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Well, Well, Well, How The Turntables…, Part 3

, , , , , , , , | Legal | March 27, 2023

I answer sort of the “official” phone of the company after the CEO. I don’t know if that matters. I only know I have been getting a lot of scam calls lately, but being “official”, I can’t refuse to answer unknown numbers. And I am fed up with them.

Scammer: “Hi. I am calling you from Microsoft Support. There is VIRUS on your computer.”

Me: “Hi, thank you for calling.”

Scammer: “You have virus on your computer, and I will tell you how to remove them. First, you need to—”

Me: “You do know that you have called an adult phone line? We charge $5.99 per minute. I am totally fine with talking to you, but I just need to make sure you understand the cost of this.”

Scammer: “What? I will not pay $5.99 per minute.”

Me: “You are still on the phone with me, and the meter is running.”

Scammer: *Panicky* “You cannot charge me $5.99 per minute!”

Me: “I am not charging you. Your phone company is adding it to the bill. You accepted this when you didn’t hang up after the initial message before you were connected to me. All our prices were explained there.”

Scammer: “I will not pay.” *Hangs up*

Five minutes later, the phone rings again.

Me: “Hello, [My Name] speaking.”

Scammer: “There was no message before I was connected to you. If you are charging $5.99 per minute now, you are scamming me!”

Me: “After I told you I was charging $5.99 and that this was a phone service for adults, you still called me back, and now you’re telling me that despite the fact that you now know we charge $5.99 per minute, you want to talk to me about not paying $5.99 per minute… for $5.99 per minute? So far, you have spent $33 on this. As I told you before, I can keep talking to you about the bill, or we can switch to something more like what my other customers want to talk about. What are you wearing now?”

Scammer: *Click*

I am male, and I work in the finance department of a software company.

Well, Well, Well, How The Turntables…, Part 2
Well, Well, Well, How The Turntables…

This Is What Happens When You Branch Out Of Theme Parks

, , , , , | Right | March 21, 2023

I work in a restaurant in a historic quarter with wooden buildings on the west coast of Norway. The place is a cultural heritage site, and a part of my job is to know the history of the building and the area to give a special experience to the guests. We often get tourists as guests in the summer months.

It’s right after opening, before the large cruise boat rush, and I’m alone on the floor. In walks a mousy, middle-aged woman with a fanny pack. She looks around with eyes like saucers and murmurs exclamations like “Whoa!” and “Wow!” Her accent is American. Curious, I ask:

Me: “Welcome! Can I help you?”

Woman: *Ignoring me* “Oh, my God! Oh, my god!

Me: “…um?”

Woman: “Oh, my god! Oh… Oh, my God! Is it all real?!

Me: “I…”

Woman: “Is it all real?!

She looks directly at me now, while before she was gawking at the ceiling. I’m utterly bewildered and wonder if she’s crazy or high.

Me: “…yes?”

Woman: “No, all this!” *Gestures wildly* “Is it all real?! It’s all for the tourists, right?”

Suddenly, it dawns on me. She thinks the building and the area are fake — props or replicas. I am dumbfounded.

Me: “Oh… oh! No! This is a very old building. The building itself is from 1702, built after the city fire, but the area, structure, and some buildings are from the Middle Ages. It’s all real.”

The woman was literally speechless and just looked at me with wonder. I went on telling her more of the history, how the building was used, where the indoor well and old hearth were, etc., and ended up giving her a nice experience. She didn’t buy anything, but I didn’t mind since it was a slow morning anyway. As she left, I was still wondering: did she think we would fake our history? For the sake of tourism? How would that even work?

That’s One Super-Annoying Loophole

, , , , , | Working | March 9, 2023

When I got my first smartphone, I decided to hang on to my trusty old Nokia 3310 as a backup. Then, I decided that I also wanted it to be active with its own SIM card so that I could use it to call the smartphone if needed or if the smartphone died. I bought a prepaid card from [Phone Company #1], put it in the old phone, and left it on a shelf.

Then, a weird thing happened. I started getting calls to the old phone. As I didn’t carry it with me, I couldn’t pick up, but there would be several missed calls on it every day. As it was a prepaid card, I didn’t want to waste any money calling back; it would just use up what I’d paid into it.

The following weekend, though, I was home when the phone rang.

Me: “[My Surname] here.”

Telemarketer #1: “Hi, is this [My First Name]?”

This already annoyed me, as I don’t like telemarketers being so informal with me.

Me: “Yeah?”

Telemarketer #1: “Hi, [My First Name]. I’m calling to hear if you’d be interested in—”

Me: “Who is this?”

