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This Meet-The-Parents Is Circling The Drain

, , , , , , , | Related | January 5, 2022

The first time I met my in-laws, when my husband and I were boyfriend and girlfriend, I was nervous about making a good first impression. Introductions went well, and we seemed to get along fine.

As one does, I eventually excused myself to use their restroom. Having used the last bit of toilet paper on the roll, I got a new roll from under the sink and proceeded to switch it out with the empty one.

You know how a lot of toilet paper roll holders have springs inside them? Well, that was the day I learned that if a holder’s spring is taut, it can “jump” out of your hand in such a way as to shoot directly down the drain of the toilet bowl. 

It disappeared completely.

Now, imagine: you’re already sure the people who have graciously welcomed you into their home are going to be your in-laws one day. They’re going to be in your life for a long time. You’ve known them for about an hour. And you’ve just sent their toilet paper roll holder down the toilet. 

After admitting to myself it wasn’t a bizarre dream, I had to go back out to the front room and try to explain what had happened. They were as confused as I was; even after borrowing a neighbor’s plumbing snake, the holder was nowhere to be found.

It’s been close to twenty years since that happened, and I still make sure toilet bowl lids are completely closed before switching toilet paper rolls. I’m sure the odds of it ever happening again are close to nothing, but the odds of it happening once had to have been incredibly low, too!

Babel-ing On, Part 3

, , , , , , | Right | January 4, 2022

My Dutch in-laws are visiting me in Jakarta for a few days before my wedding. My Dutch is crap, but I still use it with them for practice.

The day after they arrive, I take them to a sit-down restaurant that serves Indonesian food. Not long after we sit down, the waiter comes to take our order. I tell the waiter that we would like a bottle of water to be shared by the table, then start asking what everybody wants. It takes me a while to realize that they (even the waiter) are looking at me funny.

It takes me even longer to realize what’s wrong.

My scattered bride-brain somehow switched the language. I spoke to the waiter in Dutch and asked my Dutch family for their orders in Indonesian instead. Of course, they didn’t answer me.

Babel-ing On, Part 2
Babel-ing On

We Could All Use A Cousin Lisa In Our Lives

, , , , , | Related | January 4, 2022

In my extended family, my dad was an only child and my mother had one older sister. My Aunt Mary had two sons: one my age and one two years older than us. But in addition to Cousin George and Cousin Sam, we also had Cousin Lisa. Cousin Lisa was the daughter of George and Sam’s Uncle Fred, and she was sixteen years old when I was born.

Cousin Lisa was my favorite cousin. She was the only other girl in the family, so she got extra points by default, but because she was older, she was also just so much fun. Whenever she visited, she made sure to schedule time to take George, Sam, and me out for all sorts of fun activities no one else would take us out for. I now realise it’s because she was a single adult with a stable job and no kids and had more free money, but back then, we just thought she was the Big Kid and was letting us break all the grown-up rules by getting two snacks when we went to the movies.

When I was five, I found out that not only did Lisa visit us twice a year, but George and Sam got to travel over to visit her once a year. I was so upset that I cried for weeks. From that year, only I got to go with George and Sam every winter to Lisa’s so that we could see the snow.

When we grew older and our interests started to diverge, Lisa made sure to keep up to date, even when I was fifteen and what I liked changed weekly. Oftentimes, she’d not just take us out as a group, but she’d also schedule outings with each of us individually to do something we enjoyed. I got to go to my first-ever concert, which I’d begged my parents for, because Lisa agreed to come with me.

These last few months, I have been planning my wedding and trying to prune down the list of invites to determine who should and should not be coming.

And it is only while trying to work out this list of invitees that my parents have thought to tell me that Cousin Lisa is not my cousin at all. Lisa, George, and Sam are related on their dads’ side. George, Sam, and I are related on our mums’ side. Lisa just came to visit after George was born, took one look at baby me, as well, and declared to both sets of parents, “Both of these are mine now.”

Not once in any of the twenty-six years that I’ve been alive and telling everyone how much Lisa is my favorite cousin has anyone ever thought to tell me this — not even the time I scheduled a special trip with my fiancée to the city she lives in specifically to introduce them.

