You Just Can’t Count On Some People

, , , , , | Working | September 15, 2020

I’ve just returned home after three years of college, and I go back to the youth club I used to volunteer with. Things have changed a lot since I was here last, and since I used to be in charge of kitchen/sales, it’s only natural for me to step into that my first night back. Because we meet on Fridays, we sell, among other things, a large variety of candy.

It’s the end of the night and we’re packing up. I’m looking over the price list when the guy in charge of procurement — an old classmate and friend of mine — comes in. The real prices are in Norwegian Kroner, so the prices stated are just a rough estimate.

Friend: “You look puzzled, [My Name].”

Me: “What? Oh, no, I was just checking the price list.”

Friend: “Yeah, some of the prices are a little weird, I know.”

Me: “Yeah, why are we selling [candy bar #1] for $1.33? And [candy bar #2] for $1.56? Wouldn’t it be easier to keep it an even number? I mean, you’ve always complained about being left with so much small change at the end of the day.”

Friend: “I know, but I thought we should keep the prices close to the local stores’. I actually got the [candy bar #1]s on sale, two for a dollar.”

Me: “So, why not sell them for a dollar, then? And [candy bar #2] sells for over two dollars in some stores, so you could sell those for $1.90 or something to make up for the difference.”

Friend: “What?”

He seems really confused at this point, and I find myself actually talking slower.

Me: *Sighs* “If you paid one dollar for two bars, you essentially bought one bar for fifty cents, right? So, if you sell one bar for a dollar, you’ve made fifty cents. I can see why you’d want to try and price-match with the stores, and you could potentially make a few extra bucks a week, but if you’re offering the kids the same deal as the stores, what’s stopping them from buying in there instead of here?”

He didn’t have a good answer for that and seemed genuinely confused about the whole thing. He’s twenty-four and works at a grocery store, yet simple math still escapes him. He even suggested I use a calculator during sales, because counting is apparently difficult.

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Stuff It, Toilet (Attendant)!

, , , , , , | Working | April 14, 2020

(I am working as a volunteer at an event; we only deal with entertaining or guiding the public. I need to use the bathroom and, on entering a cubicle, I find the toilet completely clogged. People have kept using it even though it was obviously blocked. I pull the door shut and lock the door using a coin. Afterward, I go in search of the attendant. I find her chatting to a male dressed in the same uniform at the entry to the bathrooms. They are not discussing work.)

Me: “Uh, excuse me, I just wanted to let you know that one of the toilets is blocked and that I…”

Attendant: “Go away, leave me alone. I don’t need to be told that every thirty seconds “

Me: “What the h***? I was just trying to tell you that I lo–“

Attendant: *cuts me off again* “I told you to get away from me. I don’t need to be told every thirty seconds.”

(The man is looking on, open-mouthed.)

Me: “As if it’s obvious that I can see that you’ve been told by anyone! I’m sorry I disturbed your conversation about what you are having for dinner.” *turns and starts walking off before turning around* “Oh, what I was trying to tell you was that I locked the door, and I was going to tell you which one, but now you can just find it for yourself.”

(This means that she has forty cubicles to check as the doors go all the way to the floor and up to the ceiling. About an hour later, one of my fellow volunteers comes in.)

Volunteer: “I’ve been asked by one of the toilet cleaners to let one of our volunteers know how sorry she is for being rude to her. How am I going to work out who that is?”

Me: “Yeah, that was me.”

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Kinky Medical Equipment?

, , , , | Working | April 8, 2020

(Dutch has a couple of vowel sounds which may sound similar to a foreigner, but to us are distinctly different, like [ship] and [sheep], for example. I’m volunteering for a dance festival which draws an international crowd, and I get talking — in English — with a Polish volunteer. She tells me she knows some Dutch words like [good morning], [bread], [cheese], and [goodbye]. Oh, and also [word #1].)

Me: “Why did you learn that word?”

Volunteer: “Well, I used to work for [Electronics], which is a Dutch company.”

