Slapping Some Sense Into Them

, , , , , , | Working | September 17, 2019

(Before our shift starts, we always have a thirty-minute meeting to make any announcements and do training. I’m sitting in front of a coworker who I know pretty well, since we do both of our weekly volunteer days together. As the supervisor’s making an announcement, she slaps me on the back of the neck.)

Coworker: “What did he say?”

Me: “He just explained the changes they’re making to the schedule. He’s handing out the new schedule at the end of the meeting.”

(A minute later, she slaps me again.)

Coworker: “But if we have a new schedule, when will it go into effect?”

Me: “He just said next week. If you listen, you’ll find all of this out.”

(Another minute later, someone else mentions an upcoming event that we can mention to tourists. I get slapped a third time, this time so she can ask if tickets are still available for the event. All of this is information that she could get if she just stopped smacking me and listened to the announcements. After the meeting…)

Me: “If you have questions, ask the people making the announcements. I don’t like being smacked every time you’re not paying attention.”

(She looks suddenly very sympathetic.)

Coworker: “I forgot. You don’t like being touched.”

Me: “Touching is fine. Slapping me to get my attention isn’t.”

Coworker: “Because you’re autistic.”

Me: *baffled* “I’ve never been autistic, but if I were, why would that be the only reason that I don’t like being slapped?”

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Did Not Volunteer For This Treatment

, , , , , | Working | July 4, 2019

(I volunteer at a miniature science museum during summer break, which is characterized by its “Mess Kits,” little boxes with science experiments for children in them. Volunteers work at the Mess Kit Desk and provide information or kits to anyone who comes up to it. The owner is rather lenient when it comes to phone usage during lulls in activity. I’m 16 and quite obviously autistic, as I tend to stim in public. One of the paid workers has been on my back for several months, constantly berating my work, speaking to me in an extremely condescending tone, and telling me that the way I speak and treat people is very rude. She screeches at me for drawing, reading, or checking my phone no matter the situation and has nearly brought me to tears several times. My brother and another volunteer are working at the desk with me in this story. My brother notices the painful lull, takes out his phone, and sits in front of the desk. The other volunteer glances up and looks back down at her phone. I finish sweeping, which was the only other job available, and sit on the floor behind the two since there’s no other chairs up front. I’m there for not even a minute when the paid employee walks up to the front of the desk.)

Paid Employee: “[My Name]! You need to stay off your phone! We’ve discussed this. Do I need to take it away?”

(I gape, as my brother and the other volunteer are in her direct line of sight on their phones and she has to strain to see me specifically, clearly singling me out.)

Me: “B-but…”

Paid Employee: “You need to learn to follow directions!”

(My brother’s phone is a foot away from her face.)

Me: “I j-just swept…”

Paid Employee: “Then find something else to do!” *leaves without saying a word to the two volunteers directly in front of her*

(I barely make it to the bathroom before I start crying, inconsolable, and my mother picks me up. My brother backs up my story, so she urges me to draft an email to the owner explaining the rude and condescending treatment I’ve suffered thanks to [Paid Employee]. The owner apologizes, saying she will speak to the employee about her behavior, but also suggests I just work shifts the employee doesn’t take. I work up the nerve to return as a volunteer, and to my luck, I see the rude employee about halfway into my shift.)

Brother: “Look out!”

Paid Employee: *blanches as soon as she sees me, quickly looks away, and rushes to finish her task!*

(She avoids me as much as I avoid her, now. I guess she really didn’t expect anyone to report her discrimination!)

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His Actions Were Far More Interesting Than His Story

, , , | Friendly | January 15, 2019

I am a committee member for a local writing group. The committee is fairly small, maybe 10 – 15 members including the chair and vice chair. We are all volunteers, so none of us get paid.

During our big annual writing competition, the committee pulls together to keep on top of the extra work it creates, including the influx of emails in the group inbox, as well as the general administration of the entries. We receive hundreds of entries every year so this is quite a hefty task, especially considering we all have day jobs and other various responsibilities to juggle as well.

Despite this, we usually have very few problems. One year, however, we had an entrant who was nothing but trouble. The day after emailing his entry, he contacted us, demanding to know why we hadn’t posted him a receipt to say we had received his story — all he got was an auto-reply email. For the record, all entrants receive an auto-reply. This acts as a receipt. The message in the auto-reply asks recipients to take it as such, and the website specifies this, too. That said, we’re always happy to respond to entrants who just want to double check or need extra reassurance.

Thinking this was such a case, I duly replied, assuring him that we had received his entry, and explained that we simply didn’t have the resources or manpower to offer personal receipt confirmations to every entrant. He replied almost immediately, threatening to withdraw his entry due to our “unprofessional behaviour.” According to him, email was unprofessional and lazy. How could he trust us to do our job right when we couldn’t even send a simple slip in the post?

I told him if he wanted to withdraw, that was fine; all he had to do was confirm and we would refund his entry fee, though I warned him he could only do so until the deadline. After that, he would no longer be entitled to a refund. I also explained we could only send confirmation by post if he provided us with a stamped self-addressed envelope. We’re a small, non-profit organisation, and small expenses like stamps can soon add up.