Telemarketer #1: “It’s [Telemarketer #1] from [Phone Company #2]. I was wondering if you’d be interested in a subscription to—”

Me: “How’d you get this number? This is a prepaid phone. Why are you even calling?”

Telemarketer #1: “I just wanted to make you a good offer.”

Me: “No, thanks.” *Hangs up*

Later the same day, the phone rang again.

Me: “[My Surname].”

Telemarketer #2: “Hi, is this [My First Name]?”

Me: “Yeah, what is it?”

Telemarketer #2: “Hi, [My First Name], this is [Telemarketer #2] from [Phone Company #2]. I was wondering…”

Me: “You guys again? I just said no; you’ve already called me.”

Telemarketer #2: “I just wanted to give you this really good offer…”

Me: *Sighs* “What’s the offer?”

The telemarketer went through a script telling me about a monthly subscription plan, no better or worse than any other out there.

Me: “No, I’m not interested in that.”

Telemarketer #2: “Okay. Could I ask why not?”

Me: “Look, this is a prepaid phone. It’s a backup phone. I already have a subscription on my smartphone; I don’t need a second one. I’m not interested, so stop calling me.”

I hung up again.

I was getting both annoyed and confused. Here’s an interesting thing: in Norway, you can opt out of telemarketing. You enter your number into a public database, and all companies in the country have to check their lists every few months. Serious companies do actually follow this, and I had opted out years ago, so I was both surprised and annoyed to get this call.

Turns out, there’s an exemption. If you’re already in a customer relationship with a company, they’re allowed to communicate with you. The intention of the exemption is to let companies communicate valuable information since you’re already a customer. Many companies, however, abuse this and use the opportunity to simply send a bunch of ads in the mail or call you on the phone, wanting to sell you stuff.

It gets worse. I didn’t even have a relationship with [Phone Company #2]! So how could they call me? I did some digging into the legal stuff and found out: the company that sold me the prepaid card was the parent company of the company that kept calling, so technically, they were within the boundaries of the law.

The calls kept coming, and I eventually answered one, attempting to really explain why I wasn’t interested.

Me: “[My Surname].”

Telemarketer #3: “Hi, is this [My First Name]?”

Me: “Yeah…”

Telemarketer #3: “Hi, [My First Name], this is [Telemarketer #3] from [Phone Company #2]. I was wondering…”

Me: “…if you can sell me a monthly plan, yes, I know.”

Telemarketer #3: “I have this great offer for you—”

Me: “Look: I know what you’re offering. Here’s the thing: I’ve bought this prepaid card specifically because I didn’t want a monthly plan. If I wanted that, I would have bought one. I didn’t. So I don’t. I already have a monthly subscription on my other phone; this is just a backup, a phone I’m not using. Understand?”

Telemarketer #3: “But you can get…”

They started to go through a script of the plan: such and such a number of call minutes and SMS texts included, etc.

Me: “It’s irrelevant. I’m not using this phone.”

Telemarketer #3: “But it’s a great offer—”

Me: “It’s really not. I’m not sending any text messages or making any calls per month from this phone, so why would I want to pay for that? I preferred to just pay that one amount I already paid so that I can make a couple of calls to alert people if the other phone dies. There’s no reason for me to buy any monthly plan for this phone. Can you take me off your call list now?”

Telemarketer #3: “Okay, I just wanted to make you this good offer.”

Me: “Yeah, so you’ve told me…” *Hangs up*

I kept getting calls up to five times a day. I never picked up. I eventually turned off the phone so that whenever they called, they’d get a busy signal. Later, wanting to test how often they tried, I turned it on for a while to see how long it took for the phone to ring. It was never more than an hour. I figured they actually had me on a priority call list and tried to call me once every hour. Talk about not getting the message.

Eventually, they shut the phone down. Turns out, they can do that; it’s in the fine print. If the prepaid card hasn’t been used up in six months — I told you I wasn’t really using that phone, didn’t I? — the number goes inactive and they can shut down the service. They said it was because they needed to limit the number of active numbers, but I think they just want to force people to buy their subscriptions. I didn’t care much, since I didn’t really use the phone anyway and the calls just became a nuisance.

That parent company still exists and is one of the biggest in the country. They are not known for their good customer service, though, and having experienced this first-hand, I haven’t done any business with them since. And I never will.

The Animals Come First — As It Should Be

, , , , , , , | Healthy | March 6, 2023



We’ve had sled dogs for the past twenty years. We use them for pulling and carrying to fulfill their needs but keep them as family pets. At most, we’ve had five dogs. Now we only have one left: Gamlemor. She’s turning thirteen this March. As responsible pet owners, we visit our veterinarian at least once a year — twice a year after they turn ten.

