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Nobody Gets A Free Ride (Without A Pass)

, , , , , , | Working | November 8, 2021

Years ago, I worked for my country’s state-run transport company, which was formed as a result of a merger between three other companies — two bus and one rail.

One of the perks of employment in the company was free public transport. Employees could travel for free on trains by showing our staff ID to the conductor, or on buses by tapping our pass on the ticket machine, which would then issue a free ticket.

One of my colleagues told me that years before I started working for the company, there was an “incident” on one of the buses involving the newly-appointed chief executive. He boarded a bus and walked straight past the driver toward the seating, and then the driver called him back and asked him if he could see his ticket.

The chief executive rather arrogantly declared that he didn’t need a ticket, as he was the chief executive and therefore travelled for free. The driver, who apparently had never met the chief executive, politely apologised for the inconvenience and again insisted that the chief executive would need to tap his staff pass to get a free ticket.

The chief executive refused again and accused the driver of insubordination, threatening to report him to his depot manager or the head of bus operations. The driver, unfazed by the threat, politely explained that the chief executive would either need to show his staff pass, pay for a ticket, or get off the bus. Making threats about “having the bus driver’s job,” the chief executive very reluctantly showed his pass and got his free ticket.

He actually did speak to the depot manager and head of bus operations, both of whom sided with the driver. The chief executive was politely told: one, the driver would have been disciplined for not checking the staff pass; and two, managers and directors were not exempt from showing their passes, no matter how high up in the company they were. The chief executive ended up being brought down a notch or two.

When I heard this story, I thought it was great that managers would back up their employees like that!

Not Great With English, But Excellent With Cars!

, , , , , , | Working | September 28, 2021

Recently, I have had a number of halogen headlights blow far sooner than they should. I go to a chain of motor factors and ask them for LED headlights instead, which are more durable. They assure me they are compatible and legal.

A car needs a safety inspection — “MOT test” — by the government every year. Some weeks later, mine is due.

Inspector: “I’m afraid your car will fail. Your headlights are too dim.”

Me: “Huh? It was only installed a month ago at [Motor Factors].”

Inspector: “My equipment says they aren’t bright enough.”

Me: “There’s a [Motor Factors] up the road. My bicycle is on the back of my car. I can cycle up, buy new bulbs, and be back in five minutes.”

Inspector: “You’ve already failed. Sorry, mate, there is nothing I can do. Fix it and book a new test.”

After the inspection…

Inspector: “I’m going to pass you, with an advisory on one condition. I am ordering you to have these lights sorted. Immediately. Like you say, there’s a [Motor Factors] up the road.”

Me: “Thanks, buddy. I’ll do that.”

I go direct to [Branch #1]. I had the headlights changed at [Branch #2], but they’re the same chain, right? I explain to the cashier.

Me: “Hey, fellas. I had my headlights changed at [Branch #2] three weeks ago. I’ve just come from the MOT, but they are too dim.”

Employee #1: “Really? I’ll get a colleague. Hey, [Employee #2] help…?” *Points to me*

Me: “[My Name].”

Employee #2: *In a foreign accent* “Hello, Mr. [My Name]. Where car?”

I take him to my car in the car park.

Employee #2: “What is problem happened? How help?”

Me: “It failed the MOT because the headlights your colleagues installed at [Branch #2] are too dim.”

Employee #2: “Really, MOT fail?”

Me: *Thinking carefully* “Yes, it failed the MOT.”

Employee #2: “Open front, please Mr. [My Name].”

I open the bonnet and he examines the headlights. [Employee #3] arrives.

Employee #2: “Oh, dear. That reverse light.”

Me: “Huh? No, buddy, that’s a headlight. The reverse light is at the back.”

Employee #2: “Is reverse. I sure. Very ‘oh, dear.’”

Me: “But we’re at the front of the car?” *To [Employee #3]* “What’s going on here? Why is he telling me I have reverse lights in the front of my car?”

[Employee #3] looks at the car and then responds in a local accent.

Employee #3: “He means they’re supposed to be headlights, but the bulbs are reverse lights.”

Employee #2: “Also is LED. Is wrong. Must be halogen. Maybe Lambo Maserati Xenon LED. Or Mercedes.”

Me: “Maserati… What? This is a cheap car. What is going on?”

Employee #3: “I think he means you have reverse lightbulbs for headlights, which if true, would explain why they are dim. I haven’t seen for myself, but [Employee #2] has never been wrong. He doesn’t understand why you have LEDs on a car like this.”

Me: “Car… like this? Pardon?”

Employee #3: “I’m sorry, that’s badly phrased. Normally, only luxury cars have LED headlights. For example—”

Me: “A Maserati?”

Employee #3: “Yes. [Employee #2] thinks that your car should have cheaper halogen bulbs because, erm, it’s a value brand. That’s what it would have been sold with.”

