911 Operators Break Down The One Call That Still Keeps Them Up At Night
*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
When we think of life-saving medical maneuvers, surgeons and paramedics usually come to mind. We picture frantic CPR, 14-hour surgeries, and those electric things that pulse people back to life.
But 911 operators are massively important to the life-saving equation too.
They're the first ones we talk to in the midst of emergency. They're tasked with retrieving information, calming us down, and arranging the appropriate logistics to allow those more traditional first aid images to occur at all.
And on top of all of that, those operators go through so much. They have to hear some of the most depressing, alarming, gruesome details and maintian composure in the face of it all.
Then, hours, days, or even years later, they process all they heard.
According to a recent Reddit thread, all that processing can take a toll.
layyschipss06 asked, "911 operators of Reddit, what is a call that keeps you up at night?"
Many heard the intimate details surrounding someone's decision to take their own life. These operators were on the phone when those tragic discoveries were first made by a loved one.
"I'm a firefighter and I overheard a call on the radio from another unit. They were dispatched to a possible suicide. The information given while the crews were en route was 'patient's wife came home and found a note on the the door saying 'honey I'm already gone if your reading this please do not come in and see me like this' ' "
"The crews arrived and the next thing you hear on the radio was the paramedic telling dispatch 'code 4' (meaning patient is deceased) and in the background you can hear the wife screaming bloody murder as loud as she could. It was chilling"
"1 am and the phone rings and I pick up to hear a man screaming on the other end. No words. Just screaming."
"Finally get him to tell me what happened and he told me he heard a gun shot in his house and went to see what happened and found his brother in his room. He had shot himself."
Christmas, Forever Associated
"Worst call I got was when I worked overtime on Christmas Day and got a call from a father who returned from a business trip and found his 19 year old son hanging in the bedroom."
"Haunts me until today."
Other people struggled most with the calls that involved the deaths of young children or the tragic futures of kids just as young. Whether by accident or on purpose, some times the tragedy of a life cut short is a reality we have to encounter.
Just Trying to Help
"I had a witness to a fatal motorcycle collision on the phone with me and he goes 'someone's crossing the road to help OH MY GOD SHE JUST GOT HIT BY A CAR, SHE'S DEAD TOO!' And he just screamed and screamed and hung up."
"An off-duty nurse who stopped to help the motorcycle rider was hit by another car and killed. It was on the news later and I found out she had a husband and two very young kids. I was on worker's comp for about 3 weeks while I recovered from that one."
Nothing For Her to See
"I got a 911 call about a vehicle that ran off the road. The caller told me that the female driver was unconscious but had a pulse. He then proceeded to tell me that the passenger was a fatal. I asked if he had checked for a pulse at which point he told me no."
"It was a young child that had been decapitated. I asked him to find anything he could to cover the child because I didn't want the mother to regain consciousness and have that be the last image she had of her child."
Imagine Hearing That
"My aunt listened to a 12-year old girl and her friend get murdered by her dad. She hasn't been the same since."
"The girl's mother killed him that night. She was just recently let off with no charges--they were gonna charge her for murder."
Sudden and Unknown
"Dispatched about 20 years ago. My last 911 call was. Mom coming home from work at 11 am and couldn't wake baby."
"Baby died from SIDS."
Others talked about when logistics got screwed up for some reason or another. The guilt they felt in those moments was unbearable.
A Fatal Oversight
"It was 9:30am. I'd been on shift since 7am. All the ambulances had checked in for morning mileage and radio checks. All was good."
"Call comes in on the emergency line. 'MY SON IS NOT BREATHING.' "
"Ok, we got this. Start going through the steps of checking for a pulse/breath while dispatching the closest ambulance."
"I'm almost to the part where we start CPR when the ambulance calls back 'Dispatch, our rig is dead.' YOU GOT TO BE FU**ING KIDDING ME. YOU CALLED IN THIS MORNING WITH A RADIO CHECK. DID YOU NOT CHECK YOUR GOD DAMN AMBULANCE?"
"Nearest ambulance is ONE WHOLE COUNTY OVER. 30 minutes. 30 minutes for a situation that needs IMMEDIATE medical intervention."
"The mother is screaming on the phone, crying. The sister comes in and starts screaming the name of her brother."
"I have to tell them the ETA for an ambulance is 30 minutes."
"It's been almost 10 years since I was in EMS Dispatch and I occasionally wake up in a cold sweat thinking about that call."
Time to Go
"About 9 at night a woman calls calmly asking for an ambulance as her husband had passed out. After 10+ minutes of trying to get London Ambulance to answer the phone, she hangs up. I stay on the line and another 10 minutes later they answer, I relay the situation and address and they confirm they'll do a drive-by (basically get the nearest available unit to visit the property - see what's happening)."
"Half an hour later the same woman calls back, exact same reason for calling, once again I'm on hold for London ambulance to answer for 10+ minutes, out of the blue she comes onto the phone and calmly says 'don't bother, he's just died' and puts the phone down again, this time it doesn't disconnect and I hear the most heart-wrenching wail of despair from the same woman, she then goes into a teary rant about how useless everything is and how London Ambulance killed her husband, before the line cuts off again."
"Get through to the ambulance service, explain everything and the operator confirms the drive-by got cancelled because the ambulance it was assigned to had finished their shift."
"I didn't sleep that night and cried more tears than I ever had done previously. Next day I went into the office an hour before my shift was set to start, emptied my locker, gave all my work stuff to my boss and quit on the spot."
Felt Like Eternity
"Doesn't keep me up at night but I do think about it time to time. Had a daughter call in for her elderly mother experiencing chest pains. 10 minutes pass and I call for an eta. They tell me they're there. The daughter gave me the wrong address they had recently moved and she gave the old address."
"The chest pains turned to trouble breathing. Eta 10 minutes. Mother isn't responding. Daughter is crying over the line. Paramedics arrive perform cpr and even use the defibrillator. Sadly she didn't make it. I heard all this over the phone at the time it hit me a bit hard but you get over it."
In response to a list like this, all we can say is thank you. Thank you to all those involved in life-saving responses to the emergencies that strike us.
And a special thanks to the 911 operators who hear it all and still do what they need to help us stay safe.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
The only thing more satisfying than wiping the smirk off the face of some mean girl, mansplainer, or smarmy smarty pants is reading about it. And although some say revenge is a dish best-served cold, these Quora clap backs are comin’ in very hot. In fact, you may want to pop an Ozempic before diving into all of this sweet, sweet revenge.
