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Sometimes Karma Is Really, Really Wet

, , , , | Related | August 15, 2021

I’ve moved back in with my parents while I’m going back to college. I’m paying them rent and helping with housework while I’m there.

We’ve been getting torrential downpours for a week straight. We’ve been having daily severe thunderstorms on top of consistent showers, there have been multiple tornado warnings, and the entire area has been in a flash-flood warning for the last five days. Our lawns are completely screwed up and have been getting worse day by day; the grass is soaked, the ground is so saturated that it feels like you’re walking on a bed of wet sponges and you actually sink several inches if you walk on it, there are huge puddles all over the grass, and it’s just generally a complete mess. Needless to say, it’s not in any state to mow.

But despite all of this, my step-father has been begging me to mow the lawn for the past few days. I’ve told him every time that I’m not going to mow the lawn in its current state, and that once it finally stops raining and dries out, I’ll gladly mow it. Each day, he’s gotten angrier and angrier that I’m not mowing it, despite the fact the yard is pretty much in terrible shape.

Finally, this transpires one day after I wake up.

Me: “Good morning, [Step-Dad]!”

Step-Dad: *Without even greeting me* “You think you can mow the lawn today?”

Me: “I mean, I’ll check and see, but it was literally downpouring the entire night and it’s supposed to keep raining today. If the yard is still covered in puddles, I’m not going to mow it.”

Step-Dad: *Exploding* “You know what?! I’m sick and tired of this! You need to do as I say and mow the d*** lawn! You’re so lazy, I can’t stand it!”

Me: “Have you actually looked at the lawn? It’s in no shape to mow. Trust me.”

Step-Dad: “This is complete bulls***! I shouldn’t have to ask you every single day to mow the lawn!”

Me: “Again… have you actually looked at the lawn?”

Step-Dad: “I don’t care! You can do it! You will do it!”

My mom enters the room.

Mom: “[Step-Dad], stop being ridiculous! The yard is like a swamp! It’d be like trying to mow a swimming pool!”

Step-Dad: “God, I can’t stand both of you! You’re just enabling [My Name] to be lazy! He should have mowed the lawn days ago when I first asked!”

Mom: “If you’re going to get so bent out of shape about it, why don’t you mow the lawn?”

Step-Dad: *Glaring* “Maybe I will!”

He turns back to me.

Step-Dad: “Don’t think you’re off the hook, [My Name]!”

He then went outside and I heard the lawnmower start. About fifteen minutes later, he came back inside. In that time, he only managed to mow a single line in the yard, the lawnmower got clogged with sopping-wet grass and stalled out about ten times, he managed to rip a huge hole in the yard and uproot a big line of grass, and his nice sneakers and jeans were completely soaked and covered in mud from walking through puddles. Needless to say, he stopped asking me to mow the lawn until the weather finally cleared up for a few days.

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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Pardon My French, But What A Jerk

, , , , , , , | Related | CREDIT: AQuietBorderline | August 14, 2021

My stepmother has her good traits, but she does have this one really nasty trait. She is notoriously picky and critical when it comes to food. You know the stereotypical snooty and rude French character in movies and books who always complains, “That is not how this is done in France.”? She’s this way when it comes to food.

Going out to eat with her is embarrassing. She constantly sends back food, insists on food being made a certain way, and demands certain things done a certain way. One time, she asked the waiter to bring some mustard to the table. Not two minutes later, she called him back because the mustard was “old,” and insisted that he bring us a new unopened bottle. More than once, I’ve had to apologize to the waitstaff on my family’s behalf and tell the manager that I will vouch for them should [Stepmother] leave a bad review on their site.

She’s made waiters and managers cry; she’s that bad. Honestly, I have no idea why Dad puts up with her when she does that, even though I know he’s just as embarrassed as [Brother] and I are.

My dad just came into town to visit my brother and me for a few days and brought my stepmother with him. Dad recommended our new favorite new diner, which is known for its breakfasts at any time of the day. We live close to a major interstate and the saying about truckers knowing all the best diners and holes in the wall in all fifty states and then some is true.

It’s a greasy spoon in every sense of the word — right out of the 1950s, every leather booth filled with truckers or locals, waitresses who automatically know their regulars’ orders by heart and don’t put up with crap from anyone, a bustling kitchen — and while spotless, it’s just worn enough to let you know many people have been there. In other words, it has character. It may not look like a five-star restaurant, but it has some of the best breakfasts you’re ever going to eat.

