California Screaming

, , , , , , | | Working | July 18, 2019

In the late 80s, I worked in Ventura, California, in a satellite office for a large company. My direct boss was in the San Francisco Bay area and I flew up once or twice a month. The best airport for the trip was just north of Santa Barbara, California, about 45 miles from my house. For several months, I used a startup shuttle service that delivered door-to-door for a reasonable price. I was always happy with the service until one bad experience.

I was returning home after a two-day meeting and had landed in Santa Barbara at 6:00 pm. With only carry-on luggage, I was able to get off the plane fast and found my driver; I was looking forward to being home before seven to read stories to my kids and have a late dinner with my wife. But it wasn’t to be.

The driver told me we were going to pick up another passenger whose plane was due to land at 6:45. That delay would have been bad enough, but it got worse. Her plane was late, she had checked luggage, and we weren’t actually in the car until after 7:30. Then, when we were about halfway to my house, the driver turned off the freeway to go to Ojai, California. On the map, it doesn’t look like much distance, but it was by a back road and slow. Plus, her destination was at the far side of the town. All told, the wait and detour got me home over two hours later than I’d expected, and I was not happy.

I called the service the next day to complain and was promised a callback. When that didn’t happen for two days, I called again with the same result. Eventually, I finally talked to the owner over a week later. Had she been prompt in replying and at least apologetic, perhaps explaining there were financial circumstances that led to the events, I could have accepted it and moved on. But she wasn’t. I told her that I and my nine direct reports would not be using her service again.

We also had over 100 total employees in the office, all of whom went to the Bay Area with differing frequencies, and many of whom used the car service. At a Monday meeting of all people in the building, I gave my experience as a cautionary tale and let them take it from there. I don’t know what direct effect that had, but I do know that the service was out of business a year later.

Ride-Share Scare

, , , , , | | Right | June 26, 2019

(I work part-time for a ride-sharing company. I get a call to pick up a woman in an area I am unfamiliar with. It takes me an extra few minutes to find the location as the GPS is unclear; however, I eventually find the location: a movie theater with a roundabout in front of it. The area is filled with people and cars and I don’t see anyone who looks like a potential rider, so I pull off to the side of the road to call the customer.)

Me: “Hello, this is your driver and I’m trying to find you. Are you in front of the movie theater?”

Customer: “How can you not see me? I’m wearing a red jacket.”

(I look around for a female with a red jacket and see no one.)

Me: “I don’t see anyone matching that description.”

(I describe my car to her and she said she sees me but I still cannot see her. At this moment, a traffic cop indicates to me that I cannot stay where I am and that I have to proceed around the roundabout.)

Me: “Ma’am, the traffic cop is telling me to go around the circle, so just wait for me on the other side.”

(I hang up with her and start to go around the circle. Due to congestion, the traffic is slow around the circle. I see a woman and two kids eyeing me. Note that this woman is NOT wearing a red jacket or anything else red, but I see that she is watching me so I figure this is most likely the rider. I exit the roundabout and pull over to the side of the road. The woman opens my door.)

Customer: “You just pulled away when I tried to get into your car!”

Me: “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you try to get in. Besides, I had to get out of the roundabout so I wouldn’t block traffic.”

Customer: “Well, I don’t feel safe, so I’m going to call someone else!” *slams door*

Me: *thinking* “You shouldn’t feel safe approaching a moving vehicle in the middle of an intersection!”

(I cancelled the ride, but unfortunately, because I indicated that the “rider cancelled” instead of waiting for her to cancel it herself, I didn’t get paid. A lesson for next time, though.)

That Driver Should Feel Great Pride

, , , , | | Hopeless | June 20, 2019

(I’m gay, and I’ve lived in a very socially conservative area for the past several years, which makes me nervous about being out. I recently moved to a more open, accepting location, and one of the things I am excited about is the prospect of a larger and more open LGBTQIA+ community. This all takes place on the way to the first Pride event I’ve ever attended.)

Uber Driver: “So, what’s going on in [Destination]?”

Me: *nervous* “Um, it’s a Pride event.”

(To be honest, I am shaking like a leaf when I say this. I’m not used to people being okay with my sexual orientation; at best, I usually hope for an awkward comment and it never being referenced again.)

Uber Driver: “Oh, hey, that’s great! That’s right, it’s Pride month, isn’t it? I’m straight, but I’ve met some great people out celebrating Pride.”

(We talk a little more, and it comes up that I’ve just moved here from a rather homophobic area and this is my first time attending Pride.)

Uber Driver: “Hey, look. I think you’re going to love it here. It sounds like it’s a lot less judgmental than the place you’re coming from, and I think you’re going to have a great time at Pride.”

(For the record, I did have a blast at the event! I’ve come across a lot of people who billed themselves as straight allies when I’ve come out, but I have NEVER come across someone who seemed to so genuinely want to make me feel safe after coming out. I’m terrible with names and can’t name him, but to the Uber driver who took me to my first pride event, thank you for making me feel so safe and supported. I did have a great time, and thanks for being so genuinely nice and supportive of the young gay person you gave a ride to.)

