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I’d Be Grim, Too, With A Name Like That

, , , , , | Right | October 12, 2018

(At our store, you can look up a customer’s account using their name and some other details to save their purchase or receipt. A woman storms into the shop and up to the counter — I guess already not satisfied by something outside the store — with a grim look on her face, and buys a pack of batteries.)

Customer: “Kneel down!”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Customer: *even louder* “KNEEL DOWN!”

(My coworkers and I look all confused, as we have no idea what to do.)

Customer: *loud and slowly* “MY NAME! KNEEEEEL DOOOOOOWN!”

(Her name… I looked it up for her purchase. Her name was Ms. Kneeldown.)

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A Deliciously Sweet Slice Of Karma

, , , , , , | Working | September 4, 2018

In Austria, some professions can only be done by someone who finished a “Lehre,” an apprenticeship that lasts two or three years and includes school. Most people start their Lehre when they’re about 15 or 16, but it’s not unheard of to have people in their 20s do an apprenticeship; surprise, surprise, not everybody knows what they want to be when they’re 15.

When I was 22, I decided I wanted to become a “Konditor” — a pastry chef — a job you can only do with an apprenticeship.

I started late into the application game, so most bakeries had already hired their apprentices for the year. I looked towards supermarket bakeries then — not ideal, but a start.

Things already started out bad, when I had my phone interview and the store manager outright laughed at me for being “old.” But I was desperate to not waste another year, so I took the job.

At first the other workers seemed friendly enough, but on the second day — on which the store manager left on a month-long vacation — everything went to s***.

Let me just list a few of the things that happened:

– My coworkers smoked in the kitchen, including my “teacher” and the bakery manager

– My “teacher” constantly complained that she shouldn’t have to teach me and would switch to talking in Turkish when she’d decided I had asked too many questions.

– I was the only Austrian person there, so my coworkers constantly had conversations in languages I didn’t understand. Judging from the looks they gave me and the way they laughed, I’m guessing some of those conversations were about me.

– They were also the biggest bunch of racists, constantly making fun of Asian shoppers and going as far to say that all Asians should be killed.

– When fruit on cakes started growing mold, my “teacher” would just pick them off, put on fresh fruit, print out a new expiration date, and put it back on the shelves. And if cakes expired, she would make Punschkrapfen out of them — basically you just crumble the cakes, add alcohol, and then glaze.

– I was only allowed to go home after my “teacher,” and after I had cleaned up the entire bakery section by myself. The only problem was that I sometimes only knew that I was allowed to start cleaning, when I saw my “teacher” shopping in the store, out of her uniform. Since she liked randomly disappearing during the day, I never knew if she was taking another break or if she had gone home.

– The dishwasher was broken, even after someone came to fix it. I told the bakery manager how everything in the dishwasher was still dirty, and she told me in the most condescending tone, “Of course everything is still dirty. You need hands to scrub those pans clean; do you think a dishwasher has hands?”

– My “teacher” always complained how I was too lazy for cleaning and that the store had never been this filthy before… which is pretty interesting, because the first time I cleaned, I found a box of opened donuts that had expired a month before I had even started the job, below one of the tables. And a half-empty nail polish bottle, among other things.

– The bakery department was constantly in the red, so my “teacher” decided the best way to fix this was to just not write down all the ingredients she took from other departments, and if it got out, to just blame it on me.

When the store manager came back, he talked to my “teacher” and the bakery manager about my performance, and when he came to talk to me, I was immediately let go. He said I clearly wasn’t cut out for the job, being all antisocial and never joining any conversations — which is quite hard, if you don’t know the language, but okay — always complaining about cleaning — I didn’t — and not wanting to bake. In my month there, I was allowed to actually bake maybe two or three times in total; I would have loved to get to bake.

I was, of course, rather upset about the whole thing, but things were looking up, because another branch of the same store said they’d consider taking me. So, with my hopes up, I went to the other store for an interview… only to be told that while they’d love to take me, they couldn’t, because the person who was in charge of apprenticeship applications for all the stores had refused. In the same conversation, I also found out said person was the boyfriend of my former bakery manager.

But the story has a happy ending… kind of.

I sadly gave up on being a pastry chef, but one day when I was complaining to friends about the whole thing, another friend of theirs was present, who happened to be a health and safety inspector. Now, I do not know if it was his doing, but a short time later, I heard that everybody in the bakery section of that branch had been fired. Serves them right.

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Stand Up For Their Need To Sit Down

, , , , | Friendly | July 20, 2018

(I buy a new screen for my PC and then find a free seat on the subway to sit down, holding the package vertically on my lap. The subway fills up quickly, until an older lady stands beside me with no place to sit down. Despite the weight of the screen, I offer her the seat and try to stand up… when suddenly she slaps the top of the package and forces me back into the seat. Startled, I look at her for a second, until she says:)

Woman: “I’m not that old to be offered a seat; don’t you dare to stand up. Wait at least ten years to try that again.”

(Well… Okay, then.)

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It Started A Long Time Ago, In A Conversation Far, Far Away

, , , , , | Right | June 11, 2018

(I am working at a movie theater taking tickets while a very popular space movie is out. Sometimes we get people asking what time a movie might end because they are picking someone up.)

Customer: “What time does [Movie] end?”

Me: “What time did it start?”

Customer: *not paying attention* “[Movie].”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, what time did [Movie] start?”

Customer: *getting aggravated now* “The [Movie]. When does it end?”

Me: “I know, ma’am, but I need to know what time it started to tell you when it ends.”

Customer: “Why? Can’t you see it on there?”

Me: “Yes, but I need to know when, because we have had different showings all day.”

Customer: *starting to raise her voice* “Oh, come on. How many showings have you had?”

Me: “Currently, out of the fifteen auditoriums in this theater, five of them have been showing [Movie], and each of them have shown this movie at least four times so far today. So, what time did the movie start?”

Customer: “Oh. Well, it started at [time].”

Me: *long sigh*

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Cultural Stereotypes Are On The Menu

, , , , , | Working | March 8, 2018

My family and I are visiting Europe and Armenia over summer, and while in Vienna, we stop for dinner at a tavern. The waiter brings us the German menu, which is about the size of a ruler, but folds out. The German shouldn’t be a problem since my sister and I both speak German, but since we both learned high German, the menu in Austrian German makes less sense.

We ask the waiter for an English menu, and he goes off to get one. He comes back a few seconds later with a huge menu, complete with pictures and descriptions. We all burst out laughing as the waiter walks off.

I guess they do think Americans are stupid.

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