Employee #2: “Yes, a value cheap like this car.”

Me: “Now I understand… but your colleagues at [Branch #2] installed it. I told them halogen bulbs weren’t lasting me, so I wanted LED headlights, instead.”

Employee #2: “No LED! Need halogen. [Employee #3], I get halogen for the Mr. [My Name]. I think half price.”

Employee #3: “No. Please, [Employee #2], get the boss? Because this is [Motor Factors]’s mistake, it is his responsibility.”

Employee #2: “I get big boss!”

Employee #3: *To me* “Don’t mind [Employee #2]. He has trouble expressing himself, but he understands everything. He’s an automotive electrician.”

A manager arrives.

Employee #3: “Hey, boss. What happened — I think — is this gentleman had problems with halogen headlights blowing, so he asked [Branch #2] to install LED headlights. They did that and now he’s failed his MOT because they are too dim.”

Manager: “Well, yes. Headlights are brighter than a reverse light. So, obviously. Hey, [Employee #2], can you swap a headlight and reverse light?”

Employee #2: “Now you want me to swap reverse light with headlight? Silly idea with a crazy man!”

Manager: “No, I mean ‘is possible to swap’.”

Employee #2: “Yes, is possible. Swap easy. Same size, voltage, everything. For this cheap car, headlight is halogen, reverse is LED. Maybe why the mister have wrong LED headlight dim. Our computer, it no can research LED headlight for cheap car like this. So instead, [Branch #2] they fit headlight because also fits. Silly people. They no understand reverse light too dim for headlight.”

Manager: “Right, I’m sorry for your trouble. What has happened, I think, is when you asked [Branch #2] for an LED headlight, they couldn’t find one for your car. Our system is programmed to only offer LED headlights to cars originally sold with LED headlights. Yours would have been halogen. To satisfy you, they used a reverse light. They thought that they would get away with it because it fits, but maybe they didn’t understand that it is too dim to be a headlight.”

Me: “Now I understand… but I failed my MOT? And I need new headlights?”

Manager: “We’ll pay for the re-test. I’m sorry this has happened; I’ll feed it back to Head Office as a learning point. Hey, [Employee #2]?”

Employee #2: “I halogen headlight get for the mister?”

Manager: “Yes, please, for… the customer. Please, can you install them?”

Employee #2: “Charge free discount fifty?”

Manager: “Pardon?”

Employee #2: “Yes! Do I charge the mister, or is free? Or I discount?”

Manager: “No, it’s free. Because our friends at [branch #2] made a mistake.”

Employee #2: *To me* “I free your lightbulbs! Please open bonnet? Or… hood, is American? I give you will have good brand, not [Motor Factors] trash.”

Manager: *Cracking up* “That’s fine. Give him a good brand. This customer is a regular here. I believe him without the receipt.”

[Employee #2] arrives with two lightbulbs. He removes both old bulbs — one per hand — and installs the new ones — one per hand — all in about five seconds flat.

Employee #2: “Okay, you Mr. [My Name], please enter car, and turn on lights because test.”

I start the engine and turn on the lights.

Employee #2: “Very nice. Like Nicole Scherzinger, your pretty girlfriend.”

Manager: *Cracking up again* “[Employee #2], we don’t make presumptions!”

Employee #2: “Tom Cruise? Maybe you like men. So then I can have Nicole.”

The manager looks horrified. I nearly fall over laughing and the boss relaxes.

Employee #2: “Now you pass MOT! Please, you go to [Government Agency] Internet website. Make new test. Anything new, Mr. [My Name]? No? Nice weekend, pleasure meet!”

[Employee #2] went back inside the store, followed by the boss and [Employee #3] in fits of laughter. I just felt guilty for saying it failed instead of passed with an advisory.

A “Falling For You” Joke Would Be Too Easy

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 12, 2021

For obvious reasons, many of us in my country are being encouraged to do “staycations” this year rather than travelling abroad. As I plan day trips away with my husband and young daughter, I recall a summer, a number of years ago, where my ability to travel abroad was hindered, not by a global health crisis, but by personal injury.

At the time, I was in my early twenties, fresh out of university and living with my boyfriend. Northern Ireland was going through a heatwave, with temperatures in the high twenties or low thirties — high eighties, for our American friends. As a fair-skinned Irish girl, I was already struggling with the heat, but my struggle was made worse when, one Saturday morning, as I hurried downstairs wearing footwear not really suited to the purpose, I lost my balance, slipped, fell, and hurt my left leg. The pain was so bad that I ended up in the emergency department, where I was told that I’d broken my leg in three places. After a week in hospital, I came home with crutches, a cast that ran from my toes up past my knee, and a massive bruise to my pride!

