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Nothing Puzzling About How Sweet These Housemates Are!

, , , , , | Friendly | December 21, 2022

I live in a flatshare with three other people. I’ve been feeling a bit down recently because I’m trying to finish my doctoral thesis and I am mostly working from home with my funding finished. It hasn’t been the easiest time for me, and I am not looking forward to my birthday as my boyfriend is currently out of the country and all my friends are pretty busy with one thing or another.

My birthday comes around, and I get a knock on my door. One of my housemates is there with a cake, singing Happy Birthday. What makes it extra sweet is that he checked the cake for the lowest amount of milk as I am lactose intolerant.

I bump into my second housemate later, and he gives me a round of Happy Birthday. He then hints that he and my other housemates are getting me a birthday present, but it hasn’t arrived yet. I thank him and tell him I will act surprised, thinking it will be something small.

After dinner the next day, I get another knock on my door while working. It’s the two housemates who are home, and they have a box for me. They heard that my mum gave me a jigsaw puzzle, and I mentioned that I am a huge puzzle fan in passing, so they give me a giant puzzle mat. Now I can do the puzzle and roll it up to store it while in process.

It might seem like such a small thing, but it really touched me after all the stress of the past few months. I am currently doing my puzzle with my housemates occasionally stopping by to do some backseat puzzling.

No Accident K’Boom Explode On His Watch!

, , , | Legal | December 19, 2022

A man with learning differences works at our police station. We’ll call him Peter. What Peter’s story is, I don’t know, but he is a hard worker and mostly happy. Peter understands French, German, and Italian, but he replies to everything in English. He also ignores a lot of instructions.

He once wouldn’t let a senior officer into the station, instead leaving him out in the rain. An angry, soaking-wet lieutenant came into the office.

Lieutenant: *In German* “Peter! Why didn’t you let me in?!”

Peter: “No police ID.”

Lieutenant: “But you know me! I’m [Lieutenant].”

Peter: “Rule [number]: no entry without police ID. Orders by [Lieutenant]. I check bins.” *Walks off*

Me: “What do you want me to do, tell him to ignore the security rules which you wrote?”

[Lieutenant] never forgot his ID again.

Peter does well, and we need someone to manage lockers — for storing guns, shields, laptops, etc. That is an unpopular job, but Peter loves it. He politely explains why someone isn’t allowed a locker, and he makes good use of short space. When an officer doesn’t use it properly, he pranks them by removing the door or filling it with bricks. They learn their lesson. We all love him.

One Friday afternoon, we leave Peter alone for thirty minutes. The next Monday, he arrives at 10:00 am, looking sad. He won’t say what is wrong. After lunch, he comes back happy.

Me: *In German* “Peter, why are you so happy?”

Peter: “Talk to Brigadier. Secret.”

I hear there was an incident that Friday. [Officer #1] wanted TWO lockers, but for some reason, he went to the Brigadier’s private office instead of emailing Peter. The Brigadier’s private office then demanded one for the same officer, followed by [Manager #2] and [Manager #3] in Peter’s office. Peter told them, “I haven’t decided if he gets a locker at all,” then closed the office, and went home, since it was 5:00 pm on Friday.

I get an email.

Brigadier: “I’m looking into Peter’s complaint. Police officers need lockers, but he isn’t talking. I need to know why he disobeyed me and how he works.”

Peter won’t talk to me, either. That week, I see him talking to an interpreter, who is there to interpret a meeting… in sign language.

Me: *In German* “Do you understand him?”

Interpreter: *In German* “Yes. His sign is a bit confusing, but he is very intelligent and chatty.”

Me: “Right… This is Peter. He can hear fine. Can you talk to him and ask him about the locker incident? We need to know how he sorts out lockers.”

The interpreter talks to Peter over coffee, lasting about ninety minutes.

Interpreter: “Peter doesn’t understand the concept of a chain of command.”

Me: “What? In a police force?”

Interpreter: “He doesn’t care what your pay grade is. He decides whether you get a locker and what size. Does he take pride in his work?”

Me: “He’s meticulous about it. Where did he even learn sign?”

Interpreter: “Interpreters on TV during [health crisis], apparently. I mean, he isn’t fluent. He is upset that [Officer #1] didn’t just ask him directly like everyone else. He should have been told he would have to deal with managers he didn’t know. Anyway, why did they harass him on a Friday afternoon when it wasn’t urgent?”

Peter: “Rude SCUBA diver.”

Me: “So, Peter, you wanted to read the reasons why he needed a locker?”

Interpreter: “Yes. He is working hard to get respect from officers, but he can only do that if he is seen to make the decision… like for this police diver with SCUBA gear. He also wants advice from [weapons department], because he thinks a stun grenade in a personal locker is a bad idea.”

Me: “WHAT?”

Peter: “Gun? Meh, okay. Stun grenade? Accident, k’boom explode.”

