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The Art Of Losing A Deal

, , , , , , | Right | September 6, 2022

I teach art to kids, and I also do illustrations and sell original art. The father of one of my students noticed some of my artwork one day when picking up his kid.

Client: “Oh, you paint!”

No s***, Sherlock. I teach your daughter painting. 

Me: *Forcing a smile* “Well, that’s why I’m here!”

Client: “Are any of these for sale?”

Me: “Yeah, these two here. They’re [price] apiece.”

Client: “Hm. I’ll give you [a tenth of the price] for both.”

Me: “Bye!”

A Very Important Cultural Lesson

, , , , , | Learning | September 2, 2022

When I was in grade school in the 1980s and ‘90s, the staff would have a Native American come visit and talk to the whole school. He dressed in full garb with a chief’s headdress. He brought a Tom Tom, and a lucky few of us got to play it with him, keeping a steady rhythm like a heartbeat. He would also answer questions like, “What do kids play with on the reservation?”

Native American: “The same things you play with, like Nintendo.”

One student asked how he got the bald eagle feathers for his headdress as most of us somehow knew it was illegal to have them in your possession even if you found them on the ground. I will never forget his answer. He looked out across the auditorium and held up his hand.

Native American: “Kids, I’m going to say two bad words.”

He paused for a second and held up a finger for each word he spoke.

Native American: “‘Government’ and ‘Forms’.”

A Very Nice Turkey Breast And A Very Pushy Lunch Lady

, , , , , | Learning | August 31, 2022

This is a school story from my childhood circa 1995, and it’s one of our family favourites. Mum’s side of the conversation has been told many times, particularly as it’s used as an example of my attitude.

When I was in Reception (age five in the UK), I was very briefly given school lunches. At this point in life, I was a vegetarian, and lunch at school was a sliced turkey breast. After eating the various vegetables and dessert, I raised my hand to let the lunch lady know that I was finished, as one had to do at the time.

Lunch Lady: “You need to finish the turkey before you can go out to play.”

Me: “But miss, I’m a vegetarian. I don’t like turkey.”

Lunch Lady: “You will finish your lunch. Otherwise, I will call your mother!”

What she didn’t know is that my mother was both a solicitor (a lawyer) and, more importantly, a vegetarian. Even in my five-year-old brain, things were on my side.

Me: “Okay, then.”

Lunch Lady: “Stay there!”

The lunch lady looked at me with disdain before heading off to the office to call Mum.

Lunch Lady: “This is [Lunch Lady] from [School]. I’m calling because [My Name] won’t eat his lunch!”

Mum: “What is it?”

Lunch Lady: “A very nice turkey breast!”

Mum: “Well, I wouldn’t eat it. I’m a vegetarian. Did [My Name] say that he was a vegetarian?”

Lunch Lady: *Pauses* “Yes. But what would you like me to do?”

Mum: “Don’t make him eat it!”

Lunch Lady: *Sniffily* “It’s a very nice turkey breast!”

The lunch lady hung up, returned to the dining room, and just looked at me with a level of frustration rarely seen when dealing with young children.

Lunch Lady: “Go!”

I left. And the next day, I started having packed lunches. I’m no longer a vegetarian but I still hate turkey.

Swearing In German Is Way More Fun Than Doing It In English

, , , , | Learning | August 29, 2022

During a student presentation, something was making the projector glitch. Our teacher was trying to unsuccessfully fix it.

Teacher: “Scheiße.”

Me: “Miss, you shouldn’t swear in German.”

Teacher: “You are not supposed to know that.”

Making A Safe Place For A Kid Is Never A Waste Of Time

, , , , , , , , , | Healthy | August 25, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: Childhood Trauma

I grew up in a pretty unsafe household. I had no peace at school, either, because one of my parents worked at said school and could have any teacher’s job if they wanted to, so while some teachers tried to help me, they could only do so much. This is the story of the first time I ever felt truly safe. The dialogue may not be completely accurate because this happened about ten years ago, but I’ve preserved the meaning of the words, at least.

We went to a rollercoaster theme park for our senior trip before graduation. The park had a dedicated night for this, and all kinds of high schools from near and far had come to this park for this one epic night.

Thankfully, neither of my parents chaperoned, but a few of their minions unfortunately did. One of those chaperones forced me to eat more than I felt comfortable with, and I ended up throwing up in a park trash can. To cover her butt, [Chaperone] scolded ME for “not telling her I’d eaten so much.” None of the other chaperones said anything, even though they were witnesses and knew that this was a total lie.

So, to continue the “of course, I’m very concerned” act, [Chaperone] decided to force the group I was with to go with her while she dragged me to the first aid place at the park. She got us there and insisted I be seen. Little did I know that her stunt was going to end so very well for me!

