Shield Us From The Stupid!

, , , , , | Working | February 6, 2021

I’m a kidney transplant patient, and as such, I’m considered extremely clinically vulnerable to the pesky illness that’s doing its world tour.

Wales has been in its third lockdown since December — it’s now January — and patients such as me have once again been advised to “shield” by the government, i.e. not leave the house if you don’t absolutely have to. That’s fine by me; I’ve chosen to continue to shield since the first lockdown anyway.

Our boiler is due for its annual service, and as it’s still reasonably new, the service has to be carried out in order to maintain the warranty. I call the company that we usually use to book it in.

The young lady taking my call is extremely slow at doing so — it’s a bit like dealing with Flash the sloth from “Zootopia” — but all is going smoothly and the service is offered for a few days hence.

Then, we get to the fun part.

Me: “Could you please let the engineer know that I am shielding, so I will require him to wear a mask while in the house and follow precautions?”

Employee: “Oh, do you have any symptoms? We can’t come if you have symptoms.”

Me: “No, I’m not infected; I’m just shielding.”

Employee: “So you’re isolating but no symptoms. I’m not sure if we can come, really.”

Me: “No, I’m not isolating. I’m shielding. I just need the engineer to know that, for safety.”

Employee: “So you’re saying it’s not safe to be in your property? Is someone else there showing symptoms?”

Me: *Getting frustrated* “No, no one here is infected. No one here is isolating. It is completely safe for the engineer to be here. I’m just shielding as I’m vulnerable, so he’ll need to keep away from me.”

Employee: “Oh, you’re vulnerable? Are you elderly? You don’t sound elderly!” *Giggles*

Me: *Ready to scream* “No, I just could get really ill if I catch it. So all I need is for the engineer to be made aware that I am shielding and that he needs to wear a mask at all times. Please!”

Employee: *Sounding more confused* “But you’re not elderly…?”

Me: *Sigh* “No. You don’t have to be elderly to need to shield.”

Employee: “Are you sure you don’t mean you’re isolating? Because we can’t come if you’re isolating.”

Me: *Trying not to yell at her* “Please, just pop on the notes that I’m shielding. Show your boss. If he doesn’t want to send anyone, just call me back. Will that be okay?”

Employee: “Okay, but I’m still not sure.” *Pauses while she types* “How do you spell shielding?”

I just wanted to bang my head against the table. If they weren’t a reliable and reasonably priced company, I’d have given up on that phone call. I was under the impression that shielding was a common enough term in the UK now, but maybe I’m wrong?! Anyway, after all that, the engineer is coming tomorrow. Phew!

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This Author’s Not Kidding; Disgusting Adventures Lie Ahead!

, , , , | Working | November 12, 2020

I’m the author of this story and some folks complained that even though I’d said it was gross, they thought it would be worse than it was. I’m fairly sure that this won’t be published, but fair warning, this is the worst job I ever did.

Many many years ago, during the summer holidays, I work for my father as a gopher because it gets me out of the house and away from his wife, as well as putting a few quid in my pocket.

One day, my father and I are called to a slaughterhouse because there is a problem with the drains. Not really expecting much, we pull up to find a virtual lake behind the sheds, and Dad is instantly torn between “Yay, big job!” face and “Ewww!” face. If you can make a plumber pull his “Ewww!” face, it’s bad.

We do a first inspection and Dad narrows down roughly where the problem is and goes off to talk to the slaughterhouse owners.

Dad: “I’m afraid you’ll have to shut down until the problem is fixed, and we can’t really do anything until the water drains.”

While we wait, Dad goes over the blueprints for the new drains that were put in under one of the concrete floors last spring and he finds two problems.

First, the people who put in the drains used the wrong size of grill in the tunnel, which means that the blockage was almost certainly a backlog of “bits” which had caught on the grill.

Second, Dad doesn’t fit into the drain and the inspection plate is also in the wrong place for access. There’s a reason the original contractors weren’t called back in; from the grumbling I heard, this was far from the only mistake.

