Ever wanted to give someone a taste of their own medicine? Well, these Redditors know that feeling. Instead of merely doing something they didn’t want to do, they came up with an ingenious plan: Follow every instruction to the letter…but make it extremely annoying. That’s what they call “gaming the system” people, and the results are glorious.
1. Let Your Freak Flag Fly
Due to some neighbors flying “Black Lives Matter” flags as well as “Thin Blue Line” flags and other opinion flags, our Home Owner’s Association decided last month that we’re only allowed to fly the USA flag, and nothing else. The day after the decision, we received an email that someone reported our Pride flag (that we had on our house since 2016), and that we needed to take it down.
We complied and removed the flag. Looking through our new rules, however, we noticed that removable lights are permitted without restriction so…they regretted the day they ever sent that email. We bought six colored floodlights and we washed our house in pride colors. A little less subtle than our simple flag, but a lot more fun for anyone complaining about the flag itself and what it represents.
2. Let It All Go
I work for a leisure company. Think soft play, indoor soccer, laser tag. Prior to lockdown, managers and the big bosses were negotiating the renewal of the lease on one of our parks. Things were going mostly smoothly, however, the landlords were difficult to contact. Then 2020 hit the fan. All of our sites were closed, and everything was thrown into a mess.
Negotiations began to slip down the priority list, and nobody thought the landlord would push an eviction for an expired lease during this period. Especially with it still getting rent, despite the site’s closure, and the closure of every business and restaurant in the immediate area. We were so wrong. A few days ago, we received a letter saying we had seven days to leave the premises and take everything with us.
We were also reminded that anything left in the building after seven days will become the landlord’s property. That line is very important. Now, a lot of construction goes into installing our equipment into a new building, which makes emptying one even harder. Add a lockdown, with no staff and most businesses shut, and it meant that saving much of our assets would prove to be extremely difficult.
To lose a profitable site and all of its assets is definitely a blow to our company. But here is where it gets worse. A few days into our seven-day eviction, we find out that the landlord has been advertising our park…to our competitors. But he isn’t offering just the building, he is offering ALL OF OUR STUFF PRE-INSTALLED. “Ready to go, just needs re-branding.”
It all becomes clear. The landlord has evicted us from the property in an attempt to increase rent and make a solid profit from our equipment installed because he thinks we won’t be able to empty the park. We were furious. And here is where gaming the system came in. Again, we were told we had seven days to move everything we owned out of the property.
So that’s what we did. Local businesses from all around offered up free space to store our things, a few people came back out of lockdown, and they all spent the rest of the week removing, selling, or destroying everything that was related to us. We didn’t even leave light fittings. In every other site vacation we have seen, we always end up leaving thousands of $$ worth of disco lights in the ceilings because they’re too hard to get.
We usually leave most of the construction in, as well as things like the bars and kitchens that all stay intact (recognizable as what they once were). But not this building. This time, it was so much different, and it was incredible. We ripped up the flooring we installed, tore down the walls that were not part of the original structure (wooden walls to divide up the space), ripped apart our managers’ offices and removed all artwork and lockers.
The landlord now has every new deal he has been making dead in the water, a large renovation bill to install new flooring, etc. (or a company willing to do it themselves like we were). Silver lining: The assets we got out of the site (fridges, TVs, equipment, food, tables) have all been sold, and the lack of rent and additional income has helped the business and paid staff wages. Here is what happened next.
We handed in the keys and it was probably the quickest handover we’ve ever had. The landlord clearly didn’t want to make any kind of conversation and there was definitely an elephant in the room, but he said NOTHING about the lack of our equipment. Complications did arise when we went to get back various deposits, but he had no case to withhold the deposits from us as the building was in excellent shape.
We had conducted much of the maintenance work ourselves, so the building was in a significantly better condition than we found it. We also cleaned up 99% of the rubbish and dirt from our demolition crusade so he couldn’t bill us for cleaning. A very minor bit of pressing from our legal team meant that we received everything owed back in full.
The building is still vacant and as of yet we don’t know of any potential buyers. At this moment in time, our company is still standing despite the closures and lack of business, staff are all still employed and doing well.
3. A Taste Of Your Own Medicine
When I was in my early 20s, I worked at a supermarket. I should note that I was a pretty reliable employee. I was never late, in fact I often got in early, and I rarely called in sick. At the time this happened, I had not called in sick for nine months, and even then, the manager had sent me home. Anyway this next time, I had been up all night, swinging between burning hot and freezing cold so I was obviously feverish, and I had been throwing up “at both ends” shall we say.
At one point at about 2 am I was on the toilet, with my head in the sink, utterly miserable. I must have passed out because the next thing I knew I was lifting my head off the sink and it was 7 am. I was due to start work at 12 that day but that obviously wasn’t going to happen. So I called up the manager. Let’s call the manager Steve. Steve was known for being a real jerk.
He never believed anyone who called in sick except his best buds (usually other managers, never lowly staff), but often called in sick himself (a lot of the time we knew it was because he was hungover and not actually sick). The conversation went as follows: Me: Hey Steve, sorry, I can’t come in. I’m sick. Steve: With what? Me: I don’t know. I think it might be the flu. I’ve been up all night being sick, and I have a fever.
Steve: Don’t be stupid. If you had the flu you’d be completely knocked out. I need you in. Come in or you’re fired. Me: I can’t. I just told you I can’t stop vomiting. I passed out. Steve: (growling angrily) Either come in or bring a doctor’s note, or you’re fired! In the UK, you are allowed to self-certify for 5 days. This means you can tell your employer you are sick and you do not need a doctor’s note.
If you’re sick for more than 5 days, you then need a note. It is also illegal to demand a doctor’s note during the self-certify period. There was just one problem. I knew this, but I was terrified. This was during the recession, and I couldn’t afford to lose my job. So I got myself dressed. Almost passed out trying to do so. Then trudged to the doctor’s some 25 minutes’ walk away.
I end up sitting in the doctor’s office for a little over an hour, which for walk-in was pretty good. I get in to see the doctor and she is furious at me for coming in. You’re not supposed to come to the doctors when you have a cold or flu, and of course I knew I should be able to self-certify. She told me as such, saying I shouldn’t be here and should have stayed at home.
I then explained what had happened with Steve and how he had threatened to fire me over this and I couldn’t afford to lose my job since I was struggling as it was. My doctor’s anger transformed into something beautiful. She shifted it to my manager, then asked if I got sick pay from the company. I said yes. “He wants a sick note does he,” the doctor says. “Okay. I’ll give him a sick note.”
Now, my manager just wanted a note confirming I was sick, but instead my doctor wrote something along the lines of this: “[My Name] has come to the surgery because Steve has insisted she come in, in spite of the fact that this is illegal and all employees are allowed to self-certify. Due to being forced to make this unnecessary and highly dangerous trip when the patient is ill, has a fever of 39°C, and almost passed out in the waiting room, I am signing [my name] off for two full weeks to recover.
Had [my name] been allowed to self-certify as is the law, they might only have needed a few days, but due to straining themselves, they now require two full weeks. They are not to be permitted to work until [date 2 weeks later].” The doctor said she would have signed me off for longer but this was the longest she could do without requiring further evidence.
So basically, instead of just being off for a few days, I was now signed off for a full two weeks, and I’d be paid for it. I went to my place of work, at which point one of the duty managers saw me and asked me what the heck I was doing here, go home, I was obviously very unwell. I explained what happened. They agreed to help me downstairs to Steve’s office and went with me inside.
I handed Steve the note. He looked worried and tried to say “I wasn’t being serious about firing you.” Well gee, when you angrily growled it down the phone it sure sounded like it. The duty manager then declared that they were going to drive me home. It was clear Steve wanted to argue but had the sense to know he shouldn’t. The duty manager then drove me home, made sure I was okay, then went back to work. Then came the best part.
The duty manager then informed our union rep of what had happened. Steve had a disciplinary hearing where he was given a severe reprimand and a warning. Steve tried to argue he never said I’d be fired and I was lying and just decided to go to the doctor’s, but the duty manager said they heard him admit to it when he said to me that he really didn’t mean it.
I felt better after a few days and enjoyed my two weeks off, fully paid, and enjoyed the nice weather we had. Meanwhile, Steve was forced to work overtime because we were short-staffed. So thanks to the doctor, instead of being off for a few days, I ended up getting a nice two-week paid vacation, and Steve was given a final warning, all because he insisted I get a doctor’s note, and I did.
4. Straight To Voicemail
My boss LOVES to call me at 6:15 AM to ask me if I would LIKE to fill the shifts of the people who just called in sick. This is an everyday thing. One day, I was bored and frustrated, so I decided to volunteer at 3:30 am to call this same manager to ask if they needed extra help. He got super angry and tried to write me up for it. I showed the general manager the time stamps of the calls I had received. I don’t get calls anymore.
5. Idle Hands
As part of the plan to return to office, my company has done a lot of re-designating of who can permanently work from home, who can hybrid, etc. I really wanted to work from home full time. I hate the office with a burning passion—it’s distracting, it’s a long commute, there’s no benefit to being there, so on and so forth. I’d just rather be at home.
Well, when we thought May was going to be go back to office time, they started giving out the new designations. I got designated as in-office full time. It made no sense to me. I work on a team of 8 people and each of us is in a different office somewhere in the country. I’ve literally never been to an in-person meeting or needed to do in-person work in 3 years at this company. It gets more infuriating than that.
Every single other person on my team got designated to work from home. So I brought it up with my boss and asked to work from home. When I started at this company and lived elsewhere, I got to work from home for four months before I moved, and the past 14 months I have been at home, so 18/36 months at the company have been WFH. What I was told is that I “go idle” too often in chat to trust me to work from home.
Basically, we have a company-wide IM system that shows you as available, idle, or in a meeting. If you don’t touch your keyboard for 5 minutes, you show as idle. So they’ve decided to use this as a measure for who is working and who isn’t. The thing is, like many people in many types of jobs, I don’t have stuff to do for a full 8 hours every single day. The amount of work I have to do on a typical day takes 3-5 hours of actual attention.
There simply isn’t something to do ALL the time. My performance numbers actually went up working from home, by all objective KPI numbers I’m a better worker at home. In fact, in the KPIs that I don’t flat out lead the team in, I come in second. There isn’t work to do that I’m neglecting or procrastinating, when something comes up I simply do it until it’s done or until I can’t do anymore due to waiting on someone else, then stop.
And I’ve done that method long enough that my work queue stays empty because I worked to get my queue down to the point where when something comes up I can immediately address it and be done with it. But because I have other ways to spend my time in down time instead of messing around online at my cube pretending to be working, I’m a worse worker apparently.
I was told if it weren’t for that they would let me work at home. So I came up with a plan. I wrote a six line PowerShell script that virtually inputs the period key every 4 minutes and that starts running every day at 8 am and stops at 5 pm. So now I literally never go idle. I do the same amount of work and still read books, watch TV, and play video games on the side.
But I have a shiny green check next to my name all day. I just had a meeting with my boss and he said over the waiting time, they’ve noticed I go idle a lot less than I used to so they’re changing my designation to work from home, all because of a little icon in some software. This concludes my TED talk on why low- to middle-level managers are the dumbest, most useless do-nothing positions in all of corporate America.
6. Getting His Just Deserts
I’m a paramedic. A few months ago, we’re coming back from a routine patient transfer when at an intersection about four blocks from the base, I notice a woman sitting on the side of the road with her arms wrapped around herself and her head down. I nudge my partner who’s driving, and we flip on the lights. I see her head come up real fast, and she looks terrified.
I get out and she relaxes when she sees the ambulance. After I approach, my heart sank. I noticed bruising on her wrists and other similar signs of domestic violence. She seems hesitant to get up off the curb and into the ambulance, so I decided that I would at least pull the cot out of the back and give her something a little more comfortable than concrete to sit on.
Now a few important details. All the cots in my service are Stryker-powered cots. You’ve almost certainly seen these before. They’re bright yellow with black handles and side panels. These cots have a motor and battery built in to allow us to raise and lower the cot at the touch of a button instead of throwing out our backs having to physically lift the cot up after loading someone.
They’re usually paired with an automatic loading system built into the ambulance that lifts the cot up to the right height to be pushed inside and also secures the cot when loaded. There’s a little red tab at the end of the track, just inside the doors, that you press down to free the cot and allow it to slide out. When you press this tab, it simply releases the cot and the loading carriage it’s connected to, and it’s up to you to keep it under control until it reaches the unload position and locks into place again.
This can be problematic because these cots weigh about 125 pounds. As soon as I hit the release tab for the cot, I hear lights and sirens behind me. I looked around and was immediately stunned. It’s a city patrol car. This is weird because we had not yet requested police, and we were outside the city, in the sheriff’s department jurisdiction.
We merely informed dispatch that we were stopping to check on a woman at such and such intersection. The woman says something along the lines of “Oh god he’s here,” and moves faster than me seeing free food being distributed at base. She dashes past me and pretty much hurls herself into the ambulance, sitting on the bench seat.
The cop is approaching and he’s angry. I put two and two together real quick. I slam the ambulance doors shut. Let’s call this guy Officer Steve, or OS for short. OS: Is that bi—Is she in there?! Me: Who? OS: You know darn well who I am talking about. Me: You mean my patient? I’m afraid I haven’t gotten a name yet. OS: Open those doors, I need to talk to her.
Me: You’re not using my rig as an interview room. You can talk to her at the hospital. We go back and forth like this for a few minutes. My partner at some point came back to see what the hold-up was, but overhead my stonewalling and went back to the cab to call our chief. I continue my routine of deny and delay until a pair of deputies (likely specifically requested for this by the chief) arrive.
Oh good, now I have witnesses. See, we had stopped on an upwards incline. I had hit the release tab on the cot and it wanted to slide back. I had to close the doors so swiftly, I didn’t bother pushing the cot back against the stops and locking it in place. Emboldened by the presence of two deputies, he gets in my face. “Get out of my way or I’m gonna have you charged with obstruction!” Okay, as you wish.
I step out of his way, and he opens the double doors. Between the cot, the monitor, and the jump bag, I’d say there was probably close to 160 pounds contained by those doors. All of which comes barreling out and hits OS square in the chest. He goes backward and falls on his butt. One of the deputies laughs aloud. The other walks up and kneels down beside the guy.
He says, “Your shift captain is going be here in five, I wouldn’t be here then if I were you.” OS gathers himself up and scowls at me, then stomps off. There is a limited amount that I can say about the aftermath as the trial is not settled yet, but we all know how well charges stick to officers. The woman is now living elsewhere, the officer is still an officer, and I have been getting pulled over at least twice a week ever since then. But the video footage of him getting bodychecked by that cot remains one of the best things I have ever seen.
7. Leaving A Paper Trail
This happened several years ago when my ex and I were going through a heated divorce/custody battle. While we were married, we had a couple of conversations about how rich people hide their assets to avoid paying taxes. I’ve never had enough assets to do this, but she somehow got the idea that I was and told her attorney that I was laundering money and hiding income.
It was more likely the heat of the moment, as divorce/custody battles often come down to. I couldn’t even afford my own attorney so I represented myself. Her lawyer wasn’t a total jerk, but he clearly was out to get me, and he talked down to me like I didn’t deserve to breathe the same air. One day, I get a letter in the mail from him requesting an updated income declarations form and three years of financials.
It had a long list of things to include. I own a communications tech company that was in super start-up phase back then. Money was already tight. I was trying to get this business off the ground with no financing, and I was finishing my MBA with scholarships and loans, so paying for copies and postage or driving this 30 miles to his office meant eating peanut butter and saltines for a week.
So I called him to explain my situation. His reply made my blood boil. He all but called me a liar and didn’t believe I couldn’t afford it. I was put off by that, and I said this was taking time away from business I needed to handle. To which he replied (and I’ll never forget this), “Well, according to your income declarations, you’re not that busy. What do you do all day?”
He then said if he didn’t get these documents, he would consider my previous filings as full of lies and tell the judge, contact the DA, and also alert the state tax agency and IRS. Probably an empty threat, but I’m no lawyer. Efax is one of the services my company provides, and at this time it was relatively unknown. So I asked him if he has a fax machine.
He said he had a fax/scanner/copier device, then said “What law office doesn’t have a fax machine?” And I suddenly got an idea. “Okay,” I said to him, “I’ll put together and fax whatever I can.” Okay, buddy. You want three years of financials? You got it. I scanned-to-PDF EVERY receipt I could find. McDonald’s receipt from five years ago? Screw it, won’t hurt to include it.
CVS receipt? It’s three miles long, perfect. They get the $1 off toothpaste coupons too. I downloaded every bank statement, credit card statement, purchase orders from vendors, and every invoice I sent to clients. I printed to PDF the entire three-year accounting journal, monthly/quarterly/annual balance sheets, cash flow statements, P & L’s.
