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Sorry, Mom, That Snot Happening

, , , , , , , | Right | May 16, 2022

Every year, my dad volunteers at our church’s annual summer camp for kids. On the last day of camp, they always have a big party with snow cones. Dad always volunteers to run the snow cone table.

One of the kids’ mothers is also a volunteer, and a real Helicopter Mom. Her young daughter is a little bit hyperactive and excitable. Since Helicopter Mom seems to get most of her medical advice from blogs instead of pediatricians, she’s decided that certain food additives and sweeteners are the cause of her daughter’s high energy. All camp, she’s been bringing in special snacks for her daughter, which isn’t a problem at all. Before the traditional snow cone party, Helicopter Mom announces that she is going to bring in a special syrup for her daughter since all of the snow cone flavors have artificial colors in them.

On the day of the party, Helicopter Mom shows up with a milk jug half-full of some weird homemade concoction made of corn syrup, water, and some combination of “all-natural” flavors. It’s viscous and thick, with chalky streaks of light yellow and green. Gross, but, no problem, thinks Dad; he can keep the kid’s special syrup in a little squirt bottle and set it off to the side.

Nope! Helicopter Mom doesn’t want her daughter’s special snow cone flavor in a separate bottle lest she feel singled out and discriminated! She instead takes a nearly-full jug of root beer flavor and dumps it all down the sink. She fills the pump jug with her homemade syrup and gives it to Dad. 

Later, during the party, the kids are lining up for their snow cones and telling the Dad what flavors they want. Dad’s been struggling about what to call the Mystery Syrup until he gets an inspiration:

Kid: “What flavors do you have?”

Dad: “Well, we have cherry, grape, blue raspberry…”

Kid: *Pointing at the homemade syrup* “What’s that one?”

Dad: “Uh… that’s… um… ELEPHANT SNOT!”

Kid: “EEEEEEEWWWWW!”

Dad then pumps an amount onto his gloved hand. It shoots a big, gooey glop out with a coughing sound. He squeezes it out of his fingers, and it drips out in long, sticky strings. The kids are delighted!

Dad: “EEEEEEW!

Multiple Kids: *Laughing and shrieking* “EWWWWWWW!”

Kid: “I want elephant snot!”

Dad gleefully pumps the homemade syrup onto the snow cone. The syrup spreads over the top and oozes over the ice.

Dad: “Here you go! One elephant snot snow cone!”

All The Kids: “EWWWWWWW!”

Dad had a hit! About every tenth kid asked for the elephant snot flavor, and each time, he cried out, “Elephant snot?! Ewwwwwww!” as he pumped it out. The kids who ordered it were loving all the attention they were getting from their grossed-out friends as they gleefully ate their “elephant snot” snow cones.

Everything was going great until Helicopter Mom’s group showed up with her daughter in tow. She was FURIOUS when she heard Dad call her homemade syrup “Elephant Snot.” She stormed off to complain to the pastor as dad served the kids (including a snow cone for the daughter) but Dad didn’t hear the conversation. Later, the pastor pulled Dad aside. Luckily, he had a great sense of humor about the whole debacle, but he respectfully asked Dad not to refer to the syrup as the mucus of a large mammal. Dad laughingly agreed.

Later, the Helicopter Mom was able to get her daughter some medical treatment for her daughter’s undiagnosed ADHD and loosened up quite a bit about her daughter’s snacks. We’ve not had a summer camp at the church since, but I’m wondering if elephant snot will be offered at the next snow cone party!

Thanks For Volunteering Your Gross Opinions

, , , | Right | April 5, 2022

I was hanging clothes, and a very nice regular came up and asked me about whether a place we had formerly lived was more or less racist than here. It was a perfectly nice discussion, mind you.

Me: “People choose different groups to be racist about in different places.”

Another customer broke into the conversation.

Customer: *Proudly* “You’re right! My people absolutely hate Mexicans!”

She went on and on. I started to walk away and she complained about that, so I stopped.

Me: “I’m a volunteer. I don’t have to listen to your racist crap just to keep my job. They’d rather have me here than you.”

