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That Particular Vessel Was Aptly Named

, , , , , , , , , , | Related | January 16, 2023



After a short hospital stay, my brother unexpectedly dies. Of course, we are devastated, but we know that we need to clear out his apartment of a few things right away. He owned several guns, and we think those should be secured before we move on to other things.

Some family members and I go through his two-bedroom apartment looking for as many of them as possible. He was a bit of a hoarder, and his extra bedroom is stuffed with things. We manage to find most of the guns right away, but I discover something unusual in the bedroom closet.

A pot-bellied stove.

I don’t have time to dwell on it, but it comes up later when my mom is asking about the apartment. She says the stove was actually something that my dad had purchased at an estate sale (he was notorious for buying random things) and my brother’s live-in girlfriend at the time saw it and wanted to turn it into a planter. That didn’t happen, and into the closet it went and probably hadn’t been thought about in years.

Cut to a few days later when we have the time to really clean everything out and I’ve emptied the closet except for the stove. It dawns on me to check if there’s anything inside. I reach in, feel a plastic bag, and pull it out.

And it’s full of marijuana.

I knew he smoked when he was younger, and he told me he hadn’t for a long time. Or maybe it was his girlfriend’s before they split up. Either way, it had been forgotten. But it did provide a humorous story to tell at his visitation.

Because what else would you expect to find in the belly of a pot-bellied stove but pot?

That’s The Trouble With Life Insurance

, , , , , , | Working | January 6, 2023

After I broke up with my fiancé, I visited our Human Resources office to change my life insurance beneficiary from him to my mom. (I know, I know. He should have never been my beneficiary in the first place.) I also increased the amount of my life insurance because he had left me in major debt, and I wanted my family to be able to pay for all that.

When the HR employee saw the life insurance amount:

Employee: “Wow! Your mom will be one lucky lady if you die!” 

Me: *Shocked and confused* “I think my mom would actually rather I be alive.”

If It Means I Don’t Have To Pay, That’s Fine With Me!

, , , , , , | Working | January 5, 2023

I work in a busy tax accounting firm. It’s morbid to say, but our area has a large retiree population, so something I see more prevalently here than at other firms is the number of deceased estate returns we prepare.

The usual procedure when we find out a client has died is to make a note of it and a note to not send information requests to the family for a period of time. Tax departments move slowly, so why rush a grieving family when this process will still take months to finalise?

One day, I answer a call from our admin officer.

Admin Officer: “Hi, I’ve got [Deceased Client] on the line. They’re just after an update to where their tax work is.”

Me: “Uh, are you sure that’s who is calling?”

Admin Officer: “Hold on. I’ll double-check the name.”

I’m put on a brief hold.

Admin Officer: “Yes, it’s [Deceased Client]. Did you want to take the call?”

Me: “Umm, okay. Yes, let’s do that.”

I frantically look for a pen and paper and open his file, thinking it must be his son or something.

I take the call. It turns out that we have two clients with similar names, and when we got the death notice, the admin officer at the time put the deceased marker next to the wrong name. [Client] is very much alive and is just checking where his tax work is because he hasn’t heard from us.

The admin officer came up to me, after the call, to check because I’d sounded so confused on the phone.

Admin Officer: “What was the go with [Client]? Had we forgotten his work or something?”

Me: “No! I thought he was dead!”

There’s Nothing Like A Mum — But A Great Stepmum Is Pretty Close

, , , , , , , | Related | January 2, 2023

My mother died when I was five. I was old enough to have very fond memories of the kindest woman to ever live, who loved me more than anything in the world, even after she got sick. When she died, my inconsolable dad didn’t even think about dating for several years.

He sat me down when I was eleven and told me that he had met someone. He had been seeing her secretly for several months, and he would like me to meet her before he moved any further. While I was a little bit terrified — my friends had stepmothers who HATED them, and they hated them right back — I agreed to do it for my dad, who had always put me first. I figured if this woman was special enough to get my dad to start dating again, then I should at least see what she was like.

Enter [Stepmum]. She showed up to our first meeting nervous as h*** with a puzzle in her hand. I LOVED puzzles, but my dad lacked the patience to do them with me and was always working. She tipped it out onto the table and sat down to help, answering every single one of my rapid-fire questions — even the ones that made my dad turn bright red. From that afternoon forward, we were best friends.

She was kind and funny, and she never tried to push me into anything. She came to every one of my hockey games and cheered louder than anyone else and always took me out for lunch afterward. I went to her when I got my first period, terrified because Dad had assumed that sex-ed had prepared me, and she handled it like a champ.

A year after I met [Stepmum], she moved in, and she and Dad got married. I was her maid of honor. She was an only child and her parents spoiled the HECK out of me — fancy electronics, new clothes, tonnes of “I saw this and thought of you!” presents. [Stepmum] couldn’t have kids of her own, so I was their one shot at grandchildren, and they took that opportunity and ran with it.