Not only did I PDF three years of tax filings, but every single letter I received from the IRS and state tax agency, including the inserts advising me of my rights. It took a while, but I was a few days ahead of the deadline. I made a cover page black background with white lettering. But that wasn’t all. Wherever I could, I included separator pages in all caps in the biggest, boldest font that would fit on the page in landscape: 20XX RECEIPTS, 20XX TAXES, etc.
I merged everything into a single 150+ page compressed PDF and sent the document using my Efax system. Every hour or so, I received a status email saying the fax failed. Huh, that’s weird. Well, they’re getting this document. So I changed the system configuration to unlimited retries after failures to keep redialing until it went through. Weird, I was still getting status email failures.
I’ll delete the failure emails and keep the success one after it eventually goes through, I thought. Problem solved. Two days later, a lady from his office called and asked me to stop sending the fax. That’s when the truth came out. Their fax/scanner/printer/copier had been printing non-stop. It kept getting paper jams, kept running out of ink, and they had to keep shutting it off and back on to print.
I explained that her boss told me to send this by the deadline or else he would call the DA and IRS. Since I didn’t want a call from the DA or the IRS, I would keep sending until I get a success confirmation. I suggested they just not print until my fax completes, but she didn’t like that. She asked me to email the documents, and I told a little white lie that my email wouldn’t allow an attachment that big.
Unless her boss in writing agreed to cancel the request or agree to reimburse me for my costs to print and ship, I said I would continue to fax until they confirm they have received every page. She put me on hold, and the attorney gets on the line. He said forget sending the financials. But I wasn’t going to let him get off that easy, oh no.
I said that I would need this in writing, so I will keep sending the fax until he sent that to me. He asked me to stop faxing and he would send it in writing, and I said send it in writing first and then I’ll stop. Long moment of silence…click. About 20 minutes later, I received an email from his assistant with an attached, signed letter in PDF that I no longer needed to provide financials.
The letter then threatened to pursue sanctions in court or sue me for interfering with their business. Every time I saw him after that, the lawyer never brought up sanctions, lawsuits, or financials again.
8. Going Overboard On Overtime
This was several years ago when I worked at a coffee shop. My shift was 5 am-1:30 pm, and often around 1 pm giant groups of kids on school field trips would come through the area (this was a coffee shop located in a major California city, very close to a bunch of museums). I had been working a lot of overtime because of it to help my co-workers through the rush.
Well, I got written up by my supervisor for doing too many overtime shifts without approval. I was explicitly informed to not work overtime again, and that I had lost overtime privileges until corporate deemed I could have them again, and working overtime again prior to that would result in further disciplinary action. The day after I was written up, right as my shift ended, three big buses FULL of kids unloaded and filled the shop.
At 1:30 pm on the dot, my watch alarm went off and I went to go clock out. The store manager who wrote me up the day prior said, “Wait where are you going?” I reminded her that I’d lost my overtime privileges, clocked out, retrieved the shift drink I’d made for myself right before the rush, and left. The next day I was informed my overtime privileges had been re-instated.
9. Feeling Hot Hot Hot
I used to own a wing joint. Nothing fancy, but a good selection of wing flavors and pints. Inevitably we would have people come in and order the suicide wings (I like super spicy foods, so these were pretty hot). Of those people, about 5-10% would always start the joke/sarcastic conversation “These aren’t that hot. Can’t you do better?!?” Yuk, yuk, yuk.
One of my best regulars, a dentist who fancied himself a gardener, decided to help us out and planted a ghost pepper bush (at the time the hottest pepper in the world) and he could bring us the bounty of his harvest. And he would intentionally under water the bush so the peppers would be as hot as they could be. When he would bring us the peppers, I would grind them (seeds and all) into a nice paste, which I would combine with our sauce and keep to the side for when our spicy wing connoisseurs would show up and complain about the sauce not being hot enough.
I would only serve them one wing. I would make them wear gloves to eat it to prevent capsaicin burns on their skin. I would specifically tell them about the heat they were about to get into, trying to dissuade them from eating this culinary monstrosity. By the time we got through all this, every single man always now viewed this as an insult to their manhood and could not be stopped from eating this wing.
So they did…The fun thing about capsaicin oil is it can often take a few seconds to kick in. Usually just enough time for the person to scarf down the wing and start to smugly tell us how it wasn’t that hot…And then the heat would begin. And once it started it was relentless. The wing was free, but the cup of milk after was $20. I never had a single person ask for a second one.
By the way, I never had a woman complain about the heat, and they would sometimes actually ask if there was another level they could try.
10. Once More For Good Measure
This happened about three years ago while going through an airport in the US. I walked through the metal detector, and something must have beeped and they needed to pat me down. After a thorough pat-down, I put my shoes on and started to walk over to grab my bag. A TSA agent then stops me and says, “You’ve been randomly selected, please step into the body scanner.”
I was polite, but said that I really didn’t want to get into the body scanner, and asked if there was another way. The agent said that I could get a pat-down. I said well, I just got a pat-down so…They angrily told me to pick an option anyway. So, I took two steps backwards, to the woman who had patted me down 30 seconds ago and spread em…again.
While she was patting me down, I asked her if she found anything new. She stared daggers at me but let me go.
11. Stop And Go
I worked for a company that provides a utility truck, and one of the analytics they monitor is how long the truck stays in place with the motor on. The target number was something like 3%, but I was consistently stuck in traffic due to my area being changed to the downtown area of my city. Naturally, this raised my idle percent.
My supervisor began constantly badgering me over the raise of my idle percent, which was about 10-12% higher now. After they decided to give me a wRiTtEn VeRbAl WaRnInG I became the MOST efficient truck no idler in our branch. But I had a secret. I brought it down to a 0.00 by shutting the truck off at every stop sign, red light, highway stopped in traffic, in drive-thrus, and INSTANTLY off when I got to where I was going.
Now, re that is charging my two phones, laptop, tablet, and my various equipment. All this juice sucking and no alternator spinning putting the power back into the truck meant the battery died. A LOT. Now, the rules the company had made it forbidden for me to jump the truck myself, so I had to call the company and they sent out a tow truck to jump start it for me each time, and every time I call this tow truck it takes a minimum of 2 hours for it to show up.
I began doing this multiple times a day, every day, until they figured my truck was broken. It goes to the shop, checks out, they give it back—I ruin it again. They end up giving me an entirely new truck, I start ruining it, I repeated this process until they gave me the THIRD truck and the manager calls me to ask what my daily routine is.
I go through the basics and add in the whole stop at red light engine off, stop in traffic engine off, etc. and dude goes “Why the heck are you doing this?” “My supervisor wrote me up for my idle time being too high.” “This is completely ridiculous.” He tossed my write-up and I’m guessing talked to the supervisor because I never heard a word about idle time again and I quit caring about it.
12. Under New Management
I worked for a company for 14 years. I loved working there for 12 of those years. There were two main parts to the job. The first part was the “sales” side of things. This was away from the office, in the customer’s location. It involved quite a bit of driving (and on a couple of occasions flying abroad) to work face-to-face with the customers to deliver a high-quality product.
We weren’t the cheapest, but we were the superior product, and I was the best employee when it came to delivering the product. I consistently got rave reviews from customers for my personal style when it came to delivering the product and executing the customer’s vision. I got a huge amount of repeat business and I got a lot of new business through word of mouth, with customers recommending the company based on their experiences with me.
The second part was the office side. This was my weaker side. I hated cold calling “potential customers” with numbers I found in the phone book. When it came to answering the phone and speaking to potential customers who initiated contact with us, I was fine! But I wasn’t great at making the calls. This was my only real not-great part of my job.
So, in the office I wasn’t asked to make any calls. Instead, I prepared product, designed new product, and trained new staff members (which ended up being one of the biggest parts of my job). I was also the problem solver, helping out whenever and wherever. Filling in for sick employees whenever I could. I liked the owner and I liked the manager.
I liked all the staff who were around me. All in all, it was a great job that I was really good at and took pride in it. The company had been doing so well that the owner had slowly expanded over the 12 years since I started working for the company. I had joined about 3 months after he started, so I’d been a part of this expansion. I worked out of my nearest office, but often traveled to other areas to train their staff.
I was “loaned out,” as it were, to other companies to help train their staff. At one point I was a guest lecturer at a university teaching medical students how to deliver complicated explanations to people who don’t have the base knowledge that you yourself do. After 12 years I was on a decent salary. Not massive, but I was happy. Then it all unraveled.
First, the owner decided to sell off part of the company. He was selling the area where my local office was. He told me he would love for me to remain as his employee, but I would need to work from a different office. This would either require me to move or to quadruple (at a minimum) my daily commute. The other option was to remain working from my current office but with a new boss.
I chose the second option. Before the new owner bought the company, she worked alongside the staff for a couple of weeks to see how we operated. This was before any of us knew she was about to buy the company. As far as we knew, she was just another employee, and she was shadowing us to learn. She came with me on assignments in the field and saw my abilities.
When the sale was announced and we were informed that she was the new owner, everyone was very surprised. She made some sweeping staffing changes. The manager left to start her own business, since the new owner was also going to be the manager. A lot of staff were let go. The secretary, myself, and a couple of newer hires were kept on.
The new hires were on the lowest wages (not salaries). Anyone who had got to a decent level was let go. Since almost everyone was on a zero-hours contract, she was able to do this. Whilst technically it was a “new company,” for the customers it was the same old business. The company still had the same trading name. The only real difference was that there was a new owner and the registered business name was now different.
As far as the customers were concerned, nothing had changed. My job for the first few months after the sale was to train up the remaining staff to replace the more experienced staff members who had been let go. I recommended a couple of new hires who I had experience working with in the past. I was open and honest with the owner, and let her know that one of them was a close friend and one of them was my girlfriend.
Both were more than qualified for the work and both were happy to join. My friend had recently come back to the country after a year of traveling, whilst my girlfriend could only work during school holidays (she worked in a school). The owner gave them both interviews then hired them, since we needed the staff. Over the next two, years business started to fall. The reason was simple.
The new owner decided to try and maximize profits by increasing prices whilst decreasing the quality of the product. For new customers, this wasn’t noticeable. They just thought we were expensive and the product wasn’t the best. But for old customers who had been with us for 10+ years, they immediately noticed. They were being charged more and were receiving less/worse quality.
So the owner doubled down and increased prices again. 95% of our old customers left us. New customers almost never became repeat customers. Complaints skyrocketed. Whilst all this was going on, our staff turnover rate was ridiculous. People left after a few months when they realized that the minimum wage they were being paid wasn’t worth it.
Under the old owner, the average hourly wage for new employees was around 2.5x the minimum wage. This made people care about their jobs and want to keep them. My girlfriend quit. My friend remained, but was looking for something new. Then I got a phone call that changed so much. The owner needed me to come to the office. This was unexpected.
I had just finished working on location with a customer. My next customer was in 2 and a half hours. It was a half-hour drive away. The office was about an hour and 10 minutes away from both locations. If I drove back to the office, I would have about 5 minutes in the office before leaving. My mileage was paid above my regular salary, so I was saving the company money by doing this.
Also, parking was a nightmare around the second location, so I intended to get there as early as possible to find parking, then read a book. The manager didn’t care. She needed me to return to the office. So I did. I arrived back to be handed a letter by the owner. It was informing me of a disciplinary meeting to take place in a couple of days’ time.
I could bring a “witness” along if I so desired. This knocked me for loop. I was the best employee. I read through her list of complaints about my performance and started working on my defense. At the meeting, I declined to have a witness. Instead, I had a better idea. I decided to record the audio of the entire meeting on my phone without informing her.
Where I live, this is legal and I didn’t need consent. The boss’ witness was her friend who she had met at Yoga and hired for an office role, firing the secretary who had been there long before the takeover. Every point she raised, I could counter. Some of them were so weak: “You were unavailable to work for a week in August,” to which I answered, “I booked a week’s holiday so I could attend my cousin’s wedding on the other side of the country and turn it into a holiday.”
Then there were the pathetic ones: “You were late for work on the 12th of May.” “Is that the day my car broke down and I called the office to let you know?” “I don’t know.” “I do. Here’s the receipt from the garage dated May 12th.” Then there were downright lies. This one I can’t write as a quote. Basically, she accused me of gross misconduct for breaking health and safety laws in the way I was delivering a product for a customer.
I hadn’t broken health and safety laws. I knew exactly what I was doing since, as I’ve mentioned already, I had been doing this for 14 years at this point. She had witnessed me do this on multiple occasions and had never mentioned it before. Because it wasn’t an issue. She even had me train staff in this specific delivery method. Because it wasn’t an issue.
She finished her list by telling me that she doesn’t want to lose me, but she can’t justify keeping such a poor employee at my current salary. I had two choices: I could either sign a zero-hours contract and work for minimum wage, or she could fire me with two weeks’ notice. But I knew what I had to do. I countered that she would have to give me 12 weeks’ notice, since my contract guaranteed me one week’s notice for every year of employment, up to a maximum of 12.
She argued that I had only been her employee for two years, since before then I worked for the previous owner. I informed her that with how the business takeover had run, it counts as continuous employment. I quoted the exact law and code that backed me up. She asked for a 30-minute break in the meeting to “let me think about her offer.” She went to call her lawyer.
When she came back, she informed me that since she was firing me for gross misconduct, she didn’t have to give me any notice at all. If I wanted to remain and move to the zero-hours contract, I could do that today. But if I didn’t, then she would have to fire me. But because she was nice she would give me the two weeks’ notice. I asked for a couple of hours to go home and think about this.
She allowed this. But I knew something she didn’t want me to. I knew the reason she wanted me to remain for at least two weeks was because one of our few remaining bigger customers were set to have a product delivery from me in that time, and they would only work with me. The owner had tried sending other staff in my place on several occasions, and each time there had been problems.
It wasn’t the staff’s fault. It was just a very difficult delivery for a very specific customer which needed to be perfect. As a result, this customer would only deal with me. I called the office and spoke to the owner. I declined the offer of a zero-hours contract and said I would be leaving. She then said she was giving me my two weeks’ notice. I declined her offer of two weeks’ notice.
I informed her that if I was being fired for gross misconduct, then surely I cannot be relied upon to safely deliver the product. Therefore, it would be best for everyone involved if I didn’t return to work. That’s when she panicked. She said that she needed me for those two weeks. I feigned ignorance and let her know that I was just thinking about what’s best for the company.
After all, you can’t have unsafe staff delivering your product to your customers. However, if she wanted to rethink the “gross misconduct” accusation, then I would work my 12 weeks’ notice. Those were her options. 0 weeks or 12. She chose 12. For those 12 weeks, I worked the same way I had for 14 years. I didn’t coast. I didn’t slack.
I didn’t badmouth the company on my way out. I continued to train new staff. I continued to deliver the product in my own, personal, exceptional way. But I didn’t stop there. I also got in touch with a lawyer who was a specialist in employment law. For those 12 weeks, the owner barely spoke to me. She resented the fact that I knew my rights and didn’t just believe her lies.
She hated the fact that I could defend myself. She was petty. She “accidentally” dropped my mug in the kitchen, breaking it. Most petty of all, she paid for every member of staff in the office to have a spa day…except me. I was asked to work my day off to answer the phones whilst everyone else was being pampered. Nobody knew I hadn’t been invited until they arrived at the spa and I wasn’t there.
Here’s the thing; I’m a big, fat bearded guy. I have no interest in a spa day. If she had offered it to me I would have thanked her and declined the kind offer. But by pointedly excluding me she was only making herself look terrible. For the last two weeks I was training up my friend to basically take over from me. At the end of the 12 weeks, my final day came around.
The owner had nothing planned. Not so much as a card after 14 years (two for her). The office assistant manager who had become a friend had got me some presents, but had to give them to me once the boss was gone, for fear of reprisals. The day after my final day, two things happened. The first was my friend, who I had been training up to replace me, quit.
He was on a zero-hours contract so required no notice. He was unhappy with her treatment of me, and was unhappy that she expected him to do my (previously salaried) job for minimum wage. He hadn’t informed me of his plans to leave, and I only learned of it when he knocked on my door in the middle of the day, when he should have been at work, to let me know.
The second was the owner received a letter informing her that I was bringing legal proceedings against her for unfair dismissal. I had arranged this with my lawyer to be delivered the day after my final day. According to the office assistant, she went pale and started crying. Then she left the office to call her lawyer. She refuted my claims for unfair dismissal.
Said it was gross misconduct. Tried to come up with some more reasons for firing me. But the truth was that the company was making less money because of her business practices, and I was the highest (and only) salary. I had evidence that I was a great employee. I had evidence that she asked me to move to a zero-hours contract. She initially tried to deny this, since the “gross misconduct” fabrication makes no sense if she wanted me to stay.
But once my lawyer provided hers with a transcript of the entire meeting along with a copy of the recording, she knew she was screwed. Still, she let the case drag on for over a year. I think she hoped that the fees would lead to me dropping the case. But once more, she had underestimated me. Little did she know, my lawyer was working on a no-win, no-fee basis, whilst hers wasn’t.
