and swearing. Nothing I haven’t handled before. When the guy came in, I was very surprised.

He was pleasant and polite, and he even baked me some tasty cupcakes. He was always calm, even when we discussed the incident that led to his tantrum, though he did sound annoyed at points. Apparently, his dorm master decided that the best time to hold a fire drill was late at night, when the entire dorm was preparing to sleep. In his case, he was showering, and was forced out by the other students in nothing but his towel. I should mention that it was a cold and windy night.

Without his glasses, he was unable to see where to line up and ended up in the wrong line. When the dorm master saw him, he decided to scold him in front of the entire dorm for holding everyone up by being too slow and in the wrong line. He even mocked the student’s near-nakedness. This led to the student losing his temper and to the ensuing tantrum, which was grossly exaggerated. After screaming one vulgar insult and flipping the dorm master off, the student calmed down and apologised repeatedly, not just to the dorm master, but to the entire dorm. That was the first time the student was even angry in roughly three years.

The student was very embarrassed and apologetic about the whole situation as it was apparently wrong to talk back or complain in his (Japanese) culture. I honestly couldn’t believe his restraint. If it’d been me in that situation, I’d have punched the man. And he could forget any form of apology from me. After another two sessions to make sure that the student didn’t really have anger management issues, I told the college that he was fine and put in a good word for him.

Unfortunately, the dorm master disagreed and tried to send the student back. I sent him to one of my colleagues, who also certified that the student was fine, forcing the dorm master to give up. 

I was later visited by the same student almost a month later, who dropped by to offer cupcakes to everyone in the office. Apparently the dorm master, even after being told that the student had done nothing wrong, still stuck him in repeated detentions, wrote a bad report on his report card, and stripped away many of his privileges in the dorm.

He’s since planned to move out with a bunch of his friends to an apartment, though is still too polite to enact vengeance or even complain about the teacher to the school.

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Boss Gets A Citation Against Common Sense

, , , , , | Working | January 31, 2020

I work part-time for parking services customer service at a mid-sized university. We get a huge number of customers who think if they yell loud enough, someone will take their ticket away and not make them pay. Because of this, our appeals are entirely online, with the appeals committee kept well away from direct customer contact. I dislike that there is no backup for construction workers without easy access to a computer, or the elderly visiting professors who aren’t comfortable with being online. 

After a particularly nasty week, I see a man walking in with a citation easily visible in his hand. I brace myself for more yelling. Instead, he politely asks if there is a way not to pay. I look at the ticket. He had a temporary pass that had fallen out of his window. Happy to get a polite customer for a change, I spend over ten minutes walking him through the appeal on his phone. I confirm the appeal has gone through, and let him know there should be a response in about a week. 

As he leaves, my senior coworker comes around the corner and scolds me for taking so long with one customer. Only then does she look around at the deserted lobby and quiet phones. Shaking her head, she returns to her other tasks. 

I get the whole goal of short wait times, but really we should be able to help when there is time.

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A Marriage Isn’t Real Unless It Starts In Debt

, , , , , , | Friendly | January 31, 2020

We were young. We were in love. We had great friends who helped us out when we got married. It was thirty-four years ago. All that made it possible to throw our wedding for less than $400.

When an acquaintance at college asked about our wedding, she pressed for the financials. When I told her, she said, “Then you’re not really married!”

I avoided her after that. (By the way, we are still happily married.)

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This Policy Is Kwakkers

, , , , , , | Learning | January 31, 2020

I worked in a pub that mostly catered to students. A “Kwak” is a specialty beer, to be served in a special glass with a bulbous bottom. As such, it cannot stand on its own and needs a wooden frame to be hung from. 

As you can imagine, these are rather expensive and also very much loved by the students. In order to avoid the glasses disappearing like ice on a hot day, my boss required the student who ordered a Kwak to give a shoe — as they were inclined to “lose” their ID but walking home on a sock or barefoot is too big of an inconvenience… especially as it can get cold or very wet. One day, a student who was a regular, came in grinning from ear to ear and asked for his footwear behind the counter. 

The owner sighed, remarked on the fact that if anyone would leave his shoe behind, it would be [Regular] and let him keep the glass.

The shoe rule remained in place but students leaving the pub had to pass a “shoe check.”

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Can’t Cover This Much Incompetence

, , , , , , | Working | January 30, 2020

We have a “new” guy at my hotel. He’s been here for a few months now, but doesn’t seem to want to learn the job. He still can’t do half the job on his own. He makes stupid mistakes all the time, like putting pets into non-pet-friendly rooms, or giving out corporate rates to individual employees when those rates are exclusive to bookings made by corporate, etc. He calls and texts me and one of my other coworkers all through his shift, because our manager is out on medical leave. We’ve even given him extra days of training and he’s still terrible and slow.

I’m not salaried; I’m hourly and at the same level he is. As I said, it’s been months. I’ve answered every text and phone call and I’ve even come in multiple times during my off time when I was out with my wife and kids to help him, as have two of my other coworkers, all without clocking in.

One day, my oldest is sick and I’m trying to find someone to cover my shift so I don’t have to drive a vomiting and feverish two-year-old to her grandparents. I call our acting manager and [New Guy] is the only one available. I have my coworker call him, I call him, we text. No response. Supposedly, he’s in class all morning, so I expect a delay, but still, a response when he gets a break.

Finally, ten minutes before my shift starts, once I’ve already dropped my daughter off and am at work getting ready to punch in he responds, “Sorry, just getting up. I have plans for tonight.” That is when I decide I am never responding to one of his texts again unless it is a legitimate emergency and the manager or my coworker — acting manager, but also hourly and with no real power — is out of town. Not my job, not my problem. I go above and beyond to help you and you can’t even respond to a text in a timely manner? Screw you.

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