We didn’t hear anything more from him until the day of the results. He emailed us at four am demanding to know who had won. He pointed out that the website and social media pages said we would reveal the winners today, yet there was nothing on any of them.

I reminded him that the results would be announced today at 20:00 at our prize-giving gala, and then the results would be released online at 22:00. All of this information was available on our website and social media. I finished by inviting him to the gala, giving him the full details.

Unsatisfied with my answer, he continued to demand the results now. I knew he hadn’t won, but we were bound to secrecy until the official reveal at the gala. I couldn’t even hint that he had been unsuccessful. When I refused to tell him the results, he accused us of being a scam and threatened to report us. I didn’t have the patience to deal with him anymore, so I told him he was welcome to report us if he wished, knowing that even if he did, we had done everything by the book, so nothing would come of it.

Thankfully, he didn’t respond.

That evening, the gala went really well. Everyone had a great time. The winners were ecstatic, and those who didn’t win congratulated them graciously. Best of all, there was no sign of the difficult entrant.

The next morning, however, our inbox was full of emails from him, calling us scammers and shills. He claimed there was no way his entry could’ve lost, as he was a top graduate from [UK University known for its strong creative writing program] and had been published several times. He accused me of fiddling the results. As far as he was concerned, that was the only way his story could’ve lost. He demanded not only his entry fee back, but he also wanted the prize money that was “rightfully his,” as he put it.

This is when the committee chair stepped in. She told him she would not refund the entry fee because he didn’t win, that the results had not been tampered with or fixed, and that she most certainly would not give him any prize money. All entries were judged anonymously. The adjudicator had no idea who had written any of the stories submitted.

The entrant became nasty, hurling insults both at her and me – including questioning our competence due to our gender (we’re both female). The chair calmly wrote back and told him he was henceforth banned from future competitions.

The entrant then threatened to sue. This worried many of the committee members. A small non-profit like ourselves would struggle to afford legal action, but the chair dutifully wrote back, informing him he was free to seek legal advice if he wished. She assured him we would fully cooperate with his chosen legal representative, adding that we wouldn’t hesitate to provide ample evidence, including copies of the abusive emails he had sent.

In response, the entrant left several nasty reviews on various pages, claiming we had swindled him, were rude, unprofessional, and incompetent, as well as claiming we insulted him. He made up several fake accounts to make even more negative reviews.

We were worried this would impact future competitions. However, several members and entrants found out about this incident and immediately rallied to our defence, leaving shining reviews to combat his toxic ones. The following year, we received a record number of entries. Best of all, we didn’t hear from the entrant ever again.

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Volunteering Some Candid Advice

, , , , | Working | December 4, 2018

(My family is preparing for a party and needs some groceries from the nearby store. Outside there are volunteers out fundraising for a local charity. I often volunteer and like to take time talking to other people volunteering, but I am in a major rush today, so I walk past them. I think it is fine; they don’t say anything. On the way out, I bring my buggy to my car to drop off some heavier items, unload them, and then go to bring my buggy back to the corral next to the store. I am a young adult woman, and the volunteer in question is a much older man.)

Volunteer: “Hi there! Would you be interested in talking about [Charity]?”

Me: “I’m very sorry, but I’m actually in a big rush today. Good luck!”

Volunteer: *trying to block me and push flyer at me* “But it will only take a minute. I’m sure you have time.”

(I get around the volunteer, but he keeps following me, making me rather uncomfortable.)

Me: “I’m sorry, but I really have to—”

Volunteer: “Oh, come on. It’ll only take a minute.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir. No!”

(I finally get to my car door and manage to pull around him to leave the parking lot. A few more hours into party prep, my family finds out we need one last thing from the store. I am dreading going back. Lo and behold, the volunteers are still there, including the older man.)

Volunteer: “Aww! You’re back! I bet you missed me, didn’t you?” *winks at me*

(I have had enough. Not only does he seem desperate, but he’s being creepy, too. I let him have it in front of everyone.)

Me: “No, sir, I didn’t miss you. And a word of advice: young girls do not like it when creepy, strange, old men follow them to their cars!”

(The man looked quite sheepish, and all the other volunteers avoided me when I left. I felt a bit bad, but what a creep!)

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His Argument Is Getting Week-er

, , , , | Right | October 22, 2018

(The YMCA where I volunteer switched from swiping cards to scanning them in March. As the machine we used to swipe the cards is attached to the front desk, we cover it in duct tape so that members will refrain from using it. It is now August.)

Me: “Good morning!”

(The member ignores me and gets out his wallet to find his card. After taking a few minutes to find his card, he attempts to swipe it over the duct tape.)

Me: “You can actually just scan your card over here, sir.”

(I gesture to the scanner, but the member continues to ignore me.)

Me: “Excuse me, sir, but we no longer swipe the cards; we have switched to the scanner.”

(I gesture to the scanner once more and the member finally takes notice of me.)

Member: “Why can’t I swipe my card?”

Me: “We have switched over to this scanner.”

Member: “When did that happen?”

Me: “We actually switched over a couple of months ago.”

Member: “I swiped my card last week!”

(I know this is not possible, as the swipe machine no longer works and has not for months.)

Me: “Okay… Here, let me do this for you.”

(I take the card from the member, scan it, and let him into the facility.)

Coworker: “He does this every week!”

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