She ended up settling out of court. The aftermath: The office assistant who had become a friend quit a couple of months after I left. She hated how I was treated and didn’t feel safe working for such an untrustworthy boss. Several former customers contacted me personally to enquire why I was no longer with the company. Apparently, the owner was telling them that I just quit.
I informed them that I had been fired for cost-cutting reasons. They moved their business elsewhere. Several offered me jobs. One went so far as to offer me a part-time job and to pay for me to attend college to earn a degree required for them to hire me full time. This was a lovely offer, but they were one of the customers who were a bit too far away to commute, and I wasn’t ready to move.
In the end, I found a new job in a different industry where a lot of my skills transferred over. I’m currently earning more than I was, working fewer hours and for better owners. The old business is floundering.
13. The Door Was Wide Open
My father worked for a Forbes 500 company since the 70s. Moved up the ranks as a software engineer and management, has patents for the company that saved it millions of dollars. He’s almost to pension age and suddenly HR starts making his life miserable. He noticed this trend was happening to some of his co-workers when they were getting close to age 60 as well.
HR Lady calls him into the office and says that he was not punching in and out at the correct time. My father, an engineer, is very, very detail-oriented. He knew that these were false accusations and asked HR to prove it. Then: surprise, surprise. They came back a week later and couldn’t prove it. And he said, “Of course you can’t. I have been driving the corporate carpool bus for the last 15 years. I always have 16 witnesses on my clock in time and I haven’t been late in 15 years.”
HR Lady came back a week later and they said that they were going to fire him for letting people into the building without badging. He asked to see when and where he was letting someone into the building without badging. They showed that he held the door for his best friend who had also been working there since the 70s who had his foot cut off after having type 2 diabetes. He was in a wheelchair.
Prior to this, my dad took the chief of security out for lunch and told him about how this company wanted him to leave before he got his pension, so he got some footage of his own. My dad said, “That is very interesting. You are going to fire me for holding the door for my best friend of 35 years after his foot was amputated and he was in a wheelchair? Fine then, I hope you fire the CEO and yourself as well!!!”
He then proceeded to show footage of the HR lady holding the door for his friend and the CEO holding the door for his friend. My father ended up staying there until he got his pension.
14. A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words
My co-worker, and absolute hero, maliciously complied at security on one of our subcontractor jobs. The customer was a manufacturer for high-end electronic components. Security was tight, as a small 4″ x 6″ box could contain $250,000 worth of microchips. Our team was installing equipment in their facility for one week. A security checkpoint had to be passed every trip in or out of the building.
Mr. Security Guard, Chad, decided my co-worker, Steve, was more suspicious than the other four techs. So every trip in or out, not only was Steve made to dump the entire contents of his backpack out on the table and go through it, Chad also required Steve to show him the last five pictures taken on his phone “to prove he wasn’t taking secrets.”
This is all fine, except Chad lets everyone else through without any sort of inspection. Steve is trying to stay positive, but obviously, this is eating away at him. Steve tries to be overly positive and also a bit snarky with comments like “Thank you Paul Blart, for keeping America safe,” which busts up the rest of our crew. Then, Steve has the idea that will free him the rest of the week.
Wednesday comes along, and Steve is overly scrutinized on our way in as usual. As we head to security at lunch, Steve says he has to go to the bathroom. He comes back out a few minutes later, absolutely giddy. Chad Blart, mall cop, stops us on our way out and asks Steve to see his camera roll. Steve gladly hands the phone over. Chad is greeted by some very peculiarly angled shots of Steve’s bare butt.
“What the heck?” Chad throws the phone down on the table. “Oh, sorry. I thought I had a hemorrhoid and wanted to see how bad it was. Is everything ok with my pictures? Is the facility safe?” Chad never checked Steve’s materials again. Good on you Steve.
15. Like Fort Knox
So I was working at Subway a few years ago and a man came in with his wife and two children. I had all four sandwiches started when the man asked me for the code to the bathroom. The policy was you had to make a purchase to get the bathroom code, but by the way he was doing the potty dance, it was pretty apparent this guy needed to go.
Obviously, either he or his wife will pay for the four sandwiches I’ve already started. The next day, however, my boss sits me down and lectures me about how the code is on the receipt for a reason. She watched the tape and saw me give the man the code and tells me, “I don’t care who it’s for. Whether it’s your friend, family, whatever, you name it, you do NOT give it the code under any circumstances.”
Later on that night, I was working by myself when some guy in a trench coat and greasy long hair came in the side door. He said, “Hey man, somebody got seriously messed up outside.” A long line of customers waited for me while I subtly grabbed the bread knife and went around to check. It wasn’t the best part of town, so you never know with people.
Anyways, as trench coat man stated, someone was seriously messed up outside. His face was all bloody and he was just a mess. I called 9-1-1 and went back to making sandwiches. Some time later, a few patrol cars and an ambulance showed up. They were doing their business outside and then one of the officers comes in and asks for the bathroom code.
Like six hours earlier, my boss told me not to give it “under any circumstances” without a purchase. I laughed a little and told him what I told all the other customers, “I’m sorry, you have to make a purchase first. You can get a cookie which is $0.?? and then it’ll be on the receipt.” He didn’t realize the laugh was really at myself and how awkward of a situation he unknowingly put me in.
Nor did I have a chance to explain it before the laugh and the rejection of the bathroom code caused him to become straight-up furious. He gives me three warnings to give him the code. Each time I tell him I’m not going to give it to him and the customers are on my side, telling him I’m just doing my job. After his third warning, he shook his head and muttered “I can’t believe you’re interfering with an ongoing investigation,” and he uses the walkie on his shoulder to get some information.
About five minutes later, one of the officers handed me a phone. I answered and my manager said, “Are you serious???” Long story short, the officer got the bathroom code and a free bag of chips.
16. Putting My Finger On It
This happened about four years ago when I got a summer job at my university. The job was working for professors that I had worked with before, and they asked me last-minute to teach a summer workshop to 9th and 10th graders. So with fewer than two weeks before the camp starts, I have a bunch of paperwork to do first, including “clearances” that say I can work with kids.
One of these is an official FBI check, for which they need my fingerprints. Well, I needed to do the physical fingerprinting right away in order to get the result in time. Luckily I was able to book a fingerprinting appointment for that Friday, which would be just barely enough time to get the result. That Friday I catch the subway to campus and it’s atrociously slow.
I’ll admit I should have planned for this—the subway here is always behind. Anyway, I end up slightly late getting to campus so I literally run to the station and enter the front room at EXACLTY 5 minutes after my appointment time. I know this because as I stepped through the door, I felt my phone buzz with what turned out to be a “Your appointment has been canceled” email.
I speak to the security behind bulletproof glass inside and I learn the appointment was indeed canceled after he checks my confirmation number. Apparently, they are automatically canceled if you’re not checked in within 5 minutes. Obviously, this is outrageous, but I’m usually a patient guy, so I ask if I can book a new appointment.
That’s no good since it would have to be Monday or later. So I grab a coffee from across the street and return to sit inside the station to try and solve this with some Googling while I slip into a more and more frantic state of frustration. I can’t find anywhere in the city that can fingerprint me before Monday. But here’s what really pushed me over the edge.
While I’m sitting there, at this point 30 minutes past my appointment time, someone else comes in for fingerprints. She shows up 5 minutes early. They take her in immediately, and she’s out BEFORE her appointment was even scheduled to begin. The entire thing took her about 2 minutes. I point out to the cop behind the glass (as politely as I can) that CLEARLY someone could see me RIGHT NOW because her appointment is already over.
Why can’t I have the current slot? But the guy insists that since my appointment was canceled, my registration info was “no longer in the system” and I can’t be seen today. That’s when the idea comes to me. I confirm with him that showing up early is not a problem, because they would have my appointment and registration information in the system.
You see where I’m going with this. So I quietly sit back down and take out my phone. About 10 minutes later, I calmly approach him again and say “Hello, I have a new appointment to be fingerprinted. I’m about 72 hours early.” I have never seen such an exasperated sigh in my life. But he checked my new confirmation number and everything was in order. Within 10 minutes, I was walking back out after getting fingerprinted.
17. This Should Only Take A Minute
Many years ago, I worked at a car dealership. The attached service garage was small and I was the only licensed mechanic. I would occasionally have issues with male customers—I’m a girl, and they would second guess my diagnoses, watch me while I worked on their cars from the bay door, double-check my work in the parking lot, etc.
I didn’t deal with customers directly and would often get my apprentice to pull cars in and out of the shop for me. This morning in particular, we were busy. The lot jockey and apprentice were occupied helping wash cars for delivery and driving to a customer’s house. The service advisor left a work order and keys at the parts counter, and I went out the front through service to get the car.
It was in for a service campaign, which was an update done with a scan tool. It takes about 10 minutes. The customer was planning on waiting and was sitting in service. When he saw me with his keys in my hand, he immediately stood up, alarmed. I was hustling so I walked right by him and out the door. I missed the following conversation, according to the service advisor (also female):
Customer: “Who is that chick? Is she going to be working on my car? I don’t want her working on my car.” Advisor: “The other tech is out at the moment, so it’s going to be quite a wait until someone else can look at your car.” C: “That’s fine. I’ll wait for a guy. I don’t want that chick touching my car.” A, politely: “Understood.” The advisor comes to let me know, and I pull the car out and put the work order and keys back on the counter, nonplussed.
Half an hour passes. The apprentice is still away, and I am happily working on something else, bringing other cars in and out. The customer is now watching each and every person who comes through the door. The high school co-op student comes in to get something signed. The customer’s keys are still sitting on the desk. It’s been about an hour now.
C: “Hey— why hasn’t my car gone in yet? Can’t you get this guy to do it?” A: “No, sorry. He’s just a co-op student so he is not allowed to drive the cars due to liability and insurance concerns.” C: “Just get someone else to bring the car in and he can do the work. This was supposed to take 10 minutes.” A: “Sorry, sir. He’s just a high school student doing his co-op; he’s not approved to perform warranty work. Only licensed techs and apprentices can do the recall.”
The car jockey returns. The advisor hands the car jockey a different set of keys, and he brings yet another car into the shop for me. The customer is becoming incensed. C: “I’ve been sitting here for over an hour and I’ve watched five cars go in before mine. My appointment was for 8 am, this is getting ridiculous,” blah blah blah. At this point he says that he literally doesn’t care who does the recall, but that it has to be a guy.
The service advisor starts listing off the names of the men who work in the dealership, then saying why they can’t perform the recall. “Well there’s Harmon, but he’s just the car jockey. He doesn’t know how to work on cars. Then there’s Jeet, but he’s about 17. I wouldn’t want him doing the recall, personally. I guess we could ask Mike—but Mike is the parts guy—he doesn’t know how to use the scan tool. The detailers are men, but they know NOTHING about cars… ”
The customer is fuming at this point, and demands to talk to the service manager. The manager comes out of his office and guides the customer into the garage. He’s pretty old school…lights up a dart standing at the end of my bay, and points at me. “That’s my best technician. Those guys take orders from her. You can either wait for her to finish what she’s working on, and then you can ask if she’s still willing to do your work, or you can take your car somewhere else.”
The guy was pretty shook up at this point and he took his car and left, two hours after he’d first arrived. I don’t think we ever saw him again, which was not much of a loss, all things considered. That manager in particular ALWAYS stuck up for me and took my side. The service advisor has this very deadpan sense of humor. She knew full well it would easily be an hour before the apprentice would return from his errand, and that no one else could do the recall. This was not the first idiot we had encountered.
18. Read The Fine Print
So this story is about a property I own, but rent out. This may sound strange, but I don’t think I could afford to live there these days as it’s become somewhat exclusive. A million years ago my property was part of a large farm. I bought it about 30 years ago, long after the farm was broken up, but before there was any development near it.
The piece of land I got was near the back entrance that joined into a dirt road that ran past. The more expensive plots were near the tarred road in the front. I originally bought a large chunk of the land intending to do some farming, but that never happened. About 20 years ago, some of the owners got organized (We’ll call them the Organized Owners, OO) and had the area designated as a municipal suburb. That’s when everything started to change…but not for the better.
The municipality agreed to put in tarred roads, water, and electricity if a certain percentage of the properties were developed. A construction company (linked to the OO) went around contacting the owners who had land but no buildings, offering to build houses for us at a very (very) reasonable price—contingent on them getting a certain minimum amount of people signing up.
While this was happening, one of the OO approached me and offered to buy half of my property. I agreed, and the money I got for the sale (which was about four times what I’d paid for the entire chunk of land 10 years prior) combined with a small loan from the bank gave me what I needed to pay for a house to be built, and it was a fairly large and nice house too.
I stayed in the house for a few years, and my mom moved in with me. I had decided to subdivide the property again and build her a house next to mine, but then tragedy struck. Unfortunately, an un-diagnosed tumor took her before the house could even be started. Soon after she passed, we moved out of the house and started renting it out.
About a few weeks before we moved out, the OO I’d sold the land to started talking about starting a Home Owners’ Association. I wasn’t interested and left soon after. About two years later, the neighbor OO contacted me. There were two roads entering the area these days: the original tarred road that was near where the farmhouse had been and was entered from a fairly busy main road, and my “dirt road back entrance” which was now a tarred entrance from a wide but not very busy municipal road.
The HOA was trying to get the old farm road blocked off to improve security and decrease through-traffic, and they wanted the road next to my property to be the main (and only) entrance to the HOA community. And they were pressuring me to join. I said no, and I was adamant, and eventually they accepted that but told me they wanted to have a sign near the road welcoming people to the neighborhood.
Well, the only practical place to put it was on the edge of my property. They also wanted to build a little guard hut and have a security guard permanently monitoring who went in and came out, and they wanted to build his shed on my property. We came to an agreement whereby they would mow the lawn and pay the equivalent of about $35 per month in exchange for the land they needed.
I was very happy with this arrangement, since the property was fairly large, and it didn’t really cost them anything since they already had a full-time gardening service servicing the HOA. This all happened over a decade ago. They eventually got the other main road blocked off, and the HOA is paying for rent-a-cop to be permanently stationed close to my property, as well as mowing my lawn and paying me enough money for takeaways for the family each month.
I’m occasionally contacted by members of the HOA to get me to sign up, but I’m really not interested. My property has been rented to the same tenant for all these years and everything there is going well for me. Until one terrifying day. Three years ago, someone scared the heck out of my tenant’s young daughter by making strange noises and shooting a gun by her bedroom window three or four times over about a month.
This scared my tenant and I guessed it scared the HOA because they AND my tenant contacted me with a proposal: I join the HOA and they give me exclusions from the HOA rules, including exclusions from paying the monthly fees, and in addition they will build a wall around the ENTIRE HOA neighborhood, including electric fencing and security cameras.
They told me they had wanted to do this for a while but were unwilling to build the wall on property that was not in the HOA. I couldn’t see the downside, and so agreed. I would live to deeply regret this. It took a little over a year to build the wall and get everything completed, which is quite fast. And then a month to the day after everything was done, my tenant got an HOA warning about his dogs barking.
He told the HOA that while the property was in the HOA, it was exempt from the rules. The HOA told him that they had canceled the exemptions, and that he had 30 days to comply. He contacted me, and I opened some mail I’d gotten from the HOA (I’d ignored it since I was supposed to be exempt from the rules and fees). Man, did I get a surprise.
They had indeed retroactively canceled the exemptions, and were claiming: That I pay late fees going back over a year, that the agreement had been canceled, and that they were retroactively canceling it a year back because the HOA contract allowed them to use “small unused portions” of HOA members land for the common good for free, and that I refund them the money they had paid for the easement over that period.
They also claimed that I owed them money for the garden service mowing the large lawn, and that I would be fined for each infraction my tenant failed to remedy. This started an expensive process involving lawyers and the court system. It ended with a judge telling me something infuriating. That what the HOA had done was mostly legal.
Basically, they had the right to revoke the exemptions, but that they had to give me 30 days’ notice. As I was walking to my car, the neighbor OO (the one who bought half my land so many years ago) told me that I was stupid to have refused to join when the HOA started, as I could have been a founder member (whatever that means), and that next time I should be sure to understand the documents I sign before signing them.
To be fair, neighbor OO was right; I should have read the contract better. Also, I was interested in what it meant to be a “Founding Member” (spoiler: Nothing), and so when I got home I grabbed the HOA contract I’d signed, as well as all the other documentation they had provided me with, and started reading. I was determined to break every rule I could find a loophole to break. I didn’t have to even get past the first page.
While the street address of the property is used to identify it for all practical purposes, in the city records it has a unique property number that has to be used on legal records. When my mom moved in, I’d subdivided the remaining property but hadn’t yet started building on it. And when I gave the HOA the easement all those years ago it had been on the property I’d sliced off for my mom.
And when the HOA set up the contract, they had simply used the property number from the easement. The next afternoon, the neighbor OO delivered (and had me sign for) two documents—one telling me that my exemptions would expire in 30 days, and one letting me know that the easement would no longer be required after 30 days.
