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The Score Is Not As High As A Kite

, , , , , , , , | Learning | April 5, 2019

In high school, in a freshman geometry class, we were given a weekend assignment to build a tetrahedral kite. We were instructed to gather our own supplies and we had a day of class time to build the kite itself. The instructions went into some detail about building a kite out of popsicle sticks, glue, and tissue paper.

Having been interested in kites and model building for a while, I promptly decided the instructions were basically useless. Entirely on my own, I came up with a design for the tetrahedral kite in the same dimensions that the instructions called for.

I used cut-to-length fast food drink straws as the structural members, tied into tetrahedrons with fishing line. Each straw had fishing line strung through it, and then fishing line was strung along the straws on the outside instead of inside, and the tension was then set by tying the strings loose but then drawing them to the center with a fishing line knot. It worked marvelously. I then very carefully glued squares of garbage bag to the straws with superglue. I tried plastic glue first, but superglue worked better. I ruined a few tetrahedrons before figuring out how to properly set good tension on the square of garbage bag — by taping the bag to a stick, I could draw it flat and tight on my tetrahedron while the glue set — and then cut with an Exacto knife to trim back once the glue was done.

A final round of stringing together was done with fishing line, and then more fishing line was used to make an anchor for the kite string.

I proudly brought my kite into school on kite flying day. Some students called my kite ugly. We went to fly our kites. The second best kite was owned by one of the girls, and she was flying it about as high as the flagpole. My kite was flying over the roof of the gymnasium. I wanted to see about going higher and or longer, but I ran out of kite string.

I was given a C — 75%. Teacher’s note said, “Did not follow directions.”

Getting Your Money Back Requires Good Form

, , , , , | Right | December 19, 2018

(It’s forty years ago and I am working in the men’s department during my senior year in college. A curmudgeonly man drops a load of shirts on the counter and demands a refund. The policy is to collect a great deal of information from the customer, issue a receipt, and have the customer go to the service center to get the actual cash. The shirts are obviously quite old and worn, and the man doesn’t have a receipt. The best I can do is give him $0.99 per shirt. After a bit of a tirade, he decides that is better than nothing.)

Me: *takes out receipt pad* “May I have your name?”

Customer: “I didn’t need to give you my name when I bought these.”

Me: “Yes, sir, but I have to fill out this form to get you your refund.”

Customer: “It’s [Customer].”

Me: “…and your address?”

Customer: “Why do you need to know my address? It doesn’t matter where I live!”

Me: “Yes, sir, but I have to fill out this form to get you your refund.”

Customer: “It’s [Street and number].”

Me: “…and the city?”

Customer: *rolls his eyes as if trying to randomly pick a nearby town* “Fenton.”

Me: “…and the ZIP code?’

Customer: “I don’t know what the ZIP code is! I never mail things to myself!”

Me: “…and your phone number?”

Customer: “Not everyone has a phone.”

(I fill out the form to the best of my ability, and hand it to the customer. He glowers at me for a moment and practically yells:)

Customer: “Well? WHERE’S MY MONEY?”

Me: “If you take this up to the customer service department, they will issue your refund.”

(He storms over to the escalator and begins elbowing people out of the way to get to the top as quickly as he can. I wish I could have followed him, because I knew the customer service department would require that he show a driver’s license or some other official identification to prove who he is and that he lives at his address before they will issue his refund. A few minutes later, as I am about to collect up this guy’s garbage and toss it in our compactor bin, I hear him elbowing his way down the other escalator, with the form I had filled out waving madly in the air. He comes charging over to my counter like some mad bull in a rodeo, snatches up the tattered old shirts that he had obviously been wearing for years, and turns toward the nearest exit. I step directly in front of him.)

Me: “You can have the shirts or the receipt, but you can’t have both.”

(I think that had his hands been free, he may have tried to take a swing at me. As it was, he made a good attempt to crumple up the receipt and throw it at me without dropping his shirts, and stomped out of the store.)

Should Have Had The Farsight To Run When They Approached You

, , , , , | Right | November 1, 2018

Me: “Hi. What can I help you with?”

(The customer points to a top on a bust form high on a wall on the other side of shop.)

Customer: “Where is that?”

(I lead her to it.)

Customer: “How much is it?”

Me: “It’s still full price.”

Customer: “So, how much is that?”

(I think she’s being either lazy or entitled, not bothering to look at the tag, but I tell her the price.)

Customer: “I think I need a medium.” *turns and points to an item on a mannequin on the far side of the store, where we were before* “Where is that one?”

