A Lovely Reminder That Racism Is Alive And Well

, , | Right | March 4, 2021

I am dealing with cancelling a contract for a customer over the phone. Everything goes perfectly and the customer is very polite. 

Me: “Well, sir, the contract is cancelled. I can email you the cancellation letter, or would you rather have it through post?”

Customer: “Email, please.”

Me: “All right, let’s check if we have your email on file.”

I notice that the email address contains one of the most common surnames in the Netherlands. The customer I have on the phone has an Arabic surname.

Me: “Sir, do we have the right email address on file? It says it’s [address].”

The customer becomes silent for a second. He sounds a bit… sad or embarrassed; I can’t be sure. 

Customer: “Eh, yes, that email address is correct. I’ve had it for ten years now. It’s just… whenever I emailed a company with my real last name, I never got invited for an interview. Since I started using this email address, I’ve gotten invited to several interviews and landed a good-paying job.”

I swallow the words I actually want to say. 

Me: “I completely understand, sir; no need to explain. I just sent the letter.”

I heard a “ding” through the line and the customer said he’d received the proof. We ended the conversation. I had heard before that a lot of companies won’t invite people with a foreign name, but this was the first time I’d met someone who’d had this happen to him. My first response would have been outrage — not to the customer, but to society as a whole.

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Needs A Clean Break From That Day

, , , , , | Working | February 25, 2021

I’m for hire via a temp agency for day jobs which are mostly cleaning jobs. I’m sent to a holiday park one town over for the day, along with several others, and I am told I will be given a ride by someone from the temp agency, since it’s a bit too long of a road for me to bike there.

The workers gather at the agency office to be picked up and my ride turns out to be one of the workers. The woman herself is… a character, to say the least. The few teeth she still has in her mouth are disgustingly yellow, her hair is a mess, and the thick and greasy layers of makeup that she smeared on her face still can’t conceal all the bruises she has underneath. She leads me to her tiny old car, which is so filled with trash that I literally have no place to sit. She shoves some off the passenger seat, leaving my feet in a pool of plastic bottles, used tissues, cigarette butts, and I don’t wanna know what else. 

We get on the road. It’s scorching hot outside, about thirty degrees Celsius, and she leaves all the windows closed while she’s smoking cigarettes behind the wheel and swaying like a drunk.

She manages to drive right past the holiday park that is situated on the outskirts and drives all the way into town about fifteen minutes away.

Her reasoning? “They said it was at [Town] so that’s where I’m going!”

We pass a local theme park that has advertisements up for a Halloween event and she happily states that she should apply as a scare actor. “I look a fright anyway by myself!” No s***!

We end up arriving at the holiday park half an hour late. We don’t know where we are supposed to report in, so she calls the agency to ask. Halfway through the phone call, she hands her phone over to me and lights another cigarette. I’m trying to keep the makeup-smeared phone as far away from my face as possible. The conversation I try to make with the temp agency is constantly interrupted by loud and gross coughs from the woman and her yanking her phone back to her so she can listen in, continuously coughing loudly near my face.

Finally, we get sent to our duties to clean the bungalows. I end up with another lady who explains what needs to be done with the greatest haste and impatience.

She leaves me alone to clean the bungalow. At this point, it should be noted I have slight autism and anxiety issues. I’m left behind with little to no instructions, and the hellish ride to get here has made my emotions pile up and the result is a giant panic attack.

I go back to the front office to call in sick and fetch a bus back home.

Just another day in the life of working temp jobs, leaving me to wonder how on earth people can be so gross.

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It’s Official; Cats Are The Cure For Everything

, , , , | Learning | February 25, 2021

I used to get what I called “I hate everything!” days. Let me explain that: I used to struggle with depression, a lot of unresolved anger and grief, and several other mental health issues. I started therapy when I was in my early twenties, and I am so much better now, but back when I was in university I would sometimes have days where I felt nothing but anger and resentment toward everyone and everything. If the toaster malfunctioned, I wanted to throw it against the wall. If someone walked too slowly in front of me, I wanted to punch their lights out. If my dad called, I wanted to cuss him out.

On such days, I only had negative things to say. It was an awful feeling, but thankfully, my enormous fear of hurting people kept me from acting on my impulses. Still, I didn’t trust myself on those days, so I would stay home, lock myself in my room, and not interact with anyone.

One day I couldn’t do that, and that was the day that changed everything. I had an English literature seminar that day, and since I was struggling with that class a bit and had already missed a class because I was sick, I knew I couldn’t afford to miss it. I told myself to just go and keep my head down and my mouth shut. This is what I kept repeating in my head as I walked to class, wanting to scream insults at every cyclist that didn’t obey traffic rules and to kick everyone who got in my way. “Eyes down, mouth shut. Eyes down, mouth shut.”

Unfortunately, my calculations hadn’t accounted for my teacher, a young, happy-go-lucky guy who was super enthusiastic about his subject, loved every book we had to read, and loved interacting with his students even more. Normally, I really enjoyed the discussions we had in that class, and I was usually one of the most involved students. I should’ve known he’d get suspicious if I kept quiet.

The book we had to read that day was Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea.” I’m not a fan of Hemingway on a good day, and this was most definitely not a good day. So, of course, the first thing our teacher asked us is what we thought of the book. “Eyes down, mouth shut,” I kept repeating to myself, as the rest of the class started debating. And then, disaster struck.

The teacher smiled brightly and turned to me.

Teacher: “What about you, [My Name]? You’re unusually quiet today. What did you think of the book?”

Now I’m thinking, “Don’t hurt anyone, don’t hurt anyone!”

Me: “Didn’t really like it.”