I think he was being a bit malicious here, because I lived about an hour away from the property, and he drove out himself. Still, EXACTLY 30 days TO THE HOUR after the HOA had given me the 30 days’ notice, I knocked on the neighbor OO’s door (did I mention he was the president of the HOA?) and had him sign for two documents. The first was that I planned to build a house on my HOA property (which confused him) and the second was notice that they had 30 days to remove from the property the guard shed, the parts of the electric boom that were on my property, as well as the sign.
He tried to engage me but I ignored him, climbed into my car, and drove off. Early the next morning I got a call from the HOA lawyer who explained to me that their junk would be staying on my property since it was in an “unused” part of my land. I explained that I was building a house there, and that the land would not be unused anymore.
I could hear the smirk as he told me that building a second house to be spiteful would not be accepted by the courts. But my response was better. I sure hope he could hear the smirk in my voice when I told him that the property in question did not have a house, and was, in fact, barely large enough for a house to be built and would not be large enough for any extraneous buildings.
I then told him to go look up the property in question and call me back. I had sliced off just enough to be legal, which was just enough to build a small house. It took them just under five days to get back to me. Their lawyer told me that the terms of the easement meant that I could not cancel without their permission, so I emailed him a photo of the document they sent to me… canceling the easement.
That afternoon, Neighbor OO invited me to lunch (his treat) to discuss the problem. I said “No thanks.” He extended the offer again two days later, and again I said “No thanks.” Others of the original OO contacted me to try to talk. Some sounded aggressive, some sounded sympathetic. I said “No thanks” to each of them. Eventually, the lawyer phoned and asked if we could come to some sort of arrangement.
I asked what he had in mind, and he told me that he was prepared to discuss exclusions in exchange for access to my property. So I said “No thanks, and please don’t call me again.” About nine days before their 30 days were up, I got a call from a different lawyer. He said he wanted to “negotiate a surrender” (his words, not mine). I agreed to meet him at his office the next day.
I’d already had documents drawn up, and the meeting was as simple as me giving him the documents and him reading them over. When he read it, his face went white. My new easement offer: Included everything offered by the old offer, and I changed the line “mow the lawn” to “get the property to HOA standards and keep it there” since it was now in the HOA.
This would cost them about $500 per month instead of ~$35, and this amount would increase with inflation (the previous contract didn’t include that bit). When canceled, for whatever reason, the HOA would have to pay me a cancellation fee of around $7,500. The contract automatically terminated 30 days after any disciplinary action was taken against me, my tenant, or the property (“the property”), any complaints were levied by the HOA against the property, and the HOA would pay all my fees if any court action was taken against me.
I’d deliberately left some insane things in there so that I could appear to “concede” some points or be negotiated down when the HOA got indignant about the points I actually cared about. The lawyer didn’t look happy. He said that my proposal sounded unfair, but that he’d have the HOA president look at them. I reminded him that in eight days I’d be setting a group of men armed with sledgehammers and anger management issues loose on whatever of theirs was still on my property. But it was far from over.
That evening, I got an irate call from the HOA president. He told me he was never going to sign the new contract. I said “OK.” He then told me I was charging too much per month, and that it should be at the same rate as the previous contract. I pointed out that when I signed the previous contract the area was under development, and there was at least one other road leading in and out, but that now there was only mine.
And besides, mine was now developed with everything they needed. He told me that I was forcing them to sign a document they didn’t want to sign. I told him that he was free to not sign it. He whined about everything he could think of. And then eventually told me I’d be hearing from his lawyer. The next morning Surrender Lawyer called to ask if I’d be willing to come to their offices to sign the contract.
I agreed. When I got there that afternoon I learned that Surrender Lawyer was not a lawyer, but a Paralegal. He handed me the contract and asked me to sign it. He laughed when I told him I’d have to read through it first to make sure nothing was changed, and mumbled something that sounded like “I’m sure you would.” I read the contract. Nothing had been changed.
NOT A SINGLE THING. And the HOA president had signed it, with the Surrender Paralegal signing as witness. I looked at him and said “Why did he sign this? It was stupid to sign it!” His response blew my mind. The guy looked at me and said, “I started telling him that signing it would be a bad decision, but he told me I wasn’t being paid to think or give advice, and to shut up. So I shut up.” I said, “Do you understand what he’s signed here?”
He looks at me and nods. He said, “I asked him if I should have one of the lawyers look at it before giving it to you, and he told me that we had already billed enough for this and that he’d sign it and sue me after their easement was safe. This happened about a year and a half ago. It took 6 months for the HOA to find out how screwed they were.
They wanted to sue me, but their lawyers explained to them that there was no way to win. Even if the court sided with them, all they would get is the contract voided, and they did not think that the court would side with them. The lawyers were adamant about one thing—the HOA could not live with the “HOA pays my fees if action was taken against me” since it didn’t limit the people taking action against me to the HOA.
As worded, the HOA would be forced to pay for my fees if ANYONE took action against me. They argued that the courts would probably not enforce that, since the context of the agreement was to do with the HOA, and I told them I was prepared to find out since the HOA would definitely be the ones taking action against me if they challenged it.
I eventually signed an addendum to the contract that said that the neighbor OO (HOA President) would personally pay all my fees unless he held no position in the HOA, and that the HOA would pay all fees if the HOA took action against me. He resigned from the HOA at the end of that meeting. This is where the best revenge came. I politely told him in front of everyone that he should not sign documents unless he understands what he’s signing.
He didn’t look pleased. It came out during the mediation (you cannot imagine how happy the lawyers were that their paralegal was mediating) that without the ability to control access to the HOA neighborhood through the security boom (partially) on my property (the HOA had become a “gated community” a number of years back) the HOA would be in breach of their own articles and would be dissolved.
I also learned (should have been obvious to me) that all the security cameras were wired, and all terminate in the guardhouse/guard shed. So basically, it was my way or the end of the HOA. That first mediation was really quite funny. My paralegal looked more than a little glum as we assembled and he called everyone to order. I suspected that he had been told to work against me, so I took the initiative.
I reminded everyone there that I had agreed to let the paralegal mediate, but that I had agreed to no arbitration at all. If I didn’t feel like the proceedings were fair I’d leave and they could go ahead and sue. The paralegal brightened up and things actually went quite well. I’m writing this after getting home from the latest mediation. I built a “paddling pool” for the neighborhood dogs.
As in, I made it myself. I dug a hole, packed it with stone, and added a concrete finish. It was my first attempt, and if I say so myself, it looked…well, terrible. But this played right into my hands. The HOA called for a mediation meeting (what they do now instead of taking official action. I’ve declined their mediation requests in the past) in which they told me, as nicely as they could, that the paddling pool was an eyesore right at the entrance of the HOA.
I asked them to create a list of what needed to be fixed and how it needed to be fixed to give to me at the next meeting. The list was extensive. It basically required the pool to be rebuilt from scratch. I asked them if there was any way to reduce costs on the work they needed to get it up to HOA standards, and they assured me there was not.
I thanked them, pulled out a copy of the agreement where they had agreed to “get the property to HOA standards” (which I’d highlighted) and handed it to them with the list. I told them the HOA usually preferred if these things were dealt with within 30 days. They started arguing until the mediator reminded them that they could not force me to comply without causing the easement to end.
I should mention that their lawyers usually no longer attend these things. They said they would get it done. I also learned a lot about neighbor OO. I found out that Neighbor OO sold his property about 3 months back, and is apparently leaving the country for Australia. I found out that the HOA had successfully sued him for a load of money they had lost to his mismanagement as part of his vendetta against me.
I also learned that he had a vendetta against me. I have no idea what I did to upset him. I’m not sure if I will screw with the HOA anymore. I already think I’m so close to breaking them that the only thing stopping them from canceling the contract is the massive financial loss if they do. I guess a lot depends on how they treat me and my tenants going forward.
Also, I do like the monthly payments, though, so I’m motivated to play nice. Neighbor OO was right, though, in the end. You really shouldn’t sign documents unless you understand what you are signing.
19. Not Playing Fair
In 2007, I was involved in a traffic accident on a highway ramp in Baltimore. Traffic went from the speed limit (55mph) to a straight stop around the curve of the exit in a space of 500 feet, AND it had just started raining. I and my Honda Accord managed to stop literal inches from the person in front of my bumper. I had enough time to heave half a sigh of relief before I was rear-ended so hard that the can of tea in my waist-level console cupholder wound up splattered all over the windshield.
I get out of the car and the person who hit me is literally crying blood. She’s driving a Saturn that is at least a decade old and the ancient airbag broke her nose and blacked both of her eyes. She’s also crying for real, because this is her only transportation. I grab an umbrella out of my now weirdly shaped backseat and hold it over her while she sobs, explains her brakes had been locking up lately and she was literally on her way to the mechanics, and tries to text her boyfriend to pick her up.
She’s crying so hard that she drops her phone twice. And then an officer shows up. It got nasty quick. This jerk writes this girl a ticket about “failure to control speed to avoid an accident” and “reckless endangerment” and half a dozen other things to where the ticket would literally cost more than a new car and she might get her license revoked. She’s very upset now.
I talk to her, reassure her it’s not her fault, and manage to swap insurance info. Fast forward two months. I had mild whiplash, but I’m healed up and mostly good regarding the accident. Have a new car and everything. I get a notice in the mail that I am requested to be a witness for this poor girl’s trial for her ticket—don’t have to show, but it’d be nice. I knew what I had to do.
I’m not going to let that officer roast her—I was asked, so I’m taking a day off work to show up. I turn up in court dressed in my civil servant best (was working for the state government at the time, so however staid you imagine, multiply it by three), and even toss on some makeup to impress the judge. I wait three hours for her hearing, because heck if I’m gonna accidentally be late.
The officer goes first, making up a bunch of lies about how recklessly she was driving to have hit me in an accident he was probably 10 miles away from witnessing from his response time. Then the judge calls me, and I stand up. The officer looks this like this bizarre combination of shocked and angry. Like he didn’t expect me to show. Poor girl was already crying and starts crying more.
So I get to the stand, get sworn in, and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I said that we were going exactly the speed limit—I know, because I checked my speedometer in surprise that there wasn’t more traffic. That she was following a proper distance behind me, because I’d checked my rearview mirror and she was a ways off.
That it had just started raining after a dry week, so the road was greasy and I knew that because I’d almost slid into the car in front of me, only saved by my car’s ABS. That her wheels had locked because I’d heard the screech and seen the skidmarks, and that she definitely wasn’t at fault because she was on her way to get her car’s old ABS fixed. I waited until I dropped the hammer.
I then mention that the officer didn’t show up until 20 minutes later. The judge thanked me for doing my civic duty and turning up, and I got a quick hug from the poor girl after the judge dismissed her charges.
20. The Wheels Are Coming Off
I’ve been a mechanic my entire working life so far, and this is one of my favorite experiences. I had a customer come in complaining about a vibration. I put the vehicle on the lift and checked the front end. I found a nearly broken tie rod and a faulty rack and pinion. So basically, the passenger side front wheel was not fully secured to the steering system and would soon break and cause the wheel to be completely disconnected from the steering.
I told the customer how much the repair would be and told her it was unsafe to drive. She asked me to put it back together so she could leave. I told her that I could not do that because if it broke after I let her leave, I could be held liable. She started yelling and screaming about calling the authorities and suing me and how her cousin’s brother knows a guy who’s related to the chief of police.
She calls out the officers and they come out. I show them the vehicle and they understood the safety concern. They told me to just put the car down and let her leave. I did and even made her sign a statement declining crucial safety repairs. She left with the most “haha, I told you so” smug grin on her face…until she left the property, got pulled over, and got her car impounded. They also gave her a ticket for reckless driving. I was so happy seeing her car get towed.
21. Flipping The Script
My friend, who is Vietnamese, gets told “Speak English, you’re in America!” all the time. It got quite annoying to him, so he eventually decided to do something about it. He looked up the Native American tribe whose tribe was originally on the land where he lives, went to the tribe’s cultural center, told the elderly grandma working there he was tired of being told to speak English in America, and had her teach him how to say “White person/outsider/non-native” in the language as well as some other curse words and whatnot.
Apparently this made that Native American granny’s week, because she went all out and really taught him quite a lot. And ever since, any time some jerk tells him to speak English in America he says, “Well why don’t you speak [Native American tribe’s language], we’re in [Native American tribe]’s lands! You darn [Native American word for white person]!”
The shocked face he gets in response never gets old. They completely freeze up for a few seconds, before responding in entertaining ways such as gasping for air or pointing their finger angrily or just turning and walking away. And then it got better. Eventually, the word spread among my group of friends and quite a few of them—who as immigrants, or even just people who speak a second language, occasionally also get told this—are always chomping at the bit to get their chance to use this response.
Every time some of them finally do, they immediately announce it to everyone they know and it really never gets old.
22. One Day More
I rented a car for five weeks while my car was being repaired from a car accident. The rental company had a couple of great policies—no cleaning fee no matter how gross the car was, and unlimited miles. Ideal for me, as I live in the country and going anywhere is a drive. When my car was finally scheduled to be finished (a Monday evening), I called the rental car company on Sunday.
I asked about return details. They said the return time would be 5:30 pm Monday, but I could just leave it at the shop and leave the keys in the shop’s dropbox. I said sure, and next night I went, got my car, and left keys in the box. Got in my car, and the check engine light is on. The staff says come back tomorrow and we will fix it. I go home thinking that I will be sitting at the shop all Tuesday because I had no other ride.
Tuesday morning, I wake up at 7 am to the rental car company very angry and saying that they can’t get into the dropbox and the shop doesn’t open until 9. I tell them I just did what they said to do. They told me that they would be charging me an extra day. Now I’m furious. I leave my house later and arrive at the shop at 8:50. Rental car guys aren’t there.
I sit around and the shop opens, I grab the rental keys and give them my car. Right on time, rental car guys appear. They demand the keys and I ask if I’m still getting charged for an extra day. One guy is inspecting the car while the other tells me yes, I’m getting charged an extra day. The guy inspecting it comes over and says the car looks good, it should be ready to rent out immediately.
I had cleaned it the day before because I didn’t want to be a jerk. Well, I refuse to give him the keys. “Since I’m getting charged an extra day, that means it’s my car until 5:30 today, right?” At that he gets nervous. He says they need the car back. “I will give you the keys now if you don’t charge me an extra day. But if I’m charged an extra day, I’m using it.”
He refuses to bend so I leave. At this point, I’m petty and angry. So I go straight home. I own a farm and it has been raining like mad lately. I get to work. By the time 10 am rolls around, the car is COVERED in mud. Like, this black car looks painted brown. I didn’t trash the inside, because I’m not that petty. I hop in the car and drive to the rental place.
I’m pretty covered in mud at this point, though I had put trash bags on the front seat to limit it. I walk into the rental place looking like I fell into a mud pit. The guy who refused to cancel the charge looks horrified. I tell them “this car is great for mudding! I’m gonna go mudding for the rest of the day. Just swinging by to ask where to put the keys at 5:30.”
I’m all smiles and dripping sweetness. I watch the life leave him, his shoulders slump, and he says if I return the car now they will cancel the charge because they need to rent out the car. I give him the keys and take an Uber to the shop, where my car is ready. No cleaning fee and no extra day charge. Ha!
23. Going Back To Basics
My kids can be picky eaters at times. My wife made some darn good chicken soup, but the kids were complaining that there were veggies in their chicken soup, they hate veggies, veggies make them sick, and they wanted my wife to pick them out of the soup. We tried to tell them that good chicken soup needs veggies to taste good, but they were being stubborn.
I’m sure other parents can understand. I told the kids, “if you really hate the taste of veggies, I’ll make soup tomorrow, and you guys can make sure I only put stuff in you like.” They liked that idea…at the time. The next day, I get the pot filled with water, all the typical soup ingredients out, and gathered the kids. I asked for their approval on every item.
Chicken—yes, salt—yes, black pepper—no (gross, too spicy), celery—no (I can’t even stand the smell), onions—NO!!! It went on like that, with them rejecting parsley, bay leaves, and other veggies. The total contents of the pot ended up being: Chicken, water, salt, noodles. After the soup was done cooking, I served it up and they excitedly started to eat. A few funny faces later, and one of them said, “it tastes weird, this isn’t very good.”
I said “but I only put in everything you guys approved. I think, from now on, I should make the soup, right?” They looked at each other and said “can we have mom’s soup instead?” Since that day, they haven’t complained about finding veggies mixed in the food. Sure, they almost always eat around a carrot or green pea, but they understand that it adds flavor.
24. Big Man On Campus
I worked as a server for a small, brand new family-owned restaurant. The place was one step below white tablecloth and had a bar on one side with the restaurant on the other. The owners were awesome and provided industry professionals to train us on how best to treat a customer and maximize our tips. As an example of how effective this training was, on opening day I dropped an entire tray of drinks down a woman’s back yet this family returned several more times and would only let me serve them.
