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Dodged A Bullet (Or A Fist)

, , , , , , | Related | January 27, 2023

We lived in the same house for over a decade when I was a child, and I’d long since memorized the layout well enough that I could have run the hall blindfolded, which I sort of did. My father was quite insistent on not wasting electricity on extra lights, so when I decided to head upstairs for the night through darkened hallways, rather than having to turn on and then back off a half-dozen lights along my way, I’d generally trust to my memory — and a protective raised hand in case I misjudged the distance — to make it upstairs without the lights.

I was headed up to my bedroom one evening when I was an older teen. There was enough light still filtering in from the windows to sort of make out the halls downstairs, but the light didn’t quite reach up the full length of the stairs to the hallway above. This time, as I approached said hallway, I suddenly had an overwhelming sense that there was some looming presence waiting for me in the darkness above.

Logically, I figured it had to be my imagination, so I wasn’t really scared. After all, it wasn’t as if someone could have snuck upstairs to wait in ambush without my noticing. Still, it could do no harm to humor my instincts; it might even provide a mildly amusing distraction to do so. So, even though, I was certain there was nothing to worry about, I still played along. I moved cautiously forward in a sort of lazy bastardization of a defensive fighting stance, not quite being willing to risk feeling stupid by taking on a full combat stance over something I was sure I was imagining. I even moved toward where my instincts told me the presence was, instead of going the opposite direction to my bedroom, to figure out what had been negligently left in the hallway that could have triggered my instincts.

It seems my subconscious must have detected some signs too subtle for my conscious mind to process because it turned out there was a looming presence, which suddenly charged at me as I approached it! With my body already primed and ready, my instincts took over, shifting my weight into a proper stance even as I started to launch a punch. While I’ll never claim to be a master martial artist, years of training had at least taught me how to throw a proper punch.

It was only after my instincts had taken over that my brain caught up. I realized the only people who could have reasonably made it upstairs without alarming me were the ones that were supposed to be there, and come to think of it, didn’t that dark figure charging at me have roughly the right size and bulk to be my father? With this realization, I tried to pull my punch, fighting against the momentum my punch had already built by then. I managed to slow it just enough that it was little more than a tap on my father’s stomach, light enough that he apparently brushed it off without realizing what it was as he started laughing and gloating that he had surprised me.

In actuality, between my first instinctual response and then my distracted attempt to stop it, I hadn’t had time to really register any fear. Instead, I told my father he nearly got punched, but my dad seem to think this was just me saving face and didn’t realize how serious I was about the warning. Realizing there was no way for me to prove how close my father had come to a solid punch to the gut, I gave up and went to my bedroom, letting my father have his undeserved sense of triumph at his ambush.

Yet the memory has still stuck with me, even decades later. There’s just something that amuses me about how undeserved his excitement was and just how close he was to regretting his ill-planned ambush. But sure, Dad, go ahead and think you won that round.

That Kind Of Prank Never Ends Well

, , , , , , , , , , , | Working | January 23, 2023

At my very first job, we used to have a girl who did bank runs, taking the cash from any cash transactions that we had over to the local bank in a deposit bag, where she would sometimes use what is known as a Night Drop.

One day, [Coworker] went out to do the deposit. Then, she was supposed to come back to help me close the store for the day. This left me to clean, because the walk to the bank was a bit of a distance — our town was very safe, so she had no worries about doing this on foot — and it normally took her a while to get to and from the location.

About twenty-five minutes later, [Coworker] called me and apologized, telling me that she would be late coming back because she had to call EMS to the bank. When she came back, I asked her what had happened, and the story unfolded as such.

[Coworker] arrived at the bank, but there was already someone using the Night Drop, so she waited. While she was standing there, a very good friend of hers saw her at the branch, parked his car, and got in line behind her without her noticing.

Once the other person left, [Coworker]’s friend put a hand on her shoulder and said, “Give me all the money!” You know… as a joke…

Well, [Coworker] whipped around and belted her friend in the face with the deposit bag. Now, this is a vinyl sack with some bills in it, so it didn’t do any damage but it did scare him, which caused him to jump back. As he jumped back, his foot rolled, and he fell down and knocked himself unconscious on a handrail.

[Coworker] had to call EMS, and the police also arrived to take statements and get an idea of what had happened. They agreed that [Coworker]’s friend was an idiot.

In order to prevent him from having to pay impound fees and such, [Coworker] asked the police if she could take his car. I’m not sure what conversation she had with them, but it ended in a “yes”, and she was able to drive back to our shop and then pick her friend up at the hospital the next afternoon when he was released from observation.

The best part was that I got like an hour of overtime because I couldn’t leave the shop unsecured since I wasn’t a keyholder.

