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Coal Is The Stuff Santa Brings You When You Don’t PAY ATTENTION

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: nathan5660 | December 3, 2022

I used to work at a narrow gauge steam railway a few years ago. We had a decent collection of engines ranging from total rebuilds to World War II trench locomotives. There were three steam locomotives on the roster, with one that was too small to be used regularly.

At the time, I was training to be a fireman, stoking the fire, shoveling coal, and maintaining the boiler water level. It’s a fairly complicated job if you don’t know much about it already, and quite a responsible job, too. If you ain’t got enough coal on the fire, you have no steam to move.

I was on the footplate in the cab keeping an eye on the water level while the actual fireman was poking about up the shed trying to find some oil to refill our oil cans with. He left me to check the water level, and the driver wasn’t far away if anything went wrong. It’s not unusual for people to come up to the engine and want to have a look in the cab. If there are children, nine times out of ten, we open the fire hole doors to show them the fire.

Then, this guy turned up. He was asking how old the engine was, why it was built, where it worked, and all the normal stuff people ask. THEN, he asked where the petrol (gasoline) goes.

Me: “It’s not petrol-powered. It’s a steam locomotive, so it uses coal and water.”

Guy: “Water doesn’t burn! Where does the petrol go?”

Me: “It doesn’t use petrol. It uses coal and water.”

Guy: “What’s coal?”

I took a step back, asked him to clarify his question, and then showed him the coal in the coal bunker and the fire. I even threw a shovel full of coal on the fire, too.

Guy: “So, does the petrol go in these tank things on the side, then?”

Me: “I… It doesn’t use petrol, sir. It uses coal, that black stuff I just showed you. That heats the water in the boiler from the tanks. There is no petrol, diesel, or any form of liquid fuel on this locomotive. It’s coal-fired. Solid fuel.”

I was starting to get stressed out and pretty angry at this guy. The driver noticed, came back to me, and asked how the water was looking. It was fine, and the guy walked off.

I then looked at the driver, who looked at me. Both of us blank-faced.

HOW could someone not know what coal is? Actually, genuinely how?

At the end of the day, I was helping with loco disposal, shoveling clinker and ash out of the ashpan and ash from the smoke box to make it ready for the next day’s use. I also had to refill the coal bunker, which is hard work by yourself on a summer evening.

As I was finishing up running about with shovels and wheelbarrows, I overheard the guy from before talking to someone.

Guy: “So, where do you get the petrol from for the steam trains?”

I wanted to throw myself into the firebox and smash my head against the firebox wall until I passed out.

Choose Your Battles, Part 2

, , , , , , , , | Right | December 2, 2022

This remains the only encounter in the bookstore where I worked that I would not have believed happened if it hadn’t actually happened to me.

Customer: “You’re selling an offensive cookbook!”

Me: “What book are you referring to, ma’am?”

The customer brings up a rather standard-looking baking cookbook and shows me a recipe.

Customer: “See, here! It says, ‘apply liberally,’ when it says to add the cream!”

Me: “What is the problem with that, ma’am?”

Customer: “I’m an American and a Republican! This book is encouraging its readers to be liberal!”

Oh… my… God.

Me: “No, ma’am, that’s not what it means. It just means to be… uh… generous with the portions when adding the ingredient. It’s not a political statement.”

Customer: “I’m still offended! They could have used a million other words! I bet the cook is a liberal and a communist!”

My nearby manager swoops in and tells me to man the counter. I see him talk to the customer for a minute more. She nods solemnly and wanders off. My manager comes over to me, and I have to ask:

Me: “What did you say to her?”

Manager: “That I understood her complaint and that I would be writing to the publishing company myself to demand that they change the recipe to say, ‘apply patriotically,’ instead.”

Me: “And she believed that?”

Manager: “Sometimes you can only fight stupid with stupid.”

Choose Your Battles

This Intern Has A Long Way To Go

, , , | Right | December 2, 2022

I’m an animator currently working on projects for an internal children’s network at a medical center. I asked an intern:

Me: “Please send me the complete project files for [final project he worked on].”

I received a 14 GB zip… that contained a copy of his operating system.

Caller ID Called Their Bluff

, , , , | Legal | December 1, 2022

My phone rings and the number comes up on my display.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: *In English* “Hello, I’m calling from Europol. Your ID documents are involved in a crime, and in order to avoid criminal charges, I need you to follow my instructions.”

Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, is headquartered in the Netherlands.

Me: “If you’re from Europol, why are you calling from a German mobile number?”

Caller: *Click*

Strangest scam call ever.

This Is Why We Learn Shapes As Children

, , , , | Right | December 1, 2022

Caller: “A digital camera broke my computer when I plugged it in.”

I went through all the standard troubleshooting, and nothing seemed to work, so we had to send someone out for a house call. The problem was immediately obvious and relayed to us all upon their return.

She took the camera cord, which had a USB plug, and tried to put it in the ethernet port. However, it didn’t quite fit, so she took a HAMMER, and well… you know what she did.

This was compounded by the fact that some ethernet ports can fit USB plugs in them; however, the caller’s reasoning was that the cord wasn’t snug, as it fell out. Well, after it was driven into the port an inch, it was quite snug.