The owner brought them a parka the first time they returned. One technique we were taught was to establish who was paying from social cues and make sure they are happy. If a couple comes in and you believe the man is paying, make the woman feel like a queen. When it’s time to pay, she’ll likely encourage a higher tip. Incredibly effective.
As I finish taking an order one day, I notice a family of four being sat in my section and stop by immediately to introduce myself. My assessment is this: husband and wife (very nicely dressed), their beautiful early-20s daughter (my age), and what I gather is her boyfriend wearing a suit and tie. Dad is very clearly paying, but aspiring businessman here interrupts mom when she’s ordering her drink to inform me he’ll be ordering for the table.
If looks could kill, the father would have taken out this young man and probably 10 people in the bar area. Oh, buddy, your night is NOT going to go the way you thought. Every time I returned to the table I would face him, only look at and talk to him, turning my back to the father. Daughter asked for something, I don’t remember what, and without ever acknowledging her, I asked him, “May she have that?”
He barely stammered out a “yes.” When I brought the bill, I set it right in front of him. They hung around for a while and I continued to check in and refill drinks while the bill remained untouched. I think dad was making him sweat. Eventually, dad grabs the bill and puts his card in. I brought back the receipt and thanked the young man for coming in and walked away.
I was returning from another table when they were getting up from the table and the young guy moved to the door at a speed that made lightning look slow. The other three were all smiles and the dad looks across the dining room and mouthed, “Thank you.” I gave him a smile and a nod and continued on my way. The tip amount is a number I don’t remember, but I know it was good. Really good.
It must have been a small wedding because I never received an invite.
25. Too Much Information
In order to request time off, I must fill out a sheet directly below the schedule posted in the “break nook” that all employees can see, and it asks for the reason WHY I need the time off. I don’t need every single person in the company knowing my personal business, so I never filled that spot in, and was reprimanded for it and refused the time off.
I was told I had to give a reason. Enter my revenge: I started getting very specific about completely false reasons. Random Tuesday Dentist appointment? Yep. “Gambling Addiction Counseling.” That Friday I can’t work, because I’m just sick of this place and I need a mental health day? For sure. “Testicular Cancer Screening.” Today I was asked to stop filling in the “Reason” box.
26. Too Hot To Handle
I work in a hot sauce store in a busy outlet mall. We’re a well-liked locally-owned business and have many loyal return customers, but at this particular location we also get a lot of tourists who are curious about our challenge items, or “Hot Ones” products. We have a large variety of samples available every day. Literally like 100 hot sauces, 50+ BBQ/wing sauces just out on the table, and we can pull another 50+ bottles or so from the fridge if one’s open.
Every so often we get people who come into the store and ask to try the hottest sauce. They love jalapenos in their burritos and have eaten habaneros straight and they’re ready to enter the ring, swallow some sauce and gain the admiration of a couple friends and bystanders at the cost of a stomach-ache. We usually try to guide them to the 10th hottest sauce in the store, burn them with it, and then move on to something mild or medium suited to their taste.
Today while I was selling items to people who were actually paying for things, a 10-or-so year old boy enters the store. Immediately, my stomach dropped. I always get wary when children enter the store alone because it is full of glass bottles. They usually dart straight for the shelves and pick something up, but this child came barreling towards me like a bullet.
While I make change for the couple buying some sauce, he calls out to me, “Excuse me!” in a horrendous whiny pitch. I ignore the rude interruption and continue my conversation with my customers. He parrots it again 12 times or so back to back as I thank these people and get them out of the store. Finally, I turn to him, “How can I help you?” Where the heck are this kid’s parents?
“Hi, can I try the hottest sauce in the store.” Not this again. I am not dealing with this, not with a 10-year-old kid. I explain to him that the hottest sauce on the table is Hellboy: Right Hand of Doom. It’s spiked with a 6.66 Million Scoville extract, and honestly if you’re not experienced with this kind of stuff, more than just a tiny bit can really mess up a good part of your day.
Take my word for it. I explain to him he has to be 19 years old to try it and sign a waiver (which is a lie, but I’m off in 30 minutes so screw this kid), and instead guide him to a tasty fermented habanero that he coughs his eyes out on before explaining to me that he could handle the Right Hand of Doom because his dad eats spicy peppers with him all the time.
“Okay.” I say. He leaves, thank God. But my nightmare was just beginning. 15 minutes later, I’m interrupted by another customer. This time a gigantic woman in a blue blouse, and she’s sat next to my sample table like a giant blueberry blocking up 20% of my floor space. “Excuse me!” Apple doesn’t fall far. The customers I’m with are polite and excuse me to speak to her.
“You didn’t let my son try the sauce!” I explain to her that it has extract in it several hundred times hotter than anything he has ever eaten and that it can cause him severe discomfort and that I will not let him try it in my store. I explain that she is free to purchase the sauce and have him try it at home if she so wishes. She explains to me that she married a Mexican man and that I wouldn’t believe the things we ate in “New Mexico City” where he grew up.
When I asked what they had eaten there, she told me “Things hotter than anything we have in the store.” At this point her daughter interrupts our conversation with, I kid you not, “Excuse me!” “What?” I’m getting annoyed. I was annoyed from the second I saw the kid and now he’s back 20 minutes later with three of him. “Why do you sell Valentina, it’s not even a hot sauce?” Jesus Christ. Aren’t you from Mexico? It says Salsa Piquante on the freaking bottle.
It’s 5:50, I’m off at 6. I’ve had enough. “How about this, you can try the sauce and if it’s as mild as you think, I’ll let him try it.” She agreed and grabbed her sample stick. I reached for the Right Hand of Doom and unscrewed the cap. It’s nuclear aroma sending memories of aches to my stomach. As she goes to dip the stick into the sauce, I warn her to “only take a small amount.”
She grins at me and dips the stick all the way into the sauce. Trap card, witch. She slaps it into her mouth. Immediately she looks uneasy before she throws herself into pure agony. She is coughing, swinging her head back and forth, trying desperately to speak, but she cannot muster any words. She dropped her sample stick in all the chaos. After a solid few minutes of coughing and dry heaving, she manages a single word: “water.”
I explain to her that water won’t help her now. My relief walks through the door just in time to witness the finish. She tells me that the only reason she is coughing is because “it went down the wrong pipe.” She then immediately vomits into our garbage can. She apologizes for “spitting up,” like she didn’t just rocket launch half a liter of chum into my trashcan. She then leaves without saying anything else.
I tossed out the trash with a smile on my face and clocked out.
27. More Than He Bargained For
Yesterday I decided to take my kids to an international chain restaurant. In this restaurant, the kids’ meal comes with ice cream. But, you have to serve yourself. That was a problem because there weren’t any bowls beside the ice cream machine. So I thought, “I know what to do. I’ll simply ask an employee for some bowls.” And that’s just what I did.
So he turns to look at the vast array of bowls behind him, some sauce-sized, some entree salad-sized, and many in between. And we realize that neither of us knows what size the kids’ ice cream is intended to be. So he thought, “I know what to do. I’ll simply ask a manager.” And he says, “Hey boss, what do we put the kids’ ice cream in?” Without turning around, the boss says “A bowl, what do you think?”
“Ya, but what size of bowl?” The boss, with his inimitable charm, tact, and grace, says “JUST GIVE HIM A BOWL.” The employee looked back at the bowls, and then I saw him get a brilliant idea. “I apologize about that, sir. I think it’s probably these ones,” he says, as he hands me two of the largest bowls they have in the restaurant, practically giggling with glee.
My children were similarly delighted. The manager walked by when we were halfway through and made a noise like a startled opossum, but said no actual words. Definitely going back there.
28. A Little Leg Room
A few years ago, I was on a flight from LA to Singapore (takes 16+ hours). I’m a tall dude—around 6’3″—so I don’t fit very well in economy class seats. On most planes, my knees are often very close or right up against the seat in front of me. This makes it impossible for the person in front of me to recline their seat, which usually isn’t a problem once the person in front of me sees how cramped I am in those tiny seats.
However, for this particular flight, the man in front of me was not having it. He tried to recline his seat, but couldn’t because my legs were there. He turns around and sees what’s happening and asks me something along the lines of, “Do you mind letting me put my seat back?” I respond with, “I wish I could but I physically can’t. I’ll do my best to give you as much space as I can, but it won’t be much.”
At this point, he starts to get angry and just starts pushing as hard as he can back on his seat. Needless to say, this was not particularly pleasant for me. I ask him to please stop, and he says, “I’ll stop when I can put my seat back.” I decide I’ll just wait him out; he’ll eventually get tired. After about 10-15 minutes of this, he calls a flight attendant over and proceeds to demand a new seat.
The flight attendant tells him there are no available seats and he will have to deal with it. Then he gets straight-up ridiculous. He demands to speak to the pilot. So the flight attendant goes up front to talk to the cockpit. Keep in mind that throughout this he is still pressing with all his might against my knees, with only short breaks to yell at the flight attendant.
After a couple of minutes, the co-pilot (he wanted to speak to the pilot and wasn’t happy about this) comes back and tries to explain to the man that he can’t change seats because there are no other coach seats free. The man continues to demand a seat that is able to recline, give me an upgrade, this is unacceptable, making a scene, etc. The co-pilot finally gives in and says while looking at the man, “Sir, would you like to sit up in business class?”
The man stands up and mutters something similar to, “Finally.” Oh, then it got so good. The co-pilot responds, “Sir, sit down. I wasn’t talking to you.” He turns to me and repeats, “How would you like a seat in business class?” I have, to this day, never seen someone as furious as the man as I walked past him to my new business class seat (with free drinks).
29. Who’s The Dependapotamus NOW?
I’ve been living in Japan for a little over two years with my husband. He was born here and we decided to move to his hometown. It’s a small city, but there’s enough to do without getting bored. I’d describe us as an AMWF couple (Asian man, white female for those who don’t know). It’s not so common in western countries, and it can feel like we are some rare shiny Pokémon as AMWF in rural Japan.
Lots of staring, occasional secret picture, or even small chats if an old lady is brave enough to approach us. It can feel uncomfortable eating at a restaurant because kids will turn around in their seats and stare at us the whole time with an open fish mouth. Coincidentally, there’s a small US base located in this city. The closer you are downtown, the more American families you see.
I’m constantly mistaken for being military by Americans and Japanese, which is understandable. Besides myself, I only know five other racially mixed marriages here. It’s always locals who ask about my “American husband” when I’m out alone, which I respond in Japanese “Watashi no otto wa nihonjin desu. Koko ni sunde imasu” (My husband is Japanese and I live here) or something along those lines.
Americans never ask about my marriage as they assume my spouse is American. When we are together in public, we do abnormal couples behavior such as holding hands—honestly, this is abnormal, I’m not being sarcastic. Couples here rarely hold hands in public, let alone say “I love you.” We don’t go downtown too often since it’s all pay to park and it’s a nightmare to find a place.
Anyway, it was a beautiful warm day for the first time in months, and we decided to battle for a spot and walk around the shops. The crowd was heavy since the weather was great and winter was ending. The season for new American families to move here just finished, so I’m sure this was many peoples’ first time to leisurely walk and shop outside.
We find a parking spot and made our way to the outside shops. Of course, we are holding hands and casually talking and laughing. Then it begins. “WOW.” I hear this from an American woman about 10 feet behind us. You should know that a Japanese stereotype against Americans is that we are rude and obnoxiously loud.
And this “wow” was loud enough for me to turn my head around at the noise. She was with two other moms who had like, three kids each. They were staring at me, but perhaps we just accidentally had eye contact at the right time. “Seriously, another little homewrecker is doing this in PUBLIC?” Chill woman, you’re so loud even I can hear you.
We find a table nearby at the Starbucks outside. We are enjoying our drinks when the same group of women approached us with their strollers in tow. They definitely had some sort of purpose with something to say to us. Let’s call her Onna (woman in Japanese). Onna: “Excuse me, but you need to keep whatever you’re doing in your messed-up home. Doing that in public in front of families to see is disgusting and immoral. My kids don’t need to see such a bad display of marriage.”
I’m SO confused, as was my husband who can speak English. Who knew drinking coffee outside was against humanity and marriage? Then it became all too clear. Me: “I`m sorry? What…did we do?” Onna: “You know exactly what you’re doing.” *She points to my wedding ring* Me: “No, I don’t….” Onna: “Good lord, does your husband know about this? Is he on a ship right now? That’s soooo like a dependapotamus!”
Her friends laugh. In case you don’t speak military, a dependapotamus is slang for a base wife who stays at home all day, doesn’t clean, uses their spouse as an ATM, and looks like Jabba the Hut. At that moment, it dawns on me. She thinks I’m a base spouse and I’m cheating on my American husband! I started laughing because she’s suggesting I’m cheating on my husband…with my husband!
Me: “This IS my spouse. I’m actually not part of the military community and have a Japanese visa.” Onna looks at my significant other up and down. The two women behind her apologize, but the Onna didn’t believe it. Onna: “No one would voluntarily WANT to live in this little town. Nice lie, but you’re not representing our community. You make all of us wives look bad! Who is your husband and what’s his rank? Also, I need to know your dependent ID. MY husband is a high rank so he’ll make sure your husband is aware of your infidelity.”
She pulls out her phone to probably type my response. I’m offended since this is actually a nice place to live and very open to foreigners. Me: “Look, my husband’s name is Rei (not his real name; I don’t want to reveal personal info) and he’s sitting right here. I’m not going to show you my ID since I don’t have one, and you’re not the authorities. As proof, you can obviously see our wedding bands match, and here’s a picture.”
I show her my phone screen, which is of us in traditional Japanese clothes on our wedding day. Her eyes became huge at the picture. Her two friends and their spawn have already started walking away. Then it ratcheted up. Onna: “Why are you in a relationship with HIM? You should be in a normal relationship and start having a family with American kids.”
She says some other statements which I’d consider against the Asian race. It’s so ironic because we are in JAPAN, and she’s fussing about me being married to a Japanese man. My husband has been quiet throughout the whole exchange and says to me we should go. I agree and stood up. Me: “STOP. The things you are saying are extremely offensive. I was part of the base community myself some years ago and what you’re doing is against spousal conduct.”
She smirked. “Go ahead and tell people what I did, then. My high-ranking husband is an E-7, and everything will be swept under the rug no matter what happens. You can’t touch me.” So that’s what I did. Note, this is a small community. Someone does something minor and it’s talked about between wives like chickens. So later that day, I run into my friend who works on the base and she’s well known in the community for being one of the main event coordinators.
I don’t miss this chance to comply with Onna’s demand, and explain to my friend about the exchange and how it made my husband extremely uncomfortable with her remarks. She asked me if this person looked like so and so, which I said yes. My friend rolls her eyes. Friend: “She just arrived a couple months ago and is already causing problems with rumors and drama. I’ll make sure what she said is passed on.”
It’s been half a year later and I didn’t hear anything about Onna again since I distanced myself from making base friends here. I’ve only been in my new city for a little over two years and experienced more drama from those families than I have my whole high school career. That is, until now. Last week, I ran into my friend, who’s getting ready to leave back to the United States.
We had a little discussion about her moving and my family planning, and then she dropped a bombshell. Friend: “Do you remember Onna, who accused you of cheating on your non-existent base spouse and called your husband an awful name?” Me: “Of course! I haven’t heard anything from her since.” Friend: “Well, I mentioned we were already having problems with her not long after she got here. I told my boss that there’s a person who was bothering and threatening civilians and asking for IDs, which isn’t allowed for someone with her status.”
“My boss was extremely interested after I mentioned her name because Onna was scheduled for an interview in my department! I suggested we look at her social media accounts from her past behavior, because we don’t tolerate that stuff. It was easy to find her Twitter and Facebook, particularly Facebook since we have many mutual friends. It was SHOCKING.”
“While she set her Facebook to private, her Twitter was littered with malicious tweets and retweets. She made it very clear that she ‘wants to see her current city burn to the ground’ and ‘why would anyone want to learn Japanese since it sounds terrible.’ We printed some of the more extreme things she posted and we still invited her to the interview.”
“Oh, and did I mention my boss is JAPANESE?!! So she comes into the interview, which I was part of. I asked three good things about her, which is she says ‘dependent, gets things done, and friendly.’ My boss just looked at her for a second before he pulled out her Tweets and asked her to explain how she can actually serve the local community if she hates it so much.”
“Onna was FLOORED and said someone hacked into her account, despite there being at least three years of slanderous tweets. We thanked her for coming and said we can’t accept an employee with this conduct. As far as I know, she’s still not working because some spouses found her Twitter not long after the interview and it was shared in all departments. No one will touch her application now.”
Me: “So all of this was discovered because I told you about her accusations?” Friend: “Yes! Oh, and she’s kind of an outcast socially right now because she cheated on her husband a couple of months ago.” There you have it folks. Because one person couldn’t mind their own business, they lost a potential job and had their social media exposed. Super ironic since she became the dependapotamus and adulterer—the same thing she was accusing ME of.