That means that for two weeks, in August, I lower myself into a concrete drainage tunnel barely big enough for my shoulders and crawl forward to fill a bucket with rotting scraps, some of them weeks and months old. Then, I crawl backward until I got to the access again, haul myself and the bucket to the skip, pour in this stinking slop, and then do it all over again.

I can’t even tell you how awful that tunnel was. The smell was a foretaste of Hell and the heat was unbelievable, especially in what passed for PPE back then. I’m sure it’s where my claustrophobia and nightmares about small places started, but the family really needed the money and I was the only person who could do the job.

So I did it.

In his defence, my father felt awful and way overpaid me for my age, but even buying and insuring my first motorbike with the money from that job wasn’t worth the memories.

Related:
Praise To The Lamb(ing Sheds)!

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A Watch Might Be Handy For This Handyman

, , , | Working | October 22, 2020

My bathroom faucet has been dripping non-stop for a few days, so I decide to call someone to fix it. After a quick research, I find a landline for [Handyman #1] and he assures me he will be in my house in an hour. He is a little evasive about prices, but I decide to trust him for now. Not so bad, right?

Well… after almost four hours, I call again.

Handyman #1: “I’m already driving to you!”

Weird. I am calling a landline! I get fed up with the unprofessional behaviour and cancel the job; I confirm my information with him, tell him I will not need his services, and — after hearing some very “polite” words from him — hang up.

After calling some friends and family, I found another person, [Handyman #2], who got here in less than twenty minutes, fixed my problem, and even gave me some tips about what to do if I encountered the same type of problem again. Great!

After three hours of the first cancellation — SEVEN HOURS after the initial contact — guess who was on my buzzer? Yep, [Handyman #1], and he even had the audacity to ask if I was the person who’d cancelled.

And some people ask why they can’t find work.

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Gotta Make Up For That Wage Gap Somehow

, , , , , | Working | September 18, 2020

My great-grandmother was an incredible woman and quite a bit of a penny pincher. She was women’s lib before that even existed. She had a separate bank account from her husband and actually owned land in her own name — an unusual thing back in the 1930s. She once threw a fit when the bank added my great-grandfather’s name to her bank account without permission. He also told the bank that what they did was wrong.

So, because of this, she was very careful and shrewd with her money. She had a business and believed in giving customers full benefit for their money… but she also demanded the same from others.

One day, when she is around ninety, she has a plumbing issue and has to call a professional. He actually is able to fix it in less than thirty minutes. The problem comes when he presents the bill.

Great-Grandmother: “Wait. Why are you charging me for two hours of labor when you only worked for less than thirty minutes?”

Plumber: “That is our minimum labor charge.”

Great-Grandmother: “Then you owe me an hour and a half of work.” *Hands him a rake* “You can rake up the leaves in my yard.”

Plumber: *Incredulous pause* “You have got to be kidding me. I am a plumber.”

Great-Grandmother: “Good for you. If I am going to pay for two hours of labor, you will earn two hours of labor. Now get to work.”

After standing there for a minute, he realized that this little old woman was not kidding. The plumber picked up the rake and spent the next hour and a half raking up leaves.

My great-grandmother came out after an hour and a half with a glass of lemonade and the money to pay the bill.

She did this with anyone and everyone she hired to do anything. They did not argue and she paid them gladly. 

I miss her.


This story is part of our Best Of September 2020 roundup!

Read the next story in the Best Of September 2020 roundup!

Read the Best Of September 2020 roundup!

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The Nightmare Way Before Christmas

, , , , | Right | August 19, 2020

I am a plumber. I am up on the roof of a house working on a plug in some of the waterlines in the house. My customer’s son walks out and looks up at me doing work on the house. My uniform has a red shirt for a top, and this is all the boy can see.

Boy: “Oh! Hey up there, are you Santa?”

Me: “It’s September.”

Boy: “So? You could be here early trying to figure out if you can fit in the chimney.”

Me: “…”

Boy: “So, are you Santa?”

Me: “Nope. Even if I was, trust me you do not want the gift that I have.”

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