Unwarrantedman in grey crew-neck t-shirt smiling to woman on counterPhoto by Clay Banks on Unsplash
This happened a few years ago when my wife and I were buying an iPad for our teenage daughter. We went to a UK computer chain called “iStore”. They aren’t part of Apple, they just picked a name that made it obvious what they specialized in. My daughter and wife had picked out the model and a case and headed to the register.
The idiot at the register, however, decided that what iStore really needed was the revenue from an extra warranty. My wife told him, “No, thanks”. He persisted and again, she said, “No, thanks”. I was standing pretty far away from them—very much NOT at the till with them. Then the sales guy turned to me, and said, “Are you sure she doesn’t need an extended warranty”? I wasn't having any of it.
I ignored him and turned to my wife. “Do you want to go? We can just buy it on Amazon”. My wife agreed with me. The sales guy looked at me open-mouthed, and I said, “You’ve lost the sale. She was the customer”. I can only hope that he learned about assuming that the woman could be overruled that day.
Right Back At Ya
It was my freshman year of high school and my parents had recently divorced. My mom, siblings, and I moved to a small town in upstate Pennsylvania. It was difficult enough dealing with family dynamics, let alone moving to a new town. During my first week at my new high school, I was trying to find my way around the school and get familiar with the teachers.
Most of the kids there had known one other for years. They had grown up together. I was an outsider with a weird accent and a different style. Some kids were very kind and welcoming. Others were cruel, unkind, and very stuck-up. In English class, I just so happened to sit in front of a girl who was one of the stuck-up kind.
The teacher asked me to introduce myself and share where I was from. So, I did. After I finished, we were told that there would be a pop quiz. The teacher asked me to take it so she could gauge my skills. As the teacher was handing out the quiz papers, the girl sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to look at her.
She leaned in and said with a smirk, “Special ed is down the hall”. I just looked at her for a second, blinked, and then turned around. I was slightly irritated. This girl had no idea who I was, and yet she had already made up her mind about who I was…and wasn’t. Yep, I was fully irritated at that point. I filled out the quiz and handed it in for immediate grading.
As the teacher handed all the quizzes back she said, “There was only one student in the whole class who got a 100% on the quiz. Do you want to know who that is? It’s the new student”. She looked at me and said, “Congratulations! If only everyone else would do that well on the next quiz”. I turned around and looked at the girl behind me.
I gave her a big smile and said, “Remember, special ed is down the hall”. The smirk on her face disappeared in a flash. She didn’t say a word.
I met this guy at a party who thought he was really special because was a corporate lawyer. When he asked me what I did for a living, I told him that I was a computer programmer. “Oh yeah”, he said with a sneer. I could tell he was about to try me. “You’re one of those guys who take perfectly clear requests and turn them into some obscure language that only other people in your profession understand”. “That’s right”, I replied. “Just like a corporate lawyer”.
A Truth-Or-Dare Tipwoman in gray crew neck t-shirt standing beside woman in black and gray long sleevePhoto by Adam Winger on Unsplash
A few months ago, I was at a sleepover with some of my friends and we decided to play truth or dare. I didn’t exactly get along with one of the girls there—let’s call her “M”. Anyway, I chose “dare” and M decided to dare me to jump out of the window. This was especially cruel of her because she knew I had a friend who ended her life that way.
I jumped out of the ground floor window and then it was M’s turn. She also chose to dare. I dared her to go home—and her next move took me by surprise. She did go home. It was absolutely, hands down the best feeling in the world to see that petty smirk get wiped off her face. She couldn’t exactly refuse because the other girls, who were also angry about the window dare, peer pressured her into leaving.
You’re Not The Boss Of Me
I had the unfortunate experience of coming face-to-face with my old school tormentor at, of all places, work. We had gone to school together all the way from kindergarten to graduation. I was dismayed to learn that he had just been hired as an entry-level shipping clerk and was leaving the HR office on his way back out to the warehouse.
He proceeded to tell me how wonderful his life was, how successful he was, how much money he had, and so on. He then asked me in a very snide way: “So what have you done with your life”? Like I had accomplished nothing in the 10 years since we last saw each other in high school. My simple reply: “Well, you are standing in my office, please shut the door on your way out.”
I’m not normally one to pull rank on someone, but this guy deserved it. The look on his face was priceless, and, yes, he did shut the door on his way out.
Respect The Hustle
I was 21 and my younger brother Kenneth was 11. It was a Friday, and I took him to the lake because I was off work. At about 12:30, we went to a burger place to get some lunch. They had one pool table there, and Kenneth was watching four college kids play. Back then it was 25 cents to play and they were playing for a dollar a game and the challenger paid for the game.
My brother said, “Gimme a buck and a quarter”. All right, sure. I had an idea of what was coming. He walked over and said he wanted to play. The guy who had won the last game said he didn’t want to take a kid’s money, so I said, “It’s my money. Don’t worry about it, just let him have a game”. OK. There were four guys, about 20, shaking their heads and grinning.
Kenneth breaks hard and sinks a ball. He ran four more after that and then barely missed a bank shot. Those guys’ grins were gone. The other guy took his shot, missed, and then Kenneth ran the rest of the table. It was hilarious. Now all those guys were drinking and laughing every time he sunk a tough shot—saying things like, “No way”! and “Jeezus Christ!”
Kenneth picked up the two bucks and said, “Anybody wants to play”? They all did. One after another, they all lost, along with the waiter and two more guys who came in. We were there for hours. He made about twenty bucks. It was the funniest buck and a quarter I ever spent. The kid had been standing on a box and playing pool in our garage since he was four.
And Not A Moment Too Soonwoman in white spaghetti strap top standing on the seashorePhoto by Ryan Moreno on Unsplash
One day my first husband had his friends over and was trying to be the big man by poking fun at me and generally being a jerk. His friends were asking why I didn’t have much in the flat and he said that I only cared about my clothes. Then came the fat jokes followed by orders to feed him and his mates. One of his friends tried to shut him up by telling him he shouldn’t speak to me or anyone like that. His reaction was blood-boiling.
He just laughed it off. Another friend tried warning him by saying that if I left my husband would be in trouble because I had the money. As I walked into the room, my husband looked at me and said, “Nah, she won’t leave me, she loves me too much, don’t ya”? I replied, “Actually, Paul, I filed for divorce a week ago and since you won’t leave, I will”.
