To Art Is Freedom

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 15, 2018

(I am giving a lecture about Japanese pop culture in a high school. It involves drawing manga. At the end of the lecture, the kids are allowed to create their own art. One of the kids is the typical “bad boy;” he’s never picked up a pencil, never interacted, and he’s in trouble all the time. After the lecture, we chat a few times as I try to give him ideas and get him to work. It isn’t particularly effective. When I am next in the front of the class, the boy suddenly comes up to me.)

Boy: “If I want to draw a superhero, is that okay, too?”

Me: “Of course! You can draw whatever you want!”

Boy: “But how would I draw his face, then?”

(I walk to the whiteboard and grab a marker. I actually repeat the whole lesson I have just given about drawing a basic manga-style face.)

Boy: “I can’t draw that.”

Me: “Sure, you can. How about you try it? This is a whiteboard; if it fails, we can just erase it.”

Boy: “Nah, I can’t do that.”

Me: “Then, do what you can. What can you draw?”

Boy: “Well, this…”

(The boy draws a superhero, barely more than a stick-figure.)

Me: “Not bad. How about you try this?”

(The boy follows the tips and keeps on drawing… and drawing… and drawing. Soon, the whole whiteboard is filled. I even remove my own drawings so he has more space. The teacher sees this and walks up. I know she is very open-minded, and she nods approvingly.)

Teacher: “You know what, [Boy]? Take a picture of this and put it in your report.”

Boy: “I’m not done yet.”

Teacher: “Then by all means, go ahead! Don’t forget to put a picture of it in your report, so I can grade it.”

(The boy continues his work and after class, the boy takes a picture of it. When the kids are gone, we evaluate the lecture, and the teacher tells me more about the boy.)

Teacher: “He lives with his father, who thinks art is a waste of time. This might be the first time he has drawn since elementary school.”

(Elementary school would have been two or three years ago for this boy.)

Me: “He does seem to like to draw.”

Teacher: “And this is the first time I have seen him express himself. I don’t care that he didn’t use traditional inking techniques or even manga-style; he drew!”

(At that moment, the boy pops in from the hallway.)

Boy: “You didn’t erase it yet?”

Teacher: “Of course not! I want to enjoy this masterpiece for as long as I can!”

(It was the last lecture I gave at that school, so I don’t know what became of that boy, but this teacher really inspired me. Even now, about five years later, I use the phrase: “Focus on what you can, not what you can’t.”)

Temp Agency Needs More “Training”

, , , , | Working | January 12, 2018

I’m employed through a temp agency, like almost everyone in the department I work in. This is easier for the company, since they can’t guarantee full time employment, due to the nature of the work. This morning, we expect a new temp, but she’s very late. Our supervisor decides to call the temp agency to ask where she is.

After the first call, we hear she’s on her way, but the agency doesn’t know why she is so extremely late, so they promise to call us back.

When the agency calls back, our supervisor tells us what happened. The new worker, who lives in The Hague — about 35 kilometers from the town the office is in — is on the train station, but says she can’t afford to buy a train ticket.

Everyone is amazed by the story. We all feel very sorry for the girl for not even being able to buy the train ticket, which would require about €20. However, a few of us are here with a car, so the idea comes to send one of us over to pick her up. Our supervisor calls the temp agency again to tell them the plan.

After the call, our supervisor tells us, “The plot thickens.” Why? “She’s in Groningen.” Yes, she is in a city in the far northeast of the country, from which she would have to travel about 3 hours to get here! On the morning of her first day with us…

Needless to say, the new girl didn’t need to come in anymore. And as our supervisor said: “No wonder she couldn’t afford the ticket.”

Unfiltered Story #103608

| Unfiltered | January 9, 2018

I spend a week abroad with a couple I hardly know. The point was to go to see a certain special concert, plus some extra days ‘vacation.’ Turns out, the couple and me don’t get along at all, they are plain rude, selfish and all we do is fight. (The stories of that alone could fill several pages of NotAlwaysFriendly). On our last day I notice my fingers have swollen badly. I mention it and they dismiss it as some allergic reaction to something, but still I worry; the swelling is really bad and I can’t get my rings of my fingers anymore.
Fast forward a week later, I’m back home and start coughing up blood. I call my GP, who sends me to the hospital ER right away. I rush there, stressed out because I’m actually not told what could be the problem, only that it’s an emergency. (rushing and stressing was actually VERY dangerous, I get to that later)
Some tests later it appears I have pulmonary embolism, and I have to stay 3 days. The doc comes to see me and asks if I am planning on flying anytime soon.

me: “No, but I just recently came back from a trip. By plane.”

doc: “Wait, when was that?”

me: “A week ago. Oh, but while I was abroad my fingers started to swell too. Does that have anything to do with my condition?”

doc: “Wait.. you had symptoms BEFORE you boarded an airplane? the reason why I ask is because with a blood clot stuck behind your lungs it could easily shoot to your heart or brain because of the cabin pressure.”

me: “So flying was actually dangerous for me at the time?”

Doc: “Honestly, I’m suprised to see you alive. Its absolutely PROHIBITED to fly with pulmonary embolism. Medically speaking, you should have been dead.”

me: “….. yay for being alive then?”

Also turns out: the cause for the embolism was primarily because of my birth control pills, but eventually triggered by heavy stress. I’d like to have seen the look of that nasty couple’s faces if i had told them their douchebaggery could have potentially killed me…

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Incompetence

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 2, 2018

My school likes to encourage students who have just enrolled for the next school year, so they get students who are in their second year to do a presentation. After the presentation they take the new students on a tour. I volunteer to do such a thing with three other students in my class, and all goes well, but right after the presentation the fire alarm goes off.

We all evacuate including the new students, but our school is quite big; all the students take up a lot of space around the building. We see no smoke. I’ve already heard this was not a drill from a teacher, but the lack of smoke is annoying the new students and the parents who brought them, most of whom look to me for guidance because I am the only girl of the volunteers and the oldest of them.

After an hour we can finally get back into the building. We do the tour with less students, because some have gone home out of annoyance. I go home late due to the delay and because I volunteered after-school hours.

Later I learn that one of the students from stage tech forgot to turn off the fire alarm before testing the smoke machine.

Customer Insults Are In Top Gear Today

, , , | Working | January 1, 2018

(I go to school in a bigger city that’s an hour away from where I live. I have a bike at the city to bring me from the station to school, just because I try to avoid local public transport. It’s a very cheap, second hand bike, and the gears are taken off, so it’s now set in one gear. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay in that one gear, causing the chain to slip, so I bring it to the bike repair shop near the station. Before, it was set to third gear, which was fine with me. I pick up my bike after repairs and notice it has been set to first gear, so when I try to gain any momentum I have to pedal like a maniac. I used to be a lot heavier, but recently lost quite a bit of weight; most of the weight I haven’t lost yet is gathered in my thighs.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but can it possibly be set to the gear it was in when I brought it here? I’m not really looking forward to biking to the other side of town in first gear all the way.”

Bike Repair Guy: “Sorry, this is the only gear I can put it on in order to make it work. If I tighten it any further, your chain will slip again.”

Me: “Are you sure? Well, I guess I have to take it as it is then.”

Bike Repair Guy: “Besides, some extra pedaling would do you no harm. Get some of that fat off your legs!”

(I left as fast as I could in order not to give that guy a mouthful. Have never been back since.)

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