A couple of weeks later, with the heatwave set to continue, I was pretty fed up. It was exhausting using crutches to move around and was worse in the oppressive July heat. My boyfriend was driving me home from an appointment and happened to mention how tired I looked. I confirmed that I WAS, in fact, exhausted, to which he gave no response, other than to nod. We pulled into our driveway.

Boyfriend: “Wait here!”

And then he leapt out of the car. He ran to the front door, unlocked and opened it, and then came back to the passenger side door, which he opened for me. As I struggled to work my way out of the car without bashing my cast — I’d learnt that the hard way — my boyfriend took my arm to guide me. With my casted leg off the ground, I reached in to grab my crutches, but my boyfriend stopped me. Before I could protest, he threw one arm behind my knees, and the other around my shoulders, and hoisted me up into his arms! I don’t like being lifted, even in normal circumstances, so I shrieked.

My boyfriend laughed.

Boyfriend: “[My Name], my darling! I’m going to carry you across the threshold!”

And he started for the door.

Me: *Laughing nervously* “Ahh… Okay, [Boyfriend], please just be careful that you don’t—”

Before the words “drop me” could leave my lips, he’d done just that! He must have lost his grip or whatever, but I slid out of his arms. As I was already stressed by the shock of being lifted suddenly, my body wasn’t exactly limp, and my right side smacked forcefully into the hard concrete driveway. I howled in pain and swore angrily at my boyfriend, who, looking sheepish, sank to his knees and started apologising profusely while trying to help me up. When it became apparent, however, that I was going nowhere, so intense was the pain, he disappeared into the house to phone for an ambulance.

The staff in the emergency department were surprised that I was back so soon — as was I! After a trip to X-ray, I was given the bad news: I’d shattered my right kneecap and broken my right wrist and elbow. I’d also injured my neck, which, thankfully, wasn’t broken but was quite badly sprained. After another week in hospital, I returned home — in a wheelchair this time — with casts now on my right knee and arm and a brace on my neck.

My boyfriend, probably as much motivated by guilt as concern for my well-being, spoiled me rotten for the next few painful months as I recovered. By the time I was back on my feet, summer was over and the heatwave had passed, giving way to cloudy, wet, and miserable weather. That summer changed me, and I no longer took good weather — or freedom to travel — for granted. My boyfriend changed, too, becoming less impulsive, and after several months of what he called “trying to make it up to me,” finally accepted that I’d forgiven him. He proposed to me the following spring, and we’ve been happily married ever since. But he thankfully never again offered to “carry me over the threshold”!

You’ve Paid With Shame

, , , | Right | July 22, 2021

Not long ago, I discovered that I had a flat tyre, so I got up early the next day and took my car to a reputable local tyre repair centre. I was the first customer of the day, so one of the techs got to work immediately.

Thirty minutes later, the woman in reception told me that the car was ready, and, delighted, I went into the workshop to see the tech.

Tech: “I was able to repair the tyre, so you won’t need a new one.”

I was really pleased about this — so much so that my mind must have been in another place. I jumped in the car and reversed out of the workshop. As I did so, the woman from reception appeared, looking like she wanted to speak to me.

I wound the window down.

Receptionist: “You know you haven’t paid?”

I was embarrassed that I’d forgotten, but instead of admitting that I’d forgotten, I bluffed it. 

Me: “Yeah, I know. I’m just backing out of here to free up the bay. I’ll be in in a second!”

She seemed satisfied, so I parked the car and went into reception.

Me: “I didn’t want to be blocking your bay for other customers.”

I paid for the tyre repair — only about £12 — and left, still horribly embarrassed. I was so embarrassed that when I got home I looked up the place on Facebook and left them a glowing review, just to make myself feel better.

Poison Oak Is Natural But It Still Itches Like Crazy!

, , , , | Healthy | June 13, 2021

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains content of a medical nature. It is not intended as medical advice.


A few years ago, my wife experimented with a certain brand of mycoprotein-based products. The first time we ate some, I became ill with vomiting and stomach cramps. I foolishly assumed that these were caused by something else, but the second time we ate some, it happened again and we very quickly realised I was sensitive to mycoprotein-based products, a phenomenon which is pretty well documented.

About nine months ago, I saw a Facebook advert for this particular brand and commented, saying that while I thought this product was a great idea, regrettably, I was sensitive to mycoprotein-based products so would have to avoid eating them.

Then, I got THIS reply from a random Facebook user I don’t even know.

Stranger: “Well, you’re clearly an idiot, then. You can’t get ill from [product]. It’s natural. NATURAL PRODUCTS DON’T MAKE YOU ILL!”

I didn’t have the heart to point out to her that latex, peanuts, kiwi fruit, and eggs are all-natural and can ALL trigger serious allergic reactions.

Like I say, this phenomenon is pretty well documented, and in some cases, people have eaten mycoprotein and ended up in ICU! I’m not really sure what this woman on Facebook was thinking.