He didn’t know I’d already packed a suitcase. Just like that, I left, but not before enjoying seeing him sit there with his mouth open wide like a basking shark, but nowhere near as cute or intelligent.
Put Up Your Dukes
I’m a boxer, and this one time the kid I was supposed to be fighting came to my changing room and told me that he’d stab me if I won our match. He was a little taller than me but he was VERY skinny and I’m quite toned. When we touched gloves he had a huge smirk and looked oh so very confident. We walked out on the first bell and had a pretty even round.
After the second bell, he boldly stormed out and straight into my body shot—and he COLLAPSED. He went into the neutral corner and promptly threw up everywhere. Needless to say, he didn’t stab me and I never had to see his indulgent smirk ever again.
Horrifying Teachable Moment
When I was a cop, I worked in CSI but I was also part of the special victims unit. One of my frequent assignments was to go talk to community college classes about serious offenses. Invariably as I began, there would always be a few males leaning back in their chairs and smirking. I started by quietly discussing a recent atrocity in our town…
A woman had been in the hall putting clothes in the washer when she had been jumped. The aftermath was appalling—the assailant used a blade to pierce her more than 70 times. The medical examiner and I tried to count the wounds by laying a sheet of paper over the body and marking each one. But in some places, they ran together. She had tried to crawl down the hall to her bedroom, trying to reach the phone.
The assailant followed her down the hall and watched her perish. As I was speaking, the young men would slowly sit up straight, the smirks would leave their faces, and they would pay close attention to the rest of my talk.
Touchétwo men talkingPhoto by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash
I was with my friend and our respective partners, discussing wedding plans. Since we were good mates, it went without saying that we would be each other’s best man. At least until my friend’s other half took us by surprise: “Can you even be the best man? Isn’t the best man supposed to be single”? To which I replied, “I don’t know. Isn’t the bride supposed to be a virgin”?
Do You Know Who I Am?
I am an old, 60-plus white lady, and I don’t really look the part for some of my pastimes. One time I went to an opera that featured whirling dervishes as part of the performance. During the intermission, I was commenting on the form of some of the whirlers and the finer points of whirling to my companion. A man standing nearby must have been listening.
After eavesdropping for a while, he turned to me and said rather snarkily: “Oh, because you’re such an expert on whirling”? I calmly replied, “Well, kind of, since I’m their teacher and I trained them”. The look of surprise on his face was priceless. I enjoyed watching him whirl around and quickly scamper away without another word!
I was working the register on a very busy Saturday. There was a constant flow of customers, but this wasn’t my first rodeo. I’m especially good at making change. I rang up a customer and gave her the total. She pulled out $50 and began digging in her purse for coins. I rang up the next customer, took their payment, and was about to start on the third customer.
I was watching customer number one, as she dug for change. She then put her $50 back in her wallet and stood there expectantly with her 15 cents, waiting for her change on the $50. I patiently explained that I still needed the $50. I had seen her put the cash back in her wallet and so had my co-worker who was standing beside me. This customer is now holding up the line.
Her husband came to see what the holdup was. She told him, “I gave her $50, but she doesn’t remember taking it”. Of course, she said this loud enough for the 20 people waiting in line to hear. Now I point to the camera that is watching my every move. She smugly asks to review the footage—a request she'd soon regret. I took her $50, and she can’t wait to prove it.
The owner came down to talk to her and review the footage. The customer was indeed wrong and got back in line to pay. She couldn’t look me in the eye. “I guess I was wrong”, she said. That was her apology. I took her money and told her to have a nice day. I’m good at three things. Being a mother, standing my ground, and not taking flak when I know I’m right.
Pitch Perfecttwo people playing Sony PS4 game consolePhoto by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
I was at the mall with a friend and as we got to the food court, I noticed that there were two small TVs where people were lining up to play FIFA 20. While my friend was ordering food, I decided to play seeing as it had been a while. I left her and went over. There were only guys in line and they all gave me the most annoying look. One of them asked, “You wanna play”?
I said that I did and he responded, “Aw, that’s cute. You’ll play next”. When my turn came, I beat him. Now, I’m not good at FIFA. I just happen to have brothers who ARE good. They are so good that when I play against other people, I feel like a legend because I’ve played with the best. I can literally count the number of times I’ve beat my brothers in any match, on one hand.
The guy I beat went off about how he’d gone easy on me because I was a girl. He had a lot of excuses. I didn’t care though. Then the next guy came—and he was something else. He was so arrogant. He started making those chauvinistic comments about how I might be cute, but he was going to “show me how the game is played”. By halftime, I was leading with a score of 1–0. The match ended at 2–1. I won.
He was a sore loser and he asked for a rematch but I had to leave so we agreed we’d only play the first half. By the time it was halftime, I was sitting on a score of 2–0. I beat him. Twice. He was so embarrassed and I may have been a bit smug about it. When I left, I was tempted to say something about the final score being cute, but I decided to let it go.
Very Mean Girl
As a teen, I remember being out of class for a parent, student, and teacher meeting to discuss my progress. When I returned to class, I noticed that the girl I was sitting next to was smirking. Before I could sit back down, she said, “Can you go get me some coloring pencils”? I said no as I found her behavior suspicious.
She sighed and got up. I pulled out my chair and I saw it was COVERED in glue. So I switched the chairs and sat down. She returned and sat down while looking at me laughing. I decided to play dumb. “What’s so funny”? I asked completely poker-faced. “I glued your chair”! She could hardly get out her words because she was laughing so hard.
I smirked and laughed with her and said, ”I’ve just swapped it with yours”! I was really trying not to laugh. Her face fell. It was absolutely priceless! She soon changed her tune and refused to speak to me for the rest of the class.
Drive-Thru Rain Man
I hit the drive-thru late one night after school and handed the cashier a $20 for my $6 meal. She handed me $4 and closed her window, expecting me to move on. But I didn’t. I knocked on the window, ignoring the honking behind me, until she opened it and asked me what was wrong. I said in an even tone, “The change should be $14, not $4”.
She told me that I gave her a $10 bill and was fairly adamant about it. When she began to close her window, I asked if I could speak to her manager. It was late and it was possible that I could have handed her a $10 rather than a $20, but I have a habit that I’ve fallen into because of a similar situation. I now memorize the serial numbers on large bills before I hand them over…
The manager listened to my request for the extra $10, looked at the receipt, and then pointed out that the girl had put in $10 as the money was submitted. The girl is looking annoyed and has the classic “I told you so” look on her face. I asked the manager to look at the top $20 bill in her drawer and proceeded to recite the serial number.