30. Who Doesn’t Love Free Stuff?
Between eight and ten years ago, I received an email welcoming me to Netflix. That was a bit concerning since I hadn’t signed up, so I contacted the company. They told me someone must have accidentally used my email when they created an account. Our last names were the same and our first initial. I said, “Oh no problem, you must have additional contact information for them besides my email, could you please remove my email from the account and let them know so they can fix?”
Well, immediately that was a big problem for Netflix and well, no they couldn’t remove the email because it was the only one they had for the account, and how did they even know that it was mine? I said, “Give me your email address and start talking, I will email you the words as they come out of your mouth.” That wasn’t good enough for proof somehow.
More likely I was in the other person’s Gmail account asking to not have Netflix? Or something? What they finally ended up doing was changing the account password so that when the customer went to log back in, they wouldn’t be able to and would need to do a password reset by calling Netflix and then they would confirm the email address. Except I kept getting Netflix emails so that didn’t work.
I called again, same again—didn’t work. I changed the password several times myself because I could use the forgot password function and get an email to reset it, that didn’t work. I don’t know how they kept getting the new password without updating an email address and I didn’t really care at this point. The upshot is, for the last eight to ten years I have had Netflix on everything thing I own.
I have signed in on hotel televisions, used it on my phone, my XBOXs; my kid uses it. I only ever signed in under “Family” and told him to do the same. The entire history in “Family” is us. The other logins, “Fred,” “Softee,” and “Lylla” accumulated history. I would occasionally look because, curious. Never did a single new show appear in the “Family” watch history that wasn’t because of me.
Well, I woke up this morning to an email from Netflix telling me that this email address was no longer associated with that account and if I had any questions, etc. Thank you Softee! It has been an amazing run and I am not sure why you gave me free Netflix for the last decade but I think you are amazing!
31. The Good, The Bad, And The Bloody
Background: I work in a fast-paced healthcare environment where every minute counts, and I have both male and female co-workers on my shift. We have lockers with opaque doors where we’re allowed to store our things. When I’m in the office area, I leave mine unlocked for easy access and I’ve started keeping a box of tampons in my locker.
I’ve told my female co-workers if they’re in a hurry and need a tampon they’re welcome to just open my locker (when it’s unlocked and I’m in the office) and take one, no problem. I got called into my boss’s office the other day. What he said stunned me. He told me a male co-worker of mine complained that me keeping tampons in my locker was “disgusting” and he hated that he could see the box whenever my locker was opened.
My boss (a male) told me that some men were really sensitive to “this type of thing” and that I should try hiding them in a different type of box so I wouldn’t offend my co-workers. I asked what the point was because my co-workers would see someone reaching into a “crackers/pop tarts, etc.” box and taking out a tampon instead of food anyway.
My boss got all huffy and told me that it was for the best and I needed to do it. Well, fine, I showed him. I made a cover for my tampon box that said “Mother Earth’s Bloody Nutrients Bars: with extra gooey, nutritious filling!” with a photo of a bloody bathtub, and placed it on the box. That was two days ago, and I saw the male co-worker open my locker (trying to be sneaky).
He paled when he read the box, got all angry, and I received an email from my boss that my cover “wasn’t funny” and that I need to take it down. … So I emailed our HR person a copy of the email as well as a summary of what happened and photos of the lockers, the box, and the cover. I also suggested that the male co-worker sit somewhere where he didn’t have a direct line of sight to my locker if it really offended him so much.
She thought it was freaking hilarious and said I “followed my supervisor’s instructions” and so I was fine. Nothing else has been done yet, and I’m mostly angry that my time was spent on something as stupid as this and not on patient work.
32. Taking Every Last Cent
I work for an office and we have an eight-week busy season with mandatory overtime (12-14hrs/day). During this time, the company agrees to reimburse us for dinner, up to $13/meal. We just have to submit a claim with our receipts at the end of the busy season. Food options around my work aren’t great, so I usually brought my dinner from home.
But sometimes I was too tired to cook after a long day so out of the eight weeks, I purchased maybe 10 meals. Three of those meals I spent $13.50, going $0.50 over the limit. This resulted in a whopping $1.50 overage, which my manager said was no big deal and that I could include them on my expense claim. He signed off on it and everything.
A few days after I submitted my report, Head Office emailed me saying they rejected my expense claim and that I could resubmit after I removed the $1.50 overage. I wrote back saying my manager was fine with the $1.50 overage and even signed off on it, and they responded by telling me that they do not allow overages under any circumstances, that the $1.50 must be removed or they wouldn’t approve any of my meal expenses. Then they got snarky.
They ended their email with the advice that I should “actually read the company policy next time.” Fine, they were right and I was wrong. So I decided I’d read the policy very thoroughly before redoing my expense claim. Yes, the policy clearly stated a $13/maximum on purchased meals. Oh, and what’s this? The policy also allows a $10 per diem for meals you bring from home.
I very happily removed the $1.50 overage and added an additional $300 for the 30 meals I brought from home. I should read the company policy more often!
33. Friends In High Places
This was back in the 80s. It was my first job, working as a maintenance man at a local hotel. I’d been working there part-time since I was 16 and when I turned 18, I got a notice to attend jury duty. I picked a week and I let my boss know. The owner of the hotel found out (he was always a completely unreasonable jerk to all the employees) and sees me in the hallway and tells me that I need to do “whatever it takes” to get out of jury duty because he needs me at the hotel that week for a large dog-show.
Clogged drains, etc. He says if I’m not at work, I’m fired. When I get to jury duty, day 1, I get selected for a week-long trial, and the judge asks jurors if there’s any reason we cannot serve on the jury. They go around…When they get to me, I’m nervous, never been in court before and too scared to lie. I tell the judge that the owner of the business I work at will fire me if I’m not back today.
I said I needed to do everything I can to get out of jury duty or I’m fired, other than that I’m fine serving. The judge looks angry. The judge has me approach the bench, asks for the name of the owner, location, etc. Then he hands the court officer a paper and says something to the officer. (The judge still looks angry). I’m told to return to the jury box. I didn’t know what was going on then—but I didn’t have to wait long.
About an hour later (still selecting a jury), the officer returns with the owner, visibly shaken, in handcuffs and walked to the front of the judge’s bench. The owner is standing in front of the judge. The judge asks him questions, which he apologetically tries to worm out of. Then the judge (looking even angrier) instructs him that I will be here for jury duty, I will serve as long as I need to, and he should NOT do anything to retaliate against me.
More than that, the judge is filing charges and will be instructing the clerk to check with me regularly and if, for any reason, I am fired or face any disciplinary action at work, he will hold the owner in contempt, violation of a court order, etc. and he will spend time behind bars thinking about how important jury duty is. Then the judge makes him apologize to me, in court!
I made it onto the jury and I served the week. I reported back to work the following week. I expected some blowback, but I never got fired, none of my shifts were changed and I got paid for my time in jury. I didn’t ask why I got paid. The clerk did check back a few times and I was told to call the judge’s clerk’s direct phone number if anything happened.
It was awesome, I was pretty much bullet-proof and worked until I saved enough to go back to school.
34. Music To My Ears
A bar in my town used to host live bands all the time, until one of the neighbors complained about the noise. It turns out the zoning rules didn’t allow them to have live music and they almost got shut down. The bar owner read over said zoning rules and notices that the wording forbade them to have live music indoors…but they could have it outdoors.
So they moved the stage to the patio section, where it would be even louder for the neighbors, and still be perfectly OK. They still have live music sometimes, but not nearly as often as they used to. Don’t want to push their luck, I guess.
35. Taking Out The Trash
I’ve never met anyone that said “Oh good, a Home Owners’ Association.” We all have trash cans, but the sight of them offends the delicate eyes of some, so I complied with the new rule of “no seeing bins from the street.” I find a notice of my bins being out, which is surprising because I’m the only one who touches the cans and I know I’m 100% compliant.
I call in and ask why I got the notice. The full description says “Bins in the driveway with lids off.” I asked if this happened to be a Tuesday, and sure enough, it was. Wednesday is the pickup, and I was doing my weekly cleaning. I was freaking using them, I calmly explained through gritted teeth. “Oh okay, I’ll remove the notice.” Great, but how do I prevent this from happening again?
“Oh, uh…I guess notify us.” Alright, I said, I’ll notify you every time I’m using my trash cans. “Oh that won’t be necessary….” Clearly, it is. That was five Tuesdays ago. Today, I once again called promptly at 10 o’clock and let Alan know I was about to use my trash cans. “You know what? I’m just going to put a hold on any trash can notices for you.”Hey, that would be swell, Alan. That would be swell.
36. Cheaters Never Prosper
I do a computer science degree at university. We had a group work project which is set out in two stages. Part A involved making an application and writing a report about it (50/50 split). In Part B, we got feedback from Part A and had to improve upon it. In total it was 100% of a module. It is also important to note that there is a group contribution report (GCR).
This is where each student puts in how much they think each student has done. I was in a randomly selected group with four others, and we each picked a part of the work that we wanted to do. I was apparently the group’s most confident coder, so assigned myself about half of the code. I finished up my work in about the first three weeks and worked on other projects I have for other modules.
Soon after I finished my work, the others asked me if I can do their parts of the code too. I initially protest as I have my other coursework due, but eventually I say fine, so long as it is noted in the GCR. They all agree. I sweat it out over the next three weeks or so alongside my other coursework. Eventually, this bothered me, however, and I contacted my module organizer explaining that I had done half the work.
They suggested that if people weren’t pulling their weight to leave the group (taking my code with me) and do the report solo. That would mean I would need to work flat out to produce the report and probably would mess it up. I didn’t want that, since the deadline was in about a week. Except then they asked me to do more work. By this point, I felt pretty used by them.
Still, I didn’t really mind so long as I got the marks. All in all, I worked out that I had done the workload of three people. There was talk amongst the others of all writing that we each contributed 20% of the workload to “make us look better as a team.” I flatly refused. They exploded. They started calling me every name under the sun, swearing at me, telling me to screw off.
I sent off my GCR with 60 for me and 10 each for the rest. And thought that was that. Then my module organizer emailed me asking if I had any proof of my participation, as they all put me at 0% and themselves at 25%. I’d worked my butt on this project, putting in 150+ hours on the code and another 50+ on the diagrams and report. All while attending lectures 20 hours a week.
There was no way I was letting this slide. I emailed him back, linking him to the GitHub I used to share the code with the team and showed him that all the commits (version of the code) were done by me, proving that I did all of it. And thankfully we did the whole report on Google drive so I could also see the history on that document and send him screenshots of all the alterations made by me, proving that I wrote ~20% of the report also.
He added it all up and made a special exception for my group, saying he would give me most of the credit for the work. I think I ended up with a 65 and they all got 11 for the whole coursework Part A. They would need 69% to even pass the module. When they found out their marks, all hell broke loose. They started calling me up and emailing me and messaging me almost for about three hours.
I was happily out at the time and didn’t have my phone with me so didn’t respond. My module organizer sent another email explaining that they had lied and he had proof about it so he corrected the marks accordingly. When I got back to my phone, I screenshotted all the messages they had sent and recorded all the voicemails, including the ones they had sent previously where they told me to “screw off.”
And screw off I did. I sent all these voicemails and screenshots to my module organizer requesting that I leave my group. I said I understand that it is more work for me but I’d rather not deal with that. He agreed and also escalated the messages to someone higher up. At this point, I quit the group and decided to work on Part B, the next part, by myself. But that wasn’t the best part.
I also TOOK ALL OF MY CODE WITH ME. I removed their access to all of it. I of course asked my module organizer first and they said it was fine as it was my work and if I was no longer in their group the others couldn’t submit it. I did the whole report from scratch. I then get messages from the group to “please come back, we really need you” kinda stuff a few days before the assignment was due.
They even offered to pay me. I screenshotted it and sent it to the module organizer, just to let him know what is happening and then I just ignored them. I ended up submitting two weeks early for the deadline and got 100% on the whole Part B. This is basically unheard of at the university. Little did I know, they were trying to get their bitter revenge on me.
Later that day, I get an email from a plagiarism and collusion officer. Not someone you ever want to get an email from. Basically, it says I’m summoned to a hearing as an external body looked at both my group (me, myself and I) and my old group’s coursework and thought it was very similar. I get the whole project that my group handed in and my own back as evidence so I can look and prepare my answers to their questions.
I email my module organizer and ask if he supports me in this because basically they can punish all of you OR one group (never nobody). He says yes he supports me in this. Perfect. I prepare for this meeting by going through the hundreds of commits I have made to the code while they had access to find the one that is most similar to it. I find a PERFECT match, 0 differences, not even a single character.
Through the thousands of lines of code. So I turn up to this meeting and there is the VP of computing there. My old group, when asked to present their answer as to why this has happened, go on about how they did all of it by themselves blah blah blah. You get the point, this goes on for about 10 minutes. Then I am asked to present my argument.
I ask if I can share my screen. VP: “Yeah… Okay…” puzzled. So I share it. Show all the screenshots I took as some of the people in the meeting weren’t aware that we knew each other, including them basically begging for me to come back and offering money to me. And as if this wasn’t enough to convince them, I then showed me downloading a fresh version of what they submitted, and a fresh version of one of my commits, and running it through a trusted comparison software.
I narrated this to explain what I was doing just to be clear. Took a while, but it came up—as I knew it would—with 0 differences. Everyone was stunned. One of the group members uttered “but…”. I just laughed. I was quickly asked to hang up as I was no longer involved. It turned out they had cloned one of my commits and still had a copy on their laptop when I blocked their access.
They just submitted it and hoped for the best. One of my friends who is friends with someone from my old group asked what grade they got and they said that they failed the whole module. They would have to retake it over the summer, costing everyone in my old group their placement year jobs. This meant that they all lost out on being paid ~20k each for the year’s work. While I happily get mine.
37. I Don’t Need You
I hated gym class, not because of the physical activity (I was in hockey and football) but the fact there wasn’t enough time to shower before the bell. So you stink to high heaven for the rest of the day. Because of that, I would walk the track with all the girls. This annoyed my coaches something awful, so they flunked me in my junior year and won’t let me double up my senior year so I would have to stay back.
I had already picked out my college and was accepted at a tech school, I just had to finish my senior year. I figured I could work out something with the guidance counselor and the coach. Nope, neither would budge. Ok, I walk away thinking I’m screwed and have to basically take one class my second senior year. Then it dawns on me. Can I just start going to college now? Are there other alternatives?
I call my college admissions and college guidance counselor. I explain my situation and what other options are available? Since this is a non-traditional college (No SATs) you can start without a diploma. I called another meeting hoping the high school admin would change their minds. No joy, they stuck to their story and refused to budge.
Thinking they had me cornered, I stood up and said, “Well I’m just going to have to drop out then. I can’t see missing a year of college to just do gym class.” The coach thinks he’s all cute and says, “You can’t go to college without a diploma.” I relay what the tech school admin told me of their policy on this. Faces dropped.
The guidance counselor knows that that a drop-out looks badly on her and the school (small school) when the state audits. Suddenly, she starts back pedaling, but I wasn’t hearing any of it. Later on that night, the principal and vice-principal call to talk. I wasn’t interested, since I was all excited about starting classes in the fall.
38. Taking The Hard Road
So this happened earlier today and was too perfect to not share. I work in construction as the foreman for a new house build. The location is kind of strange; the house is 250 feet up a hill via a footpath only. All of our materials have to come up this footpath by hand. It’s a pain in the butt to manually carry, quite literally, an ENTIRE HOUSE up this hill.
One of our saving graces is having the two parking spots on the street at the bottom of this hill marked with official No Parking signs. Unfortunately, there is an elementary school about half a block away and the parents of children seem to regularly (at least twice a day) think it’s ok to park in our spots. Now I consider myself a reasonable person, so if someone is parked in the spots and we don’t have a delivery or a need to park a truck, I will let it go.
If we need the spots and there’s someone parked there, however, I will ask them to move nicely and most of the time they do so immediately. Until today. I get a phone call from the lumber delivery truck that is en route to our location. He says he’ll be there in about two or three minutes. I let him know I will meet him on the street and make sure he has space to park.
He’s carrying all of the material to frame the roof of our house, which is a lot of really big lumber and will take easily an hour to bring up the hill, so naturally, I didn’t want him parked in the middle of the street with his hazards on for an hour when we have a perfectly good parking spot for him. As I begin my trip down the hill, I notice there is a school parent sitting in her car idling.
Assuming she’s just waiting to pick up her child, I walk up to her car and politely let her know that she is parked in a no-parking zone and we really need her to clear it to park a delivery truck. She scoffs at me and rudely states back, “I’ll just be a few minutes, and your truck isn’t here, take a chill pill dude.” Before I can respond, a giant lumber truck comes around the corner and I wave to him and then gesture towards him to the woman in the car…who has now put her window back up to ignore me.
Oh, it’s on, lady. I put on my best customer service smile and wave at her through the window. She put it down halfway and angrily shouts “WHAT!” By now the truck has pulled up alongside her car and I politely ask her again, with a stronger tone of voice, to move her vehicle, reminding her that she is parked in a tow-away zone. Then she gives me this wonderful idea.
