Wasn’t Done In A New York Minute

, , , , | Right | May 29, 2017

(I work at a very large church in NYC that’s also a popular tourist destination. We’re known not just for our grandeur, but also our programming, both liturgical and secular, which brings a lot of people through our doors. I work in the gift shop, which is also something of a reception area. In the middle of a busy day, I get this phone call.)

Me: “[My Church] Visitors Center. This is [My Name].”

Caller: “Hi, there’s an organ concert happening at [Church on the other side of town] next week and I’m coming into Penn Station to hear it.”

(Please note, we have organ concerts, as well, so I’m thinking this has something to do with our organist.)

Caller: “How do I get there?”

Me: “From [My Church]?”

Caller: “No! From Penn Station! Can I walk to Madison Avenue and then take the Madison Avenue local?”

Me: “Walk to Madison Avenue from Penn Station? It’s kind of far.”

Caller: “But can I walk it?”

Me: “I suppose you could walk the entire way if you wanted to.”

Caller: “But I want to walk to Madison Avenue and then take the local up!”

Me: “This isn’t [Church across town]. This is [My Church].”

Caller: “I know! But no one was picking up over there!”

Me: “I can try to help get you directions, but we’re not affiliated with that church, so I’m not familiar with where it is.”

Caller: “I know you’re not! I’m just trying to find out if I can walk to Madison Avenue and take the Madison Avenue local up!”

Me: “To get across town your best bet is to take the shuttle at Times Square.”

Caller: “I don’t want to take a shuttle! What subway should I take!”

Me: “The shuttle is the subway you should take. It runs from Times Square to Grand Central and back.”

(This goes on for far longer than you’d think it should, after I’ve given him explicit subway instructions with him questioning me at every direction. He doesn’t believe me that there’s no subway line on Madison Avenue. He doesn’t believe me that the closest subway stop is four blocks and two avenues from the church, and he’s getting increasingly frustrated that I don’t know the exact address and location of a church I don’t work for. My line is growing and my colleague — who is not required to answer phones, by the way — offers to take the call so I can get back to our visitors.)

Me: “I’m going to pass you on to my colleague, because I have a line of customers here who need help, but she will help you find the best way to get there.”

Caller: “Customers? What’s going on there? Is there an event?”

Me: “No, no event today.”

Caller: “Then what customers do you have?”

Me: “We have tourists visiting here every day.”

Caller: “Is this the gift shop?!”

Me: “Yes. I’m passing you on to my colleague now.”

(She takes the phone while I apologize to our paying customers. I can overhear her telling him basically the same things I said and apparently getting the same backlash. Ultimately I hear her say, “We don’t work for the MTA or that church, but the MTA’s website has a function to help you find the best route,” and shortly after that the call is over and my line has died down.)

Me: “What did he say when you told him you don’t work for the MTA?”

Colleague: “He said, ‘But you’re New Yorkers!’”

Justice On Patrol

| Salt Lake, UT, USA | Friendly | May 17, 2017

(Working nights usually has its perks, with the chief among them being I get to avoid dealing with the general public. It’s not that I’m anti-social or anything, but just that I don’t really deal with people well in person. I avoid crowds, and so on. The only real drawback of where I work is that on some days (night for me) I’m exhausted when I get off duty. Also, like most of the people I work with, I carry a backpack. About halfway home, I’m dozing in the back of the train, when the thing starts to slow. Bleary eyed and half awake, I blink, yawn, and look around. I take note of two young ladies who are looking my way and talking in somewhat hushed tones.)

Passenger #1: “Oh, this is going to be fun to watch. It’s a ticket check. Watch that bum.” *pointing to me*

Passenger #2: *pulling out her phone* “I’m going to upload this on [Website]. It’s so sick. I mean his kind shouldn’t even be allowed to be on the streets.”

Passenger #1: “Well, they’re going to get him.”

(The train stops, doors open, and the officers start making the rounds. I lift up my ID badge, flip it over to show my ticket and smile.)

Me: “Hey, [Cop]. How’s the shift going?”

Cop: “Slow. You just getting off?”

(I nod at this and yawn before shrugging.)

Me: “What was your first clue? Me half asleep or the constant yawns?”

(The cop laughs at this and starts to head off, only to have Passenger #2 call him back.)

Passenger #2: “Hey, do the job we f****** pay you for! Get that bum off OUR train!”

Passenger #1: “Yeah, he didn’t pay when he got on.”

(The cop looks back at me, then back over to the girls.)

Cop: “I don’t need to check his ticket.”

Passenger #1: *stands up at this point and starts to get loud* “Don’t need to check his ticket?! Like h*** you don’t! What’s your name, and where’s your supervisor!? I want to file a complaint!”

Cop: “My name is [Cop] and my supervisor is over there.” *pointing at me*

(The girls looked my way, blinked a few times and then stared. I gave a rather wide yawn before smiling at the girls and then getting comfortable again. The rest of the ride home, they kept shooting me rather nervous glances, and kept their mouths shut. I guess they didn’t notice the fact that I was wearing the same uniform as the patrol officers.)

Fantastic Tram Drivers And Where To Find Them

| Melbourne, VIC, Australia | Working | March 27, 2017

(I am part of a large crowd that has just finished watching a movie screened at an outdoor cinema in the city gardens. We all come piling out of the exits and about thirty of us head for the tram stop, my husband and I included. Shortly, the tram arrives, and somehow we all manage to squeeze on. The following are the tram driver’s announcements we then heard over the intercom, all delivered in a flat, deadpan voice.)

Tram Driver: “Those of you who are standing, please make sure you are grabbing on to something firm, so that you are not stumbling around grabbing on to something soft you didn’t mean to grab.”

