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Has A Burning Desire To Stay

, , , , | Right | June 28, 2018

(I’m behind the till, helping clear a queue, when the fire alarm goes off. I tell the person I’m serving, who grabs her card and leaves. The shop I’m in is underground, beneath another store.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but we have to evacuate the building.”

(I then go to make sure everyone is leaving, as I’m the third-most senior worker on this shift.)

Customer: “I want to buy these; can you serve me?”

Me: “Sorry, that’s the fire alarm; we have to evacuate the building.”

Customer: “I want to buy them.”

Me: “Leave them here, and you can buy them when we are allowed to return.”

(I then go around the store, shouting at the top of my voice, but still having to tell each customer individually. I end up having basically the same conversation with each of them, even though one coworker later says they could hear me from the other side of the shop. I notice that my coworker is struggling to be heard over the fire alarm.)


(I tell her to leave, and I take over.)

Me: “Ma’am, that is the fire alarm; I don’t care what you’re wearing, but we have to leave.”

Customer: “I want to try this on.”

Me: “I am leaving now, before the ceiling collapses.”

(The woman leaves, and follows me upstairs. I find my manager by the stairs, trying to find me, and as we leave, I turn to her.)

Me: “That took a ridiculous amount of time; why do people care that much about tennis balls?”

An Earth-Shaking Revelation

, , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2018

I work in an international preschool in Japan, teaching three-year-olds. As a combination of their age and English being their second — or third — language, their understanding of things can be rather skewed, and funny as a result.

We have an earthquake drill one day, the first one that my class has ever done. I talk about it beforehand to make sure they have a general idea of what to do. I explain earthquakes in a very basic, kid-friendly way, emphasizing the shaking and “things breaking and falling” aspect, and areas of the room to stay away from, for safety. I remind them that it is all pretend, but important to remember in case of a real earthquake in the future.

The drill begins after lunch, and we make our way outside once the alarm stops ringing. They all find it very funny to wear the safety cushions to protect their heads, but there is minimal messing around. We make sure everyone is accounted for, and head back inside. One of my kids starts pointing around and speaking Japanese in astonishment, saying, “The building didn’t fall down! Nothing is broken?” I think maybe she expected the earthquake to happen inside the school, while we were outside?

This story is part of our Japan roundup!

Read the next Japan roundup story!

Read the Japan roundup!

They Need To Be Sharper With Safety Hazards

, , , , , , | Working | June 15, 2018

(I am looking at some small items on a lower shelf in a craft store and am therefore leaned over pretty far to get a good look. Suddenly, I feel a heavy, sharp blow of the back of my head. Slightly dazed, I look around and see a package has fallen from peg on the shelf above where I was looking. Picking it up, I see it’s a package of several dozen thin sheets of copper-meant for embossing projects; it’s heavy and with a sharp, small edge. I take the package to the front of the store and approach a cashier.)

Me: “Hi, um… This fell off the shelf and hit me in the head. I wanted to tell somebody that you need to hang them differently or something.”

Cashier: *looking at the package skeptically* “You’re saying this fell on you?”

Me: “Well, yeah, I was leaning over looking at something. See? It has a hanging tag on it, but a little tag like that couldn’t hold all that weight. It’s ripped in half, see? It ripped off under its own weight and fell.”

Cashier: *blank stare*

Me: “I just think they shouldn’t be displayed like that. Someone could get hurt. I mean, I got hurt, but someone could get really hurt.”

Cashier: “Hey, team lead!”

(The team lead walks over:)

Team Lead: “Is there a problem, ma’am?”

(I repeat the story, holding the package and lightly tapping it on the counter to show that it is, in fact, heavy, sharp sheets of metal. Both the cashier and team lead step back.)

Team Lead: “Ma’am, I’ll get the manager, but you need to calm down!”

(Baffled, I stand there while the cashier glares at me and turns her register light off. There are no other lanes open, and a line is forming. The team lead comes back and stands with the cashier. Neither moves to open another lane or ring up any customers. Thinking I’m in the way, I scoot a few steps back.)

Team Lead: “MA’AM! You need to wait here for the manager!”