She says, “Can’t you guys just unload around me? Jesus, it’s not that hard.” I give her another smile and walk away, a brilliant plan forming in my head. I instruct the delivery driver to park as closely to her as possible and block her in with the porta potty that is at one end of our reserved spots and the parked car that is parked just adjacent to our spots on the other end.
He smiles because he immediately gets what I’m trying to do, and proceeds to expertly block this lady and her car into a little two parking spot jail. We unstrap the lumber and my guys begin humping material up the hill, meanwhile I call the parking enforcement to let them know the situation. At this point in time, I wasn’t trying to get her in trouble, I just wanted a record of why we were blocking part of the street so we don’t get in trouble with the city.
The very friendly traffic officer lets me know that she can be there in about 30 minutes and deal with the situation for me, wonderful! As we continue to unload lumber the child of the parent shows up, and wouldn’t you know it Mom is just now realizing that the lumber truck is parked so close she can’t get out of her driver’s door to meet her kid. What followed was so, so sweet.
She awkwardly clambers across the inside of her car and stumbles out the passenger door, shooting glaring looks at me and the truck driver in the process. She loads her kid into the back and then begins to realize that she has no way of leaving. She comes storming up to me and the driver and states, “I’m in a big hurry, you need to move your darn truck right now so I can go.”
Before I can respond, the driver gets a grin on his face and says, “Ma’am in order to unload the lumber on the truck we had to unstrap it, and per our company policy I’m not allowed to move the truck with any unsecured load on it. Sorry.” This sends her into near aneurysm levels of blood pressure, meanwhile I can barely contain my laughter. “Screw your policy, I have somewhere to be!” She barks back at him.
At this point, with impeccably convenient timing, the parking enforcement officer shows up and parks behind the truck. She doesn’t see the officer arrive and while the officer is still getting out of her vehicle, I have the perfect reply. I just casually say, “Can’t you just pull out around it? It’s not that hard.” With the biggest grin I’ve ever had, I watch as she realizes that I just used her line on her.
“Screw you!” She yells, and storms back to her car and angrily clambers back in through the passenger door and into the driver’s seat. At this point, the officer is walking up to me and the driver. Before she can even introduce herself, the Mom in the car slams it into reverse and stomps on the gas, crashing into our porta potty and knocking it over.
She then throws the car into drive and tries to mount the curb and drive on the sidewalk. The officer, driver, and I are staring in disbelief as she gets halfway over the curb and gets stuck. I can hear her screaming over the idling truck from inside her car. The officer promptly walks up to the door of the car and orders her out. Here comes my favorite part of the entire thing.
I watched her face go to shock as she realized she just did all of that in front of an officer. She gets slapped in cuffs as the parking officer calls for a second unit and she is promptly sat on the very curb she tried to drive over. She sits on the curb yelling to the now two officers about how we told her she could stay there and that we never asked her to move.
The traffic officer responds that she was the one who was originally called when she first refused to move and that she already knows what’s going on. While myself and the driver are giving a report to the second officer, my guys finish moving the remainder of the lumber and the driver finishes his statement and takes off to go back to the yard.
By the end of the ordeal, she was charged with Child Endangerment (her kid was in the back of the car the whole time), Reckless Driving, Destruction of Property, (the porta potty), and Driving on a Suspended License (surprise!). On top of all that she also got her car towed. The kid went home with his grandma and she went to spend some quality time in a cell.
I never expected her to actually heed my advice to “Just pull out around it.” But I think next time she’ll probably think twice about parking in a tow-away zone…if she ever gets a license again.
39. Doing It By The Numbers
When I was 13 or 14, I decided I wanted a PS3. My dad refused to buy me one, but my uncle made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He said that if I worked at his sweets shop for the two months of summer break, he would buy me a PS3 and some games in lieu of payment. For teenage me with no commitments, this seemed fantastic.
My uncle sold a kind of specialty snack known as a mini-samosa in his shop. They are like samosas, but smaller. They were sold by weight, in sealed packs of 250 gs and 500 gs as these were the most common amounts people bought. Making those packages turned out to be my job. You see, sometime between now and when my uncle started his business, he realized that 250 gs was roughly the weight of 28 mini-samosas and thus 56 were 500 gs.
So instead of weighing each packet, I was told to just pack by counting individual items, which was easier and saved time. We also sold them individually for people who wanted larger, smaller, or unusual amounts. This was also around the time when our government started airing customer awareness PSAs (“Jaago Grahak, Jaago” for my fellow Indians).
Basically, just telling customers to beware of shady business people. This is relevant. So, one particularly hot afternoon, it was just me and my uncle at the shop. In India, frequent power cuts were very common during summers and thus there were no fans or AC running. Both tempers and temperatures were running high at the shop that day. It was then that the villain of our story made his entry.
Mr. Karan was a local resident and a regular. He seemed angry from the onset when he barged into the shop. He took a look at the fans and saw that they weren’t running, then angrily picked up a 500 g pack of samosas and asked, “How many samosas are in this thing? ”That’s 500 gs,” I said. “I said how many, NOT how much!” Mr. Karan literally screamed, “Again, HOW MANY in this?”
“56” I replied immediately since, you know, I packed them. “How can you be so sure? You didn’t even count! You’re trying to cheat me!” Mr. Karan was now in full-scale Karen mode. “I demand you pack me 500 gs of those individual ones and don’t you dare cheat me again!” I looked over at my uncle, wet with sweat, fanning himself with yesterday’s newspaper. He slowly nodded.
I beamed a huge smile, “Sure sir! Whatever you want!” So I took a bag, picked up some samosas, and started putting them on the balance. I kept counting samosas as I put them in until they were a little over 500 gs. Then I removed the last samosa and the weight fell below 500. Now, keeping eye contact with Mr. Karan, I crushed the samosa and started putting its powdery remains in the bag until it was exactly 500gms. But wait, there’s more!
Mr. Karan apparently didn’t seem to mind powdered samosa, but instead asked smugly, “So how many samosas now?” “48” I claimed triumphantly. You see, sometime in the past, my uncle’s old chef retired and the new chef made samosas with a little bit more filling in them. They looked the same size on the outside and only weighed a couple of grams more each, and since he made them in bulk and also sold them to other shops in the area, the price wasn’t too much of an issue.
So my uncle let it slide. But those couple grams added up on mass orders, and that is what Mr. Karan found out the hard way. He looked sheepishly at the pre-packed samosas and then at his own package and asked if he could buy the former instead. “No, my nephew made a package especially for you, at your own request. So that is what you have to buy.” My uncle finally spoke.
Mr. Karan silently took his pack, paid, and left. He was a lot more respectful during his subsequent visits. I was reminded of this story yesterday when my PS3 finally crashed.
40. I Salute You, Sir
There are a handful of rules to saluting in the American military. The when, why, and how are drilled into you from boot camp until the day you leave. Even the order in which the salutes are rendered has meaning. When it comes to vehicles, there are helpful insignia and stickers to indicate if it’s an officer, such as a colored sticker located on the front windshield.
My base was small enough where it was everyone’s job at some point to do sentry duty at the front gate which had housing for families. Sentry duty was pretty basic. You’d stop every vehicle, check IDs, and then wave them through. If they were an officer you’d see it coming with those colored stickers and after verifying the identity of the officer, you’d salute and send them on their way.
One day while on duty, I approached a vehicle with an officer’s sticker and there was only the officer’s wife driving in the vehicle. I returned her ID, wished her a nice day, and waved her through. Pausing with a stern look, she said, “Where’s my salute Petty Officer?” Now, Karen here was wife to a higher-ranking officer and has clearly fallen under the impression people are saluting her somewhere along the way.
Some of the junior enlisted might’ve even been saluting her as they’re pretty easy to intimidate. I politely replied, “Ma’am, salutes are only rendered to commissioned officers.” Angrily pointing her chubby little fingers at the front of her windshield towards her husband’s officer sticker, she said “I have a sticker and you need to salute the sticker.” Curtly I continued, “I’m afraid that sticker is not an officer either.”
Frustrated, she pulled through and left my post. My cover guy (the guy keeping me safe) and I watched her drive down the street and pull right into the administrative building with the top brass. She huffed into the building as quickly as her soft body would take her. We exchange a look between us, with wry smiles knowing exactly where this is probably going.
Later that day, we get a new official base-wide mandate. From here forward all enlisted will salute vehicle stickers of officers regardless of who’s in the vehicle. Rodger that. This is where the revenge comes in. It’s worth noting that when you salute an officer as enlisted, you do it first, and you hold that salute until you are saluted in return and they lower theirs.
Only then do you lower your salute. It signals that you’re saluting them, and they’re replying. Additionally, when saluting a group of officers, you generally direct your salute and greeting to the highest-ranking individual. Now as far as I know, this stupid sticker salute order has no accommodation for how a 2004 Toyota Camry fits into the officers pecking order.
Additionally, if the car is unoccupied, it’s not like that sticker is removed. After that order came through, we all began saluting stickers. Personally, I’d direct my salute to the sticker. I would also prioritize sticker salutes over officers. Let me tell you, walking through parking lots was a blast as I saluted empty cars on my way to wherever.
More and more people saw me doing it, and more and more people started doing it. Not long after that, the order was publicly rescinded, which hilariously had the balancing effect of never rendering a salute to anyone but a clearly known officer, cementing Karen never getting her unearned salutes. I couldn’t have been happier.
41. The Professional
I am a small-time landlord with just four tenants. Earlier this year, I had two sisters who didn’t respond to my requests to add on the gal’s husband to the lease, though he was living with them. Not a BIG deal…but did I mention the pit bull they also brought home, without permission? I DO allow pets, and had previously approved their other dog.
I asked nicely in person and by email in the months leading up to my revenge…They also did not respond when I asked if they were happy there and wanted to renew their lease for the following year. I asked again…Then I emailed them notice that I would start showing the unit two days later. I try to be a nice landlord, I really do.
They had a newborn as well, so I scheduled all of the showings within a two-hour window on the same night so I could be in their space as little as possible. Also, because they had not responded, it was now serious “crunch time” for getting another tenant. Plus, my spouse worked all the following two weeks during evening showing hours.
Because of this, I had the delightful inconvenience of bringing my two- and six-year-old children with me to the showings. Because I’m not a corporation—I’m a small-time family landlord with kids. Try to imagine how difficult it is to conduct business meetings with two kids, right? Then imagine staggering showings every 15 minutes with prospective tenants who are also bringing their own kids.
Just to further clutter your imagination, this is an 800-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment with a cozy entryway. So I arrive with my two kids. Then I find out a detail that makes my heart drop. My tenants are still at home, along with the husband, the newborn, and the other sister’s boyfriend. So that’s seven people in a small kitchen already.
Then the first prospective tenants start arriving. Husbands, wives, with kids, and some showing up early so there are two sets of them. That’s 14 people in a small kitchen…And I’m a mom. I have magical powers. So I’m holding my toddler, my daughter is safely under the dining table coloring, and I’m chatting with the prospective tenants and directing traffic while my actual tenants prepare to depart.
If you didn’t know this already, it’s common practice in the US to leave the premises during real estate or apartment showings. This was their first apartment, so I actually emailed them ahead of time to let them know what is generally expected at showings (e.g. a relatively tidy apartment, and that they can leave, for their own convenience).
They do eventually leave, after the boyfriend tells a prospective tenant that he, in fact, ALSO lives there. I carry on with an exhausting scheduling of showings. I have my new tenants all picked out and the lease signed by the next day. Awesome, right? Nope, not at all. The next night, I get a voicemail from the husband (who is NOT my tenant).
I saved it and just listen to it again, because it still gives me that same delightful shiver of malice. In his voicemail, he told me how awful it was that MY children touched HIS infant’s things. By the way, they didn’t, because I keep my kids entertained with magical mommy toys, but prospective tenants also brought children.
He said how they had to sterilize everything to keep their infant from being sick, and how inconvenient it was to have showings with only two days’ notice, and how very unprofessional I was to bring my children, and he asked if I could just be more professional in the future. You can hear it, can’t you? The deep shiver vibrating through my offended being. They had no idea what was coming.
The next morning, I started issuing professional Lease Violation Notices. One for the extra residents of the unit (hubby and boyfriend). One for the extra dog. And a few additional ones for building concerns I noted during the showings. They ignored the violation notice, which I sent by certified mail and, thoughtfully, also by email.
I decided to be even more professional 30 days later and issue a five-day notice to vacate. And I called their mom, who is their emergency contact, as an eviction notice IS an emergency. Did I mention that their lease was due to end just a few weeks later? But it would be unprofessional of me to let these violations slide until then…
Three days later, they’d magically sent me all the information I’d requested, removed the other dog, licensed the first dog, gotten the required pet insurance…They moved out on their lease termination date. And skipped out on their last electric bill, and left the unit in damaged condition. Despite my professional security deposit disposition statement and request for payment, they ignored those notices, until I stated I would proceed to small claims court by X date for the total due BEYOND their security deposit.
On X date, they replied stating they “didn’t think it was fair” that they should have to cover damages to the unit, or “pay any more money” toward their utility bill. Yep. They got what they deserved in the end. Two months later, there we were in the lobby of the courthouse, sitting across from each other on uncomfortable waiting-room benches.
They’re laughing among themselves about how they’re going to get their full security deposit back. And I’m quietly reviewing my presentation notes to the judge and my sizable stack of evidence, photographs, videos….this was my first time in court, but I wasn’t laughing. I was preparing. One hour later, we’re back in the lobby and their mom is trying to write me a check for the full amount of the judgment.
She doesn’t have a pen. Her kids don’t have a pen. I, however, have a pen. I cheerfully offer my pen. She writes the check and hands it to me, and…wait…I hold out my hand again. Got my pen back too. I was so proud of myself for not saying any of the sassy things in my head at that moment. You know why? Because I was being professional, as I’d been from the moment he’d left that voicemail.
As a last note, I do acknowledge that it would have been better if I hadn’t brought my children. However, if you have kids, you’ll understand that sometimes, they simply have to go where you go.
42. Turning The Rule On Its Head
This happened last week. I was swimming laps at an indoor pool near my house. I’m a woman who has had a double mastectomy without reconstruction. My chest is flat. I’m totally comfortable with how I look, but prefer for my scars to be covered in public. As far as swimming goes, women’s suits have extra material to accommodate typical chests so when I wear them they’re baggy.
For backyard swimming, I just use a couple of safety pins to keep it in place. For lap swimming, it balloons open like a parachute full of water and creates so much drag that it’s difficult to swim. Tight competition swimsuits, meanwhile, don’t have enough coverage for the way the scars wrap around my sides under my arms.
To get around this, I wear running shorts and a tight-fitting full coverage synthetic fabric dark-colored tank top. It works great. Last week, I was approached as I left the pool facility by a worker. He said that they had received a complaint that a woman in the pool was wearing a shirt, which is allowed, but no sports bra underneath.
He then said their policy requires women who are not in swimsuits to have sports bras under their shirt. He told me that the policy started when they had a problem where a woman would come in to swim and only wear a thin white shirt and no bra in the pool during family swim hours. I explained politely that I’ve had a double mastectomy and do not need a bra.
I said that swimsuits don’t fit me and my top is very dark and not see-through, plus even if it was see-through, all anyone would see are scars. He said he understood and felt bad but the management requires that the dress code be followed. I explained how I was much more covered up than anyone else in the pool and in fact was wearing exactly what he was minus the whistle—he was in shorts and a tank top.
There were guys in there with just tight-fitting swim bottoms on and women in bikinis. I look Amish next to them. He again said he was sorry but couldn’t make an exception to the rules. I asked for the rules in writing and he gave me a printout, which did say what he was telling me. This brings us to yesterday, and my comeback.
I dug a sports bra out of a bin of old clothes and brought it with me. I wore the same shorts and top otherwise. When I got in the water, I put the band of the bra around my head with the straps sticking up like bunny ears. People in the other lanes got a kick out of it once I explained what I was doing. I started warming up with my kickboard, thinking the guy would come over and we would sort this nonsense out.
Well, a lady in business clothes comes over and tells me I need to take the bra off my head. I would like to say here that this was adult lap swim, there were no kids in the pool area. I explained it all to her and said I was following the rule to the letter. I was wearing a bra, which is all that is required. We went back and forth, with her saying I knew it had to be worn “normally.”
I said I couldn’t wear it the way others do because I don’t have anything to fill it and it would ride up to my chin while swimming without anything to hold it in place. She said I could use skin-safe glue! Yeah, no. I’m not going to glue unnecessary garments to my body and I told her as much. I finally said that unless she could state the rule I was breaking, that I would like to continue with my workout so I could get home to my kids and let the babysitter go home.
She walked away. I swam for an hour with that bra perched on my head (lots of readjusting it and once retrieving it from the bottom of the pool) then showered and went home. This morning I checked my email, which is linked to my membership at the aquatic center, to find a message from her. They will not be changing their policies but I have been granted a special exception to the rule, provided I wear continue to wear non-see-through tops.