What Happens When The Monsters Come Out From Under The Bed

, , , , , , , | Related | January 6, 2023

I suffer from tinnitus, which is a persistent ringing in the ears. Because of this, I have trouble falling asleep. To combat the problem, I wear wireless headphones to bed that are connected to my computer, where I play “white noise” videos on YouTube. “White noise” sounds like a softer version of television or radio static; people who suffer from my condition listen to it to “drown out” the auditory ringing noise until the brain eventually is trained to tune the noise out.

One day, my wireless headphone set died. I was quite upset, as I knew I was going to have trouble falling asleep. I did manage to fall asleep eventually, but suddenly, at random, I heard music box chimes playing all throughout my dreams, which drove me almost crazy as I had no idea where it was coming from.

I woke up to find that my little seven-year-old sister had taken the little chiming music box that my dad would wind up and play next to her on nights when she would have night terrors, and she had put it next to my head — apparently concerned about me not being able to fall asleep.

I mentioned it to her the following morning and laughed about how I was hearing the chimes in my dreams, and I was looking all over the place in my dreams trying to find where it was coming from.

Days later, I got a new pair of wireless headphones, and this time I had checked in early after a long, exhausting day. I turned on my favorite white noise video on YouTube, put my wireless headphones on, and crashed for the night.

Suddenly, I began dreaming that I was robbing a bank and was in an intense shootout with the police and SWAT! 

Then, the dream changed and I found myself in an anime.

Then, suddenly, my all-time favorite song began playing. I began bobbing my head and started singing along as I woke up… to find my sister at my computer, her body trembling uncontrollably with stifled laughter, redhanded with her fingers on the keyboard. She had several YouTube windows open, and the next one she was aiming for was the classic final boxing match from the movie “Rocky IV”.

Me: “YOU LITTLE MONSTER!”

I leaped out of bed. My sister shrieked and ran off to her room, burying herself under a mountain of blankets while giggling hysterically.

Annoyed, I went back to my room to switch the video back. This kid had quite an interesting night planned for me: the other windows she had open were YouTube search results with phrases like, “You shall not pass,” “car chase,” “Jaws theme,” “[Video Game] final boss,” “Say hello to my little friend,” etc.

But on a positive note, since I had discovered that external sounds could influence my dreams, I went on to create a playlist that would include guided meditations that I would hear in my sleep. It proved to be an EXCELLENT anxiety reliever.

Thanks to that little monster.

His Bark Is Worse Than His… Non-Bark?

, , , , , , | Related | January 1, 2023

My husband and I have acquired a small menagerie, taking in any furry people who need our help. When a friend had to move into an assisted living facility, we offered to take in his dog, Bromey. Bromey is a husky mix that our friend adopted from the pound, so we don’t know anything about his first few years. He came to us a happy and mellow pup with one unusual trait: he never barked. He would grumble and growl when play-fighting with our pit mix, Geordi, and he would softly “woof” in his sleep when dreaming, but for almost three years, we had never heard a single full-throated bark.

He soon settled into the household and could usually be found snoozing in our bedroom. For some reason, the spot under our bed (a tight fit for either dog) was always the preferred nap spot.

One lazy afternoon, I was reading with Geordi snoring under the bed. Bromey wandered in, stood in the doorway for a moment, and then let out a single loud bark. The sound had me jumping up to check on him as the brown hound emerged from beneath my side of the bed to investigate. Surely it must be serious if our silent boy was barking.

Geordi and I finally untangled ourselves and stepped around the foot of the bed to see Bromey’s wagging tail disappearing under my husband’s side of the bed as he settled into the “best” nap spot. Clever boy.

It’s been over a year since Bro found his bark — and I do mean a single bark. He remains a dog of few words but has now trained us to respond to his occasional commands, always delivered with one sharp bark and a grin.

Oh, To Have Been A Fl-eye On The Wall For That

, , , , , , , , , | Working | December 29, 2022

Many moons ago, my mother used to own and work in a cafe. She had a waitress working for her who was an older lady — in her mid-sixties at the time, I believe — and an absolute sweetheart — quiet, polite, great with the customers, and just generally lovely.

Around the same time, my mother’s main cook left, and she took on a chap who was (once upon a time) a chef. He was a nice guy most of the time but had a drinking problem and was quick to lose his temper — think Gordon Ramsay, but a bit less fiery and much less sweary.

One day, he got very angry with the waitress over something trivial and stormed out the back of the cafe to calm down with a cigarette. The lovely waitress decided to make him a coffee to help chill him out and took it outside to him.

About five minutes later, my mother heard a scream followed by a crash and legged it out the back, fearing some sort of awful altercation between chef and waitress.

Instead of blood and carnage, she was met with the sight of chef and waitress both leaning against the wall in fits of laughter, with a broken mug and coffee all around their feet.

The waitress, this lovely old lady who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, had secretly taken her spare glass eye and popped it into the angry chef’s coffee cup as a little revenge prank. When he finally drank down that far, he saw this eye peering up at him from the bottom of the cup, screamed, and dropped the cup in his terror.

At least he forgot about whatever it was he’d been angry about!