I was hesitant to take [Stepmother] there if only because I didn’t want to ruin the staff’s day; [Brother] and I have been there enough times that the waitstaff and cooks know us. However, Dad wanted [Stepmother] to experience “a true American classic” and was offering to pay. So off we (reluctantly) went.

Luckily, we got there during a time that wasn’t busy, so I told Dad to find a parking spot and I would go in to get us a table. I wanted to warn the staff about [Stepmother] and apologize in advance for anything she did. Fortunately, our usual waitress thanked me for the warning and warned the rest of the staff.

We went in, got our booth… and [Stepmother] tried pulling her usual stunts. I won’t go into everything she did because we’ll be here forever, but I’ll leave a highlight reel.

[Stepmother] sent [Waitress] back three times with the coffee because, in order, “it was too cold”, “it was too hot,” and “not enough cream”. Finally, [Waitress], who doesn’t let anybody push her around, just slapped the coffee pot on the table along with the cream and sugar and told [Stepmother] to make do because she wasn’t going back to get her d*** coffee. This made [Brother] and me chuckle and [Stepmother] steam.

While waiting (and probably still stewing from [Waitress]’s little comeback with the coffee), [Stepmother] decided to accost a new waitress who had just started and tell her to get some fresh biscuits. Not ask. Tell. Poor [New Waitress], who was understandably anxious about her job, did as she was told. Then [Stepmother] made a fuss about the packets of butter not being soft enough, despite [New Waitress] explaining that all the butter was kept cold for safety reasons. [Stepmother] made a snide remark about how [New Waitress] couldn’t wait five extra minutes to let the butter soften, which made [New Waitress] tear up. I was about ready to tell [Stepmother] off.

When our meals did arrive, [Stepmother] was quiet during the meal, not making comments. I was unsure what was going to happen. Either she really liked it (which I doubted, seeing as I’ve never seen her compliment anyone’s cooking whenever we’ve gone out) or she was planning some nasty barb (which I feared). When [Waitress] dropped off the bill, [Stepmother] took it before Dad could and said she was paying. Because I was sitting next to her, I saw that [Stepmother] left a big fat zero in the tip line and left a note, “It’s cute that American chefs think they’re good cooks when they’ve never stepped in a real kitchen before. Prove me wrong,” before closing the little book the receipt came in and hiding it so nobody else could see what she wrote.

I was pissed when I read that note and was about ready to slap [Stepmother]. I know that the chefs and servers who work at this particular diner learned their skills on the job and, if you ask me, they have every right to be as proud of their work as someone who went to culinary school would be.

I took out $100 using the ATM at the diner and gave it to the staff as a tip along with an apology for her behavior, embarrassed and angry. Fortunately, they didn’t hold it against us (except [Stepmother]) and told me that [Brother] and I were always welcome back.

I also decided I was going to get back at [Stepmother].

There was a benefit to this lockdown. During this time, bored out of our wits and wanting to better our skills, [Brother] and I have been binge-watching recipe and cooking how-to videos online and practicing. And while I don’t like bragging, I’d say we’ve become quite good. We know how to smoke our own bacon, cure corned beef, make creamy scrambled eggs, and bake flaky croissants… and that’s just a sampling.

When we got home, I told [Brother] my plan and he was grinning ear to ear.

The next day, while [Stepmother] and Dad still slept, [Brother] and I got up early and got right to work. We prepared scrambled eggs, home-cured bacon, biscuits, and a fruit salad.

Dad came downstairs first and [Brother] asked him to set the table. [Stepmother] came down as we were finishing up and sat down, not offering to help.

[Stepmother] commented that it smelled just like a restaurant she went to in France and she couldn’t wait to taste everything. [Brother] and I served plates for Dad and ourselves before putting everything away. [Stepmother] looked at us, confused.

I looked at her and said, “Oh, I thought you were going to a French cafe for breakfast. You did write on the receipt at the diner that you thought it was cute that Americans think they’re good cooks if they haven’t set foot in a real kitchen, and you wanted someone to prove you wrong.”

Dad looked at [Stepmother], his eyes wide, as all the color drained from [Stepmother]’s face.

“You wrote what?!” Dad said.

“Well, hop to it,” I said, sitting down. “Enjoy your French breakfast with your French chefs.”

[Stepmother]’s face reddened and she left. I don’t know if she was embarrassed or angry, but we were able to have a nice breakfast without any of [Stepmother]’s complaining.

She did come back after getting breakfast, and she was nice and quiet all day.

Dad and [Stepmother] were supposed to stay with us for a few days before I return to work next week. They left this morning… but not before they had a vicious argument last night after my brother and I went to bed. And when I say vicious, I mean it was so loud that we could hear every word. Thank God the neighbors couldn’t hear; otherwise, we might’ve had the cops called on us.