Me: “You must have had interesting coworkers.”

Volunteer: “No, it’s because of all the medical equipment.”

Me: “Um… I’m not sure I understand?”

Volunteer: “Well, I worked in the finance department.”

Me: *blank look*

Volunteer: “A lot of that stuff is big and expensive, like CAT-Scans”

Me: “I really don’t see the connection.”

Volunteer: “Well, we would rent them out and I would see the bills which were sometimes in Dutch.”

Me: *very long pause* “Oh, hang on! Did you mean [word #2]?! Which means ‘rent’?”

Volunteer: “Yes! [Word#1]!”

(I’m starting to crack up.)

Volunteer: “Wait, what did you think I said?”

Me: “[Word #2] means ‘rent’. You pronounced it like [word #1] which means–” *cough* “–’person who provides adult services’!”

(She turned a bit red but could laugh about it. The next day I was with some friends of hers and we ended up giving each other short lessons in language to prevent further confusion.)

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Paperwork Is Too Much Work

, , , , , , | Working | March 25, 2020

(I am a volunteer working directly with the Administrative Manager of Volunteer Services for a non-profit. One of the things I have to do is double-check that every prospective volunteer’s paperwork is completed before they are activated. I come across one file that is… special. It is marked, “Rejected: Not a Good Fit,” by the assistant manager. Curious to see why the file was rejected — and to make sure the appropriate notes were made as to why this volunteer was rejected — I open the file and am soon reading it out loud to my manager. This is a summary of printed emails between the prospective volunteer and the assistant administrative manager:)

Administrative Manager: “[Prospective Volunteer], just about everything is ready except for your references. You didn’t fill out the form.”

Prospective Volunteer: “Oh, it’s [Reference #1], [Address #1], and [Reference #2], [Address #2].”

Administrative Manager: “[Prospective Volunteer], we sent out the surveys and both came back as not residing in those locations. We need their current addresses to send the surveys to.”

Prospective Volunteer: “Okay, well, here are their phone numbers. Just call them up and ask for their new locations. [Phone numbers].”

Administrative Manager: “[Prospective Volunteer], as they are your references, you need to contact them yourself and get their information. Their current information is supposed to be on the form we gave you to fill out.”

Prospective Volunteer: “I already sent you their phone number, so you can just call them for the relevant information. Thanks.”

Administrative Manager: “[Prospective Volunteer], it is not our responsibility to fill out your paperwork for you. It is yours. If you do not supply us with the information, we cannot activate you as a volunteer.”

Prospective Volunteer: “Well, I sent you their phone numbers, and it should only take a quick phone call, so I don’t know what the problem is. I’m doing you a favor by trying to volunteer my time to your charity. I even did you the favor of calling them and telling them to expect a phone call from you soon.”

Administrative Manager: “[Prospective Volunteer], that is not how this works. We require you to fill out all of the paperwork yourself. Since you are refusing to do the minimum work required, we will not be needing your assistance with our charity. I will be deactivating your file.”

Me: *to manager* “Soooo, this volunteer literally called them to tell them to expect a phone call from our office, but refused to ask for their addresses herself while actually on the phone with these people?”

Manager: *sighing* “I wish I could tell you this is the first time someone expected us to fill out their paperwork for them but… Well, welcome to my world.”

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The Film With No Name

, , , | Working | January 29, 2020

(I am deployed as a worker with a disaster response non-government organization to the site of a recent hurricane. Two of my fellow volunteers have stopped unloading trucks long enough to get some bottled water and sit down for a few minutes. Mind you, it’s day four of the emergency and everyone is exhausted from the extreme heat, humidity, and 14-hour workdays.)

Volunteer #1: *out of the blue* “Did you ever see that Clint Eastwood movie?”

Volunteer #2: “Which one?”

Volunteer #1: “That one where he was in the war.”

Volunteer #2: *after a pause* “I think you need to lie down for a bit.”

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