Being a senior dog, Gamlemor is starting to get some “extra” issues as most beings do when getting old. Off to the vet we go, same as always. We’ve used this practice for eighteen years now, and we adore our veterinarian.

He’s got a good size office, with many employees with this very same type of dedication.

I take “Gamlemor” in for itchy ears and a lump on her chest. I think she needs an ear flush for the itch and the lump is just “another lump of fat”. (She’s had a few over the years.)

However, this time, her ear has some deformation and the lump is cancerous. And checking her ears, they notice that a few of her teeth need to come out, as well.

I am very emotional at the moment, so there are probably some variations to the wording. Here’s approximately how this conversation went.

Vet: “The tumor is out, and we are quite sure we got all of it plus some good margins. But she’s an old girl, so belly rubs need to happen every day and you need to be thorough.”

Me: “She already gets them. I just can’t believe we missed this.”

Vet: “Thorough?”

Me: *Through sobs* “Obviously not.”

Vet: “Now, I’ve booked a date for removing the bad teeth, but I’m more concerned about her inner ear. And we need to be clear about what to expect. This is calcification or cancer. This is serious. A CT will tell us more about where it is, but there’s not a lot to do about it.”

Me: “Okay. Is she in pain? What options are there?”

Vet: “It’s not what you want to hear, but Gamlemor is not comfortable. She’s not showing it, but her teeth alone would cause a bit of pain and the ear makes her itchy and dizzy. I’d recommend managing her condition depending on the CT. And there’s an option to remove the inner ear, but it’s extremely painful.”

Me: “Okay!” *Sobs* “What does ‘managing’ mean? Why not operate? The pain is temporary, right? How much is it? Can you do it?”

Vet: “‘Managing’ is medication. I’ll tell you the price for dental care. But… it’s my job to inform you that there are options. I can do the operation, but I won’t. I won’t subject Gamlemor to this at her age. It’s a lot of pain for two to four weeks, and there’s a chance it won’t heal well or at all. And with her age and sensitivity, it’s not an option in my opinion. There are other practices that will take care of this if you absolutely have to, but try to ask why before doing anything. Is it for Gamlemor or yourself?”

Me: *Ugly crying* “You’re such an a**hole, sometimes. You know that?”

Vet: “Yes, but you know this, too: I do business with you because you pay your dues. I like you because you listen and you care about your animals. But I love Gamlemor. Here, take this.” *Hands me a tissue* “And take a moment. I’ll print your appointment and put together an invoice for dental care.”

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we keep coming back. This vet is autistic. He’s not great with people. But he’s honest, direct, and hard-working. And he loves his job because he loves animals. When we show up with our pets, this practice is their voice of reason when we’re upset or not thinking straight.

When we visit, they greet our pets the way their personalities preferred it, and then they greet us. “Do you want something to drink? Great, I’ll bring your human something, too.”

A veterinarian nurse said on our second visit, “You’re the wallet; this is the patient,” while rubbing Oscar’s belly with both hands.

Gamlemor is now on medication for arthritis, inflammation, and pain relief. She’s comfortable, playful, and happy. We might be able to keep her around for a few months still, a year if we’re lucky. She’s on follow-ups every two months — something we asked for, so Gamlemor has her advocate when it’s time for her to go, but forever.

Raining On Their Own Parades

, , , , , , , | Friendly | March 1, 2023

In Norway, we have something called the “russ celebration”. It’s to celebrate when we graduate high school and is generally just a bunch of young adults partying and behaving wildly.

While the celebrations have escalated wildly over the last couple of decades, costing enormous sums of money for decorated vehicles, stereo sets, and going to festivals, one of the longest-running traditions is that the “russ” have to participate in our Seventeenth of May parade; that’s our Constitution Day. That also means that, traditionally, the night before is the biggest party night. For our American readers, this whole thing kind of becomes like spring break and the Fourth of July all rolled up in one.

When I was a “russ”, I wasn’t drinking much; I was one of the people organizing the parties rather than getting hammered all the time. (The legal drinking age in Norway is eighteen.) Some of the guys teased me a bit over this, but I felt like I didn’t really need to be on the sauce all the time. Therefore, while we partied all through the night on the sixteenth of May, I stayed relatively sober while my classmates got drunker and drunker. At this point, some of them really started teasing, saying ironically how much of a shame it was that I had to organize things and leave the drinking to them.

On the morning of the seventeenth, just before the big parade was due to start, most of the guys were hungover, probably still drunk. Then, it occurred to them that in order to drive their special vehicles in the parade, they’d have to be sober!

Suddenly, the light drinker was very much sought-after as I could fulfil the role of stand-in designated driver.