The cashier’s face was stuck in shock and awe when the manager asked me to do that again and I repeated the numbers for her. I was given my correct change and an apology before driving on to the next window for my meal.
A Daughter-In-Law Strikes Backwoman lying on sofaPhoto by Inside Weather on Unsplash
My mother-in-law is a well-practiced shrew. I wear a size 12 but I consistently get 3X and 4X tops from her for Christmas. One time she even told my husband that I wanted to buy a house in the woods so I would have a place to bury him after I butchered him. There are so many crazy comments, smirks, and insults that I could write a book.
When my husband and I moved into our new house, I rented a moving truck for the day and my mother-in-law and my husband’s stepdad showed up, presumably to help, as did his dad. My hubby and his stepdad were taking forever to decide which way to take things in for the upstairs and downstairs, and at that rate, I was going to need to rent the truck for a week. I just knew something was coming.
My father-in-law had just had four toes amputated and I didn’t expect him to be able to do anything, but I had managed to wrangle our sofa off the truck and he looked at me and said, “Can you get that end”? I grabbed it and we headed to the house with it. Hubby’s mom called out and said “Oh Cindy, you’re more of a man than me”!
As I went by her, I stared into that evil face and said, “Yup, and more of a woman too”. Her face flushed and she looked like she wanted to kill me. She was only married to my father-in-law for 10 months and she got even madder when he dropped the sofa and was rolling on the ground laughing like a hyena. Ah, good times!
Read The Room
When I was eight, I loved reading books. At the time, my favorite was Jane Eyre. At the time, I understood about half of the words, and even if I didn’t understand what they meant, I could sound them out. One day, I was reading this book at a relative’s house. Everyone was so chatty, and being a quiet child back then, I just sat there and read.
One of my cousins, whom we’ll call Belle, was really, really annoying. When she saw that I was reading Jane Eyre at that age, she pointed to me gleefully and exclaimed, “Look! Look, everyone! She’s reading Jane Eyre at age eight! As if she can even understand it”! Correction: I was quiet but sassy. I stood up and asked, “What’s it to you?”
I guess rudeness ran in their family because Belle’s mother rolled her eyes at me and said, “If you’re so smart, why don’t you read a part for us”? I gave her a wry smile, cleared my throat, and began to read. Somehow, even though I didn’t understand half the words in the paragraph, I was able to sound them out all right.
After I successfully read a few paragraphs, Belle’s mother cleared her throat and cut me off. Her eyes were glassy, scared, and ashamed. They were cast to the floor as her face slowly turned a beautiful beetroot red. Belle huffed and ran into her room, slamming the door. I just sat there, smirked for a brief moment, and went back to reading—silently this time.
Roll back more than 40 years ago to my very first job out of college—an engineer at a car manufacturer. I had been on the job for a month, and it was quite low-level. At one point, I was assigned to deliver some hot reports to the plant manager’s office. I walked into a birthday party. I asked who was having a birthday and was directed to the assistant plant manager.
I politely wished him a happy birthday. He gave me a flirty look, popped out his chest, and told me he just turned 43. Everyone was telling him how good he looked. Obviously, I had the scent of fresh meat in what would be considered a poisonous workplace today. They didn't expect it when I deadpanned: “Why, you’re just a year older than my Dad, his birthday is next week”. He deflated like a balloon.
And for the record, my dad is way younger-looking.
Best Parting Shot Everwoman facing on white counterPhoto by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash
I was counting my change as I left the checkout when I noticed that the cashier made a mistake. I started to tell her this, but she cut me off and said, “I NEVER make mistakes”! I shrugged and started to head toward the door, but as I walked away, I dropped the mic: “OK then. Just remember that tonight, when your till is $10 short”!
That’s Just Like, Uh, Your Opinion, Man
I met my husband at work. We had a colleague who didn’t like me. I’m not sure why but, you know, it happens. My now-husband mentioned to this colleague that he liked me (this was before we got together), and her response was, “I’m surprised. Wouldn’t you want to go out with someone who is classier and less straightforward”? This had no effect on me—because I was about to shove it in her face.
I guess he didn’t agree with her because a few weeks later he and I were an item. One night, we went to the pub with a few work people, including this woman, and I kissed my husband, turned to her, and smiled winningly. All I can say is that her expression was very pleasing.
Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?
Shortly after my now-husband and I started dating, he took me to his hometown to meet his friends Brant and Tommy. While we were there, my then-boyfriend was sitting on the floor in front of me and I was massaging his shoulders. After a few minutes, Tommy looked at me and asked, “When do I get a massage”? I smiled sweetly—then I dropped the hammer: “When you get a girlfriend”.
The look on both Brant's and Tommy’s faces, not to mention my boyfriend’s, was utter, priceless astonishment. After we left, my boyfriend explained that I was the first girl he had ever known to turn down Tommy for any attention. He said that more than one of his previous girlfriends had given Tommy any and all of the attention he requested.
Years later, my husband admitted to me that the moment I turned down Tommy was the moment he knew that I was “the one”. To me, it wasn’t even a difficult decision because Tommy kinda gave me the creeps.
Pole Positionthree people sitting in front of table laughing togetherPhoto by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
When I was in college, the cancer-stick area was the place to relax during breaks between classes. Everyone would gather, smoker or not, to talk and hang out. I met tons of new people every day. We would get a lot of different personalities shining through, some of which screamed “entitled”. Now, I’m Polish. However, due to my very British accent, you’d never guess it in a million years.
I’d hear talk about politics, immigration, and the sorts almost daily. On this particular day, I was with a bunch of friends who were talking about said topics. I wasn’t chiming in, but rather just quietly listening to their opinions. Then a very entitled person entered the conversation and instantly started bashing the Poles. Things were about to get interesting.
My friends took one look at me, and I just tried not to laugh. I think they realized it would be best not to say anything just yet. This entitled person was ranting about how immigrants should “go back to their own country” and how “lazy” Polish people are. He went on and on without anyone else interrupting.
Mr. Entitled decided to chime in with one more comment. “I’ve never met a Pole who bothers to speak English and actually does something productive”. To which I finally responded, “Well, today’s your lucky day. Here I am”. His face went through a few phases of confusion, realization, shock, and embarrassment. My friends began laughing and I just stood there smirking.