We didn’t have to throw her out. She stomped out, all pissed that we weren’t a captive audience like paid workers who need their jobs.

Tea For Tea Towels

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | March 25, 2022

When the health crisis started, the National Health Service set up a volunteer responder scheme, so people could help those in need — mostly with things like grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions for those asked by their doctors to shelter and those isolating or in quarantine. The prescriptions are often free; for everything else, we arrange payment.

I call a man and see if there is anything he needs. The only thing he is short of is tea (dish) towels. It’s an unusual request, but I can do it when I am shopping anyway, so I say yes. Knowing that these people are usually on a fixed income, I say that if I can get a packet of three for £5 or better, I will buy them, and he agrees.

I manage to do better; I find a pack of four beautiful tea towels for £5. Bargain! I buy them and give him a call to let him know I am on my way. I confirm he has £5 to pay me. There is no misunderstanding.

I arrive, and he comes outside to greet me.

Me: “Here are the tea towels. Are they okay?”

Man: “That’s great, thank you! Do you like tea?”

Me: *Taken aback* “Yes, I guess.”

He handed me a packet of teabags. They were cheap ones, and the packet was opened but had been resealed by the white paper sticker. The packet had a greasy feel like it had been near a cooktop for months. It had the price printed on the packet: £1.59. I did not want this, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I took it. I assumed it was a gift to thank me for my effort.

I awaited being paid the amount we’d agreed on. There was a long, awkward pause as I stared at him, eyes widening as he made no move to pay me. Finally, he realised that I was not bartering £5 worth of tea towels for rubbish, and he pulled the £5 out of his pocket. The tea bags went in the first litter bin I passed.

You Shouldn’t Volunteer That Information

, , , , | Right | March 11, 2022

I count myself very lucky to have retired very early in life. I spend a lot of my time with family, in the garden, and volunteering.

I get a lot of odd looks from the other volunteers who are much older than me or otherwise unable to work. No one has ever said anything. I can only assume they think I am either rich — I am not, my house is paid and I have just enough to live modestly — or lazy.

I treat it as a job. I’m the first one there, and I’m always busy or finding something to do. I try to act professionally and courteously to the customers. It’s just who I am and what I am used to.

One of the regulars comes up to me.

Regular: “You know what? We are always so happy to see you serving. You know all the prices and we never have any issue with you.”

Me: “Thank you. I enjoy it here and I like to be good at what I do.”

Regular: “I do wonder why you’re not the manager. Or why you don’t have a real job.”

Me: “Er… I retired, some time ago actually. I had a job, but I don’t need to work as I did back then.”

Regular: “But I’ve seen you up and down those aisles, checking on things, showing the others what to do. You could be put there doing something.”

Me: “I am doing something; the work [Charity] does is important and I enjoy it.”

Regular: “No, no, no. You should have a proper job — a man your age. Not just stood around behind a counter. Do something more like a real job. You don’t even know what work is!”

I was the best worker a few seconds ago, and now my job isn’t even real.

Me: “I did have a real job. I built my company from the ground up and hired dozens of people. I worked late nights, early mornings, and long days. But it was all a success. I sold it, paid my mortgage, and retired. I know what real work is and I’ve been there done that. I’ve already made my money, so that’s why I’m here.”

The regular is silent for some time.

Regular: “So… can I have this for free, as you have all this money?”

I tried to explain that no, my money is not the charity’s money, nor would I buy him anything. And no, my coworker wouldn’t buy it for him, either. He kept coming back and would occasionally say something stupid. Luckily, I could just avoid him, and as a volunteer, I wouldn’t get into any trouble.

The Cop Car Needs An Ambulance And The Lieutenant Needs To Chill

, , , , , , , | Legal | November 19, 2021

I used to volunteer with my township’s all-volunteer first aid squad. For overnight calls from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am, we responded by pager from our homes. I had a quick five-minute drive to the squad building where I picked up an ambulance and a partner before heading to a call for help.

One morning at 3:00 am, my pager sounded with a call for CPR in progress. I drove quickly (but safely) to the squad building and then headed by ambulance with my partner to the home of the patient. There was an extra sense of urgency due to the nature of the call, but I drove safely and legally.

