Try To Out-Guess Yourself

, , , | Right | December 6, 2019

(A patron is complaining because he can’t come up with a new email address for himself. I’ve told him multiple times that he needs to be more original.)

Patron: “It’s doing it to me again! Will you come and take a look at it?” 

Me: “I can look, but it’s like I’ve told you: you need to come up with something original”. 

Patron: “Well, I don’t know what to do!” 

Me: “…” 

Patron: “I mean, I even put in my old email address!” 

Me: “You’re putting in your old email address as a ‘unique’ name?” 

Patron: “Yes!” 

Me: “But that’s an address that has already been used. By you, no less.”

Patron: “So, I have to come up with something else still?” 

Me: “Yes. Something no one else has used. Including yourself.”

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Dropping You Off In The Hotel

, , , , , , | Learning | December 5, 2019

My son is in his high school band. They were on a band trip from Pittsburgh to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was sending texts about how bad their bus driver was. She couldn’t get out of the high school parking lot without trouble. At a rest stop, she went in the wrong way to a restaurant.

A few hours later, he texted that everyone was all right, but they were in an accident. One person got hit with a small piece of safety glass when a window broke, but she was fine. The driver was in a tight space and couldn’t turn around, as she was having a very tough time of it. My wife texted asking how close he was to the hotel. His answer was, “Touching it.”

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It All Comes From The Great Sofa Tree

, , , | Right | December 5, 2019

(I’m helping a friend at a craft show. He’s a woodworker selling furniture pieces, so he has a large tent with a no food or drink sign outside. I see a customer walk in with a cup of lemonade that’s sweating in the heat. He starts to set it down on a table.)

Me: “Hey! Please don’t put that there!”

Customer: “Why not?”

Me: “You’ll leave a water ring on the tabletop, or it could spill.”

Customer: “Well, then you need to get tables that are sturdier. You know people are going to bring drinks in here to look at what you have for sale and set stuff down.”

Me: “The table is what’s for sale!”

Customer: “What?!” *looking around the booth, confused*

Me: “We are here selling handmade furniture.”

Customer: “That’s ridiculous. Everyone knows you can’t make furniture!” *goes to set his drink down again*

Me: “Sir, you need to leave. Now. Or I’m contacting security.”

(He left, puffing in indignity.)

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The Only Papers She Needs Are To Check Her Into An Asylum

, , , | Right | December 3, 2019

(It’s a busy day at our small library, and my coworker and I are swamped. Our public printer is behind the desk; patrons pay us and we hand them what they print. Amid helping half a dozen children and teens, the mother of some of them storms behind the desk and grabs her documents off the printer.)

Patron: “I’m taking these! I’ll pay you later when I’m done printing everything!”

Coworker: “Um… okay? But—”

(My coworker immediately gets overwhelmed by the demands of the customer she was in the middle of helping and doesn’t pursue the issue further. However, she shoots me a look at this lady’s attitude. I’m also busy helping return and check out DVDs to several adults, but I keep my eye on the printer. Every time a document comes out, I grab it and hide it even farther behind our work desk. These documents belong to several people in the library, not just the lady in question. When I catch a moment to breathe, I turn around and the lady is literally right in my face, right next to our cash register, and trying to grab her prints from the pile of documents; some of which don’t even belong to her and contain sensitive information.)

Me: “Woah! Ma’am, you cannot be back here!”

(Surprised, I snatch all the papers before she can grab them.)

Patron: “I’m just grabbing my papers!”

Me: “You can’t be back here; you have to go around the front of the desk.”

Patron: “I just want my papers! You can’t steal them from me! They’re mine!”

Me: “You haven’t paid for these yet. Now please go around to the right side of the desk!”

Patron: “Give me my papers! The other lady said I could come back here whenever I want! I need to see what I printed so I don’t print duplicates!”

Coworker: “I’m sorry I caused confusion. But you can’t be back here.” *trying not to escalate the situation*

Patron: *waves her finger in my face* “This woman!” *storms off* “I don’t even want those papers anymore!”

