Off The Clock And About To Go Off On You

, , , | Right | November 1, 2019

(I work as a supervisor at a membership store. We have a high turnover rate but a few shining employees manage to stay year after year. One of our cashiers is one example of a good employee: She does not complain about her job, she follows policies, smiles, goes above and beyond for customers, the whole nine yards. But I’ve noticed when she is off the clock that she can be quite cold and prefers to be left alone. This has never been an issue as our company does not try to police what employees do when they are off the clock and out of uniform. Unfortunately, she must reek of retail as customers bother her when she isn’t working. One day, a man approaches her as she is leaving the employees-only area, on her way out.)

Customer: “Where can I find the generic brand [item]?”

Cashier: “I don’t know. I don’t know the new summer inventory well enough to know where they’ve moved things. Why not ask someone else? A manager is right over there.”

Customer: “You know where it is. Tell me, now.”

Cashier: *clearly bothered by his slightly aggressive tone and his obvious refusal to listen to her* “I don’t. Leave me alone. I’m sure some employee up there can help you.” *tries to walk away but he walks in front of her to cut her off* “Go away.”

(He starts yelling at her about “poor customer service” thrown in with some vague threats and I try to intervene.)

Me: “Sir, she is not on the clock. What was the item you needed? I will be happy to show you where it is.”

Customer: “No! Not you! I want this lazy, no-good, millennial, [gay slur] b**** to help me so she learns her d*** place!”

Cashier: *does not look at all surprised and in fact looks quite bored with this situation* “Yeah, I’m going to go home now. See you tomorrow, [My Name].”

(I try to wish her well and hope that is the end of it, but the man grabs the hood on her jacket when she turns and tugs so hard that she falls back and the hood rips. A manager is called and I approach, helping the cashier up.)

Me: “Sir, you have just assaulted someone. Leave or the police will be involved.”

Customer: “I want this stupid [gay slur] to help me!”

(I’m foggy on the details as I step away as the manager steps in to help her while I call the police. Eventually, the man is arrested for assault and taken away.)

Me: “I am so sorry, [Cashier]. Are you all right?”

Cashier: “I guess. I’m just confused as to why he kept calling me gay.”

Me: “Well, whatever the issue was, how about we give you some credit for the cafe for snacks on your breaks?”

Cashier: “I’m fine, [My Name]. Thanks.”

(She’s definitely good at handling these bouts of stress. But as an act of goodwill, the manager bought her a new jacket just like the old one that was ruined and I bought her ice cream from the cafe during her next shift. Thankfully, our company is allowed a backbone. That customer had his membership refunded and revoked, and is now banned.)

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Dojo No No

, , , , | Friendly | October 25, 2019

This happened a few years ago when I was a newbie to Aikido. For those unfamiliar with this martial art and important for the story: there is zero competition. No tournaments nor friendly matches.

One session, I was paired with a more experienced guy and although he was more experienced, he was a difficult student. Not sure what his beef was — I’m female and maybe he wanted to impress me — but when it was my turn to practice the move shown, I was suddenly on my back. “You’re doing it wrong.” Rinse and repeat a few times and I was becoming seriously fed up and frustrated with his attitude. Suddenly, I noticed an opening. The next time, I didn’t concentrate too much on my move but was checking if I was right. He was indeed opening up for a counter-attack that I, with my limited knowledge, could exploit and I took back control. He was thrown halfway the tatami — exercise mat. When he returned to his position, he boasted that he knew I was going to do that, but suddenly, he was much more cooperative and allowed me to practice without further fuss. 

Writing this down, I don’t know why the sensei didn’t intervene, but at least the guy didn’t cause any more trouble.

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The Hardest Event Tonight Is The Waiting Game

, , , , , , , | Working | October 19, 2019

(My brother has the opportunity to be on a TV competition about physical strength and agility. The show films at night so we all have to stay up to watch. The coordinator tells us that he will be on at 11:00 pm with the other competitors in his group. Not bad at all! It is supposed to be a warmer night, so we only bring sweaters to keep us warm. While my brother stays with the other competitors, the rest of us walk toward the seating area. A security guard stops us.)

Guard #1: “Can I help you?”

Mother: “My son is competing tonight and—”

Guard #1: “And you’ll be called when he goes on.”

Mother: “Oh. We just thought we would watch the other people.”

Guard #1: “That’s not allowed. Go wait outside until it’s your son’s turn.”

Mother: “We can’t watch? Do we have to buy tickets or something?”

Guard #1: “No, only seat fillers and people with the current competitor can be in there.”

Mother: “But there’s barely anyone watching. How do we become seat fillers?”

Guard #1: “Seat fillers can’t be family. Move along.”

(So, away we go to wait our turn. Small groups file in and out for a few hours. Eleven comes and goes and my brother still hasn’t had his chance. We go to another guard.)

Mother: “Excuse me? My son was supposed to run with the 11:00 group and—”

Guard #2: “You’ll be called when his turn comes.”

Mother: “Is there a coordinator or supervisor or someone I can talk to? It’s almost 1:00 am.”

Guard #2: “No.” *turns and walks away*

(It is getting colder and we are getting tired and impatient. Another hour passes with no word. My brother isn’t allowed to have his phone on him, so we can’t even ask if he knows anything. Some of us decide to nap until it is my brother’s turn. I am too excited to sleep, so I stay up as long as I could. Eventually, though, I nod off. My mother shakes me awake and tells me to get up. I open my eyes to see sunlight peeking over some of the buildings. I check my watch and see that it is nearly 6:00 am. Seven hours have passed since my brother was supposed to compete and FINALLY, his group is going. We go back to the entrance and [Guard #1] escorts us to a section by the end of the competition. Half of our group sits down and he ushers the other half to another section. It is far colder than any of us anticipated, so we are all shivering.)

