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This Day Took A Turn At The Turnpike

, , , , | Working | May 25, 2017

Every year in the month of May, a particular venue in my state has a Renaissance Festival that is open every weekend of that month. My partner and I decide to take our twin boys this year, as we haven’t been able to attend for several years.

The drive is about an hour on the turnpike, and we are four miles from our exit when our engine overheats and we have to pull off to the side of the road. When I pop the hood, white smoke emerges from the engine in a very impressive plume.

I try to call our roommate, but get no answer, so I start looking up tow trucks and mechanics on my phone. My partner is pretty upset, as we had been planning the trip for weeks, and the twins are starting to fuss because they are realizing we won’t be able to attend.

I call a tow company in the town we were heading to and they say that they could come to get us, but no mechanic in town is open on a Sunday. I thank them, then manage to find a mobile mechanic all the way back in our hometown, almost an hour away.

As I am talking to the mechanic, I notice a vehicle pull to the side of the road ahead of us and a woman get out. She’s walking back in our direction, so I go to meet her. She hands me a gallon jug of water and said she had noticed us and was worried we would overheat. She checks to see if we have somebody coming for us and I reassure her that a mechanic is on the way. I thank her and she gives me a quick hug, then goes on her way.

I take the water back to the car, where my sons are extremely grateful for it, as they had finished off the drinks we had brought for the trip. We settle in to wait for the mechanic, who, on arrival, sets to work.

While he is working, a Highway Patrol Officer pulls up behind our car. I look at my partner in confusion, then to the mechanic, who glances toward the police car and asks if we had called for one. We both shake our head and pretty soon the trooper emerges and comes up to ask if we’re okay or need any help. I explain that we’re having car trouble, but the mechanic is here with us and a kind woman has given us water already, so we are in no danger. Once he is sure that we are safe, he lets us know to call him if we need him, then goes back to his car and sets off.

It turns out that our thermostat is bad, so he replaces that and adds new coolant to the engine, but when we turn it on again, it almost immediately overheats. He spends nearly an hour trying to figure out what is wrong before we all finally have to accept that he can’t fix it. I pay him for his services, but before he leaves he insists on following our car to the rest stop down the road to make sure we get somewhere cool where we can sit.

As this is going on, my partner is posting to his Facebook in frustration about the situation. Our roommate’s boyfriend spots the post. He offers to come and pick us up, even though we know he is very short on gas money due to having a tight financial situation.

The mechanic follows us to the rest stop and has me stay on the phone with him while we get there so that I can update him on the engine. Once we arrive at the rest stop, he comes inside with us and waits to make certain we have a ride back to town before he is willing to leave us.

My partner goes ahead and gets food for us and I call the tow company from before. It turns out that they suspected we would need to call them back, so they already had the information I had given them earlier, and were able to dispatch a driver pretty quickly.

The driver picks me and our car up, but offers to stay until our friend arrives to pick up my partner and the twins, not wanting to leave them stranded. We reassure him that it will be fine, so he sets out for the almost hour drive back to our house. The whole time he and I chat about cars, customers, and other things, including how it would probably be an ‘easy fix’ for my car and that I shouldn’t worry.

When he drops me and the car off at our house and I pay him, I also thank him profusely, especially for having been willing to make such a long drive. He reassures me that it is all part of the job and that he had enjoyed chatting with me, then heads on his way.

About an hour later my partner, my kids, and our roommate and her boyfriend arrive. I offer to go with him and fill up his tank in thanks, but he turns me down, saying it is fine and he knows we would have done the same for him. I still manage to get him to take a ten dollar pre-paid gas card, but only after quite a bit of insistence on my part.

To the kind woman, the kind mechanic, the kind Highway Patrol Officer, the kind tow truck driver, and our roommate and her boyfriend, if you’re reading this and remember a blue PT Cruiser stranded on the turnpike, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made a day that could have been so much worse turn out a lot better for a gay couple and their kids.

Will Not Be Party To Your Demands

, , , , , , | Right | May 8, 2017

(I work at a place that hosts parties, period; nothing else. We have two play areas where the parties start. After 90 minutes the groups move into smaller rooms for food, cake, and gifts. The staff cleans the play rooms quickly and then another party moves in. We can accommodate up to 10 parties per area, per day, so we keep to a very tight and strict schedule. This call occurs too often in some form or another but this lady was probably the worst. It is Thursday.)

Me: “Thanks for calling [Party Place]. How can I help you today?”

Caller: “We’re going to have a party there Saturday at 2:00 or 2:30.”

Me: “Okay, what is the child’s name so I can pull up your party plan?”

Caller: *gives name*

Me: “I’m sorry; I don’t have a party under that name. What’s your name? I can look it up that way, too.”

Caller: *gives name*

Me: “I’m not finding that name, either. When did you book the party?”

Caller: “I’m booking it now!”

Me: “Oh, sorry for the confusion. We are completely booked for this Saturday. Would you like to try for another day? Let me look for openings.”

Caller: “What do you mean, you’re booked?”

