White And Privileged? Get A Gold Star!

, , , , , | Working | September 22, 2019

I needed to get my license renewed. As I was waiting in the DMV, they passed out these pamphlets that detailed something called a Real ID — basically just specially-marked cards with a gold star in the corner that indicated whether the cardholder had shown the DMV agent proof of being a citizen of the States at the time of renewal, and these stars would be required for domestic air travel and entering federal buildings by 2020.

I thought to myself that it was unfortunate that I didn’t have the papers for it at the time, but I wasn’t about to lose my place in line to go get my birth certificate. When I was called up, the agent had me take a new picture and read the letters for the vision test. I remember being completely unable to see a thing; all the letters were just blurry blobs of colour. The agent told me to guess. I did, apparently, well enough; she gave me my new license without any further ado and didn’t even tell me to get glasses. (I got them of my own accord a few months later.)

About a week later, my non-paper ID card came in the mail. It had a star, marking it as a real ID. I guess I looked white enough, or sounded ditzy enough, or both, so the agent just marked it as a real ID without the required papers.

Your security is in good hands, folks.

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Needs A Strong Stomach For This Coworker

, , , , | Working | September 21, 2019

(I am working a childcare job. The family has twin girls, each with a unique set of special needs. Their parents have assistance almost around the clock, so I have several coworkers. Most of them are great, but there is one girl I positively dread having overlapping shifts with. She constantly gets into juvenile power struggles with the children over the stupidest things, simply because she can’t stand to be contradicted. For instance, she’ll nitpick the little girls’ games of make-believe for being too absurd and demand that they play differently. The children are not compliant, nor should they have to be, and the rest of us have to diplomatically referee between an elementary schooler and a college student. Basically, when I have to work with her, I’m monitoring three stubborn children instead of two, and the worst one can’t be put in timeout. Despite the fact that I break out in stress-hives at the sound of her voice, I am never anything but professional and polite to her. I also work with another family and have arranged playdates between these two sets of children for a number of years with great success. I have brought kids from both families to meet at a small festival hosted by a church nearby. The boy in this story is from the other jobs, so my coworker is not, has never been, nor ever will be in any position of authority over this boy. I am quite petite and the boy is harmlessly amusing himself by clasping his arms around my waist and attempting to lift me off the ground, with moderate success.)

Coworker: *harshly, to [Boy]* “Don’t do that! She just ate lunch; you’re going to make her sick!”

Me: *to [Boy], but reasonably loud enough for my coworker to hear* “That’s okay, sweetie. I’ve got a strong stomach. You’re fine.”

([Boy] continues lifting.)

Coworker: *snapping at [Boy] again* “I told you to cut that out!”

(I respond directly to [Coworker] this time, with a pleasant tone, generously thinking she may not have heard me before and was genuinely concerned for my well-being.)

Me: “I won’t get sick. I told him it was okay.”

Coworker: *to me* “But I told him to stop.”

(She says this so smugly, as though it’s the unquestionable end of the subject. [Boy] is now looking to me for guidance, obviously concerned that he might be in trouble. I am an extremely patient, even-tempered person, but I am not being paid to deal with her attitude today and for once, I am not going to take it. I put a hand reassuringly on the boy’s shoulder and then very slowly turn to face her. I look her dead in the eyes with the sternest, most withering stare I can muster. When you work with children, you can get pretty good at that stare.)

Me: *deliberately and forcefully* “But. I. Said. It. Was. Okay.”

(She backed off immediately and barely spoke to me the rest of the afternoon. She was still an obnoxious human being, terrible at her job, and a pain to work with, but after that confrontation, she never again attempted to exert any authority over me. She was eventually fired after another of her stupid power struggles lead to the child with brittle bones slipping on a wet bathroom floor and breaking her leg. The worst part of all of this, though? She’s now a special education teacher.)

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Superstore Superhero Super-Savings!  

, , , , , | Working | September 20, 2019

(Where I work, the main break room has a TV in it that is usually on at all times. I am not really paying attention during my break, until I overhear a commercial for a national hardware store chain.)

TV Commercial: “Don’t miss out on the biggest savings of the season! It’s our Spring Black Friday event!”

(Immediately, in my head, I hear a certain movie character’s voice say a modified version of one of his lines.)

Syndrome: “…and when everything is on sale… nothing will be!”