Mother: “Excuse me. Why can’t we all sit together?”

Guard #1: “Gotta fill the spaces. A few small empty spots look better than one big empty spot.”

Mother: “You wouldn’t have empty spots if you’d let people watch.”

Guard #1: *glares* “Okay. Cheer loud, be proud, and don’t shiver!”

Sister: “We’re cold!”

Guard #1: “You should have thought of that!”

Mother: “We would have if someone had said we’d be here all night!”

Guard #1: “Not my problem, lady.” *walks away*

(My brother has his turn and the next person comes up. We all get up to leave but [Guard #1] steps in our way.)

Guard #1: “Where are you going?”

Mother: “We’re leaving.”

Guard #1: “There are more runners in the group. Go sit down.”

Mother: “And we would have stayed to watch had we not been here all night waiting.”

Guard #1: “What?”

Mother: “[Son] was supposed to run at 11:00 pm. That was seven hours ago. I would have sat here all night and watched everyone compete, but you said we couldn’t be here.”

Guard #1: “Well, I—”

Mother: *holds up her hand* “I understand that you’re just doing your job. But I hope you understand why I’m not willing to sit here anymore.”

(My mother pushes past the man, who stands there in stunned silence as we leave. When we are just beyond the exit, the guard decides he wants the last word.)

Guard #1: “Hey! Thanks for being true fans of [Competition]! Great team spirit!”

(The next season, my brother was contacted and asked to compete again. He declined.)

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Slapping Some Sense Into Them

, , , , , , | Working | September 17, 2019

(Before our shift starts, we always have a thirty-minute meeting to make any announcements and do training. I’m sitting in front of a coworker who I know pretty well, since we do both of our weekly volunteer days together. As the supervisor’s making an announcement, she slaps me on the back of the neck.)

Coworker: “What did he say?”

Me: “He just explained the changes they’re making to the schedule. He’s handing out the new schedule at the end of the meeting.”

(A minute later, she slaps me again.)

Coworker: “But if we have a new schedule, when will it go into effect?”

Me: “He just said next week. If you listen, you’ll find all of this out.”

(Another minute later, someone else mentions an upcoming event that we can mention to tourists. I get slapped a third time, this time so she can ask if tickets are still available for the event. All of this is information that she could get if she just stopped smacking me and listened to the announcements. After the meeting…)

Me: “If you have questions, ask the people making the announcements. I don’t like being smacked every time you’re not paying attention.”

(She looks suddenly very sympathetic.)

Coworker: “I forgot. You don’t like being touched.”

Me: “Touching is fine. Slapping me to get my attention isn’t.”

Coworker: “Because you’re autistic.”

Me: *baffled* “I’ve never been autistic, but if I were, why would that be the only reason that I don’t like being slapped?”

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Trying To Get A Stranglehold In The Office

, , , , , , , , | Working | September 4, 2019

As a child, I frequently had other people grab my shoulders and back to jump up on me and put me in a chokehold or even straight-up use a jump rope to try to strangle me. This was a near-daily occurrence and resulted in me being sent to the hospital more than once, and I have scars on my neck from a few particularly bad incidents. The teachers and administrators at the school where this was happening refused to do anything, but that’s another story entirely. The short of it is that I spent about five years getting strangled on a near-daily basis.

As a result of this, I have C-PTSD and cannot stand to have people touching my shoulders and upper back, especially from behind, unless I’m very close with them, and even then, they ask for permission before doing it. Occasional brushes don’t seem to have as severe a reaction, but anything firm is a wild card. The result of someone touching — and especially grabbing — me there has a variety of outcomes, and there seems to be no correlation between the situation and the severity of my reaction. If I and the person who touched me are lucky, I’ll just freeze up for a few seconds. If we’re both unlucky, I swing at them.

When I started my new job, I explained all of this to HR, including that despite years of therapy, I’ve had very little improvement, and they cleared me and said I wouldn’t be held liable by the company if someone grabbed me and I had a severe reaction to it. Pretty much their only requirement was that every other month, I provide receipts from my therapist as proof I was still going, and we had to make a formal document describing my condition and their assurance I wouldn’t face retaliation for it. When my boss learned of my condition, she was kind enough to move me from my cubicle to the office next to her so it would be less likely that someone could accidentally “sneak up” on me. I also have mirrors on the wall across from the door — which I keep open — in case I’m turned away from my computer, and I have a sign next to my door asking people to please knock if my back is turned.

One coworker just flat-out does not get this. Every time he greets me, it’s by grabbing my shoulder or putting a hand on my back, and even though I’ve asked him to stop and informed him of my condition multiple times, it continues. There are times it feels he even goes out of his way to do it. It’s gotten to the point that even my coworkers who only know that I don’t like my back and shoulders being touched, not the extent of my condition, tense up when they see him next to me.

A couple of days ago, it happened again, but he was completely behind me and I had no way of knowing who it was that grabbed my shoulder. Instinct kicked in, and I spun around and punched him in the throat, then again in the nose. A few coworkers came over to help calm me down and get me seated in a corner so no one would be capable of touching me without me seeing first while someone else contacted HR. The coworker who kept touching me without my permission got there first and told them I walked up and punched him without a reason, and three people from HR ended up coming over to the area I work in.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to say a thing. My other coworkers vouched for me, as did a supervisor who knows the extent of my condition and has seen me talk to the other coworker about boundaries and why I didn’t want him touching me there multiple times. All three of the HR employees were furious.

Later that night, when I got home, I found a bruise on my shoulder where he grabbed me.

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