(The lady grabs her purse from the computer and storms out, leaving her children behind. There’s three, roughly the ages of eight, fourteen, and somewhere in between. The kids look really uncomfortable, but they go back to what they were doing; one is on the computer playing quietly, and the other two are asking my coworker about books. About fifteen minutes later, the lady storms back in. She edges as close as she can around our desk without technically being behind it and leans further over so she’s in my face. She starts wagging her finger at my nose again.)

Patron: “Listen to me. You can’t treat people that way. I’m not some thief. I would have paid for those papers! If I hadn’t known I couldn’t go behind the desk, I wouldn’t have!”

Me: *looks over at her kids, who are lined up politely with a bunch of other kids and waiting their turn at the front of the desk* “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but it’s common sense the line starts here.”

Patron: “The other lady told me I could come behind the desk any time I want! You’d better watch yourself!”

Me: “Are you threatening me?”

(By this time, our armed security guard has come over after having witnessed the whole thing.)

Security: “Ma’am, you can’t talk that way. You cannot threaten these women.”

Patron: “I’m not threatening anyone! I’m just telling this woman here that she’d better watch her attitude! She can’t talk to anyone so rude like that!”

Security: “Ma’am, there’s no need for you to be rude. You cannot talk to these women like this. You can calm down, or you can leave.”

Patron: “I would have never gone behind the desk I’d I’d have known! That lady told me I could! You can’t steal my papers from me! You can’t treat me like this!” *waving her finger at both me and the man with the gun*

Me: “Ma’am, please calm down.”

Patron: “This b****!” *storms out again, leaving her children behind* “I don’t want those d*** papers, anyway!” *slams the door*

Regular: *checking out DVDs* “I always wondered why you guys needed a security guard. The library always seemed so nice.”

(An hour later, the angry lady came back yet again. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me and did her best to make sure I didn’t see her. She rounded up her kids, who had followed all library rules and caused no trouble. She went to my coworker and paid for her papers and left. I hope she never comes back.)

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Next Time Make Sure You’re Holding All The Cards

, , , , , , | Learning | December 2, 2019

(In college, my public speaking professor hands out an assignment that is to be done in pairs, due in one week. Each pair picks another country and gives a five-minute speech about their history, politics, population, economy, etc. She selects the pairs, my partner being a girl I don’t know. We swap contact info and, before I can ask when she wants to get together, she leaves. Our class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is Wednesday. I wait a few hours before calling her, thinking maybe she has another class. She doesn’t answer. On Thursday, I send her a text but she still doesn’t reply. On Friday, we have class again. The professor gives us the second half of the class to work on the project. The entire time, my partner is on her phone, barely acknowledging me.)

Me: “Do you want to cover political history or agriculture?”

Partner: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “You… want both?”

Partner: “Whatever.”

Me: “Okay. You can cover agriculture since that seems… uh…” *searching for a word other than “easier”*

Partner: “Okay.”

(I go to my professor at the end of class.)

Me: “[Professor], I’m not sure about doing this project with [partner].”

Professor: “Are you not getting along?”

Me: “I just don’t think she’s invested.”

Professor: “Are you?”

Me: “Well…” *shows her my work so far* “I have the basic outline done and I searched the library’s system so I know which books to check out when I go back.”

Professor: “So, what’s the problem?”

Me: “I tried to get in contact with [Partner] and she never replied. Just now I was trying to divide the topics and she was on [social media], not even listening to me.”

Professor: *shrug* “You’re adults now. You’ll have to work it out on your own.”

