Shaken, Stirred, And Totally Served

, , , , , , , , , | Right | July 27, 2021

I am third in the queue at a local supermarket. At the counter, there is a lovely, polite, elderly lady with the telltale jerking movements of Parkinson’s. Her voice is a little slurred, soft, and monotonous.

Lady: “I’m sorry I’m so slow. Can I just get these?”

She puts through five items, mostly lunch stuff.

Cashier: “No worries, not a problem at all! Would you like a bag?”

The next customer cuts in.

Man: “Well, I’m f****** worried! You shouldn’t be allowed out in public like that.”

He gets up in the old lady’s face.

Cashier: “Stop that immediately!”

Man: “Listen, b****, I shouldn’t have to wait in line because some old f***** can’t handle her highs!”

Meanwhile, the old lady is calmly putting her stuff in her bag… except for a can of soda which she holds in her hand.

Cashier: “Excuse me. That is my mother, and she has Parkinson’s Disease; it is a neurological degenerative condition that causes those movements.”

The manager can be seen approaching but is still a few moments away.

Man: “Like f*** she is! She’s just high!”

The lady opens the now very well-shaken can of soda and proceeds to drop it at the man’s feet, causing it to spurt upward in a jet of foam and thoroughly soak him.

Lady: “Oh, I’m terribly sorry! I have Parkinson’s disease. There was a spasm in my hand and I let go of it. I’m soooooo sorry!”

The other customer shouts for a bit and then gets thrown out by the manager.

The elderly lady then waits at the end of the checkout to speak to her daughter after she finishes serving me, and that’s when I notice her mischievous grin.

Me: “You totally meant to do that, didn’t you?” *Smirks*

Lady: “H*** yeah, I did!” *Smiles sweetly* “I may have Parkinson’s, but I can still deal with an a**hole or two!”

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A Clear-Cut Case Of Sabotage

, , , , | Working | June 28, 2021

I worked away from home for a few years as a self-employed business consultant because there wasn’t much work in my field near my hometown. Unfortunately, my wife suddenly became quite ill one year, and whilst her parents were really helpful, I was desperate to find work that would mean I was able to go home to her each night. 

I eventually found work for a consultancy who told me that they were developing a satellite office in my region, which initially sounded really promising, but ended up being one of the worst professional experiences of my life.

In the nine months that I worked there, my boss changed three times. When [Boss #1] left, we lost our main contract. It turned out that nobody had been doing any business development when they were on a full-time secondment, so when they left, there was suddenly no work for me or my team. This led to a lot of nonsense which, in retrospect, was almost certainly them trying to get me to quit, but like I said, I was desperate so I put up with it. This particular story is about a meeting with [Boss #2] a day before [Boss #3] started, in response to my asking if I passed my six-month probation — and hence would be a bit more difficult to fire or let go.

Boss #2: “[My Name], I have reviewed the probation objectives [Boss #1] set you with the Head of the Department (HOD) and we don’t agree that they were appropriate.”

Me: “What do you mean? These were all agreed on at the time and formally submitted. I’m pretty sure the HOD even signed off on them.”

Boss #2: “HOD says he’s never seen them. So, we have set you four new objectives. Here they are: [list]. As I’m sure you’d agree, you haven’t achieved any of these objectives, so we can’t pass your probation. HOD is particularly disappointed that you haven’t done more business development.”

Me: “Wait, what? Out of six objectives, you have changed four, and since my probation is up tomorrow, you’ve pre-emptively failed me by giving me less than a day to complete them? How is that fair?”

Boss #2: “I didn’t say you had failed them.”

Me: “What do you mean? You just told me that I failed them.”

Boss #2: “Oh, no, you haven’t failed. You just need longer to achieve them, so we’re extending your probation by another two months. Don’t worry. Most of the people in the team had their probation extended.”

Me: “And you honestly don’t think that’s a problem? Surely if almost everyone needs their probation extended, that suggests that there is an issue with the whole system?”

Boss #2: *After some silence* “Anyway, Human Resources will be in touch with the papers to confirm your probation extension. Please make sure you agree on the new objectives with [Boss #3] when they start tomorrow.”

Almost as soon as [Boss #3] started, we had a meeting to go over how angry I was about all of this, but they basically talked me into taking it on the chin and promised that they would pass me after the two months. In fairness, they did, but at that point, I pretty much went straight into garden leave because the business initiated processes to make my role redundant.

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What’s Latin For “Whoops”?

, , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2021

I switched high schools midway through my first year and found that, unlike my old school, my new one taught Latin. As another student also joined the school at the same time as me, she and I were given separate lesson plans to the rest of the class to try and “catch us up.”

I was generally very polite and quiet at this point in my life, particularly toward authority figures, but my outward behaviour didn’t always reflect my internal monologue. 