She is still invited to my wedding.

He’s Got You Stuck Between Lumber And A Hard Place

, , , , | Right | January 3, 2022

I work as a builders’ merchant and we know most of the customers very well as they are regulars. There is this one guy who regularly comes in who always claims that he has bought something before at a cheaper price. Our company policy is that we match previous prices for account customers, so if they really have had the item before at that price, we have to honour that price.

The thing is, though, this guy will argue until he’s blue in the face that he had that item at that specific price. He will even ask other coworkers to back him up when he says he has had that item at that price before. We always go into the system and the prices are never on there because he has never had it at that price. We sometimes argue with him and basically tell him to get lost, but most of the time, we just let him have it — unless we would make a huge loss on it.

I actually really enjoy my job. This is one customer out of hundreds. Everyone has a good laugh and everyone enjoys their job where I work, so don’t slate my employer for trying to make things less difficult.

It’s Really Taxing To Be Perfect

, , , , , , , , | Working | January 2, 2022

I still remain somewhat envious many years later of a truck salesman I once worked with. He was perfect in every way, everything he did was right, and he had a perfect life, wife, children, and a high-paying job. Everyone else existed to ensure this situation continued… at least inside his own head.

In fact, he was terrible. He didn’t listen to customers or colleagues, missed items off quotes, and even failed to supply items that had been specifically requested. In one case, he messed up so badly that, after losing the court case, we had to give the customer a brand new £60,000 truck for free because we were deemed to have supplied something not fit for purpose. But of course, this couldn’t possibly be the salesman’s fault, so he just ignored the criticism. Most places would have fired him, but sadly he had the right handshake.

The best example I witnessed involved a conversation between him and my boss, the regional finance manager. The tax laws in the UK had recently changed, and now anyone with a company car had to keep and submit business mileage records to ensure they ended up on the right tax codes. Prior to this, many people just claimed they were doing enough to be on the lowest rate of tax, but strangely, the UK government now wanted proof.

All staff with company cars had been informed and given paperwork to complete, and most did it. Not this salesman. He just assumed everything would be the way he desired, ignored what he didn’t want to do, and then seemed genuinely amazed when he got a new tax code, showing he would be paying far more. So, in he came to our office to explain how the world should be adjusted to suit his whims.

He happily explained to my boss that he just needed to tell the HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) that he was doing enough mileage and everything would go back to normal. Over ten minutes or so, my increasingly exasperated boss explained that the rules had changed, the salesman had been informed, and since taking an initial reading from all the cars, nothing had been submitted. The salesman’s smile never changed, and he just kept repeating the same statement that it could all just be changed.

My boss took him out to his car and showed him that, even including all his private mileage, he hadn’t done enough to be on the lowest code, and given we knew how far away from the dealership he lived, his business mileage wasn’t even close to getting him off the worst code. This made no difference; the salesman just continued insisting that it was just a matter of telling the HMRC to change the code.

Eventually, my boss exploded. In twelve years working for him, I only saw him lose his temper twice. The other time was with a fitter who insisted we should have ignored a court-ordered deduction for child maintenance and lied to the government on his behalf. But that was nothing compared to the red-faced screaming fit my boss inflicted on the man before him. I was the only other person in the office, trying to be as small and quiet as possible while holding in my laughter.

The salesman’s smile never changed. It seemed that given my boss was clearly angry about something, and he was perfect, it obviously couldn’t be him. So, he waited, and when my boss ran out of breath, he calmly and politely repeated his instructions to just talk to the tax office about restoring his old tax code. He was told to leave our office immediately and physically forced out by my boss, and he seemed to remain genuinely baffled as to what was going on.

He never changed. A couple of years later, he came to us and asked for copies of all his mileage records for the last few years. It seemed that the government wanted more information regarding previous years, as they suspected he had been underpaying tax for a while. The discussion was calmer this time, with no screaming, but when my boss explained to him that he had still never submitted any records and we could not help him, he seemed unable to understand. The requests went back years before it was compulsory, and he was now facing a huge bill for back taxes. But somehow, this was still something other people should be able to solve for him, as it couldn’t possibly be his mistake.

He was perfect, after all.