I wish they would have just gotten rid of the silly bra rule, but I’ll take this and if I ever see another woman struggling with their swimsuit over a flat chest I’ll let them know they can wear something more comfortable.
43. Lights Out On This Relationship
I was living with my girlfriend and a roommate and we split the cost of every bill evenly, even though each bill was in one person’s name. Well, that was the idea, but I naively “helped” my girlfriend pay her part of the bills (i.e. paid completely for most of them). The rent was in my name, the electricity in my girlfriend’s, etc. I eventually got tired of her (arguments, smelly gerbils, not doing chores), and we broke up.
It was messy. She took ages to move out, making sure to mooch every penny she could before leaving. When she left, I immediately started a new electricity account in my name. A week later, I got a letter of confirmation in the mail, but I also received the electricity bill for the last three months my ex was living with us. I opened it without thinking.
We couldn’t even pay it if we wanted to because the bill was in her name. I shot her a text: Me: Yo, you got the electricity bill in the mail. It’s 120 bucks so come pick up $40 from each of us. Ex: Um where’s the other $40? We agreed I wouldn’t pay bills after I moved out. (as if she did before) Me: You were still living here for the time period of the bill.
Ex: This is ridiculous, I’m not going to pay a thing. We had an agreement. Me: Well…you can come over to get our part, or you can pay it alone. Ex: The way I see it, you can either bring the $120 to my place or have fun in the dark lol. Me: You got me there! At this point, I realized I had her. She doesn’t know I started my own account with the electricity provider.
She thought that by refusing to pay, the provider would cut our lights. Good way to mooch another $40 from us, right? But that’s not quite what happened. A few weeks later, I received another letter from the electric company with her name on it. Probably a late payment warning. I sent her a text to tell her and she responded, “lol why are you so desperate to talk to me. You know what you have to do :)”
Another letter came in for her. This one was probably late fees. I have to guess because I never opened them. I messaged her and she said, “I thought I told you to never talk to me again.” As you wish, ma’am! More letters arrived, but from a new address. I Googled the new sender’s address and found that they were debt collectors. Scary stuff. It’s too bad I couldn’t say a word to her.
Now about two or three months later, I received a phone call from my ex and I’m greeted by “WHAT THE HECK THESE PEOPLE ARE CALLING MY PARENTS’ HOUSE I’VE GOT ALL THESE LATE FEES BAAHHHH DEBT COLLECTORS.” I told her if she wants our part of the bill, she knows what to do 🙂 Realizing that she had no other choice, she caved and came for the money.
My roommate and I didn’t give her a cent toward late fees, and I probably looked so smug giving her my money for the last time.
44. See No Evil, Speak No Evil
Gramps had just moved into a retirement park with a lot that backed up to county land that was a nature preserve. His backyard was basically non-existent, but he didn’t mind as he got to look out over the preserve. However, he did marvel at how his next-door neighbor’s backyard extended a good eight feet past his, giving the neighbor a nice space back there.
Gramps tried to be friendly with all his new neighbors, exchanging phone numbers and the like, and one day he noticed the next-door neighbor was putting down expensive pavers that extended from his back door all the way to the old fence posts that designated the preserve boundary. Gramps watched the neighbor yank the three rickety fence posts out of the ground and move them back an extra two feet into the preserve before pounding them back in.
He then started to clear the land, intending to gain himself more area for his pavers. Now, Gramps used to work for the national park services as a young lad, so he thought he had better warn his neighbor of the consequences of his actions, and he heads out back for a little chat. Neighbor is immediately defensive and before Gramps says much, the neighbor tells him “You’re new here, I’ve been here 10 years” and to “mind your own business.”
Gramps decides not to press the issue. Nothing happens that year, but the following year when most of the park emptied out to head north for the summer (including the neighbor), the county comes by to check on the preserve. Gramps notices them going back and forth behind his neighbor’s house. The workers are pulling out maps and taking photos and making phone calls and soon more guys show up.
Turns out the neighbor has moved the posts several times over the years, and in reality, his backyard is supposed to be even smaller than Gramp’s backyard! To make it worse, the neighbor put pavers in the back specifically to park both his golf cart AND a cherry red sports car back there for the summer, so the county will have to move them before they can do anything else.
They tape a notice to the front door and leave. Gramps goes over to read it, and his jaw drops. It states that the neighbor was in violation of encroaching onto protected lands, he has 30 days to move his car, tear up the pavers, and pay a fine of $11,000 (because of damage to endangered species who inhabit the protected lands, as well as trespassing fees).
Failure to do so within 30 days will result in the golf cart and car being towed and impounded, pavers will be dug up and carted off at the neighbor’s expense and the fine will be increased for every additional day past the deadline. 30 days comes and goes, so a week after that Gramps has quite the show as first the car and cart were towed, pavers were dug up and hauled off, and the old fence posts and ropes were replaced with metal posts embedded into buried cement bases, connected by steel cables.
The whole process took several weeks to finish, but the preserve looked a lot more legit when they were done. A few solar cameras were installed so the county could monitor the wildlife (and encroachers) remotely, meanwhile more notices were taped to the front door of the neighbor’s house. By November, the snowbirds were flooding back into the park, including the neighbor.
That was Gramps’ second show of the summer as neighbor reads all the notices, digging down until he reads the first one, then runs out back and starts screaming and cussing up a storm before running back to his car to dig out his cell phone so he can call the county to find out where his car and golf cart were. Gramps stays indoors to avoid the guy as he is frantically trying to unload his car, turn on his water and electricity, get the AC and the toilets going, and all the while trying to get someone at county to pick up the phone and give him some answers.
He finally gets a live person and proceeds to scream at them while on speakerphone about his car and cart, so the call keeps getting kicked to other people because who wants to help a screamer? Basically, the neighbor is told to come to the county office to get this straightened out. Three days later, the neighbor catches Gramps outside and asks if he was here when the county “took his car and destroyed his backyard.”
Gramps said he was, and the neighbor says “Well why didn’t you call me when you saw them putting notices on my door? You had my number up north!” Gramps said he had thought about doing that, but figured the neighbor would prefer him to “mind his own business,” so he decided against it.
45. Some Definite Food For Thought
This happened about a year ago now when I was in high school. My calculus class was very chill. About 20 kids who were all friendly with each other, a laid-back but enthusiastic teacher, and a light enough workload that we could afford to goof off in class but still learn and do well. At some point in the year, I got really into cooking. It’s my stress reliever.
My family couldn’t possibly eat the amount of food I made, so I started bringing it in to school and “hosting” Friday parties in my calc class, with my teacher’s approval of course. Now, I’m Vietnamese and I live in a predominately white town. This is only important because it meant that most kids from town only ate American or European foods, and weren’t used to eating other ethnic foods.
Last year around Lunar New Year, I wanted to bring in some Vietnamese foods to celebrate. It is a very important time of year for my family. I ended up making a bunch of Bánh Da Lợn, a steamed layer cake, and a traditional Vietnamese dessert. Some of my friends from class found out I was going to bring in a traditional dish and brought in their own traditional dishes from their own cultures, whether they celebrated Lunar New year or not.
We had different Indian, Korean, Filipino, and Spanish desserts. It was great and I was really excited that my friends wanted to celebrate with me. Apparently, this was an issue for one girl in my class. I would say Bánh Da Lợn is an acquired taste, so when not a lot of people ate it I wasn’t offended. I knew not everybody would like it. There was a lot of other food anyways.
During our lunch period, one of my friends (who wasn’t in our class but knew I brought food in) overheard a girl from my class complaining about the food while on the lunch line. Apparently, she was saying really negative things about how I “forced everyone to eat weird Chinese foods.” Later that day, I texted her just saying I heard she didn’t like the food and wanted to know why.
I don’t really care when people don’t like the food (I make it for myself and bring it in when I have extra anyways), but her calling it “weird Chinese foods” (when she knows I’m Vietnamese) didn’t sit right with me. Welp, she texted back something worse. She said that it was rude of me to bring in “weird ethnic foods” that nobody would have liked except for me and said I should know better since most of the class was white.
I told her that I bring in food to share because I feel like it and that I don’t have an obligation to cater to her tastes. If she has an issue with it, she literally does not have to eat it, and other people can bring in food too, so if she wanted to, she could bring in something more to her tastes. After that, she just told me that I shouldn’t bring in ethnic and foreign foods and stick with American foods, “because we’re in America.”
Excuse me??? Like??? How much you wanna bet if I brought in jambalaya, which originated in Louisiana, she would call it a “weird foreign food.” But fine. She only wants to eat American foods? Then she can eat American foods. The next week I brought in a bunch of Oliebol, a Dutch doughnut, and started passing them out at the beginning of class.
When I got to her desk, though, I pulled out a loaf of Wonder Bread and plopped it on her desk, saying, “Sorry but these are Dutch, too ethnic. Here you go, all American cuisine.” Later she texted me asking what my problem was, so I told her that almost every single food I brought in this year was ethnic and that it made me angry she only had an issue when it wasn’t European.
She’s entitled to not liking Asian foods but if you’re going to complain about it being ethnic, then you better have that same attitude when the ethnic food is white. And especially don’t call another person’s culture weird. She didn’t complain about the food again.
46. Hitching A Ride
I was a medic in Salt Lake for a few years. One rainy day, my partner and I got dispatched to a fairly upscale neighborhood on a call of “chest pain.” Chest pain means flashing lights and sirens. We quickly arrive in front of a pretty nice house and find a woman standing at the curb with two suitcases packed. It’s already a red flag. I shut down the siren but kept the lights going for safety.
We ask if she called 91-1-1 and she confirms. She steps into the ambulance, sits on the bench, and asks us to get going. I tell her we need to do a full work-up before we leave, so we can provide care en route and take her to the right facility. She says she doesn’t really have chest pain, she just has a procedure scheduled at the hospital, and she wants me to turn off the flashing lights so her neighbors don’t notice and ask her questions.
Obviously, this is EMS mistreatment, and I tell her so. Suddenly her chest pain is back! So I say I need to get vitals and start an ECG. She protests again, mentioning the start time for her appointment in less than 30 minutes, and so I ask her point-blank: Do you need medical attention or do we need the authorities? I proceeded to do a full workup, in front of her house, taking my sweet time, asking enough questions to make her eyes roll, and leaving the strobe lights on the whole time so the neighbors would certainly see.
And she was late to her appointment because we admitted her to the hospital through the ER instead of the front doors.
47. If It Ain’t Broke…
I worked at a company that gave out exorbitant amounts of vacation. Anyone who worked there for 25+ years received 8 weeks of vacation and 2 weeks of personal time. This was a family-owned company, but rather large. We ran three shifts totaling 250+ people. Enter Jimmy. Jimmy was a grizzled old man. He started at the company when he was just 20; now he was 63 and gave absolutely zero cares.
Jimmy also knew how to make a specific part for our product, just him and one other higher up in the office. One day, the plant owner comes out and announces he’s selling to a corporation. He’s older and ready to retire, but he promises that there will be very little change and wishes us all well. Nope, wrong. The new company comes in and immediately goes after many of the great benefits we had.
The first thing they do is cut everyone’s max vacation down to 4 weeks, and do completely away with personal time. Anyone who’s maxed out had until December 31st of that year to use it up, and they wouldn’t pay it out. They then go into the office and clean house, firing anyone who’s close to retirement. Including Jimmy’s back-up guy for the part he makes.
But they also do away with one very important rule: You no longer have to get vacation approved, you can just call in and take it. Jimmy is furious, and they know it. They also realize he’s the only one in the building who can do his job now. So they hire a new kid for him to train, most likely to permanently replace Jimmy when the time comes. So Jimmy does what anyone would do.
He calls in the first training day for the new hire and lets us know he’s going to use all of his PTO at once, and promptly takes 10 weeks off. We had a back stock of parts he had made, so it wasn’t too unnerving. But for 10 weeks, Jimmy went and applied to other jobs, found one, and started. Fast forward 10 weeks, and it’s the day Jimmy is supposed to return.
He doesn’t. For two days they try calling him, and even go to his house. He’s nowhere to be found. Finally on day three, he calls and resigns, and they lose their minds. The parts he makes are specialized and patented by the original founder, so you can’t just hire someone off the street to make them. What eventually happened was they had to contract the original owner to come in and teach some new hires how to make them.
When the original owner found out what they had done, he got furious. The last I heard he charged them a seven-figure contract to teach them how to produce the parts, and they had to pony up or close down. Moral of the story: don’t mess with people’s vacation time or retirement funds.
48. The Most Stylish Kid On The Block
November last year, I gave birth to our first baby. It’s the first in my family and the 6th in my husband’s family. It’s important to say that all the six kids are boys and my mother-in-law is in some sick baby girl rabies danger zone. Ever since we made the announcement, my mother-in-law convinced herself that I was pregnant with a girl. I told her that once we knew the sex she would be the first one to know.
We told her it was a boy, but she still was convinced it was a girl. She told the whole side of the family it was a girl. I corrected her, but she told them I was just annoyed because I wanted a boy first. She also told them we are naming the girl after her mom, which we will never do because my husband hates his grandma. When the baby shower gifts started to come, I noticed a lot of things that weren’t in the register.
Embroidered things with grandma’s name. And it didn’t matter that we told them the sex and the name and make clear we are not lying about it being a boy, everyone believed her. Well, the baby was born. And imagine the surprise…It was a boy, just LIKE WE HAVE BEEN TELLING EVERYONE. The problem (for them) was that now the baby has plenty of “girly” clothes, pink onesies etc.
So we are dressing our baby with them. Especially for his family video calls and for pictures for them. After the last Saturday call, my mother-in-law called us to scream at us because we are making the elders uncomfortable for not sticking to a masculine color scheme for the baby clothes. And we have to stop being this childish, she said, since she just thought my belly shape was more like for girl than a boy.
We told her we will not change the baby’s clothes, and to just wait until the dresses fit. He will look adorable.
49. Be Careful What You Wish For
This was a long time ago, but I remember it clearly. We moved into a community with tight space in between our house and our neighbors, and we didn’t like them being able to see into our kitchen. We put up a bunch of plants, costing thousands, but my parents thought it would be worth it. A week later, my parents awoke to the shock of their lives. The plants were completely chopped down.
My father was furious and marched down to our neighbor’s house. He told my father the plants were on his property line, therefore he had total right to take them down. He warned that if anything were to go on his property again, he would report us to the authorities immediately. Later that day, my father called the company that put in the plants, and with the warranty we could have them replanted next week for no charge.
We made sure there was no way it was on our neighbor’s property. However, a few days later we caught him chopping them down at 2 am. We called the authorities about the issue, and after a chat with my neighbor he decided to call a professional and mark his property line. My father agreed. A few days later, I got home to find orange tape in my neighbor’s yard. Apparently, his fence was 11 FEET over our property line! We watched as he took down his fence, completely furious.
Within the next month, we were enjoying our new space and privacy in our backyard, and my neighbor ended up losing 1/4th of his backyard. My neighbor ended up having to pay almost 10k for the destruction of our property, and we got to plant our plants again.
50. The Proof Isn’t In The Pudding
My father passed on Father’s Day 2012. He was divorced and living alone, and I am an only child. So that means that I had to wrap up all of his affairs. This story centers around us trying to get his utilities canceled. I called in to see what we had to do to get them to cancel. The lady I spoke with on the phone said to send in his death certificate. I sent in the certified copy of it the next day.
The next month, I got another bill. I called again and a new woman answered. She said that because I wasn’t on the account that she had to speak with the account holder. I informed her that the account holder was dead…and then it got bizarre. She simply wouldn’t budge. I had to make an appointment with a supervisor so she could speak to “him” herself in person.
I showed up at the board of public utilities with another certificate and HIS ASHES IN THE CLEAR BAG that they returned his remains in. I plopped them down on the center of her desk and said when she talked to him to tell him that I loved him for me. The woman went pale, and then she committed a supremely stupid act. She flew out of her chair and called the authorities.
When they showed up, she claimed that I had attacked her. And yes, my dad’s remains were still sitting in the middle of her desk with the certificate. The officers questioned me as to why I would do that, and I told them the story. The supervisor’s boss was called in and they all stepped away from the desk for a private talk. While they were talking, the officers came over to talk to me.
They said that I shouldn’t take human remains out in public, but there were no laws that were broken. I said that I agreed with them that it was extreme, but she insisted on speaking with him in person. By then they were done talking between themselves. The supervisor’s boss kissed up to me and got it taken care of. But the story wasn’t over yet!
I had to call back a few days later to get utilities back to the house in my name. When the person on the phone saw the address and my name, I was immediately put on hold. The supervisor’s boss that finally helped me got on the phone. She sucked up to me and waived all of the fees that come with setting up utilities. Just as the call was ending, she informed me that she was again so sorry for the employee’s lack of compassion. She said that the employee was terminated and again she is so very sorry.