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One Is The Loneliest, Most Unhelpful Number

, , , , , , | Working | July 28, 2020

I am in a quiet, low-cost clothing store, walking the winding path made by impulse-item shelves to the registers, when a woman walks in the exit of the tills and plunks her stuff down in front of the man at the counter to do a return.

I stand, a bit annoyed, as another worker putters behind the long counter, seeming kind of bored, mainly holding up returned items and then laying them back down in the same spot, no note-making or other actions.

The return drags on and two other women come to line up behind me. After the three of us wait for about a minute, the woman behind the counter wanders to a till and says:

Salesperson: “I can help you here.”

Me: “Why couldn’t you help me a few minutes ago?”

Salesperson: “You were the only one in line.”

Me: “What? So?”

Salesperson: “They don’t like the line getting too long.”

Me: “So, you just left me standing there until more people came?”

Salesperson: “Well… you were the only one there.”

I walked out, leaving my basket on the counter.

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Many Layers To Their Stupidity

, , , , , | Working | July 27, 2020

Out with my partner at an Italian restaurant, I order a pasta dish and specify that I am allergic to raw onions and garlic; my body overreacts to the compound that makes most people cry.

This is a snooty and expensive restaurant. Over $300 — along with a comfortable tip — is dropped on this meal for the two of us and the waiter is well-to-do and rather snobbish.

When my plate arrives, a long stock of green onion is stabbed into the middle of it as a garnish.

Me: “Hold on. I told you I’m allergic to raw onions.”

Waiter: “There’s— There’s no raw onion here.”

Me: “But… what’s this?”

Waiter: “That’s a green onion stalk.”

Me: “What is it?”

Waiter: “A green onion.”

Me: “Without the colour.”

Waiter: *Pause* “Green onion.”

Me: “Okay. Without the first word.”

Waiter: “Green—”

Me: “No! Wait! Not that word, the second word.”

Waiter: “Onion.”

Me: “Yeah.”

The waiter stares, motionless, at me and I say:

Me: “I know I wasn’t clear about the severity of the allergy, but it is anaphylactic. I need new sauce that hasn’t touched any raw onions.”

I got my new dish and all was good, but to this day, I now always order, “No raw onions, green onions, spring onions, or garlic, please. It’s an allergy.” My friends all know my spiel as well as I do and will sometimes do it for me if it pleases them.

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We’re Sorry For The Lack Of Chemicals In Our Products

, , , , , | Right | July 6, 2020

I work in customer care for a company that makes bath and beauty products. All our stuff is marked with a sticker on the packaging stating the date it was made and the best-before date. 

One day, I receive an email along the following lines.

Email: “Dear [Company], I have a bottle of shower gel that has changed colour and consistency. It is clearly defective! I want a refund right away.”

The person has attached pictures. I write back.

Me: “Thank you for reaching out to us today. I took a look at your pictures and it does look like your shower gel has changed a bit. However, I also noticed that, based on the date sticker, it’s almost three years old. We usually recommend using our shower gels within about a year from the date of manufacture, as stated on the sticker. Unfortunately, since it’s outside of this window, I’m afraid I can’t offer you a refund.”

She responds, with certain words capitalised:

Customer’s Response: “Bulls***! I bought this because I thought that your company made high-quality products and I paid a lot of money for it. It should NOT GO BAD! My shower gel from [Other Company] doesn’t do this because SHOWER GEL SHOULDN’T SPOIL and I want my money back NOW.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that you’re disappointed. I can’t speak to the products made by [Other Company]. However, at [My Company] we are aware that our products do not stay good forever due to the ingredients we use. Many of them are natural components that have many benefits when fresh but break down over time, just like milk or fresh produce. This is why we put the use-by sticker on our packaging, to make sure that our customers are getting the full advantage.”


Me: “I’m sorry that you’re not happy with our products. However, many of our products actually do contain the things you mentioned. Your shower gel, for example, has fresh strawberries in it. The other ingredients in the gel will keep it from spoiling or growing mold as quickly as it would on its own, but yes, it will eventually go off.”

The previous responses came very quickly; the next response takes over an hour to show up in the inbox.


Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Please have a nice day.”

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Boys Will Be Boys, Right?

, , , , , | Learning | June 30, 2020

I work as a tutor at an “academy” whose programme was specifically created to help kids learn English through reading. It’s important to note that the programme was created in South Korea and is licensed out to business owners who are mostly also native Korean speakers. This mostly isn’t a problem, but sometimes…

One of my students is a particularly bright ten-year-old whose English is excellent and who reads at quite a high level. He tends to be assigned longer books as a result.

Me: “Hey, buddy, how’s it going? What did you read this week?” 

Student: *Looking worried* “Uh… Lord of the Flies.”

Me: “I’m sorry? Did you say Lord of the Flies?”

Student: “Yes.”

I know that some literary classics are published in abridged and expurgated versions to make them more accessible for younger audiences. I wouldn’t think this treatment would work for “Lord of the Flies,” but maybe?

Me: “Can I take a look at your copy of the book?”

He produces the book. Nope, it’s exactly the same edition I read in high school when I was seventeen.

Student: “You know, um, I don’t think this book is for kids. It was really scary.”

Me: “You’re definitely right about that.”

After his session was over, I went to my boss and suggested that this particular book not be assigned to kids younger than about fifteen. She seemed baffled at the idea that a literary classic that’s ABOUT children might not be FOR children — “It’s on the programme list!” — but I eventually persuaded her not to assign it to any more preteens.

This story is part of our Book Lovers roundup!

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How Dare You Not Give It Away For Free!

, , , , | Right | June 15, 2020

A nice lady comes into our store and buys a glass pipe with a removable glass bowl. I give her 30% off the purchase and she leaves happily. The next day, she comes back.

Customer: “I dropped the bowl and it broke. I want to see a replacement.”

Me: “Of course, and I can offer you one at cost.”

Customer: *Angry* “You are charging me for this? That’s poor of you.”

She starts putting on an act of “I will never come here again, I can’t believe you are charging me for this, etc.”  

Me: “I am offering you the bowl at cost out of sympathy, but all of our products are glass, and once you leave the store that glass is your responsibility.”

I also pointed out that even if she paid the $8 for the replacement part she would still have paid over fifty dollars less than the pipe was supposed to sell for. She left unhappy. You can’t win them all.

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