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He’s Slow In Many Other Ways

, , , , | Right | August 20, 2021

I grew up in Minnesota. We get some pretty bad winters, and most people learn to drive slowly and carefully when the road is bad. Then, there are the people I meet working as a tow truck driver. Here’s one example.

I’m in my personal vehicle, heading to the garage for work early in the morning. It’s still dark out, and we’ve had about eight inches of wet, heavy, EXTREMELY slippery snowfall overnight, with more snow falling. 

I’m in a chain of cars, all going about twenty miles per hour on a highway with a speed limit of sixty. We get to a straight stretch of road, and I see one set of headlights behind me pull into the other lane and start gaining — fast. A bright red, lifted, souped-up pickup truck flies past me and about eight other cars before darting back into line at the next corner. When we get to the next straight stretch, I watch the truck pull out and speed past a few more cars, until he gets to the front of the line and speeds off into the distance.

It comes as no surprise when, a few miles farther down the highway, I see a familiar bright red, lifted, souped-up pickup truck in the ditch.

I get to the garage, and my dispatcher tells me I have a job waiting for me on the highway I just drove in on. I tell him I know exactly who he’s talking about, and we share a laugh over the story before I get in my tow truck and head back down the highway.

When I get back to the bright red pickup, tow truck lights flashing, the driver jumps out of the truck and walks over, seemingly very agitated.

Driver: “Took you long enough!”

Me: “Yep. Conditions aren’t too great. Can’t risk putting the tow truck in the ditch, because that one would not be a fun story to tell the boss. So, what happened? Is there any damage I need to know about before I hook up?”

Driver: “No, I just slid. I don’t know how you all drive up here with this snow.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Driver: “Nobody goes the speed limit or anything. I had to pass cars everywhere because everyone was going so slow. That’s what caused me to spin; I tried to change lanes to pass someone and spun.”

Me: “Well, look at it this way. How many of those other cars did you see in the ditch?”

Driver: “But…”

Me: “I’ll be straight with you. I was one of those cars you passed, on my way into the garage. Then, I passed you again after you hit the ditch.”

Driver: “…”

Me: “Why do you think we were all going so slow?”

The driver finally lost his aggressiveness and was pretty sheepish for the rest of the interaction. Fortunately for him, there was no damage to his pickup — only to his ego!

Shaken, Stirred, And Silenced

, , , , | Learning | July 22, 2021

High schools are noisy places, especially at lunchtime. It is in the early summer of 2011, soon after the huge earthquake in northeastern Japan. We are a ways south of where it happened but still well in earthquake country, which is mostly all of Japan. 

I’m walking down the main hallway during lunch. The hallway and classrooms are bursting with noise as 800 students all try to talk over each other. It is really quite deafening.

Then, the building starts to shake.

And the school is utterly silent. 

Everyone waits to see if the shaking stops or things start falling, maybe even including the school itself.

Luckily, the shaking stops after a few seconds and the noise redoubles in intensity in an instant.  

Only an act of God can make a high school quiet during lunch.

A Blizzard Of Pettiness

, , , , , | Working | CREDIT: GetAgrippaThis | July 12, 2021

I work at a coffee shop in Canada. My location has this rule that you absolutely get written up if you are late over two minutes, but you do not get in any form of trouble if you call out. I live an hour each way from where I work, and the roads can be treacherous in the winter.

On one occasion, it is especially bad, and I am exactly five minutes late. I don’t even get to clock in before I am in the office getting reamed out for my terrible insubordination. I confirm the policy and refuse to sign the write-up.

About two months later, the same situation comes back around. I arrive in the parking lot and I look around to see the absolute demonic blizzard taking place. The clock shows me I have two minutes until my shift starts. Since they want to play that game, I call from the parking lot to tell them I won’t be in; the roads are just too bad. I don’t get in an amoeba of trouble for it.

Soon, everyone learns the same thing as I did, and callouts become frequent. Nobody in management has ever figured out why.

Water, Water Everywhere… And Nowhere To Put It

, , , , | Working | June 22, 2021

We had a series of tornados in town I didn’t even realize had happened as I was having a nice nap that day and it was on the other side of town. It was close enough that the seasonal greenhouse at the store where I used to work was destroyed. I am talking to my friend and former coworker after the fact.

Friend: “It was kind of scary but not bad. They wouldn’t let people enter or leave the store until the warnings were lifted. They gathered everyone in electronics, the department furthest away from the doors and glass. The power went out for most of the day.”

Me: “That seems sensible.”

Friend: “Yeah, they even started handing out bottles of water when the wait started taking too long.”

Me: “Oh, that’s so nice. Glad management thought of that.”

Friend: “Yeah, they thought of that, but they forgot that all the restrooms have only automatic flush toilets and those don’t work without power.”

Me: “Oh. So, maybe giving everyone extra water wasn’t the best idea.”

This Story Starts With A Tornado And Gets Worse

, , , , , , | Right | May 28, 2021

Caller: “Why are you advertising tours that aren’t available?

Me: “What’s the problem?”

Caller: “I booked an excursion on a boat with my wife for our anniversary, and when I arrived, they said they weren’t doing any more tours! We both took two days off work for this cruise, got up at two in the morning, and drove seven hours for nothing!”

Me: “I’m terribly sorry about that—”

Caller: “This is your fault! You advertised something that wasn’t even available! I want a refund and two vouchers for a free tour of our choice!”

Me: “Let me call the tour operator and find out what happened—”

Caller: “They even told me that they called you and specifically told you that they weren’t offering the tour anymore and asked you to remove the advertisement!”

That’s a lie. Tour vendors are responsible for the accuracy of the information posted on our portal, and THEY are responsible for removing any service that has been discontinued. Our company simply makes the booking and sends the vendor the proceeds, minus the commission.

Me: “Let me call them—”

Caller: “How about you just give me two free tours and I’ll let you keep your job?”

Me: *Flipping off the phone* “Please hold.”

I call the vendor. They called the customer to inform them that the boat trip had been cancelled because of a TORNADO WARNING, and the customer threw a screaming fit, despite being sent two tickets by the vendor on their dime.

Me: “Okay, thank you for holding. We do apologize, but these circumstances were out of our control.”

I explain the obvious safety reasons.

Me: “I’ve gone ahead and put your refund through.”

Caller: “And you have nothing to offer to make up for the seven hours I drove, and the time I took off for work just for this cruise?”

Me: “Aside from the fact that you were already given two free vouchers by the vendor for their services, I’m seriously curious as to why on earth you and your wife would take time off of work, get up at two in the morning, and drive seven hours for — according to the ticket information — a forty-minute long boat trip for $10?”

Caller: *Click*