Someone Made Your Dream(boat) Come True

, , , , , , , | | Hopeless | May 25, 2019

In 1973 or ‘74, when I was five or six years old, my family and I lived in Phoenix. We had very little in the way of money or material things, but we were a happy little family for the most part. My brother was just a baby, and my sister and I spent our days playing outside in the Arizona sunshine. That year was a particularly lean one for us. We drove up to Flagstaff to cut our own Christmas tree, free of charge back then, I think, and made our decorations from egg cartons and glitter. It must have been a hard time for my mother and stepfather, but I can’t remember really wanting for much; we were always fed and clothed.

I can still remember sitting down at the kitchen table to write my annual letter to Santa. I told him that we didn’t have much, and that I knew he was very busy, but that I had a few small requests for him. My sister loved to read, and I asked him if he could bring her some books and something for my baby brother. We pretty much lived on tuna and macaroni those days and I asked Santa for a ham or turkey as a special treat for our family’s Christmas dinner. I closed my letter with a special request, stating, “If you have room in your sleigh, I would love a Barbie Dream Boat.” I was obsessed with Barbies, and the Dream Boat was all the Barbie rage that Christmas. I sealed the letter in an envelope, gave it to my mother, and really didn’t think much more about it since Mom had told me that kids didn’t always get what they wanted from Santa, seeing as how he was a very busy man with lots of children on his list.

A few days before the “big day,” we went out shopping with the little money we had. We bought gifts for our family and I remember how sad my mom looked while we shopped that day. Looking back, I know that her melancholy was due to not being able to give her children the fantastic holiday that all children desire. I was sad for her.

We returned home from our excursion and piled into the house, removing our coats and falling back into whatever activities were abandoned earlier in the day. Minutes later, I remember hearing bells and a hearty, “Ho, Ho, Ho!” from the front yard of our run-down little house. My sister and I ran out onto the front porch to see our stepfather walking toward the house, arms full of brightly-wrapped presents. Much to our delight, there were more on the tailgate of our old Willys Jeep, including a big ham. He told us that Santa had just been there, saying that he had made a special early trip to our humble home. He explained that the bells we had heard were from Santa’s sleigh and that we had just missed seeing him fly away with his reindeer. We were all very excited, me especially, happy in the knowledge that Mr. Claus had read my letter.

Christmas morning was delightful! Santa had filled my entire list, complete with a set of Winnie-the-Pooh books for my sister and a Mickey Mouse blanket for my baby brother. There were gloves for all of us, and big marker sets for my sister and me. The biggest present of all was for me, and you never saw such a happy little girl when I finally took off the wrapping. It was the Barbie Dream Boat I had asked for! It was a happy Christmas, indeed!

I got many hours of fun playtime out of that cardboard and plastic boat, and we all enjoyed the presents that “Santa” had brought us. We filled our tummies with ham and had a wonderful day. For many years to come, I was a firm believer in Santa Claus, even though he never again gave me exactly the items on my wish list. After all, he was a very busy man with lots of children’s dreams to fulfill.

Many years later, my mother and stepfather sat my sister and me down on the couch and said that they had something to tell us. They reminded us of that Christmas, which we still remembered well. We were 12 and 14 by that time, and our belief in Santa was fading fast, if not completely gone. They told us of a postal worker in Phoenix who picked one child’s letter each year, and that the letter he picked that year was mine. He had told my parents that my letter touched his heart because I had put myself last on the list, thinking of my family before asking for myself. They had prearranged a time for him to drop off the goodies, and staged it so that it would seem as if Santa had really been there. I have to admit I was just a little crushed to find out that it wasn’t really St. Nick who had paid us a visit that year, but I knew in my adolescent mind that it just couldn’t have been.

It warms my heart to this day to share that story, and to think about the way that postal worker made our holiday a happy one. I often wish that I knew his name so that I could thank him personally, but I’m sure he knows how much it meant to all of us.

Those Who Are Scared Of Change Are Doomed To Repeat Their Mistakes

, , , , , | | Right | May 15, 2019

(I work at a high-end grocery store, where the POS accepts the chip on credit and debit cards. I witness this exchange at the checkout:)

Cashier: “Your total is $35.97.”

(The customer attempts to hand the card to the cashier and the cashier gestures to the machine. The customer slides her card. The machine alerts the customer to please enter the card, but the customer continues to slide her card.)

Cashier: “Does your card have a chip?”

