Burst Pipes And Expectations

, , , , , | Right | April 1, 2021

I work for a computer and telecommunications company in downtown Toronto as a records manager. Although we do have electronic records, we keep paper copies for legal purposes.

A pipe bursts on the twelfth floor of the building and causes a considerable amount of water damage to offices on the floors below. None of the paper records are damaged, but it will take over five months before repairs to the damaged offices are completed. During that time, my coworkers and I are displaced and relocated to our branch office in the west end of the city.

Only two days after the “flood,” I receive this phone call.

Me: “[My Name], how can I help you?”

Caller: “Thank God you answered your phone! I left you a voicemail yesterday and you didn’t respond!”

Me: “I’m sorry about that. I only just got settled in at my new desk, and I didn’t have a phone until late afternoon.”

Caller: “I need to borrow the [Vendor] file.”

Me: “Okay, I can send you an electronic copy.”

Caller: “No, I don’t want an electronic copy. I need to see the paper copy.”

Me: “Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the paper copy. I’m working out of another office at the moment.”

Caller: “Why? I thought your desk was on the tenth floor?”

Me: “It was, but I’ve been displaced because of the water pipe bursting.”

Caller: “The water pipe?! I’m on the eighteenth floor and I haven’t moved!”

Me: “Yes, but I’m on the tenth floor and our office was badly damaged.”

Caller: “I need that file; can you get it for me?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Caller: “Why not?”

Me: “Well, because I’ll be working out of this office for the next few months until the damage is repaired. I can send you an electronic copy.”

Caller: “No! I absolutely must look at the paper copy. This is very urgent! Can’t you come over and get it for me?”

Me: “I don’t think I can do that.”

Caller: “Why not?”

Me: “First of all, it would take me more than an hour to get there from where I am now. I would need to take a bus, a streetcar, and the subway. Plus, the tenth floor is closed off and under construction. It would be a health and safety risk if I tried to get in.”

Caller: “I’m on the eighteenth floor; the water pipe didn’t cause any damage up here!”

Me: “Yes, well, since water flows down and not upward, I’m sure it didn’t. But it has caused damage to my office and I don’t have access to the paper copy. I can send you an electronic one if you’d like.”

Caller: “Oh, just forget it! I’ll take a look at the paper copy when you come back!”

I hope her request wasn’t too urgent. We were displaced for over a year and a half!

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On Cold Days, The Customers Are Colder

, , , , , | Right | March 26, 2021

It was one of the coldest winter days this year in my part of Ontario; the temperature is -25 degrees, -30 with the wind chill. A lady called to complain that the takeout she ordered got cold enough on the fifteen-minute drive home that she had to rewarm it.

It was hard to find the sincerity in my voice to apologize to her.

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How To Make An Entrance

, , , , , , | Right | March 23, 2021

A group of three people, one of whom is using a walker, enters the foyer area of the warehouse here I work. It is about -4°C/25°F plus windchill coming in through the doors. After about twenty minutes, the gentleman in the group approaches me.

Gentleman: “We are waiting for our friend who has the card, but can we come inside? My aunt is feeling really cold.”

Me: “Oh, definitely! Tell her to sit right here.” *Points to a spot* “It’s the warmest spot at the entrance.”

With many thanks, they enter and stay put about six feet behind me. In the almost forty-five minutes they wait for their friend, they overhear me, multiple times, asking people for their membership cards.

At about the half-hour mark, I ask one “lady” for her card. I won’t repeat her response because I like to keep things family-friendly. I do not react or comment, as I have been called worse. From behind me, I hear:

Gentleman: *Loudly* “Well, ain’t she special!”

The “lady” starts swearing at him.

Gentleman: *To me* “Do you get that a lot?”

Me: “Unfortunately, yes. But all I can do is ask if they have their card.”

Gentleman: “Well, that’s not right!”

Me: “Sir, you can say that. I can’t.”

We repeat the request and response with a few more members. The gentleman has various retorts.

Gentleman: “D***! Even I know the rules, and I ain’t even a member.”