Upon arrival at the house, I noticed a police car parked on the street in front of the house; it was standard practice in the town for police to respond to every first aid call. My intention was to pull in front of the police car and park along the curb. I slowed and started the maneuver. All of a sudden, I heard a loud crunch and scraping and felt the ambulance rock. I had hit the police car!

I pulled up and parked. There was nothing to do about the accident right then. We had a patient to attend to. As we entered the house with our equipment, however, the police informed us that the patient had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order so CPR had never actually been started. We had to wrap up some paperwork issues and were soon ready to leave. It was then that I approached the officer.

Me: “Hey, [Officer], I hate to have to tell you this. I hit your police car. I’m so sorry. It’s pretty bad.”

The officer and I went out to look. I had heavily damaged the front driver’s side of the vehicle. The tire was pointed perpendicular to the car and the fender was completely smashed in. The ambulance had a gouge down the back half of the passenger side. The scene was a mess.

Officer: “All right, accidents happen. I’ll call my lieutenant and we’ll make an accident report.”

Me: “I can’t believe I did this. I’m so very sorry. I’ve been a member of [Squad] for thirteen years. I’ve been driving for twenty-eight years and I’ve never been in an accident where I was at fault.”

The lieutenant on duty arrived and I explained what happened as best I could. To this day, I still don’t really know how I did it. Obviously, I was too close. But it didn’t seem that way to me as I was pulling in. It shook my confidence in driving. I was very embarrassed.

I was too shaken up to go to work that day, so I took the day off. Somewhere around mid-morning, my doorbell rang. It was the lieutenant.

Lieutenant: “Hi, [My Name]. I had to issue this ticket to you for careless driving. I’m required to do so for insurance purposes.”

Me: “No, you’re not. I’m a licensed insurance agent. I deal with claims all the time. There isn’t an insurance company in the state that requires a ticket to be issued in order to pay on a claim.”

Lieutenant: “Well, it’s been written. Here you go.”

I was angry. I knew the ticket involved points on my license and would cause my insurance premium to rise. I knew the lieutenant only by sight, as he didn’t answer first aid calls. He certainly didn’t know me, but he must have looked up my driving record and seen that I didn’t have any at-fault accidents and not even as much as a parking ticket in my life.

A few days later, at the scene of another first aid call, the responding sergeant approached me.

Sergeant: “Hey, [My Name], I heard about what happened. Did [Lieutenant] actually issue you a ticket for careless driving?”

Me: “Yes, he did.”

Sergeant: “That’s bulls***. The whole department is talking about it and we all agree. Do you have a court date?”

Me: “Yes, it’s scheduled for [date and time].”

Sergeant: “Great, I’m on duty that date. Here, take my cell number. When you go, speak to the district attorney. I know him. Tell him I want to talk to him.”

Me: “Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.”

On the day of court, I arrived and got in line to speak with the DA. I explained the circumstances of the accident. I also gave him [Sergeant]’s phone number and told him that [Sergeant] wanted to speak with him.

DA: “Wait a minute. Let me get this right. You were volunteering your time in the middle of the night for the first aid squad when this happened? And [Lieutenant] still issued you a ticket?”

Me: “Yes.”

DA: “How fast were you going at the time?”

Me: “Well, I was on a residential street and I was pulling in to park along the curb. I couldn’t have been going any faster than five miles per hour.”

DA: “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I don’t even need to speak with [Sergeant]. You don’t deserve a careless driving charge on your record. I’m lowering the charge to impeding the flow of traffic. It’s a no-point ticket and the fine is only [low amount] instead of [much higher amount]. And I’m going to talk to [Police Chief]. He’ll have a chat with [Lieutenant].”

Me: “Thank you so much!”

And so it was. I plead guilty to the lower charge and paid the small fine. I was an apprehensive driver for some time after that. Since I didn’t know exactly what I had done wrong in causing the accident, I didn’t know what it was that I should be doing differently. Luckily, it’s now ten years later, and I haven’t had any at-fault mishaps.