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Requires Drawing On All Your Strength  

, , , | Working | September 20, 2019

(When I am about 15, my mother’s law firm hosts a trip for the partners to go skiing out west. As my mother is unmarried, she has no family to bring except me, her only daughter, so I am invited. This results in the group of us, lawyers, and their families, waiting together to board the same plane between 5:00 and 6:00 am. I bring out a sketchbook to doodle in to keep myself awake, when one of the two named partners — a man in his 50s, and not my mom’s main boss — comes over to see what I am drawing, and, to all appearances, be a nuisance. This man is a known bully, a pain in the a**, and a creep, but there isn’t much my mom can say or do about it at the time. As for me, I am so tired I can barely think, let alone tactfully dodge his attention.)

Partner: “So, you can draw, huh? What else can you draw?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know. Pretty much anything if I can see it, though I like to draw from my head.”

Partner: “Oh, yeah? So, can you draw that plane right there?”

Me: “Yeah. I mean, I could.”

Partner: “Prove it. I want to see you actually draw that plane.”

(I start drawing the plane. I don’t get far, but apparently, he is one of those people who simply cannot wrap their brains around artistic talent at all, so even the most basic stuff astounds him. Rather than prompt him to compliment me, though, this seems to only spur him on to be more obnoxious.)

Partner: “You’re even drawing those little seams and rivets. How did you know to do that?”

Me: “Well, they’re there. I can see them. As I said, I can draw it if I can see it.”

Partner: “Well, what about—”

(We are interrupted by the announcement to begin boarding, and I think that, thankfully, this is the end of it. But somehow, I end up seated next to him on the plane — he in the window seat and my mom in the aisle seat, with me stuck in the middle, the sole object of his focus, for hours. My mom has tried to discourage him a few times, to no avail, and keeps giving me sympathetic looks as he quizzes me.)

Partner: “So, could you draw [random thing]?”

Me: “Probably.”

Partner: “And you can draw things from your head, too? Just, right out of your head?”

Me: “I try.”

Partner: *smugly* “I bet I know something you can’t draw! The United States with all fifty states where they’re supposed to be.”

(I just sigh and begin drawing out the USA with a pen on one of the little airplane cocktail napkins. It’s not photographic, but it’s not half bad, though I get tripped up around Delaware. Regardless, the partner starts huffing and sputtering before I’m finished. He actually seems angry that I could do it — that it was at all possible.)

Partner: *snatching the napkin and trying to show it around* “Do you see this? Do you see what she did?” *turns back to me* “How could you possibly know how to draw that?!”

Me: “I’ve seen a map.”

Partner: *speechless*

(To this day, my mother tells this story with pride, that with that one line I managed to “shut him up so fast!” When he finally spoke again, it was to grumble something I don’t remember, and then he moved seats to a different row to find a new victim. I didn’t speak to him again for the rest of the trip, or ever again afterward. Years later, no one missed him when he left the firm, taking his half of the partners and business with him in an ugly split. Unrelated, but just to drive home what a jerk he was, his final act was to strip the office of every piece of art, decor, and communal furniture that wasn’t nailed down.)

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Basically: Shut Your Mouth

, , , | Working | September 20, 2019

(I am working as a waiter in a sushi bar. Some evenings are pretty crowded because of our all-you-can-eat buffets. One evening, a group of four women is, chatting loudly, basically interrupting each other all the time while eating and enjoying themselves. This is not a problem, but the noise level in the rather small restaurant is higher than usual. Following my routine I come to the table to ask if anyone wants to order some new drinks.)

Guest #1: “I’d like some dry white wine, please. And I have a question.”

Me: “I’m happy if I can help.”

Guest #1: “The wasabi always burns so strong. Is there a way that we can enjoy the taste without it being hot?”

Me: “Yes, of course. First of all, you have to keep your mouth closed…”

(All the guests have shocked looks on their faces, because they were chatting like crazy beforehand.)

Me: “…because if you leave it open, the essential oils in the wasabi will be sucked into your lung and when you breathe out you’ll have these in your nose, which causes the burning. So, if it burns, keep it closed and calmly take some breath through your nose.”

(This has always worked for me, and my manager also told us to explain it like this.)

Guest #2: “So, it’s not working like chili?”

Me: “No, more like mustard.”

(They thanked me for the answer and silently ate the whole evening while having some conversation and not cutting each other off all the time.)

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