It’s all I trust myself to say, but [Teacher] isn’t satisfied.

Teacher: “Really? That’s it? That’s all you have to say? Nothing on the struggle of man versus nature? The wonderful use of language? The fascinatingly ambiguous ending? The—”

Readers, I’m sorry to say that I snapped. I flew into a rant about how much I hated this book and its author. I think the least harsh words I used were, “pompous, grossly macho, and ridiculously over the top.” The rest I won’t repeat, but I get a good few minutes of belligerency going before I suddenly realize the entire class is looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head, and the teacher looks like a kicked puppy. I turn red, duck my head, and mumble an apology.

Feeling guilty but still angry at the world, I say:

Me: “Sorry, I hate everything today.”

Before the teacher can recover, one of my classmates, whom I have previously bonded with over a shared love of cats, jumps up, pulls out her phone, and shoves it under my nose.

Classmate: “There. Do you hate that?”

It’s a picture of her cat, a very fluffy white Persian, wearing a tiny Christmas hat and looking very grumpy about it. The balloon of anger inside of me deflates a little.

Me: “No, I guess I don’t hate that.”

Classmate: “Look at her! Look at how grumpy she is. She only agreed to the photo because I was holding a treat. You can’t hate that!”

I really can’t. Somehow, that picture of a grumpy cat in a Christmas hat pops my balloon of anger, and I just feel tired — a vast improvement.

Me: *A lot calmer* “No, I can’t hate that.”

The teacher seems to think it’s safe to talk to me again.

Teacher: “As much as I appreciate the rescue, I must ask if that’s relevant for class.”

Classmate: “No, sir, it’s a picture of my cat.” *Shows him* “But it worked, didn’t it?”

Teacher: “Okay, that’s adorable. But we really have to continue now. [My Name], do you need to leave for a moment?”

Me: “I’m good, sir. And I’m sorry. Thanks, [Classmate].”

We continued the seminar without further incident. Afterward, I wondered if [Classmate] had found the cure for my “I hate everything!” days and decided that next time, I would look at cat pictures BEFORE going out. I did, and what do you know? It worked! It didn’t miraculously make me happy, but at least it made the anger go away.

Thanks to therapy, I no longer have days like that, but I still look at cat pictures when I feel down. My therapist and I even made it a part of my treatment plan, because apparently, no matter how miserable or angry I feel, I can’t resist cats.


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

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Read the Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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Might As Well Have Cooked Yourself

, , , , | Working | February 24, 2021

It’s my dad’s birthday. Every year, during normal circumstances, my mum will pay for dinner at a restaurant of my dad’s choice as a present. As the restaurants are currently closed because of the crisis, this is, of course, impossible. Instead, my dad searches for restaurants that deliver. After quite a bit of bad reading skills on my dad’s part, which is a whole different story, he decides on a restaurant.

Immediately when we get the box, we realize something is off. The restaurant did not deliver fully-finished hot dishes, but what I can only call a puzzle box. There are vacuum-sealed bags, plastic boxes in different shapes and sizes, and one set of plastic plates taped together. With this come instructions on how to piece everything together and how long to heat these things. My dad, disappointed by what he got, slinks off and leaves my mum and I to piece together what we have to do.

And that’s when the second problem comes to light. While the instructions are fairly easy, the ingredients are not clearly marked and the pictures are discoloured and a bit blurry. On top of that, one of the pieces does not match what’s shown on the picture at all, though the restaurant assures us it is the same.

And that’s not the worst of it. There are pieces missing. And not just small pieces. My mum’s entire appetizer is missing apart from one tube of goat cheese cream, and her main course is missing the thing which structures it all and a tube of its own flavoured creamy stuff.

My mum calls the restaurant and they send us more food, but they send two pieces of something we already had, another double, and also most of the abovementioned stuff, apart from the watercress for my mum’s appetizer. On top of that, while preparing, we realize there are more pieces missing — the apple slices for my crepes and the truffle sauce for my mum’s main dish — but by that point, we are done with the restaurant and just want to eat.

I do look on the website to see if they mention anything of the meal being pieced together like that and they do, all the way at the bottom, under the header “Allergies and food restrictions.”

I get that restaurants have to find a way to survive in this troublesome time, but this was very poorly executed. This was a fairly high-class restaurant, too, and the food wasn’t cheap. We ordered food for only three people and this much was messed up. Even though my dad enjoyed that restaurant before, I doubt he’ll ever want to do business with them again.

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Being A Nerd Pays Off

, , , | Working | February 22, 2021

I work in an office and we have an issue with a client. We haven’t received a payment, so he sends me proof of payment. I contact the bank, but they can’t find the transaction listed. 

When I talk about it during a coffee break, a coworker I barely know and who just started asks if she can see the proof of payment. I don’t know what she can do with it, but since it’s a very large sum, I grasp every straw I can get. 

She takes one look at it, and within ten seconds:

Coworker: “This has been faked.”

Me: “What? Huh? What do you mean?!”

Coworker: “This screenshot has been edited.”

She looks nervous and uneasy, but she points at the big bar on the top.

Coworker: “This bar is missing a few pixels; here, it doesn’t match up. This description is a different font from the rest of the text here. And this zero is slightly lower than the other numbers. There’s also a slightly different hue of white here and here. If you move a bit over here, you can see a few digital brush strokes.”

Me: *Baffled* “How did you spot that?!”

Coworker: “I… ehm… I used to do art on the computer. Pixel art… eh, game sprites. Just for fun. It’s kind of… my thing.”

I don’t get why she was embarrassed but I didn’t press that any further. She saved us a lot of money!


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

Read the next Best Of February 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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