Me: “Look, I was just trying to tell you guys that there’s a problem. How long do I need to wait?”

(The team lead stomps off and returns with a flushed-looking older man.)

Manager: “Ma’am, I’m sorry you’re upset, but…”

Me: “I’m not upset. I’m just trying to tell you guys you have a safety hazard in your store.” *repeats the story*

Manager: “And you’re saying that this fell and hit you in the head?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manager: “Are you bleeding?”

Me: “No, just a sore spot.”

Manager: “Do you need me to call an ambulance?”

Me: “No.”

Manager: “Then I’m not sure what you want from me. I’m not giving you that for free.”

(He grabbed the package and stormed off, muttering about me “wasting his time.” Baffled and ticked off, I went about my day. I was in that store again a few weeks later and, of course, they hadn’t moved or changed how they displayed those copper sheets. But there were several on the floor, leaning against the shelves, with the same torn hanging tags as the one that hit me. Here’s hoping no one gets really hurt.)

This story is part of our Crafting Roundup!

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Read the Crafting Roundup!

A Toast To School Life

, , , , , | Learning | June 13, 2018

I am in fourth-year in secondary (high) school. The sixth years — the 17- and 18-year-olds — in our school have their own small kitchen in the school for cooking instant noodles during after-school study, making cups of tea, etc. It doesn’t have an oven or a cooker; there are only small appliances, such as a kettle, a microwave, and a toaster… or, at least, there used to be a toaster.

The story, from what I can recall, begins with us in class. It is a regular old maths lesson and I, as per usual, am daydreaming. All of a sudden, the fire alarm goes off, scaring the bejaysus — “bejesus” with an Irish accent — out of us. We immediately follow the drill of pushing our chairs in, lining up at the door, and filing out onto the sports pitch. I assume it’s just the usual stupidity: someone in the chemistry lab lighting a bunsen burner under the smoke alarm. In fact, this incident took it to a whole new level, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who caused it. One of the sixth years decided to cook a frozen pizza in the toaster. The pizza, of course, caught fire, and subsequently so did the toaster. After having evacuated the entire school and lost roughly 45 minutes of valuable class time — near exam time, no less — it was decided that the sixth years’ toaster would be permanently confiscated.

The story doesn’t end there, however. Our year, the fifth/incoming sixth years, did some things for the sixth years to help them de-stress before their oncoming leaving cert exams, e.g. throwing them a surprise party. At the leavers’ ceremony this week, the head girl announced that, as a thank you, the sixth years had bought our year a toaster as a sort of house-warming — kitchen-warming? — gift, as well as a swing-tennis set. Luckily, I think we’ve all learned the moral of the story: don’t cook non-toastable things in a toaster.

Not Shielded From Your Sarcasm

, , , , , , | Learning | June 9, 2018

(I work at the largest university in Alaska, and we frequently have earthquake drills and, of course, the required fire drills. I am designated as one of our building safety personnel in charge of evacuating the building and getting people to the designated “safe” area away from the building, a large portion of which is floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows. The meeting area is located safely behind the cement parking garage, a good distance from our building. However, people get weirdly stubborn about moving to the correct area, even as I wave and point and usher them. I start becoming very creative in handling these recalcitrant evacuees.)

Me: *in official vest and over bullhorn* “Please step this way behind the parking garage, towards the designated meeting area!”

(A few people move.)

Me: “Folks, please be sure to thank those people over there—” *indicates the people still stubbornly standing right next to the giant glass building* “—who have bravely volunteered to be a human shield for you in the event of a fire or other disaster in which our building, made entirely of glass, could potentially explode outward.” *pause for effect* “Their sacrifice in protecting you from the explosive shrapnel will be much appreciated!”

(The human shields eschew the honor and glory, and move to relative safety behind the parking garage, glaring at me all the while.)

Me: *mentally shrugging; it’s part of my job and I can’t get fired over this* “Thank you for playing the ‘How to stay alive during a natural disaster’ game! Herb, tell them what they’ve won!”

(Most people were laughing pretty hard at this point. The few holdouts glowered at me the entire time.)