She’s Playing Hardball

, , , , | Right | February 26, 2021

I am working at a retail portrait studio. A woman brings her young son in for an appointment and I’m going over the details of their session.

Customer: “…and then I want a picture of him throwing a baseball at the camera.”

I know we have a foam baseball available, so I agree, and we get started. I hand the little boy the foam baseball.

Customer: “No! It has to be this one!”

She hands the ball to her little boy.

Me: “Ma’am, that is a real baseball. I can’t let him throw that toward the camera.”

Customer: “Oh, relax, it’ll be fine! Throw it, [Child]!”

He throws it, but I have to put the camera down and duck out of the way.

Customer: “You missed it!”

Me: “Ma’am, I’m serious. I could get hurt, you could get hurt, the equipment could get damaged… I can’t let him throw the baseball at the camera.”

Customer: “He’s not even three yet; he can’t throw that hard! It’ll be fine!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we cannot do it. He can hold the ball, but if you want him to throw a ball, it has to be the foam one.”

She calls me a name under her breath, but I choose to let it slide.

Customer: “Fine. I guess you don’t care about serving the customer. We can let him hold it only, but you can bet I’ll be leaving a negative review!”

She hands him the real baseball and I pick the camera back up and get ready to photograph again. She waits until I’ve taken a couple of pictures of him holding it.

Customer: “Okay, now throw it, baby!”

He throws the ball at me as hard as he can, and his little aim is dead on. He breaks the lens hood on the camera, sending it flying back into my face and giving me a black eye.

Customer: “Did you get it? Tell me you got it!”

Me: “No, ma’am, our session is over.” 

Customer: “What?! I had a whole other outfit!”

Me: “No. The camera is broken and now I have to fill out an incident report.”

I get up and exit the room, and she follows me, screaming.

Customer: “I’m not leaving without my pictures! I want to finish the session!”

I am trying really hard to stay calm, but I’m literally shaking as I speak.

Me: “I am ending the session. Your images will be sent to our corporate office so they can assess this violation of our safety procedures. They will contact you if they can release the photos.”

Customer: “You f****** b****! I will have your job!”

Me: *Putting my hand on the phone* “If you don’t leave, I’ll have to call security.”

It turned out that I didn’t have to call them. The woman started screaming bloody murder — seriously, horror movie loud — and the optical department next door called for me. Security escorted the woman and her bewildered son out of the store. She never got her pictures. I felt so bad for the poor kid, who didn’t do anything but try to listen to his mother’s directions. I hope he turned out okay.

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Parenting Doesn’t Always Start Swimmingly

, , , | Right | February 25, 2021

I am a lifeguard. When I am just starting, I notice a man and his young daughter. At our pool, if a child is under six years old, they get a red wristband and a parent or guardian has to be with them in the pool at all times. This man is not in the pool with his daughter, so I approach to remind him.

Me: “Excuse me, sir. Your daughter is under six years old, so you are required to be with her in the water for safety reasons.”

Guest: “Oh, okay. Sorry, I’m new here and didn’t know.”

Me: “That’s quite all right, as long as you know for next time.”

Guest: “Hey, where’s your nearest bathroom?”

Me: “Just behind you in the men’s locker room.”

Guest: “Would you mind watching her for a minute while I go to the bathroom?”

Me: “Um…”

I am a little stunned someone would actually ask me that. His daughter is still in the pool.

Guest: “I guess not, huh?” *To his daughter* “Hey, sweetie, I need to go to the bathroom, so you need to get out of the water to wait for me, okay?”

The girl climbs out of the pool while her father goes to the bathroom.

Guest’s Daughter: “Can I get back in the water now?”

Me: “Not yet. You have to wait for your dad to come back.”

The man came back and got in the water with her. Everything was fine after that. He wasn’t rude or anything; I was just a little lost as to what to do. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have let him leave his kid alone on the pool deck. I did stay near in case she needed help, but to leave your kid alone? He confuses me.

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Keep The Ring In The Family, Lose The Weird Prejudices

, , , , | Related | February 25, 2021

This conversation takes place when I’m at the age where jewellery starts becoming a part of my life. My mom promised me anything I wanted from her collection as a gift. She’s taken all her jewellery out and is showing me the pieces, one by one.