Been There, Done That
My paternal grandfather worked with a bunch of guys who in the early days of paintball would go every weekend and crow about how good they were. They kept asking my grandfather if he would like to go but he always politely declined. One day, one of the more obnoxious guys said he knew why my grandfather didn’t want to go.
He announced loudly that it was because my grandfather was afraid. He messed with the wrong man. My grandfather quietly replied that he had done something similar for five years in the early 1940s in Africa, Italy, and Germany.
Always Treat Your Servers Well
This happened while I was working as a roaming drink vendor at a local sports venue. A young man waved me over to purchase a brew. He looked a little on the young side to me, and since my employer had been giving the drink vendors a whole lot of grief about making sure our customers were of drinking age, I asked the guy to show some ID.
This did not seem to sit well with him because he made a huge display in front of his even younger-looking date about how stupid it was that I had to ask for ID and how I was wasting his time…blah, blah, blah. He finally finished his rant and handed me his driver’s license. He was 21—barely. He and his date were treating me like I was a moron for even considering asking for ID. Well, I decided to give them what they deserved.
So, instead of handing him his drink, I flipped his driver’s license back to him and said, “I’m sorry, sir. You not only have to be 21, but you also have to act like it”! And off I went, no worse for the encounter.
The Fabulous Furry What?a group of people in a room with a projector screenPhoto by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
The lecture portion of my university biology class was held in an auditorium where I usually chose a seat near the back. There was a guy who sat a couple of seats away from me and seemed contemptuous of me from the get-go. I should note that this prof taught straight from the book. He had slides that were mostly just a synopsis of each paragraph.
Since I learn better by reading than hearing, I didn’t always go to class. When I did go, I would only pay half attention while reading something for fun. On one such occasion, Contemptuous Guy barked, “Why do you even come if you’re just going to read some dumb comic book”? I replied, “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers isn’t just any comic book. Besides, I want to get next week’s assignments”.
I skipped the class after a big exam. When I came back, I got my paper, 65 points. I flipped until I realized it wasn’t 65%, it was raw points. So I asked the guy, “Do you have the grading scale for the exam”? He smugly said, “You need at least a 52 to get a C”. I said, “OK, so is the cutoff for an A above 65”? His eyes narrowed…
“YOU’RE the one who wrecked the curve”? he hissed, angry and shocked. On the rare occasion, I’m able to think of the perfect comeback right on the spot. This was one of those occasions. “Hmm, maybe you should read more comic books,” I said nonchalantly.
How Do You Say “Boom! Roasted” In French?
Some years back, I was taking the train to work when an enormous group of French foreign exchange students boarded. They were mostly in their mid-teens with a few adult supervisors. They took up virtually every seat and most of the standing room. There were only about a dozen people in the car who were not at the party.
I could see that some of the kids were practicing small phrases in English with the regular commuters. They were really excited and clearly had a great time. Some of the commuters were even enjoying responding and it was quite a beautiful scene—or at least it was until the supervisor totally ruined it.
She proclaimed to her students in French that there was no point speaking to any of us because British people are too stupid (her words) to speak English properly, let alone another language. Well, my stop was coming up and my blood was boiling, so I stood up and, in the most strongly projected voice I have ever managed, spoke to everyone in perfect French…
I wished the students a lovely trip and told them that I hoped they would think before judging other people in the future. The supervisor turned the exact shade of a boiled beetroot and did not utter a sound. The coup de grace, however, was when a little old lady piped up: “I bet you weren’t expecting that then, were you”?
Maybe She Was Flirting?
I was sitting beside my sister-in-law’s pool watching my kids swim, having a drink, and talking with my brother-in-law. One of his neighbors got in the pool and swam a half dozen lengths in about three minutes. After that, she got out of the pool, walked over to us, and haughtily proclaimed, “Some of us like to get some exercise”.
I looked back at her and threw her some attitude back: “I ran 11 miles this morning”. She stood there for about 15 seconds trying to come up with a retort, and then finally just turned and walked away. My brother-in-law managed to wait until she was out of earshot before he burst out laughing.
As One Does…two handsPhoto by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
I’m Jewish and my wife is Armenian. I used to sit next to a Turkish guy at work. Occasionally he and I would have arguments about the Armenian genocide. He, in keeping with official Turkish policy, insisted that it a) never happened and b) was blown way out of proportion. He also claimed that the Armenians were the ones actually doing the slaughtering.
I told him, that I disagreed with him and that the Turks knew exactly what they were doing and it was intensely personal. He smirked and said, “How do you know that”? My response shut him up completely. “My wife’s grandmother was in her house in Chomaklou when a package arrived from the post office. She opened it. Inside it was her husband’s head.”
Well, Allow Me To Retort
I went to a house party many years back, and there was a guy there who was a total loser. He was making rude comments, insulting people, and irritating everyone. We weren’t even sure who he was or how he was invited. Anyway, I grabbed a drink and started playing with Newton’s cradle that was on the host’s living room table.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the jerk walk over toward me. “Small things amuse small minds”, he chuckled. I replied, without skipping a beat: “In that case, maybe you should take your hands out of your pockets”. The people around us burst out laughing, and, of course, he had no comeback. He just slithered away and I never saw him again for the rest of the evening.
Back in 1988, I took a job delivering wholesale ice in the Washington, DC area. Despite the frigid temperatures one winter, we were very busy with commercial orders for the local sports arenas. We would also occasionally get orders from the larger hotels and convention centers when their own ice machines couldn’t keep up with the demand. I will never forget this moment.
On one particularly cold Sunday morning, I was awakened very early at home by a frantic general manager whose ice machine had failed overnight when the pipes froze. He pleaded with me to rush a pallet of crushed ice to his hotel by 10:00 am for a huge political charity event—the kind where the participants pay $25,000 per plate to hobnob with celebrities.
I hurried out there. While waiting to get paid after unloading, I noticed the kitchen staff all laughing and smirking. When the chef returned with my check I said, “What’s so funny”? He replied, “No offense, but you must be the dumbest person on the planet, driving around with three feet of snow on the ground in the middle of winter trying to sell ice”.
As I took the check, I said, “Nah, I’m not the one buying it”. You could hear a pin drop. As I left, I heard everyone bust out laughing even harder, and the chef yelling at them all to shut the F up.
