The Magic School Bus

, , , , | Hopeless | August 10, 2019

(In high school, I catch a bus once from school to a friend’s house, a bus I have never taken before. The moment I get on the bus, a young man — who I recognise immediately has an intellectual disability — smiles at me.)

Man: *loudly* “Hello!” 

Me: *smiling back* “Hello!”

(I take my seat on the bus as the man turns to me.)

Man: “You’re very beautiful!”

Me: *breaking into a grin* “Aww, thank you!”

(I could tell the guy was harmless and just meant to put smiles on other people’s faces, and to that end, he was succeeding. But I worried that other people on the bus might get annoyed at him or worse, start bullying him for his disability. But it never happened. I watched as he loudly said, “Hello!” to everyone that got on the bus, and even to people who had been sitting on the bus for some time that he’d already greeted before, and everyone cheerfully said, “Hello!” back. He told many passengers they were beautiful; they all smiled and thanked him. He cracked “jokes” with punchlines that didn’t make sense, but everyone still laughed and cheered for him. Every time a new passenger got on the bus, I worried that this would be the person who would be intolerant or nasty, but everyone — schoolkids, young adults, the middle-aged, the elderly — EVERYONE seemed delighted with him. The entire half-hour trip to my friend’s house, I don’t think there was a single frown on that bus. When I got to my friend’s house, I asked her about him, and she confirmed that he was a regular on that route and everyone loves him. Sadly, I never got the chance to take that bus route again, but that memory remains as one of the sweetest moments between strangers that I was lucky enough to be a part of.)

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Meatballs For Brains

, , , , , | Right | August 8, 2019

(A customer orders a meatball sandwich as usual. I begin placing meatballs on the sandwich.)

Customer: “No! Not like that!”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir. What wrong?”

Customer: “You’re doing it wrong.”

Me: “Doing what wrong?”

Customer: “Never mind.”

(I’m almost done with his sub when he demands I remake the sandwich.)

Customer: “Now, put them on there the right way.”

Me: “Like this?”

(I proceed to place the meatballs on the sub a different way than I was trained to do.)

Customer: “NO! Are you stupid? Where did you learn how to make a meatball sandwich?!”

Me: “Can you please explain what I’m doing wrong, sir?”

Customer: “Put them on the flat part!”

(Assuming he meant the meatballs, I remade the sandwich again and he paid and left with it. A few minutes later, he returned from the parking lot with the sandwich unwrapped and nibbled on and proceeded to lob it over the counter at me, getting meatballs everywhere, and then left again.)

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The Civil Service Makes You Uncivil And Is Not A Service

, , , , , | Working | August 1, 2019

(I’ve recently finished university and am looking for full-time employment in the field I have studied. In the meantime, I am eligible for payments from the government. To get my payments, I have to report my income from my part-time retail job. I was previously on a similar payment scheme while at university, so I’m very familiar with the online reporting process. However, when I go to report my income, I find that the website throws up an error message, so I go down to the organisation’s nearest office to get help. After a LONG wait, I’m finally called over to talk to someone.)

Me: “I’ve recently switched from student allowance to Newstart allowance, but for some reason, when I try to report my income online, I receive an error message.”

Employee #1: “No worries. I’ll look into that for you and let you know when it’s fixed. I’ll call you by the end of the week.”

(And with that, I’m sent home. I spend the week waiting for a call and never get one. I wait another week just to be sure. There’s still nothing, and all this time I still can’t report my income, so I’ve not been getting payments and have been living only off my fairly small income from my retail job. Finally, I go back in. After another long wait, I see a different employee.)

Me: “I was in here the other week. I’ve recently started on Newstart allowance, but the website won’t let me report my income. Last time I was in, they told me they’d fix it and give me a call by the end of the week. That was two weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing.”

Employee #2: “That’s strange. Let me look into that for you and I’ll give you a call when it’s fixed.”

Me: “Okay, but that’s literally what I was told last time and nothing happened.”

Employee #2: “I know, but there’s not much else we can do. Sorry. Tell you what, though; I’ll pass this on to my supervisor and she’ll make it a priority. You should hear back within the next day or two.”