Dad chewed [Stepmother] out about what she wrote on the receipt and reminded her that she had promised him she’d be on her best behavior. After all, this restaurant was special, not just to [Brother] and me, but to Dad, as well. [Stepmother] defended her actions, saying that it was not what she likes, etc… until she finally blew up and revealed the real reason she threw that tantrum in the restaurant.

It turned out Dad was planning on surprising [Stepmother] on a trip to one of the best restaurants in town to celebrate the anniversary of their first date, which was yesterday. She had found the reservations by accident and thought they were going the night they arrived; he was planning on taking her in a couple of days to make it a real surprise.

Going to the greasy spoon instead of the super nice, expensive restaurant really upset her, and she thought he was catering to his kids instead of her. The argument finally ended when Dad took to the couch downstairs, fed up with her BS.

They left this morning. Dad told me before they left that he was going to have a serious talk with [Stepmother] about her behavior and that until she learned her manners, he is not going to take her out anymore, even to our place.

Hopefully, that will be either the wake-up call to [Stepmother] to behave… or to Dad that he should get out.

Stepping Up… Rather Awkwardly

, , , , , | Related | August 8, 2021

I have been dating my girlfriend for about two years. One day, we drop her six-year-old daughter off at a local school summer camp.

When it’s time to pick her up, I arrive early to see what she’s doing at the camp. I walk along the sidewalk looking over at her playing, texting her mother on the phone about the playground and how she is having fun.

Twenty minutes later, I pick her up and walk her to the car.

Me: “So, how was your day?

Child: “Okay. Some kids thought you were taking pictures or video of us.”

Me: “What?!”

I’m shocked by this claim.

Child: “Yeah, I told them I didn’t think so, but that maybe it was my stepfather. I thought you were busy so I didn’t wanna bother you.”

She’s never referred to me as her stepfather to other people before; I’ve always been the roommate or her mom’s friend. Overwhelming joy hits me hard.

Me: “Ah, I was just texting your mom to tell her about this camp.”

We soon changed the subject and headed home. I’ve never been so happy to be accused of recording children at a public school’s park in my life. She actually told the other kids I was her stepfather. I must be doing something right after all.

For The Record, This One Has A Happy Ending

, , , , | Related | July 30, 2021

This was long ago, when I was a teenager. I’m in my sixties now. My stepfather was a perfectionist. I wasn’t allowed to shovel the walk in case I missed a spot and someone slipped and sued us. I wasn’t allowed to wash his car because I might scratch it. And I definitely wasn’t allowed to touch his stereo system. Back in those days, a good record player/radio with three-foot-tall speakers was expensive, but the sound quality was amazing. 

One day, my stepfather was listening to the radio on his sound system. 

Stepfather: “You know, if you listened to decent music like this, instead of that garbage kids like these days, I’d let you use my record player.”

Me: “Oh, really?”

I ran upstairs and grabbed the record my friends and I had been listening to every day since it came out the week before. Coming back downstairs, I put it on the turntable, switched it on, and dropped the needle… right on the song we’d been listening to on the radio, almost perfectly synced up. 

He takes a moment to think.

Stepfather: “Fine, you can use the record player.”

Me: “Thanks, Dad.”

Stepfather: “Not too loud, mind! You could damage the speakers.”

Me: “Yes, Dad.”

Stepfather: “And only decent music, like this. None of that hippie crap.”

Me: “Sure thing, Dad.”

Stepfather: “And not too late. Or too early.”

Me: “Right.”

Stepfather: “And mind the needle! If you wear it out, you’re buying the next one.”

Me: “Of course, Dad. I can do that.”

He finally ran out of stipulations.

Stepfather: “Well… fine!”

I sat back to enjoy the first of many evenings enjoying my records in the living room. And my relationship with my stepfather improved as he began to trust me more.

We Just Call It Instant Karma

, , , , | Related | March 8, 2021

I’m in the car with my dad and stepmother, and it’s worth noting that my dad has a short fuse, especially on the road. This one guy in a Ferrari almost hits us and then cuts us off. My dad starts cussing him out while my stepmother is trying to calm him down, and I can see that he’s thinking up ways he can get back at the guy. Then, a whole bunch of cars start trying to box Ferrari Guy in, and we realize that he ticked off a bunch of people, not just us.

Stepmother: “Don’t get involved in that, [Dad]. That’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Me: “They’re wolf-packing him.”

Stepmother: “Wolf-packing?”

Me: “That’s what my driving teacher called it when cars are bunched together like that.”