The Workplace Of The Future

, , , , | | Working | June 12, 2019

(This happens during the day on New Year’s Eve. My coworker and I are completely overwhelmed with work, non-stop calls, and our manager calling us every five minutes to tell us how to do our jobs. We take a quick break to go into the kitchen and get some food and water before getting back to the crazy rush. In the kitchen, we see that one of our bosses has hung up a sign:)

Sign: “Due to the most recent cutbacks, new rules for absences have been created for 2017.

Illness: Not a valid reason to be absent. Doctor’s notes are no longer accepted! If you can make it to the doctor, you can make it to work.

Absence due to surgery: Not accepted. Any employee who is considering surgery is to abstain from this. We need everything the employee can offer of flesh and blood. Service is to happen in the same condition as when the employment began. If anything is removed, the employee’s value is lowered. Exceptions can be made if paychecks are lowered to an equal value.

Death (your own): Your own death is accepted as a reason for absence. However, the employer is to be informed two weeks in advance so the successor can be trained properly.

Visits to the dentist: We only hire people with dentures. Due to this, you can send your teeth for repairs by mail, instead of constantly going to the dentist.

Pregnancy: Completely forbidden. At work, you should sit with your legs crossed. The employer is to make sure that contraceptives are available.

Visits to a gynecologist: Must be avoided! You can sit on a copy machine, take a picture, and send this to the gynecologist.

Toilet visits: Too much time is spent in the toilet. Due to this, a new three-minute rule will be enforced. After three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper is confiscated, the door is opened, and the toilet-goer is photographed. If this rule is broken several times, the photographs will be posted on the bulletin board.

Lunch: Thin people will get a thirty-minute lunch break, since they need to eat more to look healthy. Normal people will get a fifteen-minute lunch break, so they can intake a balanced meal and keep their mediocre figure. Overweight people will get a five-minute lunch break, since this is the amount of time needed to drink a protein shake.

Finally: Thank you for your loyalty to the unit. Our motto is to always have a positive attitude towards the business. It is, therefore, a matter of course that you send all your questions, comments, complaints, irritations, accusations, and other aggressions elsewhere.”

(My coworker and I laughed so hard that getting through the rest of the shift was quite a bit easier.)

Another Reason Why Women Need To Take The Wheel

, , , , , | | Working | June 12, 2019

(I’m 18 and staying at a friend’s house the night before I get an early coach to the airport. This is my first time getting a flight alone so I’m pretty nervous. I pack up early and book a ride through a well-known taxi app. My friend lives on a road that has one main section with two smaller roads coming off of it but they’re all named the same street and just numbered as if it’s one road. As this can be confusing, I’ve made sure my location is clearly marked for pick up on the app and have left extra time. Despite this, the driver is still late and won’t answer his phone before eventually showing up.)

Driver: “What are you stood down here for?”

Me: “This is where I arranged pickup from, see?” *points to his phone screen on the dash*

Driver: “Well, it wasn’t showing that a minute ago. Anyway, coach station, right. I’m not going the way this thing tells me. Google Maps is rubbish; it always takes you the slow way.”

Me: “Right…”

(I’m a bit concerned but don’t want to tell a taxi driver how to drive, and the city can be a bit strange if there’s roadwork that Google doesn’t know about.)

Driver: “Where are you getting a coach to, then?”

Me: “The airport.”

Driver: “The airport? Why aren’t you driving there?”

Me: “Oh, I can’t drive.”

Driver: *laughs* “Good! That’s for the best. Women are terrible drivers; it’s best they keep you off the roads. Every crash I’ve been in was caused by a woman driver. I don’t know why they’re allowed. Don’t you think, when they’ve shown with all those tests that women are worse at driving, that they should have to pass a harder test?”

Me: “I actually did a psychology degree, and the tests really don’t show that women are worse drivers. The spatial experiment studies show that—“

Driver: “Now, now, don’t get your knickers in a twist. I’m just saying it’s good you can’t drive. Anyway— Oh. Where are we? Oh, blast it, I took a wrong turning. Hang on.”

(He drives hurriedly, and pretty dangerously at times, in a really random route. I’m getting a bit nervous because I’m close to being late for my coach even with the extra time I’ve allowed.)

Me: “Um, I think you need to take a right here.”

Driver: “Don’t you worry. I know what I’m doing. I was only kidding about being lost.”

(He ignores me and carries on straight, ending up opposite from the coach stop with four lanes of traffic between me and my coach, which is already at its stop.)

Me: “I can’t get out here!”

Driver: “Ugh. One second, then. We’ll turn around. Is that your coach?”

Me: “Yes!”

Driver: “Calm down! We’ll make it!”

(He turns the car around and goes down the road I indicated before, just in time to see the coach pull out of its stop. I stare at it in shock.)

Driver: “Oh, dear. Well, next time, be sure to be where you booked the pickup for; we lost a lot of time messing around.”

(I wordlessly got out, still in shock, as he got my bags out and then left me at the side of the road. I ended up having to get the next coach at a cost of another £25 and barely made it to the airport in time for my flight. I already have an anxiety disorder and was too anxious to deal with customer service so I didn’t make a complaint, though did give him a one-star review.)

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