Interpreter: “Peter felt he couldn’t explain that verbally, because he was being forced to do something. Clearly, he understands the safety risk. Peter, can you do lockers if you get to decide yourself?”

Peter hugs the interpreter.

Peter: *In German* “Ja!”

Interpreter: “Here’s my business card; let me know if you need me.”

Officers were told to contact Peter — nobody else — about lockers. Peter granted [Officer #1] two lockers, on the condition that they didn’t contain stun grenades. [Manager #2] and [Manager #3] were told to stay out of locker decisions.

Out of snarkiness, Peter asks [Lieutenant] for his ID card every time he sees him in the corridor.

A Little Misplaced Sweetness

, , , , | Working | December 5, 2022

My wife doesn’t like starches. She doesn’t like bread, nor rice. She doesn’t like potatoes, nor turnips, nor beans. She doesn’t even like plantains.

This isn’t a fad diet. She’s just autistic and doesn’t like them.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to her. Autistic food sensitivities are not a joke; they’re almost the mental health equivalent of an allergy.

We order food at a Swiss place. I get the usual fare — meat, barley, milk or cheese, potatoes, cabbage. She reads the menu and asks the waitress:

Wife: “What doesn’t have starch?”

This sets the fairly sweet waitress off on a long rant about the importance of accepting yourself and how you don’t need a fad diet to look good. (My wife is short and stout, not exactly the figure of traditional American beauty, but I don’t care; she’s beautiful to me. The waitress is also short and stout.)

I feel really guilty about it, but during a break in the waitress’s story about how she learned to accept herself and how my wife should do the same and tell herself that she’s beautiful in the mirror, I say:

Me: “Um… It’s not about diet. My wife’s autistic.”

Waitress: “Oh!”

And then, she launched into another rant, this time about accepting the quirks and coping mechanisms of autistic people.

Well, at least her heart is in the right place!

So Much For Follow-Through

, , , , , , | Working | November 15, 2022

I work in a Swiss city police dispatch department. It’s a Sunday morning, around 6:30 am when I start my shift, when someone rings our doorbell. Whenever someone does that, our observation screen switches to the camera at the front door. The guys from the night shift recognize him from ringing about an hour before, demanding that we find him a hotel room. This time, he’s here asking for his car keys, which we don’t have.

I tell the guys from the night shift to leave and I take over. I ask the visitor to come in and send a couple of officers out to talk to him since he’s clearly inebriated. Meanwhile, I do some digging in our systems to figure out if we even have his keys; we confiscate them in the case of drunk driving, for example, and tell people to come pick them up once they’re sober. I can’t find him in our records, unfortunately. However, we have the ability to look at entries of another police organization. As I said, I work for city police, but there’s also cantonal police, which is akin to state troopers in the US. 

I find an entry in their records about our visitor, but it’s not at all what I imagined happened. Turns out that he was on his way from his home to a campsite around twenty minutes out from our city where he has a permanent spot. His license plate was scanned on the way over and our colleagues received an alert because it was registered that the owner of the vehicle was missing and possibly suicidal. Once they arrived at the campsite and found him, he told the officers that he wasn’t suicidal but that he had been drinking before driving over, and also after arriving. Because he also claimed to have been drinking after arriving, they had to bring him to the hospital to extract some blood for analysis and to make sure he really wasn’t suicidal. So far, pretty much standard operating procedure.

Once they were done with everything, however, at around 11:30 pm, the officers were radioed to head out to another case. Instead of driving the suspect home (remember, they got him there from his campsite a mere twenty minutes away), they dropped him off in front of a hotel in the city. Now, to be fair, this is a hotel where you can randomly pop in and ask for a room and they’ll let you stay if they have a vacancy, even in the middle of the night.

You can already guess that that wasn’t the case and the hotel was completely occupied. But by that point, the officers had already driven off. So this poor fellow was left stranded in our city, still somewhat drunk and without a cellphone, and wandered around for hours until 6:30 am when I finally managed to get him some help.

I organized a taxi for him to get him home while cursing my colleagues for not making sure the suspect was safe.

May Be Switzerland But Her Feelings Are Not Neutral

, , , , , | Right | October 4, 2022

I work at a gas station in Switzerland, right at the border with Germany. An older German lady comes into the store and wants to pay for her gas. In Switzerland, you pay after you fill your tank.

She throws all these coins on the counter.

Customer: “I’ve been on holiday in Switzerland, and this is the rest of my money. I’ve exactly filled my tank so that I can spend all of it.”

Because we have a five-cent discount per litre today, she actually gets 2.10 in Swiss Francs in change. I explain this to her.

Customer: *Angry* “I counted it exactly! You must be wrong!”

After multiple attempts at explaining:

Me: “See this as a gift from the company! You could spend the money on something else?

I refer to our selection of chocolate which is quite popular with German tourists. She just gets angrier and angrier.

Customer: “I do not want to buy any of your stupid chocolate!”

I then politely informed her about our tip box. She ended up throwing her remaining money in the trashcan.