Clear Some Space For Her Emotional Baggage

, , | Right | January 1, 2021

I work in a children’s clothing store near the outskirts of the city. In September, customers come like a massive river, flooding everything, and we can barely get any cleaning and tidying done since we are only four people working.

A woman comes in with her daughter and starts leaving all her clothes on the socks section, covering all of them. We have a table where people can leave their stuff and see if it fits the kids or their tastes, and it’s full at the time, but I can’t let her put her stuff there like that, so I go to talk to her.

Me: “Excuse me, ma’am, but you can’t leave your stuff there. Other people will not be able to grab the socks.”

Customer: “But the table is full; I don’t have anywhere to put it.”

Me: “You can grab one of the big bags next to the door if you want, or I can try to make you space on the table.”

The woman looks at me like I’ve annoyed her, and she doesn’t answer. She takes her daughter by the hand after a mean look and disappears down one of the aisles. After a while, I am tidying up one of the aisles when the woman suddenly comes over to me.

Customer: *Screaming* “EXCUSE ME! Can you make me some room on the table, please?!

I was utterly confused by her reaction, but I said yes and I did it. She answered me with an angry, “THANK YOU!” and I left to do my job. When she went to pay for her clothes, she started ranting to my coworkers about how bad a store clerk I was and that I should be fired.

My coworkers, who know me well, didn’t trust her, and they even told me that she was actually angry with her husband for not coming to the store with her, so she started venting her frustration with me.

Either way, she never returned to our store after that.

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A Small Gift From Across The Sea

, , , , , | Related | October 19, 2020

This takes place during the prehistoric days before a global health crisis. I’m an American ex-pat living in Barcelona, about ten years after high school graduation. Because I can’t afford to go home every year, I get into the habit of having a tourist day on my birthday.

The week before my birthday, my mom calls me to chat. Near the end of the talk, she casually asks where I’m planning to go for my birthday. I mention the famous park I’m going to, designed by an extremely Modernist architect. We say our goodbyes.

On my birthday, I’m walking around the park at noon. Near the museum, I see a group of teenagers and an adult chaperone. As I go into the building, I hear their accent — American, from the Midwest, like me. That’s not that unusual, since the park is a big tourist area. I glance up and see the chaperone’s face. She looks slightly familiar, so I focus a little harder. I think I recognize her and I step closer.

Me: “Excuse me. I know this sounds odd, but is that a Midwestern accent I hear? I grew up in Wisconsin.”

Chaperone: “Yes! We’re actually from Wisconsin, too. These kids are from my Spanish club. We take a trip to Spain every couple of years. When were you last home?”

Me: “A couple of years ago. Otherwise, I’ve been mainly here since graduation, ten years ago. Wait a second… Do you teach at [My Old High School]?”

Chaperone: *With a smirk* “I do…”

Me: “[Chaperone]?!”

We laugh and share a quick hug.

Chaperone: “There’s another face you might recognize.” 

We meander over to a display where a young teen girl is standing. The girl hears us and turns around, a giant grin on her face.

Me: “[NIECE]?!”

We hug tight, and then I walk around the park with them, catching up with my niece. I get permission from her teacher to kidnap her for supper. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.

I called my mom the next day, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Were you surprised?” The brats in my family had this set up for weeks!


This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

Read the next Feel Good roundup story!

Read the Feel Good roundup for October 2020!

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Don’t Waste Your Breathalyzer

, , , | Right | September 1, 2020

I’m working at the front desk of a smallish hotel. Most of our holiday-makers are lovely people, including this one: a single traveler in his early sixties. His only fault is that he is perpetually drunk. The following conversation occurs on the day prior to his departure.

Client: *Speaking in a slur* “Hello, my friend. This might be a silly request. But do you have any of these balloons?”

Me: “Balloons?”

Client: “Yes, these balloons the police have when they stop you on the road and you have to blow into them, so they can see how much alcohol you had.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but not even the pharmacies sell those, because in Spain it would be illegal to have them — apart from the police, that is.”

Client: “I would have thought so. What a shame. It’s because I was talking to my wife and my daughter just a minute ago, and they said that I was drunk. But I’m not drunk. So I only wanted to know how much I’ve had.”

Me: “Well, unfortunately, as I’ve said, we are not allowed to have any breathalyzers.”

The client then stares at me for about ten seconds until he starts to speak again.

Client: “So, you think that I’m drunk?”

Me: *Telling a white lie* “Of course not. You may have had a beer or two. But you’re definitely not drunk.”

He then reaches across the front desk, hugs me, and says:

Client: “Thank you very much. You are a great honorable worker and a good friend.”

Then he started meandering toward the exit, trying to keep his balance.

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He Was Watching “The Danish Girl”

, , , , | Right | August 12, 2020

I’m working at the reception of a smallish hotel on the beautiful island of Mallorca, just six hours by ferry from Barcelona. The following interaction is with a couple who are in their mid-sixties:

Guest: “I can’t log on to the free WiFi. Can you help me?”

Me: “Of course I can. Just give me your laptop.”

I put in the password and connect him to the Internet, his wife all the time eagerly looking over his shoulder. Up comes the last page he had visited, and it is “Busty Danish Teens.” The man turns bright red and slams his laptop shut.

Guest: “Thank you.” 

Guest’s Wife: *Glaring at him* “What was that?” 

Guest: “We’ll talk about it later.”

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

, , , | Working | July 16, 2020

I live in a rural village on the edge of a tourist area. This means there’s a lot of competition among the bars and restaurants during the season, but most of them close come winter.

There is one nearby run by a local man and his British wife. There are a number of ex-pats living locally and, as it stays open all year round and the food is pretty good, that may explain why their customer service is so poor; there aren’t many other options for half of the year. It’s common for it to take an hour to ninety minutes for food to arrive; deliberate on their part, we’ve learned, as they figure you’ll spend money on drinks while you’re waiting.

Even if you ask for food at a particular time, it will be late. Some friends of ours booked a birthday dinner at 7:00 pm and got their food at 8:45 pm.

The following is a pretty typical example of what happens every time we visit.

Us: “Could we have one fish and chips, please, one chicken burger, and a lasagne?”

Owner: “We don’t have any fish; [Husband] has gone to do the shopping but I don’t know if he’ll bring any back.”

Us: “Okay, make that a cheeseburger and chips instead, then, please.”

Owner: “We’ve only got one bread roll left. So you can’t have a chicken burger and a cheeseburger. Also, I haven’t made any lasagne.”

Us: “Okay. How about a cheeseburger but without the bread roll; just chips and salad?”

Owner: “I can do that but it will be the same price.”

Us: “That’s fine.”

Two minutes later:

Owner: “I don’t have any burgers.”

Us: “You know what? Just tell us what you do have, and we’ll decide from there.”

If there was anywhere else open within a half-hour drive, we’d go there.

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