Your Employment Is History

| Winnipeg, MB, Canada | Job Seekers

(I am renewing my daughter’s passport. My daughter used to be a cashier for a well-known American chain of stores that had famously opened with much fanfare in Canada, and just as famously closed two years later after failing spectacularly.)

Employee: “I’ll need your daughter’s employment history for the last two years.”

Me: “Well, she used to work for [Store], but — heh, heh — it’s closed now, of course.”

Employee: *dead-eyed stare* “I still need the store’s address and phone number.”

Me: “Um, I have no idea what the address or phone number would be, and I can’t look it up, because they’re closed.”

Employee: “Look, you need to put SOMETHING there.”

Me: “…”

(I was able to remember the address, and my daughter still had the phone number saved on her phone, so I gave them the information they wanted. I still don’t know what they expected to do with it. I would have done just as well to make something up.)

Needed To Concentrate Harder

| Auckland, New Zealand | History

(I am at a government department that “takes care” of the unemployed and job seekers.)

Officer: *after reading a list of things I can’t do and/or need to report to get my money* “And don’t forget, we have people monitoring all the other departments — Tax office, police, and Immigration, so if you put even a toe out of line—” *laughs* “—we’ll be coerced into cutting your benefit!”

Me: “Sounds a little harsh, but—”

Officer: *smiles* “Well, just think of it THIS way: sooner you get yourself a job instead of being idle, sooner these restrictions are lifted!”

Me: “So… ‘Work Means Freedom,’ as they say?”

Officer: *stares in surprise, then joyfully* “What a COOL motto! Yes, exactly. Wow, where did you get that motto from? It’s so good!”

Me: *stunned she’s not heard of it* “Er… it’s an old one… from Europe.”

Officer: “Gosh, that’s good! ‘Work Means Freedom.’ Oh, I’d love to suggest we use it, but I suppose it’s still copyright?”

Me: “Wouldn’t think so, no.”

Officer: *overjoyed* “Oh, cool! I’ll raise it at our next staff meeting! We should SO have it as a motto!”

(I’d have loved to have seen that meeting take place.)

Caught In The Middle (Name)

| Toronto, ON, Canada | Employees, Funny Names

(I’m renewing my passport at the passport office. I have a bit of an unusual middle name that is more like a last name.)

Worker: “Okay, I just need your old passport and three pieces of photo ID.”

Me: *hands her the documents*

Worker: “Oh, honey, you’re going to have to re-order all of your IDs! They’ve spelled your name wrong on everything! How have you even been able to use this old passport?!”

Me: “Excuse me? I’m pretty sure that they’re all correct.”

Worker: “No, they’re all wrong! Look!” *points out my middle name* “See? They didn’t hyphenate your two last names!”

Me: “No, those are correct. That’s my middle name.”

Worker: “No, it’s not! No one has that for a middle name! You obviously don’t have a middle name and they’ve messed up all your documents!”

(By this point she has raised her voice significantly and is drawing the attention of almost everyone in the office.)

Me: “Ma’am, I’m serious. That is my middle name and there is nothing wrong with any of my IDs!”

Worker: “NO, NO, NO! I need to fix all of this right now!”

Me: “Please do not enter any different information than what’s already there! That IS my middle name and I need my passport to show that!”

Worker: “NO! You’re wrong! No one has a middle name like that! You’ve been lied to!”

Me: “Okay, this is getting crazy! Can I please talk to your supervisor about this?”

Worker: “No, you can’t! You don’t need to! You just need to let me fix this!”

(Luckily another worker has gone to get the supervisor while this is happening.)

Supervisor: “[Worker], what are you doing?!”

Worker: “They’ve messed up all of this poor girls IDs!! Her name isn’t correct on any of them and I need to FIX THIS!”

(She is basically screaming by this point and everyone has stopped what they’re doing and started to stare.)

Supervisor: “Lower your voice right now! You never talk to a customer this way. What honestly makes you think that a 24 year old woman doesn’t know her own name?”

Worker: “Because no one has that for a middle name!”

Me: “I do! It was my grandmother’s maiden name. It may be an unconventional middle name but it is still my middle name nonetheless.”

Supervisor: “[Worker], go take your break now. I’ll handle this and we can have a chat about this later.”

Worker: *starts yelling as she is walking away* “You’re wrong! You’ve been lied to! No one has that for a middle name! It’s a last name!”

Supervisor: “I am so sorry about this! I can honestly say I don’t think that she will be working here after today. She always has something to say if someone has even the slightest different spelling or an unconventional name.”

Me: “Thanks for intervening. I didn’t know how else to explain it!”

Supervisor: “No need. Now let’s get you a new, CORRECT passport.”

A Really City Counsellor

| Edmonton, AB, Canada | Employees, Geography, Ignoring & Inattentive

(Our entire department has just been downsized and our employer has been trying to help us find other jobs. This includes helping us transfer to other Federal government positions. I am speaking with one of the counsellors hired to help us.)

Counsellor: “So, have you decided whether to take the severance package or try to transfer to another position?”

Me: “I’d like to try for a transfer, if I can find one in a smaller town in Alberta or British Columbia.”

Counsellor: “Well, you can forget about that. Everyone wants to transfer to Vancouver or Victoria.”

Me: “…”

(For everyone’s information, Vancouver and Victoria are large cities. Not sure how that translates to “a smaller town.” I took the severance package, have lived in a small town on the BC coast ever since, and have owned my own business for several years. Take that, counsellor lady.)


| Devon, England, UK | Employees, Health & Body, Ignoring & Inattentive

(There is currently a nationwide outbreak of norovirus which is in the news a lot. My husband has been ill with it, which I then catch from him. I think I am better so we go into town together before I feel ill again later, and we start walking home. I stop for a rest outside a church after being sick. We’re about ten minutes from home but I’m running out of energy, so I sit down and rest my head in my hands. A couple of minutes later, a police car pulls up and two officers get out and approach us. I feel I should note my husband and I are both 21.)

Police Officer #1: “What’s going on here, then? We got a call saying someone was collapsed drunk.” *accusatory tone* “How much have you been drinking?”

Me: “Nothing. Neither of us drink. I’m just ill right now. We’ve been trying to get home but I needed a rest.”

Police Officer #1: *to her colleague* “I don’t think they’re telling us everything.”

Husband: *visibly annoyed* “If you’re so sure my wife is drunk, why don’t you breathalyse her? She’s ill and we want to go home, if you don’t mind.”

Police Officer #1: “Well, how do you know she’s ‘ill’?”

Me: “Because you can’t go five minutes without hearing about the norovirus outbreak? Because my husband was ill with it a few days ago? Because I haven’t had anything alcoholic to drink since we got married two years ago?”

(Police Officer #1 storms off, talking into her radio.)

Police Officer #2: “Why are you getting upset?”

Me: “Because I don’t appreciate being judged, presumably because I’m in my early 20s, and I don’t feel like I’m being listened to. I feel like crap and I just want to rest at home until I’m feeling better.”

Police Officer #2: “Okay. Can I take your name and address, please?” *notes down details* “So, you don’t live too far away. Good. We actually have an ambulance on standby if you want to get checked over?”

Me: “No, I just want to go home.”

Police Officer #2: “Please promise me you’ll call an ambulance if you get any worse.”

Me: *feeling a wave of nausea coming on* “Yes! Can I go home now, please?”

Police Officer #2: “I can give you a lift if you like?”

Me: “No! I mean, no, that’s fine. I get carsick.”

(We eventually made it home. I’m still unimpressed with how judgmental the police are here. It’s so noticeable.)

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