Ready, Set, Gah!black traffic light with red lightPhoto by Luke Thornton on Unsplash
I was at a red light and some dude in a modified compact car pulled up next to me and revved the engine while looking over at me with a cocky smirk. This stretch of road was a pretty popular place for people to drag race, and what I could just barely see that my new friend could not see was a cop hiding behind a shrub.
So, I revved my engine back at him. This caused him to laugh and rev his engine even more—but I wanted to really get him going. I started to just barely creep up an inch or so. As soon as the light turned green, I stayed put for a few seconds while he popped the clutch and laid rubber the entire length of the intersection. He was immediately pulled over. I smiled and waved as I slowly drove past.
When I was in college, I was talking amongst a group of peers about Japanese, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cuisines, which I am extremely passionate about. A woman in the group said, “What would you know about those cultures? You’re just a blond-haired, privileged white man”. I thought, What? But I kept my mouth shut.
A few moments later, we were looking at my photo of a recent family gathering. What do you know? My brother-in-law is Moroccan and was wearing his traditional clothing. He cooked Moroccan food for us daily while living with us. And, oh no, my two brothers are dating girls from Japan who are like sisters to me. The humanity! Wait, two of my cousins are from the Philippines?
You get the picture. Someone in the group said, “Wow [person who insulted me]! You must feel pretty dumb right now”. And I could tell that they did feel pretty dumb. I love my family and I wish we could all stop judging others based on appearance. That’s just extremely shallow. It’s 2020! We’re a huge melting pot. C’mon, folks.
Twists And Turns
A guy was hitting on me in a restaurant bar as my husband Tom and I were waiting for a table. Tom was chatting with the guy next to him, all hunched over and speaking sotto voce, as he often does. I was idly stirring my drink, when this fellow wandered over and started hitting on me. Now, ordinarily, I love to flirt, even with strangers…
This guy, however, reeked of booze and started by putting a hand on my thigh. It wasn’t even a grope; more like an attempt to get his balance. And, yes, he smirked as he said, “So, lovey, wanna go to my place? I’ll show you a good time”. It was too much. WAY too much. I can only hope his friends put him up to it, as a bet, or something.
“Tom”? I said in a sort of panicky voice like I’d spotted a spider or something. Now, you have to understand that my husband, bless his heart, looks like Neanderthal. Seriously. Except he’s 198 cm (six foot six), weighs 127 kg (280 pounds), and he’s built like a Bulgarian weightlifter. He has deep-set eyes, a thick nose, a sloping forehead, and some tattoos.
He would definitely be typecast as a Russian Mafia. And Tom, who is normally a baritone, can reach all the way down to basso profundo. So when he’s hamming it up, and trying to look intimidating, even Batman would think twice. “Yes, my little dumpling”? he rumbled as he turned around and straightened up, putting one hand on my shoulder.
And that was the end of that man’s smirk. Yeah, I was flirting, but Tom adores me, and he loves to do chivalrous things like that. We had a good giggle over it later.
Time To Tap Outwoman in white suitPhoto by Thao LEE on Unsplash
I am a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As a woman, I often get paired with new students who try to tell me how to do a technique. I’ve noticed that this never happens to the guys, by the way. Usually, I’ll just let them talk and then show them what’s up when it’s time to roll (training against a resisting opponent).
Typically, one roll will put an end to their patronizing behavior, but this one guy wasn’t getting it. He kept trying to correct me but he was consistently wrong when describing the techniques. Our head instructor even heard him on several occasions and told him to stop trying to correct me because he doesn’t know what he was talking about.
On this particular day, we were drilling the double-leg takedown. I should mention that I have been coaching the kids' classes for about six years, and this is one of the main takedowns the kids do. I gently took him down, because we were just drilling—and he tried to tell me I did it wrong. I told him it wasn’t wrong, and he argued. So I decided to shut him down.
I looked him straight in the eyes, then looked down at his white belt, and then I looked at my belt, and back to his eyes. I simply said, “Huh”, and I took him down hard, using the same technique that he said was wrong. Let’s just say he never tried to correct me again.
If It Pleases The Court
My now ex-wife and I were trying to do an amicable dissolution. It didn’t end well. So, we drew up a plan and I took it to a lawyer just to have her look at it. This lawyer wasn’t six months out of school. She was inexperienced, cheap, and kind of dumb, but she was good enough to look over our document. She had concerns. I spoke to my wife to address them.
The wifey wanted changes. Then she wanted more. Then she hired the best attorney in our small town. Basically, this guy is a pitbull and everyone knows it. There is nobody who can beat him in court—at least not in our town. Who can beat him? A guy from about 70 km (45 miles) away who is more than willing to take him on.
“I’ve dominated him more than once, already” he proudly told me. Fast forward to the first court date. No one was aware that I had hired him, and it just so happened that my first lawyer had a case the same day, so she was at the courthouse. I saw my ex and her lawyer pointing at my old lawyer and already celebrating. Then our case was called…
They beamed at my first lawyer, but she sat still. My new lawyer, however, joined me at the front of the courtroom. I could see the blood drain from her lawyer’s face when he recognized my attorney. Her lawyer whispered something to her, she shook her head as if she didn’t understand. They had a brief discussion and my wife became 100 percent more reasonable.
Macho, Macho, Man
I am a stay-at-home father, among other jobs. Once a year, my wife’s company holds a meal at a nice restaurant, and the spouses are expected to attend. There’s free food and some of my wife’s coworkers aren’t idiots, so I don’t mind it. All night, one of her coworkers, unfortunately, one of the non-idiots, is doing the “I earn this much, I am SO manly” routine.
Meanwhile, I am actually sharing some of my recipes with her other coworkers. The idiot then makes a joke about me being a “good wife”. I just stare at him. He is in his 30s, short, mostly bald, not quite fit but not actually sloppy, and desperate to make everyone else in the room look less manly than him. “So what do YOU do”? He asks.
This an annoying question because I know he’s been listening to me talk about making sure dinner is on and all my duties as the stay-at-home parent, but unbeknownst to him I have another profession. “I’m a blacksmith” I state proudly. My wife’s wannabe uber-macho coworker deflates like a soufflé in an earthquake.
Username Checks Outman weight liftingPhoto by Sopan Shewale on Unsplash
I was at the gym where I worked and there was a group of guys in their early 20s who thought they were the greatest things to walk the earth. They maybe had 50 kg (115 pounds) on the squat rack and they were arrogant, rude, loud, and just generally annoying other members. So, I figured a little competition wouldn’t hurt anyone.