Customer: *annoyed* “Yeah, but it doesn’t work.” *continues to slide*

Me: “Ma’am, even though it may not work, you’re going to have to use the chip three times in order for it to default to the slide.”

Customer: *finally listening, inserts the chip three times, smiles, and says* “Told you so.”

(She then enters the incorrect PIN, and an error shows up on the large computer monitor. This happens three more times, enough that the machine errors out.)

Cashier: “Ma’am, that didn’t go through. It says you used the wrong PIN. You’re going to have to use the card again.”

Customer: “No, it said to remove my card. It always says that when it goes through.”

Cashier: *at a loss for what to say*

(I step in:)

Me: “It didn’t go through; it has to be run again. The computer thinks you used the wrong PIN.”

Customer: *goes back to swiping the card again*

Cashier: “Ma’am, you have to try to use the chip because the machine won’t let you use the slide yet.”

(The customer repeats the same process, including the wrong PIN, and demands that the cashier enter her card manually. I call a manager up front, as only they can do that.)

Customer: “That cashier changed the PIN on my card. That’s why it didn’t work!”

Manager: “Well, let’s see.”

(The manager failed the chip three times, swiped the card, and then the transaction went through. The cashier and I still wonder how she thought we changed the PIN on her card.)

A Free Sandwich Actually Costs Time

, , , , , , | | Right | May 7, 2019

(It’s almost time to close at the sub shop I’m working at. A lady I estimate to be in her 60s comes in with a coupon to buy a sub and any drink to get the next sub free, which we allow. This is what ensues.)

Me: “Hello. What can I get started for you?”

Customer: “I have this coupon.” *reads off coupon* “So, I want a six-inch [sandwich #1] on [bread], and a six-inch [sandwich #2] on [bread]. Make sure you toast the bread thoroughly; I can’t stand [Store] bread when it’s not toasted.”

(I ask what cheese she wants and get ready to put them in the toaster. As I open the toaster she says:)

Customer: “Wait, what are you doing?! I want the bread toasted; I told you I can’t stand [Store] bread when it’s not toasted.”

Me: “Well, our standard protocol when toasting sandwiches is to have the meat and cheese on already so everything gets cooked.”

Customer: “No, no, no, just toast the bread, or it won’t get cooked thoroughly. I know your ovens; they don’t cook the bread if it has everything on it.”

Me: “All right.”

(I toast the bread twice bare and once more with the meats on them. The bread is very much darker at this point, but not burnt. Vegetables go fine, no issues there, but every so often she gets angry and impolite when she has issues with the way I’m doing things, and then she switches back to normal behavior. We get to the checkout process. She has two sandwiches and a drink which qualify for the coupon, and she also has a bag of chips and another drink.)

Customer: “How much extra will it be if I buy a [bottled drink] instead of a cup?”

Me: “Can you read what your coupon says so I can check?”

Customer: *ignores my question and asks the same question in a more hostile tone*

(I ask her to read the coupon again; she does so.)

Me: “All right, since it specifies any drink, the price would be the same.”

Customer: “Good.”

(I enter her items into the register and she sees the total on her side.)

Customer: “Wait, what? Why is it [price]? It should only be [price a few dollars less].”

Me: “Well, the first sandwich and the first drink are normal price, which makes the second sandwich free, and the system sees the second chips and drink as a meal with the second sandwich, so it discounts them even though the second sandwich is still free.”

Customer: “No, it still should be [lower price]. I think you’re doing it wrong.”

(We have this circular argument about three more times. Meanwhile, other customers are waiting and I am running out of time to start closing procedures.)

Me: “Would you like me to explain how that coupon works one more time?”

Customer: “I don’t care how the coupon works; it still should only be [lower price]!”

(I have no other way to explain to her the prices and calculations, so I just tell her each of the prices, and I am surprised to see her take one of our napkins and start doing the math herself. She then asks me to confirm each of the prices in a not-so-polite manner. This goes on for about five more minutes. She then realizes…)

Customer: “I might be doing the math wrong.”

Me: “All right, so we’re all clear here?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “All right, here’s your receipt. Have a good night.”

Customer: *jokingly* “I wonder where my son gets all his nagging from.”

(We finished up there, she left, and I apologized to the next customers for the wait. This whole exchange cost me twenty minutes and was a contributing factor in our late departure at the end of the night. Not once did she apologize, but maybe she forgot to…)

This Kid’s Got The Fizz

, , , , , | | Right | May 2, 2019

(During my break, I am out smoking and one of my coworkers comes out, cracking up.)

