Freebies Aren’t Free

, , , | Right | September 10, 2018

(I annually volunteer to run a shop for a charity when they have a stall at a country and outdoor fair. This isn’t by any means a ‘professional’ shop; the charity corporate sends items and prices and I set up the shop and basically watch that nothing gets stolen. The bulk of our stock is promotional leaflets and informative things, but also free badges, lanyards, magazines, and kid’s activity books. Most of the items we sell are also promotional or charity endorsed, such as bronze badges and DVDs. All of the funds go back to the charity. A family are milling around my table: a couple of kids, their mother, and their grandfather.)

Me: “Please feel free to help yourself to the things on that table. Would your kids like a badge each, perhaps?”

Guest: “Oh, great!”

(They gather round the table and help themselves, mostly to badges and kid’s activity books. I don’t mind the badges — corporate sent hundreds — but we don’t have that many kid’s activity books and I’m watching a good chunk of them disappear when I’ve still got a good two days of running the stall. But, I realise that I can’t really fault them because I told them to help themselves!)

Guest: *holding up lanyard* “Is this free, too?”

Me: *smiling, not knowing what else to say* “Yep!”

Guest: “Great.” *proceeds to pass one out to all her family members*

Daughter: *looking at the gilt lapel badges for sale* “Can I get one of these?”

Guest: “A pin!” *to me* “Oh, she wants to be like her granddad; he’s a [Charity] member!” *calling* “Grandad come look at this!”

Grandad: “Ah, I’ve got one like that!” *to Daughter* “Tell her that your granddad’s a member, and you get a discount!” *laughs*

Me: *smiling, knowing most of our customers are also members and HQ would have my skin if the money-box came back short* “That’ll be £4.60 for you today, please.”

Daughter: *gets the money out of her own pocket and is very polite* “Thanks!”

Me: “Thank you! Enjoy your day!”

(They leave, I restock my very depleted freebie table and think that’s that. They weren’t exactly the worst possible customers. Then, an hour or so later, the whole troupe spills back into the stall.)

Grandad: “She’s lost her badge. We were up at the archery.”

Me: “Oh… I’m sorry to hear that.”

Grandad: *tugging at the one I have pinned down on the table* “Yes, she wants another one.”

Me: “We still have several here under the table, I’ll just get you a new one.” *I do* “£4.60 please.”

Guest: “Didn’t you hear? She lost it.”

Me: “I understand; that’s very unfortunate. I’m really sorry, but I can’t give you a replacement for free.”

Grandad: *irate* “But she lost—”

Older Volunteer: “Is everything okay here?”

Grandad: *quickly thrusting a five pound note in my direction* “Fine, fine. The wee lassie here was just seeing if you’d any more badges in stock!”

Me: “And here’s your change. Thanks again!”

(They did leave for good after that, but not before taking another handful of lanyards and buttons!)

They’re All American Idiots

, , , , | Working | July 23, 2018

I just started a new voluntary job and am being shown around before going to talk to the manager about my application form; I missed a page by accident. While being shown around, I am introduced to the cashier, who seems like a nice old lady. She immediately begins questioning my accent.

I have autism, and my autism has given me a strong American accent, despite being English. I explain this as clearly as I can, and she nods happily, returning to work, so I go to the meeting without a second thought. I have this conversation a lot. It’s kind of sad how everyone asks the exact same questions, honestly

When I finish the meeting, I start working. After a while, the assistant manager walks over and asks why an American on holiday is volunteering.

The cashier told my new coworkers and any regulars in the store that I was an American on holiday and was saying I was English because I was embarrassed about my “American heritage.”

I have no memory of what followed, since I think I had a minor meltdown, but apparently the manager ended up having a “long talk” with the cashier and bought me chocolates as an apology, and the assistant manager set it up so I was working as far away from the cashier as possible.

Regulars still don’t believe me when I explain I’m English and reassure me I have nothing to be ashamed of.

No So Street(sign) Smart

, , , , , , , | Legal | June 28, 2018

(My husband works for a volunteer organization that builds homes for people in need. They have a lot of problems with a neighbor who doesn’t want any of their trucks parked — legally — on the public street in front of his house. Despite the fact that he has a long driveway and a garage, he has somehow found a way to put up “No Parking” signs on his side of the street AND the opposite side of the street.)

Volunteer: “Wow, that was a long walk! I had to park all the way down the block and walk here.”

Husband: “Yeah… The neighbor across the street put up these ‘No Parking’ signs, so we are trying to work around it, even though we have to lug all of this construction equipment down the street.”

Volunteer: “Seriously?” *she inspects a sign, and makes a quick phone call* “These are not regulation signs.”

Husband: “What?”

Volunteer: “I work for the county office. The city has to put those up, and there is no record a ‘No Parking’ sign on this street.”

(She then proceeds to call the non-emergency police phone number, and by lunch an officer comes by to write him a ticket and to take the signs down.)

Neighbor: “I don’t want to look at those f****** trucks all day! You can’t make me take my signs down!”

Officer: “Sir, you can either take the signs down, or I can take them down and take you to the station.”

(Eventually, the neighbor took the signs down, glaring at the volunteers the whole time. I feel sorry for the family that will eventually have to put up with this guy!)

Katrina Ain’t Got Nothing On Me

, , , , | Hopeless | June 27, 2018

(I’m volunteering in a shelter after Hurricane Katrina. One of the residents is a frail, elderly woman; she is all alone and possibly suffering from dementia. She is barely able to tell the medical staff her name, and any paperwork and records were lost when she was evacuated a second time — before Hurricane Rita hit, many shelters housing Katrina evacuees were moved because they were in the path of the second hurricane. I just happen to be getting a cup of coffee in the staff room when the medical officer is lamenting to the shelter manager that they are getting nowhere trying to find her family.)

Me: “Are you talking about Mrs. [Common Last Name]?”

Doctor: “Yes. Nobody seems to know anything about her except that another resident thinks she may be from [Mid-Sized Town on the coast].”

(Like me, the doctor is from a major city, but I now live in a fairly rural area. I have an idea and Google [Mid-Sized Town]’s City Hall. The receptionist at City Hall doesn’t know our lost lady, but she gives me the number to the local senior services office. The woman who answers the phone there almost screams when I tell her my errand.)

Woman: “You have Mrs. [Common Last Name]? My Lord, her son is frantic! She’s been missing for almost two weeks!”

Doctor: *somewhat later* “What an incredible piece of luck, that woman knowing Mrs. [Common Last Name]. What if she hadn’t?”

Me: “Then I would have started calling every single church in [Mid-Sized Town] until I found someone who did.”

(I’m not exactly Sherlock Holmes; you just have to know where to look.)

Unlocked Their Humor

, , , , , , | Working | June 26, 2018

I volunteer at a nearby hospital. My position is mainly front-desk, which means when visitors come in to see a patient, they have to get a visitor badge from me or the other volunteer. The badges have to show the visitors’ names, destination, time they checked in with the front desk, picture, etc.

The pictures come out a lot darker than expected, almost as silhouettes. Every time someone makes a comment like, “Why is my picture so dark?” or, “How come it looks like this?” I tell them, “I don’t know why it makes everyone look like a locked video game character.”

After that, the visitors leave the front desk and go to see their patient while laughing and carrying a smile on their face.

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