I set up the squat rack next to them and began repping 155 kg (345 lbs). I’m also built pretty small, so their jaws instantly dropped, and no joke, they packed up their stuff and walked off super defeated.
Born To Be Wild
As background, I make my living teaching people how to ride motorcycles. A long time ago, I used to do this in the New York area. The battery on my personal motorcycle had drained, and I had a new one on order. In the meantime, I was commuting by car. When the new battery came in, I picked it up after work and put it in my trunk.
On my drive home, I encountered a group of riders on the side of the road. They were clustered around a motorcycle that had clearly broken down. This was back before everyone had a cell phone, so I stopped to see if they could use some help. I know a thing or two about how motorcycles work and generally travel with tools. Little did I know I would get myself into a little kerfuffle.
Now these were a bunch of gnarly biker dudes. Wearing leather, chains, and tattoos…they ticked all the biker stereotype boxes. I’m sure they were amused that a lady pulled over to help. I asked, “Do you guys need any help”? One replied snarkily, “Not unless you have a motorcycle battery in your trunk” and the group shared a laugh.
You can see where this is going. I replied sweetly, “As a matter of fact, I DO have a motorcycle battery in my trunk”. Between my new battery and tools and skinny girl fingers that extracted the old battery from a tight spot, I got them on their way. They ended up being a friendly bunch and I hope they will give a warmer response when the next person offers help.
Know Your Worth
Every five years our contracts are rebid at my government job and there are not many positions like these in this area, so I am somewhat beholden to whichever new contractor comes in. One day, the new contracting company manager came in and wanted to talk to me. I only had a short time to talk because of an appointment I had about an hour later.
The manager for the new company started off by saying, “You are overcompensated for your age and experience. You are making as much as people who have been here for 30 years. In order to bring you over to the new contract, we will have to reduce your pay by $10,000”. He smirked in that “I’ve got you and there is not much you can do about it” way.
I responded and said, “That’s unfortunate”. He did not realize it at that moment, but it was unfortunate for them. I ended him with my next response: “Well I need to get going to my interview appointment and from what you just told me, I don’t want to miss that.” His smirk was wiped from his face and he stuttered a bit, and asked if I was going to be in tomorrow or on Friday.
I told him, “No, I’m sorry, [the contractor I was currently with] was flying me out to Maryland to interview with another group out there because they wanted to keep me on their payroll”. We said our goodbyes at that time and the following day I had an offer in my e-mail with a slight raise from the new contracting company.
A Pleasure Doing Businessa man sitting at a table with a laptop in front of himPhoto by Adetola Afolabi on Unsplash
This story has it all: an international setting, payola, corruption, and, of course, some smirk-wiping. This story is about a friend of mine named Richard. We worked together at The Economist. He was in Hong Kong and I was in New York City. When I’d travel to HK for work, I’d stay with him and his wife. And when we were both stationed in London, I rented their attic.
Richard is an American and was about 35 in the story, which takes place at the turn of the millennium. His wife, Jyoti, was a bit younger and from India. After his stints in HK and London, he moved with his wife to her home region in India, and he started a business building sewers. Richard looked a bit like Michael T. Weiss, star of the late 1990s series The Pretender.
To win contracts and get the permits to install sewers, he often had to meet with local and regional government officials. At the time, India’s officials were notoriously open to, ahem, “gifts”. After discussing the permits, the bureaucrats would switch to Hindi and talk amongst themselves about the “gifts” they would demand in order to move Richard’s paperwork along. This worked perfectly in Richard's favor.
The bureaucrats would then switch back to English and tell him their requirements. They were never called bribes, of course, but it was clear that that’s what they were. At that moment, my friend would switch to fluent Hindi. Hindi is so good that, apparently, if you were on the phone with him you would not know he wasn’t Indian.
Indeed, he told me he went to these meetings in person so the bureaucrats would take him for a sucker. When he turned the tables on them, they would be so embarrassed that they would grant him the permits at the correct rate. His business wound up being the only one that didn’t have to pay extra.
Chivalry Is Alive And Well
My wife didn’t know how to drive when we got married. I encouraged her to learn, and she did. Now she is a very decent driver—very cautious and focused on safety.
We were at a party where there was this guy she dated back before we started dating. I think he’s sort of an idiot, but since I had no beef with him, we were speaking in a friendly way.
Then, my wife started mentioning that she had finally gotten her driver’s license. She was so proud of herself. This guy was like, “Wow! I wonder how that works. Man, you must be nervous when she drives with you in the car”. I really felt like breaking his face. Nobody makes fun of my wife. Instead, I decided to take a different approach.
I looked him straight in the face, and told him, “No, I don’t feel nervous at all. She happens to be a great driver, and I feel totally comfortable with her at the steering wheel”. The idiotic smile on the guy’s face immediately disappeared, and everybody within earshot smiled and looked at the guy like the idiot he was.
I’m sure my wife appreciated my answer better than if I had gotten physical with the guy. I still wanted to punch his face, though.
Many years ago, my husband and I attended an Independence Day celebration at a large stadium as are both Vietnam veterans. We weren’t stationed in combat zones, but we served during the conflict. During the event, the emcee asked active duty personnel and veterans to stand up and be recognized. We both rose to our feet.
A man behind me jerked on the back of my T-shirt so hard that I almost fell back into his lap. “Sit down”, he hissed. “They said veterans, NOT their wives”. My husband immediately put on a sinister smile. He looked at him calmly and said, “My wife is a veteran,” Thankfully, we did not hear a peep from the guy for the rest of the show.
Sharpshooterholding hand couplePhoto by Imam Fadly on Unsplash
Over 30 years ago, I was a deputy sheriff. I’d been one for a year or two when I met this lady who was a paramedic in the same county. We dated for a few years. One weekend, I was at her house and had just purchased a Beretta 21 semi-auto in .22 cal. because I was getting tired of lugging a .38 around on my ankle as a last-resort weapon.
I went into the backyard with my girlfriend and tossed an empty tuna can onto the ground, loaded a magazine, and aimed. The first shot missed. Well, it’s a new piece, let’s try again. At the end of that magazine, I still hadn’t hit that tuna can. The second magazine’s the charm, right? NOT! I still hadn’t hit the can. I was really angry at this point.
Suddenly I heard my girlfriend say sweetly behind me, “Honey, do you think I could try”? I loaded up a magazine and showed her what to do and said, “You won’t shoot any better with it than I did, but go for it”. She took it, aimed, and fired. TING! The can went flipping into the air. TING, TING, TING, TING, TING, TING. She hit the can six more times.
