At Least You Have The Memory As A Souvenir

, , , | Working | September 15, 2020

My dad and mom are out to dinner. The waitress takes their drink orders, but when my dad orders his drink, she makes an alternative offer.

Waitress: “Why don’t you try [specialty drink]? It even comes in a souvenir cup.”

Dad: “Sure, why not?”

A few minutes later, she brings the drinks, but my dad’s drink is in a regular glass.

Dad: “Excuse me. I thought you said this came in a souvenir cup?”

Waitress: “Oh, we don’t have any more of those cups.”

And then she just walked away. I wonder if she knew that when she sold him the drink and just upsold on autopilot, or if she really didn’t know, but my dad was so confused why she didn’t let him know that key detail.

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This Is As Awkward As Mayonnaise On White Bread

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

In the mid-1990s, “diversity” became an important buzzword in our company. As used by human resources, it meant that having persons of varying backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities together lead to better solutions in groupthink situations. The team I supervised, however, almost never made group decisions. Instead, we all acted as individual contractors, working alone on technical problems for clients. Diversity to me meant hiring the person who had the best demonstrated technical abilities and being sensitive to cultural differences when interacting with them one on one. It did not mean going out of my way to ensure that we all looked different.

As a supervisor, I had to attend a Diversity class. The problem was that getting the instructors to define the word was like nailing jello to a wall; it kept changing all the time. After repeatedly telling us that Diversity was more than counting noses and that it was deeper than that, I gave them an example. In a previous job, I had been in a small group with two other workers. One of us was a Catholic from mid-America suburbia, one was a Jew from a large rust belt city, and one was a Protestant from a small town in rural New England. I called this group diverse by their definition, but suddenly, things changed and the fact of our all being white males trumped the rest.

The fun part came when we were asked to describe what made us diverse individually. We were in the central valley in California, so there were a lot of stories about Latino immigration, working on farms, and the like. Then, it was my turn.

I am a glow-in-the-dark straight white male WASP. My father’s family traces back to the Mayflower — at least nine lineal ancestors on the boat — and other migrations from England and Scotland in the 1600s and 1700s. I was raised in an upper-middle-class household and went to exclusive private schools for high school and college. I went over this in detail. 

Surprisingly, that wasn’t what they were looking for.

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Happens All The Time When People See The Prices Of The Textbooks

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

I am waiting in line at the university bookshop. I just gave blood an hour ago and, despite never having had any previous problems donating blood, and having had ample to eat and drink today, I start to feel a little woozy.

And then, I wake up on the floor.

The other customer who was in line is standing over me, while the staff member behind the desk calls out, “Are you okay?”

As I wake up a bit more, I can explain that I gave blood earlier.

The staff member finishes serving the customer, who leaves. Then, the staff member calls out to me, “You can go and sit on the stairs outside if you want to rest a bit.”

The staff member then turns away and continues their work at the desk. I am still lying on the floor, but, having never fainted in public before, and seeing that neither the staff member or the other customer seem remotely concerned, I just feel embarrassed and silly lying on the floor in a public place. As quickly as physically able, I get up, pick up my bag, leave the purchase I was going to make on a shelf, and go and sit on the stairs outside for about thirty minutes until my head stops spinning and my legs will hold me up, before I — slowly, with several stops — head home.

Once at home, I call the blood bank — they tell you to contact them if you have any adverse reactions — and the nurse on the end goes berko.

Oh, my God! Did you bang anything when you landed? How are you feeling now? I need you to see a doctor in the next twenty-four hours for a review. Don’t do any strenuous activity for the rest of the day. Drink something. Eat something. Have you got a family member or friend with you?” And so on.

I am only a young, inexperienced, not very world-wise person when this all happens, and I really don’t know what the correct reaction is when someone loses consciousness in the middle of a store, but I know that it is not to just ignore them and go about your work.

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Someone’s About To Go Postal

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

During the lockdown, I’ve been making fabric face coverings and offering them to friends and family. Today, I had two parcels of them that I needed to send to people, and I walked up to the post office and got in line. There was only one window open, attended by a woman, and she was helping a male customer when I arrived, so I expected I wouldn’t be there long.

After a couple of minutes of mental woolgathering, I noticed that the assistant had taken the items that the customer was posting and they were just chatting, which annoyed me a bit, but I thought maybe she didn’t consider only one other person in line enough reason to rush. Almost as soon as I thought this, an elderly couple got in line behind me. The assistant showed no sign of noticing, so I decided to ease the rules of good manners and spend my waiting time listening in on their conversation.

The assistant was telling the man that she and her family all got the spreading illness — she described it as sore throat and sneezing — last year, but they took down and washed all the curtains and shampooed the carpets and were fine after that.

Okay.

Another customer joined the queue. By this point, the assistant was telling the customer that she was the only person who had been working at the post office during lockdown because all of her colleagues had been too scared to come in, and she’d been doing seventy-hour weeks. I’d been to this post office several times during lockdown and had never seen her before; plus, it’s only open forty-five hours a week.

Another two customers joined the queue. The customer at the counter, having clearly spotted a sucker, started giving the assistant the sales pitch for some natural remedies, telling her that taking a spoonful of hemp oil three times a day would protect her from getting the illness. She was clearly buying this nonsense and started telling him about her experiences using some homemade concoction to treat a rash. The man clearly decided he had to call it a day at this point and said goodbye and left. 

Finally, I got up to the counter. I was wearing one of my fabric masks, but it’s one I kept because I made a mistake in sewing it, so the outfacing piece of fabric was the wrong way round, and you could only vaguely see the pattern on it. I told the lady how I wanted to send the parcels and placed the first one on the scale. She didn’t touch her computer — I could see from the reflection in her glasses that she had a social media site open in a small window on her screen next to the window telling her what it says on the scale — but immediately started telling me about how long she’d been at work and how she’d only had one break all day. 

I’m not normally rude, but I’d been standing in line for about ten minutes and my back hurt, so I didn’t respond and just asked her how much the parcel would cost. She didn’t answer; instead, she just told me to put the other one on the scale, and then to pass them both through the slot to her. I did so, and she asked me what was in them. I pointed to my own mask and said, “Some of these masks.”

Her eyes lit up and she started telling me about somebody she saw selling masks in a shop but he coughed so she didn’t buy any. Then, she asked me why the print on the fabric on mine was so pale, and I told her I’d made a mistake and it was inside out. She gave me a coy smile and started telling me that that was my inner self making artistic choices for me, and that actually it was my own form of self-expression. It took a couple of minutes of this before I got a chance to break in and say, “What is that going to cost?”

Again, I’m not normally rude, but I would have been there all d*** day if I hadn’t interrupted.

“I haven’t done that bit yet,” she said, obviously cross. She glared at me silently for about twenty seconds, then pressed a key on her computer and said, “£1.45. £2.76.”

One of the parcels was bigger than the other, so I assumed she’d told me the two prices individually. “What’s the total?” I asked.

“I just told you,” she replied.

“So, £2.76 for both?”

“No. Yes.”

“So… what is the total?”

“Yes.”

It took me four more times asking to get her to tell me — somehow it was £3.11 — and I paid and got out of there. I looked around as I left and there were now eleven people in the queue. Heaven help them all.

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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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