(I walk her to it, and we go through about the same scenario. Repeat a couple more times. I’m starting to feel like a ping-pong ball, bouncing between sides of the store.)

Customer: “Where are the sales racks?”

Me: “Any rack with a small sign on the top is a sales rack; the sign tells you how much they’re discounted.”

Customer: “Let’s go look at them.”

(I take her to a rack, and she pulls out a shirt almost at random.)

Customer: “How much is this one?”

(I’m kind of startled that she can’t figure half-price in her head, but I tell her.)

Customer: “Okay, find me a medium and a large.”

(We repeat this two or three more times, too. I’m starting to feel bad about neglecting the other customers in the store, having to follow this woman around like a personal servant.)

Customer: “Okay, I think I’m ready to try them on. Where are your dressing rooms?”

(I lead her to a pair of rooms on the side wall. The rooms bump out into the store, but the doors are in the sides facing each other, and there’s a mirrored wall between. I opened a door for her, then turned and watched as she WALKED INTO THE MIRROR. Every time she tried on a new piece, she came out of her dressing room and stood eight to ten feet back from the mirror between them. That’s when I realized that she was extremely farsighted; not only could she not focus to read but probably couldn’t even see someone standing right in front of her clearly. That’s the reason she kept focusing on things high up and far away, and asking me to read all the price tags. As I watched her walk out after making her purchase, I also realized she was DRIVING A CAR LIKE THAT.)

Calling The Police While On The Phone With You

, , , , | Legal | September 20, 2018

Me: “Good morning, [Law Firm]. How may I help you?”

Caller: “WHO IS THIS?!”

Me: “[Law Firm], may I help you?”


Me: “Is there someone I can connect you with?”


Me: “Good to know; have a nice day!”

Caller: *click*

The Couponator 9: The Passive Aggression

, , , , | Right | September 7, 2018

(A customer comes in to my store on a very busy holiday afternoon. Most of the store is on sale, all of it carefully marked and constantly checked because we have a lot of customers who would be happy to argue about a signage error.)

Me: “Good afternoon! Welcome to [Store]! Are you shopping for a special occasion today?”

Customer: “Do you have any coupons?” *not “Hi,” or “Good afternoon,” or “How are you?” or any other greeting*

Me: “Ma’am, you would have received any current coupons either in your mail, or by email, or text if you are signed up with us. We do not keep coupons in the store.”

(We never have, and anyone who has ever shopped with us knows this, but I have found that doesn’t keep even regular customers from asking anyway.)

Customer: “Hmph!” *points to full run of dresses on a rack with no sales signs* “Is this dress on sale?”

Me: “No, ma’am. All the sales dresses, and everything else on sale, are on racks with signs on top or have a tag hanging on their hanger.”

Customer: “Well, why not?!”

Me: “Ma’am, that’s a brand-new arrival.”

Customer: “Hmph. Well, I’m just looking.”

(She wanders through the store for nearly an hour, slowly collecting clothes and badgering the manager-on-duty and me as to whether each garment was on sale and how much the sale price is, and repeatedly asking about coupons and getting the same answer each time from both of us. After she’s tried on and made her selections, she brings her clothes to the counter and starts digging through her purse while I get the information I need to start ringing up her purchase and begin to do so.)

Customer: “I know I have a [Store] coupon in here! Where is it?” *she dumps what seems like hundreds of mailers from stores and other coupons on my counter* “I had a 15% coupon for this place. That woman! That woman at the [Other Location Store]; she took my coupon. Mm-mm-mmh! She took my coupon!”

(I continue ringing up clothes with a blank but smiling face during this monologue, saying nothing and refusing to take the passive-aggressive hint that I should come up with a coupon code.)

Customer: “Let me ask you something. Why would that woman take my coupon?”

Me: “Ma’am, our coupons work just like at the grocery store or any other store. You can only use them once.”

Customer: *showing absolutely no surprise that she got that answer* “Mmph. I still think I should have a coupon.”

Me: “I’m so sorry you can’t find one. Your total is [total]. You’ve rolled over your reward points with your purchase today; here’s your certificate. Have a great holiday!”

(We found out when clearing the fitting rooms that she’d left all her unwanted clothing in a pile, too. Afterwards, I told the manager-on-duty that there was no way I was going to hunt for a coupon code for her, given her behavior with the two of us before checking out. The MOD said she’d enjoyed watching me refuse to cave in to the woman at the register, and didn’t understand why people couldn’t figure out that being rude wouldn’t get them any favors.)

The Couponator 8: The Fabric Of Reality
The Couponator 7: The Forgotten Coupon
The Couponator 6: The Coupon Awakens