(We get to the next stop. Cue some awkward shuffling around for new passengers.)

Tram Driver: *flatly* “There’s plenty of room.”

Tram Driver: “Although now would be a good time to exchange details with each other, to avoid future paternity tests.”

Tram Driver: “Those of you who are standing in the doorways, please do not get caught in the doors when they open or close. This tends to produce a loud screaming noise.”

Tram Driver: “Those of you who wanted a normal tram service should have gotten on any other tram but this one.”

(At one point, there is a lull and the passengers’ laughter dies down to usual quiet murmuring amongst themselves.)

Tram Driver: “You’ve all gone quiet.”

(Laughter again ensues.)

Tram Driver: “Those of you who need to get off at the Arts Precinct, or Southbank Promenade, next stop.”

(Pause.)

Tram Driver: “Please note, passengers: key stops are announced for you; however, if you wish to leave the tram please pull the cord, press the button, ask the driver, or say a prayer.”

(Another pause.)

Tram Driver: “I have to ask, where have you lot just come from?”

Passenger #1: “Moonlight cinema!”

Passenger #2:Fantastic Beasts! In the Botanic Gardens.”

Tram Driver: *dryly* “Ohhhh, that.”

(Another pause.)

Tram Driver: “Flinders St Station, next stop.”

Tram Driver: “At least one person has pulled the cord or pressed the button for the next stop. Could you lot please pass that person overhead to the doors?”

(Most of us, including my husband and me, got off there, and there was a small applause and some shouting of thanks for the tram driver. His face was completely deadpan when I passed the front of the tram and waved at him, but he waved back at me all the same. I can’t help wondering if he loved his job or hated it.)

Life Is Stranger Than Stolen Fiction

| Denmark | Friendly | February 23, 2017

(I’m sitting on a bench at a bus stop, waiting for the bus. I am reading a book when more people arrive and start waiting as well. A lady sits next to me and gradually gets more and more interested in my book. She even begins so read over my shoulder. I’m a little annoyed but ignore her. She even goes as far as sighing heavily and tapping her foot, when I’m reading too slowly and she wants me to turn the page. I get pretty self conscious about how fast I read and in the end get fed up with it. I then close the book and make a move to put it in my bag, when the lady suddenly placed her hand gently on my arm.)

Lady: “Excuse me, but could I please see that?”

Me: “Oh? Okay.”

(I agree to show her my book, thinking that she just wanted to write down the title, but the lady quickly snatches my book and stuffs it in her big purse. Stunned of what has just happened, I freeze up and the lady acts as if nothing happened. Everybody else just looks shocked. I quickly gain my thoughts and begin to talk the lady into giving me my book back.)

Me: “Um? Could I have my book back?”

Lady: “No. I need it.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but that book is mine. I can tell you where to buy it if you want… or show you where the library is?”

Lady: “No. This is easier.”

Me: “I own that book! You can’t just steal it.”

(I reach for my book, which is still sticking out a little bit from her purse, but she quickly pulls it away and stands up.)

Lady: “NO! IT’S MINE!”

(I stand too and people around us tell her to return the book.)

Lady: “SHUT UP! IT’S MINE! IT’S MIIINE!”

(She lifts her arm to swing at me, only to be stopped by one of the men around us. She continues to scream and kick until police arrives.)

Lady: “THAT B**** TRIES TO STEAL MY STUFF! ARREST THAT WHORE!”

(Everybody else backed my story up and the lady tried to attack the police when they asked her to return my book. She got cuffed and still screamed at me from the back of the police car. And I got my book back! It had a happy ending as well.)

Tramming Their Faith Down Your Throat

| | Friendly | January 21, 2017

(My boyfriend and I are running errands on a particularly rainy and cold day. At some point we are on a tram stop and are waiting for our train, minding our own business, when a peculiar-looking old lady starts talking to me.)

Old Lady: “Excuse me, can you read?”

(I assume that she needs help with the tram plan, because I have often been asked for help with it in the past, so I just say yes.)

Old Lady: “You see, I need to… I need to make you a present… For Christmas… For you to be happy… It is important… About this book, you know, you do have it in your home, don’t you? The Bible?”

(Having guessed what she wants, I try to back out quickly, but politely, being far too nice.)

Me: “I have read it, I don’t have it, and I’m an atheist. You might not want to waste your time with me.”

Old Lady: “But this isn’t good, not at all! You’re so young! You need to let yourself be saved!”

Me: “Everyone’s entitled to their beliefs or lack thereof, so could we please leave it at that? Thanks.”

(I walk two steps away to my boyfriend, who has been playing with his phone, in order to ask him something unrelated to the old lady. She, however, doesn’t give up and decides to try and convert him. Note that he’s agnostic, but doesn’t like religious zealots who try to convert people on the street or walking from door to door.)

Old Lady: “Excuse me, can you read?”

Boyfriend: *not having heard my interaction with her, he just stares at her blankly*

Me: “He’s with me, and an atheist, too. Could you leave us alone, please?”

Old Lady: “Why? You want to lead people away from God! Why?! You are evil!”

Me: “Not sure about evil, and about leading people away from God. I’m not speaking to strangers on the tram stop, trying to convert people, now, am I?”

(She looks at me meanly, but our tram comes and we get in.)

Boyfriend: “Boy, she was weird… You are aware that I’m agnostic, though, are you not?”

Me: “I am, but it’s none of her business. I know that if you have questions, you’d look for a theologian or a priest, the way normal people do.”

(Seriously, I respect people’s beliefs, no matter what they call themselves, but not when they start hurting others’ freedom, and zealots who try to “save me” are extremely annoying.)

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