A Well-Bread Agent

, , , , , , | Working | February 23, 2021

I am flying out to visit my parents several states away. My husband can’t come with me but sends a gift: a loaf of his homemade holiday bread. Since I don’t want to pack the bread in my luggage in case of loss — or crumbs — I tuck it into my carry-on bag. The security line is super-busy, and I get waved aside.

TSA Agent: “Ma’am, we’ll need to look through your bag.”

Me: “I understand.”

The agent opens the bag and lifts out the loaf, which is wrapped in foil and still faintly warm. He looks profoundly confused.

Me: “Oh, that’s holiday bread. My husband baked it.”

TSA Agent: *Taking a slow sniff* “It’s… bread.”

Me: “Yep. It’s got raisins and dried cherries in it.”

TSA Agent: *Smiling* “I’m terribly afraid I have to confiscate this.”

Me: “Confiscate some warm melted butter to put on top of it, too!”

He waved me through with a smile, and the bread got safely to my parents, who enjoyed it.

1 Thumbs
330

Some People Are A Real Mystery

, , , , | Right | February 23, 2021

I am browsing the mystery section of a used bookstore and I pick up a book by an author I really like. The lady browsing beside me takes notice of the book I’ve picked up: a cozy mystery about a member of a knitting club being accused of murder. I should point out that I am twenty-two years old. I am also barely five feet tall and have what I call “baby cheeks,” making me appear younger.

The lady speaks to me as though speaking to a small child.

Lady: “Oh, sweetie, you don’t want that book. That book’s for big girls.”

I look around for a little girl, see no one else in that section, and realize that she is talking to me.

Me: “Uh, excuse me?”

Lady: “That book you’re holding. I know it has cute little kitties on the cover, but it’s a grown-up book. I’ve read it, and it’s full of mean people and scary things.”

I am completely dumbfounded. I have often been mistaken for a teenager, but a little kid? That’s a new one. It really doesn’t help that I am wearing a low-cut top and have rather large breasts. I don’t know how she could have missed that.

Me: “Ma’am, I’m twenty-two. Besides, I’ve read the other books in the series, and—”

Lady: “Do you want me to take you to the children’s section? You’ll find lots of great books there!”

The worst part is that I can tell that this lady is sincere; she seems to genuinely believe that I am a small child. I’m so confused that I don’t even react when she takes the book out of my hands, puts it back on the shelf, and takes a few steps away, trying to get me to follow her. I finally snap out of it, still wondering if I’ve somehow entered the Twilight Zone, and grab the book again.

The lady smiles like I’m an adorable toddler.

Lady: “Ah, sweetie—”

I had meant to look around some more, but at this point, I just want to get my book and get out. I fast-walk to the checkout, the lady following me the whole way, chastising me even as I pay! I don’t know what my face looks like, but it must be enough for the cashier to have some idea of what is going on. I should also mention that the cashier is a pretty big guy.

Cashier: *Leaning in and whispering* “Want me to block the door?”

Me: *Relieved* “Thank you.”

I slipped a few dollars in the tip jar and bolted the moment he gave me my book and receipt. I got in my car as fast as I could. I saw the cashier watching me, the crazy lady still trying to get past him. He didn’t move until my car left the parking lot. Thank you, cashier, for saving me from whatever that was. I did enjoy the book, by the way.

1 Thumbs
604

Like A Retail Unicorn

, , , , , | Right | February 23, 2021

My roommates and I are at a local big box store picking up our weekly rations, and we decide to swing by the electronics department. On the shelf, we see a battered and dog-eared copy of a strategy guide for a popular game that came out almost twenty years ago and has had a sequel but no remakes or other circumstances that would merit reprinting a guide. We debate how it came to be there and decide to find out what they are charging for it, out of sheer curiosity. 

At the register, the barcode does not scan, and the cashier can’t find the book in inventory. After a brief consultation with her supervisor, they decide that we can just take it so they don’t have to deal with the inventory headache.

Walking out, it hits us: this may be the only time “It didn’t ring up, so it must be free” was said by the staff to the customers.

1 Thumbs
416

Give Students Room To Flourish, And They Usually Do

, , , , , , | Learning | February 12, 2021

I teach gifted kids, and contrary to the stereotype, some of them have academic disabilities compounded by anxiety, ADHD, and autism, to name a few. A student of mine, an eighth-grader, has documented anxiety and ADHD with accommodations. [Student] had a math teacher who insisted that they were playing the system. [Teacher] regularly refused to give [Student] the time allotted for tests in the accommodations, despite begging from me, calls from parents, and being called into the principal’s office.

In one of our go-arounds, [Teacher] claimed not to have the time to allow [Student] to finish tests because of the next classes coming in, and [Teacher] didn’t want cheating by looking problems up between class and study hall. I offered to escort [Student] from [Teacher’s] room to mine, and that was okay.

I set [Student] up in a secluded corner of my room and they went to work… and work… and work. I had students after my prep period, so I warned [Student] that other students would be coming in.

I was about halfway through my lesson with some sixth graders, and I asked a question.

Me: “What were Archimedes’ last words?”

Silence.

Right before I was about to answer, a disembodied voice came from the secluded corner of my room.

Student: “Don’t disturb my circles!”

At least I knew the eighth-grader listened when in sixth grade! And they aced the math test.

1 Thumbs
424

You Don’t Have To Stick To English

, , , , | Working | February 8, 2021

I work in a museum that gets a decent number of international tourists. A few of my coworkers and I know enough of various foreign languages to get visitors through the entry to the museum, but even if we don’t, we’ve gotten pretty good at rephrasing ourselves to be better understood by people who only know a little English.

Today, I’m checking in a Russian family.

Me: “And if you would like, we have a free scavenger hunt for the kids!”

Russian Visitor: “Scavenger hunt…?”

I pick up the pamphlet and open it, pointing to the pictures.

Me: “It’s a game. They look for the things in these pictures and mark it down if they find them.”

Russian Visitor: “Oh, I see! Yes, we will take two.”

Me: “And if they find everything, they get a sticker for a prize!”

Russian Visitor: “What is ‘sticker’?”

Me: “It—”

I realize I’m about to say, “It sticks to things,” and stop myself just in time, but my brain breaks and I can’t come up with an explanation that doesn’t use the word “sticky.” I mime slapping my hands together, as if putting a sticker down on a piece of paper, and helplessly turn to the coworkers standing near me.

Me: “How do you explain a sticker?”

They laugh at me. The scavenger hunt prizes are kept in a different room, but one of my coworkers quickly searches some drawers and finds a random sticker someone’s left there. She shows it to the guest, who laughs.

Russian Guest: “Oh, I see!” *Gestures at her daughters* “Yes, they love stickers!”

They took their scavenger hunts and went on their way. A few hours later, I saw the family leave, both girls proudly attaching their stickers to their coats. I’m glad my failure didn’t keep them from getting their prizes!

1 Thumbs
602