Me: “We have parties scheduled for every available slot on Saturday. I have one opening on Sunday at seven pm and a few during the upcoming week on weeknights.”

Caller: “No! We’re having the party on Saturday. His birthday is on Saturday! Who would have a party on Sunday night?”

Me: “I’m sorry; we have no openings for Saturday.”

Caller: “Why not?!”

Me: “They have all been booked by others.”

Caller: “When?!”

Me: “We generally book our weekends three to five weeks ahead of time.”

Caller: “Nobody told me that.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. When did you call before?”

Caller: “I’ve never called before. So how do we get a party there for this Saturday?”

Me: “I can’t book a party for you for this Saturday. I have one spot open for next Saturday at eight am. The following Saturday has two openings at—”

Caller: “THIS Saturday!”

Me: “All the time slots for this Saturday are booked.”

Caller: “Who’s having a party at two?”

Me: “We keep our guest list private.”

Caller: “We’ll just share with them.”

Me: “All of our parties are private.”

Caller: “Call them and tell them I want that spot.”

Me: “No.”

Caller: “Give me their number and I’ll call them.”

Me: “No.”

Caller: “I need to talk to your manager.”

Me: “That would be me.”

Caller: “This is stupid! My son wants a party there on Saturday.”

Me: “I understand that. However, there are no time slots available for Saturday.”

Caller: “Well, why the h*** not?”

Me: “It would seem many people wanted parties here this Saturday and 20 people actually booked one.”

Caller: “WHEN?!”

Me: “As I said, our weekends generally fill up three to five weeks in advance.”

Caller: “Well, that is just stupid! You’ve ruined my son’s birthday! We’ve sent out invitations!”

(This line fills me with dread. We have a pretty decent system to get each party group from the lobby, into the proper check-in room, and then into the play rooms. If a random group begins to show up, they will throw a wrench into the system and we will have to monitor the check-in rooms closely to make sure non-party guests do not slip in.)

Me: “Ma’am, I don’t know why you would send out invitations to a party you had not booked. There is no way your guests will be able to attend a party here this weekend. If you’d like to book for another day, I’ll be happy to look at the calendar; if not, we have nothing further to discuss.”


(She hangs up. I think, as I always do when folks use that line, “Hmm, which one of us actually knew your son’s birthday before today?” Although not on the schedule, I come in on Saturday just in case. From 1:30 to 5:00 we have random people come in asking where the party is for a child of the same name the caller had mentioned, so I can only assume it is her guests. Since they don’t come en masse, it is not all that difficult to explain that there is no party and get them out of the building. A few ask if their kids can “just play” and I explain that we book private parties only and have no open play areas for public use. Our parties are only two hours long so the time span has me even more confused about this woman. She clearly had no idea what we offer. Sunday comes. I often stop in on Sunday nights to get the weekend accounts settled. I am in my office reviewing receipts. The last party is winding down and the staff are getting things ready for closing when the shift manager comes in.)

Shift Manager: “Um, there’s a lady in the lobby who says she has a party booked for seven pm. It’s not on the books. The staff for party room A is still here, though.”

Me: “Oh, for… I think I know who it is. I’ll handle it. Ask the staff if they can stay. It is unlikely they’ll have to. I’ll cover for anyone who has to go home.

(I go out to the lobby.)

Me: “Hello there. Can I get your na—”

Person: *clearly the caller from a few days before* “We. Are. Going. To. Have. A. Party.”

Me: “We don’t have anyone on the calendar. When did you book?”

Person: “I was told there was an opening on Sunday at seven pm. Well, it’s Sunday at seven pm!”

Me: “It is actually 7:20. Our staff for Party Room A has not left so we can accommodate you. How many guests will you have?”

Person: “What does that matter?”

Me: “We charge based on occupancy. If you are expecting fewer than 15 kids, the smaller party package is $175. If you are expecting more, the larger package is $250.”

Person: “WHAT?! That’s outrageous! I’m not paying that!”

Me: “That’s the cost.”

Person: “How much pizza do we get for that?”

Me: “None. Pizza is extra and it has to be ordered in advance. We cannot offer pizza tonight.”

Person: “This is crazy!” *to the two kids standing with her* “Just go play back there. This is crap.”

Me: “Ma’am, they can’t go back there. We’ll need to gather all your guests together for a safety video first and then everyone will go back together.”

Person: “Everyone’s not here yet.”

Me: “We’ll wait for a little while.”

Person: “Some aren’t coming until eight.”

Me: “We can show latecomers the videos when they get here but if they come at 8 they won’t have much time to play. You’ll be going into the party room at 8:30 for cake and gifts.”

Person: “What kind of cake?”

Me: “We don’t supply the cake.”

Person: “What do you supply? This is crap! We are going to play until 10 if we want to. This is crap.”

Me: “Ma’am, we have a system. Our parties are two hours long. Guests play in the play room for 90 minutes then move into the party room for half an hour. That is all the time the party lasts. Now, how would you like to pay?”

Person: “We aren’t paying until it is over!”

