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Forcing Conformity Is Pretty Rude, You Know

, , , , , , | Related | September 22, 2022

I’ve been having a pretty tough year mental-health-wise, and thanks to a plan made by my family long in advance, I’m currently experiencing a month of said year in a completely unfamiliar country without any access to my safety net. I’m handling everything as well as I can, but two weeks of daily panic attacks will really wear you out. At this point, I’m completely dependent on my sensory aids to function, including my headphones, which have caused many problems in the past from my mother (who is a therapist, and aware of my anxiety disorder) considering me wearing them “rude”. 

I’m already pretty exhausted by the events of this particular day when she pulls me aside on our group walk to get lunch.

Mom: “This is a fancy restaurant, so you can’t wear your headphones.”

I haven’t been informed of this rule before, and it seems strange, to say the least — what about people using hearing aids or translation apps?

Me: “Will they kick me out?”

Mom: “No, but it’s rude! We’re going to go and have conversations, not wear headphones or look at our phones.”

Me: “Right, but wearing my headphones is what makes me able to have conversations.”

Mom just sighs angrily and stares at a nearby building, marking the conversation over.

Wanting to avoid any more fights, I remove my headphones at the door and stow them in my bag. Unfortunately, between the lasting stress of having an argument and intrinsic anxiety about 1) eating, 2) in public, 3) using a foreign language, and 4) surrounded by people who are mad at me, soon I’m having a panic attack without access to any of my coping mechanisms.

I’m making a valiant effort to keep from causing a scene by hyperventilating or crying, which means closing my eyes and putting all of my focus on my breathing. Needless to say, this barely leaves any room for social interaction. I can’t handle any eye contact, and I’m communicating in nods and short whispers.

A question is directed to me about a place I went, and I can barely formulate a sentence.

Me: “Um, I— I saw the, um, I went to— i-it was called, it was the, uh—”

My mom interrupts me, sounding annoyed.

Mom: “[My Name], you can wear your headphones if it’ll make you talk. I thought that you’d participate in the conversation.” 

I scrambled to dig the headphones out of my bag, and I could FEEL the serotonin flooding my brain as I put them back on. I was finally able to put my thoughts in order and finish the sentence, and I spent the rest of the meal speaking and having as good of a time as I could while riding off the rest of the panic attack.

I still don’t know how a TRAINED PSYCHOLOGIST could think that banning my coping mechanisms would somehow magically make me neurotypical!

Miles And Miles Of Impossible Demands

, , , , , , | Working | September 21, 2022

I live about two minutes from my office in Florida, and I’m a key holder. I’m on a planned vacation… in Mexico. I get off the ship and notice I have multiple missed calls from my boss. Being young and naive, I call, thinking there’s some kind of emergency they just need phone help with.

Manager: “Hey, the store opener locked themselves out and I need you to go over and let them in.”

Me: “Yeah, that’s not possible now. Remember? I’m on vacation.”

Manager: “Come on! It’ll only take a minute.”

Me: “I’m in Cozumel, not across the road.”

Manager: “I don’t know why you’re being difficult about this. It’ll only take a minute!”

Me: “I. Am. In. Mexico. I’m over 2,500 miles away! I’m not home.”

Manager: “I just don’t understand why you’re being so difficult about this.”

I just hung up because you can’t fix stupid or geographically challenged people. I texted the other key holder who lived ten miles away. She was FLOORED that the manager was that freaking stupid and went over to open the store up.

When I got back, the manager tried to write me up. I made her pull up GPS and find directions to Cozumel from our location. Then, I picked up the write-up and dropped it in the shredder in front of her. The look on her face when it showed forty-seven hours by car was priceless. I NEVER heard another peep about it.

From that point forward, I never answered any work calls on vacation, either! Lesson learned.

At Least SOMEONE Had A Decent Time

, , , , , , , , | Romantic | September 5, 2022

My boyfriend and I are on vacation for a week, staying at a hotel on the beach.

Boyfriend: “What do you want to do today?”

Me: “We can go to the beach.”

Boyfriend: “It’s gonna be too hot out there.”

Me: “There’s [Amusement Park].”

Boyfriend: “Too expensive. And probably super crowded!”

Me: “The mall?”

Boyfriend: “We have a mall back home! I want to do something fun and different.”

Me: “Okay, there’s the aquarium, the zoo, or the nature reserve. We can go—”

Boyfriend: “No, they all sound stupid.”

Me: “Okay, well, you figure out what you want to do. I’m going to the lobby for breakfast.”

Boyfriend: “Can you bring me—”

I walk out, angry. When I get back upstairs, I find him sitting in bed watching racing.

Me: “This is what you want to do today?”

Boyfriend: “You didn’t offer up anything else, so yeah, I guess this is what I’m doing.”

Me: “I offered several things and you turned them all down.”

Boyfriend: “You offered stupid things.”

