Retail Is Mind Numbing

, , , , , , | Working | August 10, 2019

(I’m at the bank to make a deposit. While I’m filling out the deposit slip, I overhear a conversation between two tellers. Apparently, [Teller #1] is on the phone with a customer who is filling out a direct deposit form and needs their account number.)

Teller #1: “Am I allowed to give them that over the phone?”

Teller #2: “Technically, yes, you are, if they prove their identity, but they discourage us from doing it because it’s a security issue. If you feel comfortable doing it, you can, but I wouldn’t.”

Teller #1: “So, we can’t do it?”

Teller #2: “No, you can, if you feel comfortable doing it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it, so I wouldn’t.”

Teller #1: “So… we can’t do it?”

Teller #2: “No, we can, if you feel comfortable doing it. I personally wouldn’t.”

Teller #1: “So, we can’t do it?”

Teller #2: “No, you can, if you feel comfortable doing it…”

(They repeated this exchange over and over again until I took my deposit up to [Teller #2]. By that point, it took all my willpower not to scream, “The answer is NO!” I made no comment, but inside, I was marveling at how businesses insist on having official policies for the convenience of the customer that they then “discourage” employees from following for security. I felt sorry for them both. Having worked in retail years ago, I’m well familiar with the “never give the customer a straight no” rule, but I’ve never seen someone have that drilled into them so badly that they can’t give a coworker a straight answer, either.)

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God’s Dirt Has Been Paved Over In China

, , , , , , , | Friendly | August 9, 2019

(I am outside my university’s research lab building, by the parking deck. I am American, but ethnically I am half Chinese, which some people can spot right away. I’m also a scientist and an atheist. I am walking towards my lab and using the sidewalk next to the parking garage. There is a security guard standing on the sidewalk next to the garage, watching some birds in a patch of grass. I smile and say hi to her. She stops me.)

Guard: “Isn’t it amazing?”

Me: “…?”

Guard: “You can just throw anything in God’s dirt and it’ll grow!”

Me: “Uh… what?”

Guard: “Yeah, you can have any seeds at all, throw it into God’s dirt, and it’ll grow, just like that! Isn’t it amazing?”

Me: “Well, yes, life in general is pretty amazing. But I gotta tell you, not everything you throw in dirt is going to grow…”

(I launch into a very short explanation about plant needs, soil fertility, and crop rotation, which apparently is quite lost on the lady.)

Guard: *quickly changing the subject* “So, you work in that building over there?”

Me: “Yep, I’m a graduate student here at [University].”

Guard: “Are you Asian?”

Me: “I’m half Chinese.”

Guard: “Isn’t China a communist country?”

Me: “Yep.”

Guard: “Well, you have yourself a nice day.”

(She couldn’t get rid of me fast enough! Shun the non-believer!)

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A Walk Down Memeowy Lane

, , , , , | Friendly | August 4, 2019

I’m on my bed with my laptop late at night, surfing the web, looking for things to watch to avoid getting ready for bed. I end up taking a trip down Nostalgia Lane watching the original Thundercats.

At one point, I reach for the blanket, which first requires gently moving the cat who has fallen asleep on it. Instead of going back to sleep where I put her, she sits down sphinx-style between my and my laptop, facing the screen, head erect, eyes wide open. She stays there, eyes on the screen the whole time, until I give in to exhaustion and close it up later.

I hope the makers of Thundercats are glad to know their show is apparently a hit with the First Earth cat demographic!

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Became The Butt-Dial Of This Joke

, , , , , , | Working | August 2, 2019

Our office has an intercom system that has literally never been used except when it’s being tested. To broadcast over the intercom, you dial a phone number, and when you speak into the phone on your end, your voice comes out over the speaker.

When I get back from vacation, I hear this story: Out of nowhere, everyone could hear outdoor background noises, footsteps, and a woman’s faint voice coming from all around them. It was coming from the intercom, and it was the unmistakable combination of sounds you hear when someone butt dials you without realizing it. Somewhere on the planet Earth, an English-speaking woman butt dialed the intercom number and went about her day with her phone in her pocket or purse, not realizing what had happened.

While my coworkers tried to find someone in IT who actually knew how to disconnect this thing or find out where the call was coming from, they spent the day listening to this woman — wearing very loud clippity-clop high heels — chat with friends, shop for clothes — including trying them on — get lunch — quesadillas, yum! — etc. She was most likely in a city, since her heels were apparently hitting pavement as she went between shops.

After listening to her lunch, my supervisor said, “If she goes to the bathroom, I’m outta here!” No points for guessing what everyone heard almost immediately after that. My supervisor did indeed take a walk as soon as it was obvious what was coming, but from what others told me, that section took a very long time…

Nobody was able to tell me how it eventually ended — many of them finished for the day and went home before it did! — either by someone in IT finally cutting it off, or by the unknown radio star finally needing to use her phone. Even if she saw her phone had accidentally dialed a number, she would have no way of knowing it connected to an intercom and not another phone, so she will never know that an office of strangers listened to everything she did one afternoon, and we will never know who it was.

When I heard about it, I suggested that it might have been a prank, but even though others agreed with me, I decided not because a prankster would’ve made them listen to even more uncomfortable things, like the sounds of stopping for a quickie with hubby or something. The stuff was too mundane, if briefly gross, for it to be anything but unintentional, I think.

Regardless, we can learn two important things from this incident. One, for everyone: be mindful of your phone and what it’s doing behind your back. Two, for our IT and telecommunications department: rethink the intercom design.

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To Train A Predator

, , , , , , | Working | July 24, 2019

(The monthly staff meeting began a few minutes ago. The boss is checking the quick opening announcement off his list before we move onto things in more detail.)

Boss: “Okay, so, by now, you all should have completed your sexual harassment training… which needs a name change, by the way, as that makes it sound like they’re training you how to sexually harass someone…”

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