Me: “No. You didn’t book this party. We are willing to accommodate you. Members of my staff are willing to stay longer than they were scheduled. I am willing to assist with this party. But it will be paid for before anyone steps through the check-in door.”

(The lady storms over to the check-in door, which is a half-door with a door knob. It also has a small latch on the inside, easy to reach but not visible. It is there so no one inadvertently wanders through. She grabs the knob and pushes but does not stop moving so she slams right into it when it did not open.)


Me: “Yes, ma’am, as soon as we take care of payment.”

(She grabbed her kids by the hands and stormed out. The shift manager stepped to the door and locked it. I called mall security and went into the party room for the remaining group whose party was supposed to end in about five minutes. Security got there and the lady was screaming in the parking lot. They got her moved on pretty quickly and by the time the other party kids were leaving, there was nothing to see. We locked the doors, turned off the front lights, and gathered in a party room for sodas. We heard knocks on the door but ignored them. It took the staff about an hour to get everything cleaned and shut down for the night. During that time, there were many knocks on the door. None were answered.)


Every Waitress Is Someone’s Daughter

, , , , | Right | January 3, 2017

(I am working as a cashier in a fast food restaurant, and a customer has been yelling at me because I won’t take his expired coupon. I’m new to the establishment and I’m on the verge of tears. Suddenly, another customer intervenes.)

Customer #2: “You heard the lady! That is not going to work, so leave her alone!”

([Customer #1] turns around as if to lash at him, realizes [Customer #2] is way taller than him and scoots away without another word. [Customer #2] seems angrier than one would expect.)

Me: “Thanks for that, really.”

Customer #2: “My pleasure. The thing is that my daughter’s first job was at [Similar Establishment], and she learned a lot about responsibilities and finances. Do you know what I learned?”

Me: “Uhh… what?”

Customer #2: “I learned that you haven’t felt true fury until the day your little girl comes home crying because some jerk yelled at her on her first day.”

(Customers who care are truly the best.)

Another Death After The Funeral

, , , , | Working | November 18, 2016

(My grandfather passes away the Wednesday before Labor Day, and I go to his funeral. It’s an 800-mile trip, one way, to get there. As my supervisor lost her husband on the same day, this leaves the store SEVERELY shorthanded on one of the busiest days of the year. I was supposed to be back that Monday, but the funeral director talked my father into having the funeral ON Monday, and the burial was Tuesday. So, I am gone for a week and terrified I’ll be in trouble for having been gone much longer than expected. On Thursday, I walk into the store, carrying the paper with the obituary, the planner showing I was at the funeral, and even my grandfather’s flag to prove I wasn’t just skipping out of work.)

Assistant Manager: “[My Name], you need to go to the office. [Manager] needs to talk to you.”

Me: *anxious* “No, no, see, [Assistant Manager], I really was at a funeral! I’ve got the things you need to prove it, and the director talked my dad into having it two days later than it was supposed to be, and I’m so sorry. I—”

Assistant Manager: *suddenly very stern* “You need to get into that office, right now, and talk to [Manager]!”

(I go into the office, having a massive panic attack and thinking I’m in serious trouble and on the verge of being fired.)

Manager: “Oh, there you are.”

Me: “[Manager], really, I was at a funeral. You know I don’t like skipping work. I’ll take a write-up. Please don’t fire me! I have the things you need. I even brought his flag!”

Manager: *confused* “[My Name], what are you talking about? I know you were at a funeral. I wanted to give you the plant we bought for you.”

(I take the plant and carry it out. My panic has faded, and I just turn and glare at the assistant manager, who smiles, and I realize she was playing me.)

Assistant Manager: “So! Do you like the plant?”

Me: “Which car is yours? I need to go key it.”

This story is part of our Labor Day roundup!

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Much A-Gluten About Nothing, Part 2

, , , | Working | October 8, 2016

(I do all of my shopping at this store. While I’ve never worked here or even at a grocery in general, I know pretty much where everything is. Tonight, I’m in the Asian food section, with a worker next to me looking bewildered at a packet of instant rice noodles.)

Me: “Having trouble?”

Worker #1: “Oh! Eh, heh… yeah. I’m stocking, but I don’t know where this goes…”

(To be fair, the brand has most of its items in this aisle.)

Me: “Oh, well, I’m pretty sure those are actually in the gluten-free section, near the bread. It’s a little weird since they’re an Asian food, but they are gluten-free, too.”

Worker #1: “Really? You think?”

(Another worker walks by.)

Worker #1: “Hey, [Worker #2]! Where does this go?”

Worker #2: “It should go right there!”

(She comes over to look and is immediately confused by the absence of this product in this aisle.)

Worker #2: “Huh… but there’s a ton of stuff from this brand here.”

Me: “As I said, I’m pretty sure it’s in with the gluten-free stuff. But good luck!”

(I move on in my shopping, but on my way out of the store, [Worker] #1 spots me again.)

Worker #1: “Hey! It was in the gluten-free stuff! You were RIGHT!”

This story is part of our Celiac Awareness Day roundup!

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