Me: “What’s so funny?”

Coworker: “I was on the phone with this guy troubleshooting his phone and his baby was in the background crying and wailing.”

Me: “Ouch.”

Coworker: “Well, that’s not the worst part. In the middle of the call, he says—“ *imitating a southern accent* “’Hold on… Hey, honey, get that baby some Coca-Cola in his bottle so he’ll shut up!’ Next thing I hear is the spritz of the soda opening and the baby not crying anymore.”

Me: “Wow, are you serious?!”

Coworker: “Yup, that’s a future Nascar driver right there.”

The Daddy Of All Meanies

, , , , | Right | April 9, 2019

(My dad owns a typesetting and editing business in the 1980s and operates from a home office. He professionally prints stationery, wedding invitations, magazines… basically anything that is on paper, he can do. Since the only other house phone is in my playroom, I am trained from the age of three to take calls politely, put people on hold, and walk to my dad’s office to tell him he has a phone call. At the age of five, I am trained to help out after school, and can do extremely basic things, like get a file and tell clients how much they owe on their specific projects. Long term clients know the reason I answer the phone after three rings, and they know that I will help them if I can. This guy, however, even though he has talked to me face to face on several occasions — I remember that he’s loud and overbearing, which to my five-year-old self is translated to “scary” — and he’s taken my family out for dinner several times to talk about business ventures he’s pursuing, he still can’t accept my “receptionist” role, nor can he understand “family-home-based business,” so my dad usually meets the client at his office. This is the most memorable call from him:)

Me: “Good afternoon. Thank you for calling [Business]. I’m [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Longtime Client: “UGH!” *mumbling to someone else* “It’s that dumb little girl again.” *back to me* “I’m getting so sick of this s*** from you little people. Don’t you have anything else to do? Go play with your f****** toys or something.”

Me: “Sir! If you would like to talk to my dad, who ow—“

Longtime Client: “YOUR DADDY? UGH. NO.”

Me: “Okay, goodbye, then. Have a—“

Longtime Client: “NO! No, no, no! I want to talk to [Dad]!”

Me: “Okay. I will go get my dad, then.”

Longtime Client: “NOO! I WANT TO TALK TO [DAD]! ARE YOU DEAF, YOU ST—“

(I place the call on hold, with the client still ranting, and walk into my dad’s office thirty feet away.)

Dad: “Who’s that?”

Me: “[Longtime Client]!”

Dad: “WHAT?!”

Me: “The scary man!”

(I had not previously let my opinion on him be known. I am internally berating myself for saying that…)

Dad: “Um… Yeah, actually, he is, isn’t he?” *picks up phone* “Hel—“

Longtime Client: *apparently arguing with someone away from the phone* “AND IF THAT STUPID LITTLE GIRL HAD GOTTEN ME A HOLD OF [DAD] INSTEAD OF HER STUPID DAAAAAADDY, MAYBE—“

Dad: “OKAY, ONE D*** THING! I may be her dad, but I’m not stupid. I heard everything you said, and my daughter was unfailingly polite. You do not treat my daughter like that under any circumstances, ever!”

(My dad quietly shoos me out of his office and closes the door before he proceeds to rip into the guy completely. I remember looking up the word “unfailingly” later on that day. After he finishes, my dad comes to talk to me about my phone etiquette:)

Dad: “You okay?”

Me: *sniffily* “Yeah, that guy’s scary. Do we have to go to dinner with him again now that you have his work done?”

Dad: “No, never, honey. He’s not a client anymore. But you know what? When people say, ‘No, not your dad; get [Dad],’ you say, ‘Okay, [Dad] will be with you in just a moment,’ or, ‘Okay, I’ll go get [Dad],’ before you hit the hold key, okay?”

Me: “Okay. And I’m glad we don’t have to see him again.”

Dad: “So am I! I’m sorry he was scary and mean to you.” *hugs me*

(Years later, I found out that not only did the ex-client not pay my dad for the order that had just been completed that day, but he also wrote a bad check on the previous order, and had a habit of skipping the bill whenever he’d take us out. My parents took the client to court to recoup their expenses, and got a lot more than they were hoping for: the judge awarded them attorney’s fees in addition to the payments from the previously unpaid jobs, and our attorney asked my dad for 450 printed wedding invitations, insisting that that was more than enough to cover all the court expenses!)

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