We’ve gone through a truly surprising number of pieces, including a ring engraved with my name that I am eyeing. But then she pulls out one last ring, and it stands out because of how old it looks.

Mom: “And this horridly outdated piece is our family engagement ring. It’s been passed down from mother to daughter since before World War Two. I got it off Grandma back when she thought she was going to die any day.”

Me: “Wait, what? But Grandma’s so healthy.”

Mom: “Turned out to be a false alarm, but she gave me all her jewels back then. She really regrets that now.”

Me: “Wait, it’s an engagement ring. How is it that mothers give it to daughters? I thought engagement rings were given by the guy?”

Mom: “Normally, it’s given from mother to daughter-in-law. Well, more accurately, the son will ask his mother’s permission to marry, and his mother will give him the ring to propose with. But as things happen, Grandma doesn’t actually like [Aunt #1], [Aunt #3], and [Aunt #4].”

Me: “What? But they’re all so nice.”

Mom: “Well, Grandma was supposed to give it to [Uncle #1], but she didn’t like [Aunt #1]. She thought she was a gold digger, so my older brother didn’t get the ring. Not that it stopped him.”

Me: “Ridiculous. [Aunt #1] is my nicest aunt.”

Mom: “My mom had this silly belief that brides shouldn’t be older than their groom, and [Aunt #1] is older than [Uncle #1].”

I shake my head in disbelief.

Me: “Then what happened with [Aunt #3]?”

Mom: “Back then, Grandma didn’t actually think architects were a real job. So she was really annoyed that [Uncle #2] became an architect. So when my younger brother married [Aunt #3], who was another architect… Well, there’s a reason they live in another country.”

Me: “I get the point.”

Mom: “And I trust we don’t have to discuss [Aunt #4]?”

Me: “Nope. I already know what Grandma thinks of [Aunt #2] marrying [Aunt #4].”

My mother’s older sister had to go overseas to do it, as Singaporean law forbade — and still forbids — same-sex marriage. Grandma still insists that the marriage is invalid.

Me: “So, because she never gave it away, you got it when she gave you all her jewels.”

Mom: “That, and I’m her only child that had a ‘respectable’ marriage.”

I snort.

Mom: “Anyway. That’s the last piece in my collection. Want the engagement ring?”

Me: “No, thanks. Maybe in the future. For now, the ring I want literally has my name on it.”

That conversation was nearly a decade ago. Now, I have that ancient engagement ring in hand and am about to go out for dinner with my girlfriend. Wish me luck.


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

Read the next Best Of February 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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She Put What In Where?!

, , , , , | Related | February 24, 2021

Cooking and baking are hobbies of mine, and whenever I make something, my family is quick to eat it all. On this occasion, I make macaroni and cheese, but I use a bunch of tricks to improve the boxed stuff, such as heavily seasoning the pasta water and making the cheese sauce in a separate pot. My mother finds my alterations odd, but my younger brothers love it and I’ll gobble it up right alongside them.

Brother #1: “What are we gonna do when you go to college and can’t make this for us anymore?”

Mom: “It’s boxed mac and cheese. I make that for you all the time.”

Brother #1: “But it’s better when [My Name] makes it!”

Mom: “What am I, chopped liver?”

Brother #2: “You like tuna in mac and cheese! You don’t get to decide what’s good!”

She never did learn to salt her pasta water… or how to make all of us tuna-hating kids see the appeal of mixing tuna into mac and cheese.

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It’s Like The Reverse Hotel California

, , , , , | Related | February 24, 2021

England is in its third national lockdown. My mother and I are on the phone. We live about three hundred miles apart and, due to the restrictions and also the fact that my mother is at increased risk of serious illness, we have not seen each other for about ten months. During the emergency, my mother has been sending me little gifts of candy or books that I’ve wanted, and she wants to do something extra special for me for Valentine’s.

Mum: “So, I thought I could book you in at [Nice Local Hotel] for afternoon tea. How does that sound?”

Me: “Sure, when they’re open again.”

Mum: “Oh, are they closed?”

Me: “Mum, everywhere’s closed at the moment.”

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