When I was fourteen, Dad sat me down again. He informed me that he was also sick.

Dad: “[Stepmum] would like to adopt you in case anything happens to me so that you can stay with her.”

I had a visceral reaction to this. Not only was my dad sick, but now the worst was happening: [Stepmum] was trying to replace MY mum. She appeared in the kitchen doorway.

Stepmum: “For God’s sake, [Dad], that was not what we discussed that you would say.”

Dad fumbled for a moment while I cried and sniffled and said, “No,” over and over again.

Stepmum: “That’s totally fine, honey. Our other option is signing some papers for legal guardianship so that I can keep you in case of the worst happening. Is that something you want?”

I nodded enthusiastically, even through my snot and hiccups. I didn’t want to ever be without [Stepmum]; I just couldn’t handle her replacing my mother. We signed those papers, and that was that.

My dad fought like h*** and recovered, even if he was now down a leg. [Stepmum] is now the world’s greatest grandma to my three little gremlins, and they love to go for rides on Poppy’s wheelchair. [Stepmum] is absolutely my mum in every sense of the word except on paper — and she never pushed for the paper, either.

What A Terrible Thing To Nickel-And-Dime Someone Over

, , , , , , | Working | December 19, 2022

I worked for over two decades for a large corporation. Their policy (as stated in their Human Resources Policy Employee’s Manual) for bereavement time off for deaths in the family was as follows:

  • For immediate family: five days, plus the day of the funeral.
  • For non-immediate family: one day, plus the day of the funeral, or up to three total days, at the discretion of the employee’s manager.

Immediate family was defined as: “Parent, grandparent, sibling, child, step-child, spouse, in-laws, and any relative living in the same residence as the employee.”

The non-immediate family members were defined as: “Uncle, aunt, first and second cousin, either by blood or marriage relationship.” Additional time off could be granted at the discretion of the employee’s manager up to three days total.

My older brother died when I had been working for them for seventeen years. My brother died on a Tuesday morning, so I took the rest of that day, plus Wednesday through Friday, and then the following Monday and Tuesday. According to HR, the Tuesday my brother passed did not count as a day off since I was in the office that day, in addition to the fact that I didn’t leave the office until around 11:00 am. His funeral was held on the following Saturday, so I took the Friday before as the “day of the funeral day”, since his funeral was held during a weekend.

It’s worth noting here that my supervisor was notorious for twisting company policy to suit her needs, or to screw us out of our rightful time off, or whatever the case was, because, for whatever reason, she wanted things her way and always to her advantage.

Upon my return, my supervisor insisted that I “was only entitled to one day off, plus the day of the funeral” because my brother did not live in the same residence as I did. She had already changed the other four days of my bereavement leave to vacation time. Our conversion went like this.

Me: “That’s not true. The HR policy manual says that a sibling is considered an ‘immediate’ relative, and I get five days plus the day of the funeral, or the day before or after if the funeral is held on a weekend.”

Supervisor: “If they live at the same residence.”

I pulled out the HR Employee Policy Manual, which I had at my desk, and even showed it to her.

Me: “No, that’s not what it says here. It says, ‘Immediate family applied to: Parent, grandparents, sibling, child, step-child, spouse, in-laws, and any relative living in the same residence as the employee.’”

Supervisor: “Yes, he did not live in the same residence as you, so you get the one day, plus day of the funeral.”

Me: “The same residence rule applies to any relative that’s not an immediate family member, provided that they live in the same residence. Immediate family members do not have to live in the same residence for us to get the five days plus day of the funeral.”

Supervisor: “It says the relative has to live in the same residence to get the five days off.”

Fed up with her nonsense, I called HR and put them on speakerphone, with my supervisor standing right by me.

Me: “Hello, this is [My Name] from [Department]. You are on speakerphone with my supervisor, [Supervisor]. She seems to be confused about the bereavement leave time. My brother passed away a week ago Tuesday, and [Supervisor] insists that I only get one day bereavement leave because my brother did not live in the same residence as I do. She already changed four days of my bereavement leave over to vacation days.”

HR: “Okay, I’ll clarify the policy for her. [Supervisor], you are listening, correct?”

Supervisor: “Yes, I am here.”

HR: “Mr. [My Name] is correct. Siblings count as immediate family, and he’s entitled to the full bereavement leave of five days, plus day of funeral. Immediate family members do not have to live in the same residence. That rule only applies to non-immediate family members. You will please change Mr. [My Name]’s leave time back to bereavement leave instead of vacation time. I think the policy as stated in the employee manual is pretty clear on this.”

Supervisor: “Oh, okay. I’m sorry, I misunderstood. I guess I misread it.”

HR: “Okay. Mr. [My Name], please let me know if you have any other questions!”

Me: “Thank you!”

She didn’t misunderstand anything. She just wanted things her way. This time, she didn’t win. 

Several months later, my supervisor’s great uncle died in Barbados. Guess who insisted that she was entitled to five days plus day of funeral bereavement leave?