(A week later, nothing. Even worse, I receive an email telling me that because I’ve failed to report my income in so long, my Newstart allowance has been cancelled and I will have to reapply to see if I am eligible to receive it again. Now at the end of my tether, I go in again. After the longest wait yet…)

Me: “I’ve recently started on Newstart allowance, but whenever I try and report my income, I get an error message. I’ve been in twice to try and resolve it and both times I was told they’d look into it and give me a call in the next few days. That never happened. Then, this morning, I got an email saying that my payments had been cancelled because I hadn’t reported my income in so long.”

Employee #3: “They said they’d look into it and give you a call? That’s strange. Hang on; give me a second.”

(She gets up and goes to talk with another employee. I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I see them looking at something on a computer together. Five minutes later, she comes back.)

Employee #3: “Okay, it should be fixed now. I’ve also put you back onto Newstart so you don’t have to reapply. And while you’re here, you may as well report your income to me in person. Is there a reason you didn’t report it in person the last two times you were in?”

Me: “I wasn’t given the option.”

Employee #3: “You should have been. You would have kept getting payments.”

(I report my income to her and she enters it into the system.)

Employee #3: “Okay, you should receive all of your back-payments tomorrow morning. Before you go, just try accessing your account on one of our computers to double-check that the issue is resolved.”

(I did and it worked. The following morning, I got my back-payments and since then I’ve had no issues reporting my income. Thanks, [Employee #3]! I’m happy to know that there’s at least one government employee who knows what she’s doing.)

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Almost Like You’re Speaking In (Promo) Code

, , , , , | Working | July 25, 2019

(I try to apply a 15% discount to a $200 online order using a promo code emailed to me by the company, but their website isn’t accepting the code. I ring the helpline and the sales lady says she will apply the discount when my order goes through. This takes place the next day, and I get the same sales lady on the phone.)

Me: “Hi. I believe I spoke to you yesterday. I rang about the promo code that your website wasn’t accepting?”

Sales Lady: *super friendly, singsong voice* “Yes! I’ve applied the discount to your order. Thank yooouuu! That’s all for today?”

Me: “Umm, no. I just checked and I was charged the full amount.”

Sales Lady: *instantly gets defensive and blunt* “No, you weren’t. It was a $200 order, with a $15 postage fee, and your discount was $15.”

Me: “That’s not right; the discount should have been for 15%.”

Sales Lady: “Yes, and I took 15% off, which was $15.”

Me: “15% of $200 isn’t $15.”

Sales Lady: “Oh, that’s right. The promotion was for $15 off, not 15% off.”

Me: “No, I’m looking at the email right now. It’s 15% off… Part of the promo code is literally ‘15%.’”

Sales Lady: *suddenly very friendly again* “Oh, right. Yes, that should be $30! Sorry! This order has already been paid for now, so I can only credit your account for $15.”

Me: “Okay, great. Thanks.”

(I guess that’s one way to ensure repeat customers!)

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Doing A Self-Disservice

, , , , , | Right | July 16, 2019

(I work at a very popular discount department store. Around three to four years ago, we began rolling out self-service registers in the middle of the store; however, we still have manned registers for larger purchases, or payments of orders in the self-service area. It is 8:00 am and I am running the only manned register open, along with overseeing the self-service, as we are always quiet at this time. A woman approaches with a single pack of underpants. She stands in the middle of the self-service area and begins waving her arms in the air.)

Me: “Can I help you?”

Customer: *huffs, turns with her back to me, arms still waving*

Me: “Excuse me! Do you need a hand?”

Customer: *stomps feet, huffs, and sighs*

Me: “Hello! Ma’am!”

Customer: “Ridiculous!” *huffs and waves arms*


Customer: *turns and looks directly at me* “I guess I can just help myself to this gum here and walk off with it, if there’s no one here to help me or stop me. What are the self-service machines going to do? Stop me?”

Me: “Yeah… Please don’t steal the gum.”

Customer: “Well, who’s here to see it?”

Me: “Me… and the security cameras.”

Customer: “There is never anyone at the registers.”

Me: “I’m at the registers; I can put this through for you.”

Customer: “And how many registers were open before self-service?”

Me: “At 8:00 am? One. Always one.”

Customer: “Well, there’s no one here to help me, and I refuse to use self-service, so I guess I’m not allowed to buy these.” *leaves the pack of underpants on my register and walks off*

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