(I spend the weekend trying to contact my partner while doing research, diving into my own topics while picking up tidbits of her topics along the way. I am adamant that I am not going to do to the whole project, but I don’t want to get a bad grade. Monday comes and my partner isn’t even in class. I send one more text, saying I am going to be at the library Tuesday afternoon — the day before our project is due — starting around five pm, asking her to join me. She still doesn’t reply. By Wednesday morning, I have the entire project done, timed, and organized so that we can go back and forth on our topics. I write our facts on note cards, highlighting the topic line based on whether it is mine or hers — pink for mine, yellow for hers — and put a note at the top of each note card showing what the colors represent. I always try to arrive at least five minutes before class so I can get settled. My partner arrives five minutes late, during another presentation. She makes no mention of why she hasn’t helped, nor has she done any work for herself. I am upset but still give her the rundown on the project, showing her the highlighting and how I broke everything down. For simplicity, let’s say she has topics A, C, E and the conclusion while I have the introduction and topics B, D, and F. We divide the notecards and wait our turn. I should note that I hate public speaking or being the focus of a conversation, so I’m already on edge.)

Professor: “[My Name], [Partner], are you ready?”

Partner: “Yes!” *grabs all the notecards* “Oh.” *laughs* “I guess you need some of these.” *hands back the first notecard with the introduction*

Me: *unsure of why she’s suddenly so enthusiastic* “Yeah…”

(We take our place at the front of the class.)

Me: “[Country] is a land rich with a diverse history, unique cultures and…” *reads the rest of the introduction*

Partner: *reads topic A in a monotone voice*

Me: *reaches over to take the Topic B card*

Partner: *harsh whisper* “I’m not done!”

Me: “What?”

Partner: *reads topic B*

Me: “Uh…”

Partner: *continues*

Me: *whispering* “That’s my part–” *reaches for the card again*

Professor: “Ladies, is there a problem?”

Partner: “No.” *continues reading in a monotonous voice, turning away from me*

Me: “That’s my part!”

Partner: “Shh!”

Professor: “[My Name].”

Me: *bright red and very anxious* “I… I…”

Partner: “[My Name]! Stop! [Professor], can I please just do this? [My Name] is messing me up.”

Me: “She’s reading my part!” *realizes how childish I sound* “We had assigned parts and–”

Professor: “[My Name], please be quiet.”

Me: “But–”

Professor: “OUT!”

Me: “But–”

Professor: “NOW! I’ll deal with you at the end of class. Go sit in the hall.”

(My face and ears are so red I can feel my pulse, but I leave the room without another word. I sit in the hallway, angry and crying, while my “partner” reads the entire presentation. At the end of the class, my partner comes out, looks at me sitting along the wall, smiles at me, and leaves. The professor calls me back into the room.)

Professor: “What was that?”

(I explain the division of topics, color coding, and how I did the work and my partner did nothing.)

Professor: “Do you have proof?”

Me: “There are the notecards.” *opens my bag and begins looking for them*

Professor: “Okay.” *holds out her hand*

Me: *realizing my partner took the notecards* “But [Partner] must have them.”

Professor: “So, you have nothing?”

Me: “But I came to you earlier about her and I… I have parts of it memorized. I can tell you which topics I was supposed to read.”

Professor: “I’m sorry, [My Name]. If you have no way to prove you did this work, I have no choice but to give you a zero.”

Me: “She stole my parts! She didn’t do anything but read! I did all the work!” 

(My eyes burn with new tears.)

Professor: *sigh* “Okay. I’ll give you until the next class to prove it. Otherwise, the zero stands.”

(I called and texted my partner constantly over the next two days, adamant that she admit she did nothing, or at the very least that she had taken over my topics. Still, she didn’t answer. I showed the professor that I had been trying to contact my partner but she just wasn’t answering. With no proof of my work and no word from my partner — who was absent from class again — the professor kept the zero and dropped my grade substantially. Public speaking was a requirement for my diploma, so I had to take the class again the next semester with the same professor. When that project came around again, I spitefully picked the same country. The professor initially refused, saying I’d already done that project. I reminded her that she gave me a zero because I couldn’t prove I had done anything. This time around, I got an A, an apology from the professor, and a lesson in showing your work.)

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