I walk out again and go to the beach by myself. We repeat variations of this song and dance every day that week until it is time to go home.

Boyfriend: “What a boring vacation. We could have done the same thing at home and not paid for the hotel.”

Me: “Yes, we could have. “

Boyfriend: “Why didn’t we go anywhere fun? I swear, we just stayed in the hotel room all week.”

Me: “You did. I went to the beach and the zoo and shopping.”

Boyfriend: “So, basically, you spent a bunch of money and left me alone.”

Me: “Yup. Best vacation ever.”

We broke up when we got home. I’m pretty sure he still blames me for having such a boring vacation.

The Oregon Fail, Part 5

, , , , , | Related | May 27, 2022

Years ago, while on vacation in Oregon, we saw a souvenir postcard captioned “Giant Oregon Fir Log”.

My dad glanced at it, did a double-take, laughed, and started naming the men in the photo. It had been taken in our home town… in Washington State!

The Oregon Fail, Part 4
The Oregon Fail, Part 3
The Oregon Fail, Part 2
The Oregon Fail

Some Bosses Don’t Understand Boundaries

, , , , , , | Working | May 3, 2022

The company that I was working for at the time had very low pay for the work we were doing. I got a new car in the first year of my employment and there was no paid vacation. As a result, I didn’t take a vacation for seven years so I could maintain my car payments.

However, in 2019, a friend of mine paid to fly my wife and me from Hawaii to Missouri for a wedding, so I put my foot down with management and told them that I would be gone. I submitted notice of the trip in May of 2018, which was seventeen months ahead of the September 2019 fly-out date.  

By the time September rolled around, I had been working not only for seven years without taking a vacation but also, recently, seven-day weeks due to the company’s inability to hold a staff together. 

Making just under eighty hours a week, I was exhausted but I had maintained constant notice to the company that I would be gone, which they approved and accepted because they knew how hard I had been working. 

The day we were to fly out, I got two texts and a phone call from my direct boss, the person just above me on the ladder. I answered the call.

Boss: “Hey, [My Name], I need timesheets for your crew. Could you submit them today or tomorrow?”

Me: *Politely* “I cannot; I am currently awaiting departure at the Honolulu International Airport, which you have been informed about several times over the last year.”

Boss: “Well, could you take a moment to put the sheets together on your laptop and send them?

Me: “I can’t. I don’t have my laptop with me.”

Boss: *Angrily* “Why not?! It is your responsibility to get timesheets to me when needed!”

This was despite the fact that I was already up to date and the next set of sheets wasn’t due for another three days, a task I had left to my assistant.

Me: “I have no intention of doing any work this trip. This is my first vacation in seven years. You have had notice of my exact flight itinerary. You need to call [Coworker], who I left in charge of my people.”

This seemed to anger him even more, but I hung up the phone.

He proceeded to text me throughout the first four days of our trip, asking me for paperwork, and asking if he could borrow members of my crew to assist a short-staffed one. He asked about emails and equipment requests, and I ignored every single one of them. 

Just before the wedding started, I blacklisted my boss’s cellphone number and office extension on my phone to stop the calls and prevent any interruptions during the ceremony.

Fast forward two weeks. I had been back for a week now. My boss called me on the company phone and he was pissed. 

I had never taken the blocks off of his phone numbers.

Boss: “Why have you been ignoring my calls and text messages?!”

These are specifically in my off time because he has still been contacting me on the work phone during my work hours daily.

Me: “I blocked you.”

Of course, this didn’t sit well with him.

Boss: “Remove the restriction so that I can contact you when I need to!”

Me: “No. My phone is my personal phone, I pay the bill, and I decide what the usage for it is. There is nothing in my contract that states that I need to be contactable twenty-four-seven and nothing stating that a personal number is required. You having my number has been a privilege, not a requirement. You have abused that privilege and subsequently lost it.”

He started to yell, but I had been prepared for this since my return since I deliberately left his number blocked. I picked up a copy of my work contract from my desk where it had been sitting since my first day back. I thumbed through it.

Me: “Do you want to read it yourself? I can scan it and send it through. From now on, you can contact me while I am at work and I have the company phone on me.” 

He was livid, mostly because I had cut him off, and apparently, he went to file a complaint with Human Resources. 

I got a phone call from the HR department only forty-five minutes later, but it wasn’t what I expected. 

HR was calling to ask if I wanted to file a complaint against him! Allegedly, he had filed a complaint for insubordination and explained the situation to them. They had told him in no uncertain terms that I had every right to block him on my personal phone and then turned around and dinged him for contacting me while I was on vacation in the first place. 

At the time, my boss and I were normally on okay terms. I was happy enough that HR had backed me up and knocked him down a few pegs, so I declined to file a complaint. 

It took a while, but eventually, things fell back into place and we started working together as we always had… kind of, sort of okay-ish.