Gentleman: “Too cool to pull plastic!”

Gentleman: “Yooo! Are you deaf?”

By the time their friend showed up, this group, especially the gentleman, called out at least ten people for ignoring quite publicly-known policy for the membership-only store!

They made my normally miserable Saturday entrance shift MUCH more enjoyable! They called out the members for behaviour that I cannot — at least, not if I want to keep my job.

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Making Assumptions Costs A Lot Of Gas

, , , , , | Working | March 18, 2021

There is a group of us older folks that have the old Toronto area code on our cell phones. This area code has not been available now for a considerable amount of time and having one almost immediately puts you into the “likely owns a home” demographic.

As a result, many aggressive sales companies autodial these numbers in attempts to sell services; they are handled by call centres with live people.

I get these calls about two to three times a week.

Me: “Hello?”

Employee #1: “Good morning, sir! I would like to offer you a great opportunity to have your whole house ducts cleaned, for an unbelievable price of only—”

Me: “That’s fantastic! But I need to know, what is your service area? Because I’m not downtown anymore.”

Employee #1: “We service all of Ontario, and will send one of our trucks out as soon as my manager gets all your details. You are in Ontario, correct?”

Me: “Yes, sir! Please put me through to your manager; I’d love to book a duct cleaning.”

I am put on hold and a new person starts asking me questions: how big is your home, how many bedrooms, how many square feet, how old is the furnace, etc. I exaggerate the size of my house because I know that they are drooling at the bit to upcharge me from their hook price that is unbelievably cheap.

Finally, they ask for my “neighborhood,” which is an odd question when they don’t know what city I am in. So, I reply:

Me: “[Neighborhood] by the hospital. “

Manager: “Excellent, sir… and street number and name?”

I give the street number and name, and I hear typing in the background.

Manager: “That isn’t coming up on my computer, sir. What is the postal code?”

I give him my postal code in Kapuskasing, Ontario, about a nine-hour drive from Toronto.

Manager: “Okay, that’s coming up… ah… That can’t be right.”

I am put on hold again, and a third person picks up the phone.

Employee #2: “Good morning! I’m here to book your duct cleaning time. We work between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. I see that you have a 2,600-square-foot house and it will take us about an hour and a half to properly clean everything. We can have a truck at your house by… 5:00 pm… Wait… Something isn’t right. Let’s see if I make you the first stop of the day… If you’re the first stop, the earliest is 5:00 pm. What the… Sir, do you even live in Ontario?”

I give him my postal code again. Yes, I live in Ontario.

Employee #2: “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m not sending two guys and a truck driving for nine hours one way to clean your ducts, let alone paying for their hotel and then losing another day for them to come back. Get someone else to do it.”

And he hung up. The next day, I got the same call centre and we did this all again.

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I Bust The Windows Out Your Car

, , , , , , , | Friendly | March 15, 2021

There is a waterfront trail near where I live which has a large breakwater along the side of it made from compacted flat stones. The flat stones are a lot of fun to build with and people often build Inukshuks — traditionally indigenous stone people — from the stones.

One night, I am walking along the trail and I see a guy get off his bike and climb onto the breakwater to build an Inukshuk. A few minutes later, a big black truck drives up and parks illegally in front of the breakwater. The truck is huge, freshly washed, and left running the whole time. 

Out hops a skinny guy in a black T-shirt and camo pants. He climbs up on the breakwater and starts kicking over the Inukshuks people have built on it. When he sees the other man building an Inukshuk, [Camo Pants] walks up to him and kicks it over, right as the man is bent over trying to put one of the rocks in place, nearly kicking the other man in the face in the process.

The guy straightens up and looks at camo pants.

Guy: “Hey, man, you just trying to be a d**k?”

Camo Pants: “Yep!”

The guy looks at the large square stone in his hands.

Guy: “Funny. Me, too.”

And the guy threw the large stone as hard as he could through the windshield of [Camo Pants]’s truck, hopped on his bike, and took off.

This story is part of our Best Of March 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of March 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of March 2021 roundup!

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