The on-site doctor (or nurse, or PA — I never did learn for sure) took one look at me and realized something was up by how frazzled and upset I looked. My group had held me upright so I could get there in the first place with the world spinning around me, which probably didn’t help.

Doctor: “Let me take a look at her. Can you sit right here please, miss?” *Motions to a gurney*

I yanked my way out of everyone’s arms, focused very hard on walking straight so I wouldn’t annoy anyone, and sat down, ready to get scolded by the doctor, as well. But… the scolding never happened. He asked a few gentle questions in a soft voice (much appreciated with how much my head hurt) about what had transpired, tried to get specifics out of me that I wasn’t going to provide because the chaperone was staring me down, and proceeded with a quick exam. He presumably knew I was fine after that, but I was anxious so my heart rate was probably up. He looked up at [Chaperone].

Doctor: “I think she needs a bit of a rest. Could you please go wait out in the waiting area?”

Chaperone: “Okay, fine.” *Huffs and leaves*

A few of my group mates, people who were actually friends, stayed behind without the chaperone noticing. They were clearly concerned, and he probably would have been content to let them stay, but eventually, the doctor helped me shoo them out, too, because I wasn’t resting. I was trying to get them to leave me alone and go enjoy the park so I didn’t impose on their night out. (I later found out that one of the girls stayed out in the waiting room anyway — WITH the chaperone. I hadn’t realized how much she cared about me before that night, and we stayed in touch after graduation.) Before the doctor shooed them out, though, he did get the whole story out of them, because I was too afraid to tell, and he convinced me to drink some water with the help of some peer pressure.

Once everyone left, I gave in to how dizzy and generally crappy I felt. I flopped down on the gurney; I’d been propped up on my elbow. There was no one in this area except the two of us and some security cameras. And this human embodiment of protection and compassion pulled up a chair and sat down right next to my gurney, watching the door.

Doctor: “It’s okay; no one’s here now. Get some rest.”

Me: “But I should get going soon; I’ve already taken up a lot of your time. I’m so sorry—”

Doctor: *Cutting me off* “No, no, no, absolutely not. You have no deadline. You leave when you feel better, not when you feel like you ‘should’ leave. There is no one here. It’s been a slow night. There is no reason to be sorry. If anything, you’re giving me something to do during a boring shift.”

Me: “If you’re sure…”

Doctor: “I’m completely sure. I don’t mind if you want to sleep all night here. I’ll be here and keep an eye on you. It’s safe here.”

We actually had the above conversation a few times after this, but it was the same conversation and this is long enough already. I finally closed my eyes and relaxed. But after a few minutes, I heard movement. Someone was coming in! I popped into an upright seated position out of pure instinct.

The intruder was [Chaperone], this time with an irritated, impatient expression. But there was… a white coat partially obscuring the view? I’d never had anyone put themselves between me and someone else to protect me until that point in my life, so it took me a moment to realize that he’d sprung up as fast as I had and put himself between me and this power-tripping chaperone. He had been watching the door so I didn’t have to!

Doctor: *Practically roaring* “GET OUT! Go wait in the waiting room! She needs to rest!”

The chaperone was not expecting this, and she backed out of the room quickly, the doctor staring her down the whole time. Once the door had closed and she’d taken a few audible steps away, he turned to me as he sat down again.

Doctor: “I’m sorry you had to see that, but you’re safe here. Do you think you can lie down and try to relax a bit?”

I just sort of nodded and flopped back down, completely unable to process what I’d just seen. I closed my eyes but couldn’t sleep. Strangely, however, I was more relaxed than I’d ever been before. If I started to tense up, all I had to do was pop an eye open and see the doctor watching the door to feel safe enough to relax and close my eyes again. I’d never had anyone look out for me like that, and had I felt well enough, I probably would have been anxious about it, but I was so worn out after a little while that I was just grateful, contentedly basking in the joy of being permitted such an unprecedented respite.

About an hour after I was first dragged in, I felt well enough to get nervous about taking up too much time (in spite of the fact that literally no one else came for first aid the whole time I was there) and insisted that I was feeling well enough to leave. As I left, the doctor wished me well and told me to take care of myself and to not hesitate to come back if I needed it. He also stared daggers at the chaperone as we waited for my group to come get me so I could continue on with them.

About a week later, I finally got a little bit of time alone with my parents out of the house. I sobbed for about an hour. It meant so much. The time I spent with that doctor was the highlight of the whole trip.

If you’re reading this, kind park doctor, thank you for taking the time to show a scared and traumatized teenage girl that she’s worth standing up for and that not everyone who wants to help is subject to consequences for doing so. It was probably an unremarkable and boring night at work to you, but it literally changed my life and I think about this night a lot, even a decade later.