One day, the teacher reprimanded the other later starter because her textbook was closed and she wasn’t even pretending to be working. I, however, was nearly finished with the assignment. For some reason, though, the teacher then brought me into it.

Teacher: “What about you, [My Name]? Are you Superman and able to read your book through its cover?”

Me: “Yes, of course, I am.”

A few moments later as the class erupted, I realised with growing horror that I had actually said the thing I was thinking.

Teacher: “Oh, that’s hilarious, [My Name], very funny. Do you know what else is funny? Saturday morning detention.”

I didn’t have a great home life and my parents had very strict ideas about respecting adults, so frankly, I was terrified about how I would explain this to them. I spoke to the teacher after the class, apologised profusely, and explained that my inner voice had gotten away from me and that I had actually finished the lesson so he caught me by surprise. He thanked me for apologising but explained that he had actually been joking, too. Looking back on it now, I’m not sure if he just saw how panicked I was and took pity on me.

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Grit Your Teeth And Admit You Were Wrong

, , , , , | Working | June 7, 2021

I work as a repairer and maintainer for a grounds care company that basically looks after the local authorities’ landscaping and does various seasonal grounds maintenance tasks. One summer, our company purchases some new-to-the-market hand-propelled gritting machines in readiness for the next winter season.

Six months later, the snow falls and the gritting machines are taken out and put to use. An hour later, the operator returns to the workshop holding the drive belt in his hand, reporting that the machine lasted two minutes and the belt keeps coming off every time it’s replaced. I inspect the machine and see a major design flaw, and in two days, I manufacture a remedy for the fault.

I phone the manufacturer.

Me: “Your hand gritters seem to have a design flaw. I’ve made a modification, but I want to know if fitting it will affect any warranties we have with your machine.”

Manufacturer: “What flaw? What’s wrong with it?”

Me: “The operator used it for two minutes, and the belt chokes up with the grit and keeps coming off.”

Manufacturer: “Your operator is using the machine wrong; there’s no flaw with the machine.”

Me: “How can he be using it wrong? Grit is loaded in and you push it as you walk.”

Manufacturer: “Well, he must be doing it wrong. We’ve had no problems and no other customers have complained about it.”

Me: “I think the part of the country where I am has had the first snowfalls this winter, so no customers will complain until they get snow and have the opportunity to use your product.”

Manufacturer: “There’ve been plenty of customers using them and you are the only ones to complain. There’s no fault with the machine; it’s your operator.”

I give up and go ahead with fitting the modification, and the machine works flawlessly.

Another month passes and the whole of the UK is hit with major snow. I get a phone call from the gritter manufacturer.

Manufacturer: “Are you the guy who called about the belt constantly coming off our hand gritter?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manufacturer: “I recall you mentioned a modification. Did you design one and did it work?”

Me: “The gritter works fine now.”

Manufacturer: “Ah, great. Was it the modification that sorted the problem?”

Me: “Have you been getting problems?”

Manufacturer: “Erm… no, erm… Nobody else has reported any problems.”

Me: “Well, our gritter is fine now.”

Manufacturer: “Was it the modification that fixed it?”

Me: “It was.”

Manufacturer: “Could you email us the details of the modification? We’d like to look at it.”

Me: “You don’t need it; you said you had no reported problems.”

Manufacturer: “We, err, don’t. It’s just out of interest.”

Me: “You weren’t interested in the initial complaint, so I’m not interested in showing you the design. Besides, according to you, it’s not needed.”

I hung up, but over the next week, I received many emails requesting the design, with their wording still denying any fault with the product.

The next summer, our company received their new product catalogue. The gritter was no longer listed for sale.

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So That’s Why They Say That Thing About Lending And Borrowing

, , , , , , | Related | May 20, 2021

I paid my way through my degree working part-time around my studies in a job that paid slightly more than minimum wage. Although I was staying with my parents, I was pretty much living from payday to payday.

It was coming up for my sister’s birthday and she asked for a loan.

Me: “I’m really, really skint at the moment. I could loan you £30, but your night out is a week before I get paid. If you don’t pay me back first, I can’t afford to go to your night out.”

Sister: “Of course I’ll pay you back; I want you there for my birthday. Thank you so much.”

The night out came along and I met her at the bar, gave her my gift, and used my last £10 to buy us both drinks. I waited for her to pay me back and the night went on and on and on without her mentioning it.

Me: “Hey, sorry to ask, but do you have the money you borrowed? Remember I told you I was skint? I only have my bus fare home left at the moment.”

Sister: “I can’t believe you are asking for money on my birthday! That’s really classy.”

Me: “Hey, I told you before I gave you the money that I needed it back or I couldn’t come. You promised it wouldn’t be an issue.”

Sister: “Whatever, f*** you.”

She took the money out of her pocket, threw it at me, and stormed off.

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