Seven shots and the smirk was definitely wiped off my face! I had foolishly forgotten that her father was a WW2 and Korea vet AND an avid collector and instructor who had taught both his girls how to shoot and obviously how to shoot well. We will soon celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary. I’m so lucky that she agreed to marry me!
Mother Knows Best?
My brother stopped by our home one afternoon with his new girlfriend in tow. She was a tall, big-boned, top-heavy blonde. He introduced her to our mother who took him aside moments later. With a smug, self-satisfied smirk my mother informed him: “You know she’s not going to be able to keep her figure, don’t you”? My brother replied, “So…Did you”?
When I was in my early 20s, I went clubbing with some friends who brought along some other friends. One guy was trying to impress me with his “intelligence”. At the club, there was a screen where they projected various images. At this particular time, it was astronomical stuff. He asked me if I knew what it was. I just kinda smiled and asked him to tell me what it was.
He said that it was a close-up of Jupiter, and went on and on about it for a while. He then asked me what I thought it was. This is when I had some fun. So I told him that is Orion’s Nebula. He paused and replied incredulously, “Wait, do you know about this stuff”? I just smiled and stated that I was going into my final year of astrophysics at the U of T.
Wedding Crasherwoman in white and pink off-shoulder top standing beside wallPhoto by Olivier Rule on Unsplash
I was at a distant cousin’s wedding a couple of months back. Since my grandmother was invited, I decided to tag along. On the day of the wedding, I could tell that everyone had done their best to get glam and gorgeous. Thankfully, some of my cousins were there, too, so I wasn’t totally bored. About halfway through the function, was approached by a woman I didn’t know.
I was standing beside six of my male cousins, just talking and laughing, when this lady, who was just a couple of years older than me and so thin that she looked like she’d never eaten anything, came up to me and said, “You just have to start exercising. You’re so fat, look, I can see your fat through your dress. Haven’t your parents taught you anything”? That was bad enough, but she kept taking it further.
I admit that I’m chubby, but my fat could definitely not be seen through my clothes. This woman went on ranting some more, just insulting me and saying that no one would marry me because I was fat, and that I’d never have kids. I was listening calmly. When she was done, she looked at me, smirked, and asked “Don’t you agree”?
I very calmly replied, “There is a disadvantage to you being thin. A small head means you can only fit a small brain in there. It makes you a narrow-minded person. As for me, I can proudly say I have an open mind as well as a big heart”. The lady’s face turned bright red as she sputtered and tried to think of a response. She ended up just turning and stalking away.
The Doctor Is In
When I mentioned that I have a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, a software engineer smirked and said, “What are ya gonna do with that”? I had spent several years as a professional research scientist, but I skipped over that in my answer. Instead, I kept my slayage simple: “Well, I taught myself to code, so nowadays I’m an IT consultant. I did all the math for a huge database merger project at Microsoft".
“Oh,” was all he said. And, yes, his smirk was gone.
Fast And Soon-To-Be-Furious
I was driving a muscle car and pulled up to a stoplight with my girlfriend at my side. A couple of guys in a Porsche pulled up beside us and tried to get me to race. I shook my head. We were on a date and I was trying to be on my best behavior. To provoke me, they started yelling some very hurtful things about my girlfriend. Obviously, this infuriated me—and I knew I had to get payback.
When the light changed, I gunned it and my car leaped out ahead of them. I then quickly backed off just in time for them to blow through the speed trap I had passed on the way to pick her up. We laughed all the way to dinner.
Sir, Yes, Sirmen's black and red topPhoto by Chichi Onyekanne on Unsplash
Many years ago, I was an army wife and was in my car in a shopping center parking lot, when someone hit my car from behind. The other driver, who was wearing his shiny new army uniform, pulled rank on me. He aggressively said that he was in law enforcement, that I was in trouble, and that he hoped I was well insured.
I sat quietly until he asked for my insurance. Then I suggested he call my husband for the details, as my husband was his new boss—and obviously outranked him substantially. Needless to say, it was very amusing to watch him deflate. But the best part? He then got called into the office and reprimanded for pulling rank on a civilian.
Comin’ In Hot
My stepfather used to love to make my life miserable. One of the ways he did this was to walk through the kitchen while I was washing dishes, plunge his hand into the dishwater and yell, “This dishwater is ice cold! You can’t get dishes clean in cold water. Now empty that out, make some hot dishwater, and wash all these over again”!
Since I detested washing dishes, this would always make me cry and feel defeated. Then he would smirk and walk out of the kitchen feeling very proud of himself. It didn’t matter how hot the dishwater was, he always did the same thing. So one night I had enough. I put a stockpot on the stove to boil, then poured the boiling water into the sink with some dish soap.
I loaded the sink with dishes and then stirred them around a bit with a wooden spoon to make it sound like I was doing dishes. Sure enough, I soon heard him coming my way. As he walked into the kitchen, I took a step back so he could easily reach the sink. He plunged his hand into the boiling hot dishwater! His hand came out of that sink so fast, it was a blur.
He said nothing and gave no indication that he had just stuck his hand in boiling water. He just looked at me with mingled hatred and respect and walked out of the kitchen without a word. That was the last time he ever tested my dishwater.
Whether or not we liked going to school growing up, we can likely all agree that we had one of those teachers who really didn't belong in the classroom.
From terrible tempers, little patience, and other bad behaviors, there are qualities that absolutely shouldn't be exhibited by a teacher.
But at least in some cases, the teacher gets caught in the act.
Redditor Ok-Discipline-4312 asked:
"How did that teacher get fired at your school?"
Creepy Phone Calls
"In the early 90s, a female student at my high school was receiving obscene phone calls."
"When police interviewed her, she told them, 'He sounds kind of like my history teacher.'"
" The police put a tracer on her phone, and the caller did turn out to be her history teacher."
Passing the Torch
"My high school had a notoriously stoney gym teacher, who was also hilarious. Every year, he did a miscellaneous object raffle during a random lunch hour. He basically just gave away whatever was in the lost and found box."
"Well, my junior year, one of the objects was a large and elaborate 'vase.'"
"Basically, he handed a student a giant f**king bong. He retired a few days later."
Rolling with the Punches
"A teacher used a sick day rather than a vacation day to fly to Japan to fight in MMA. He got caught and was fired for improper use of time off."
"He lost his fight and chose a different career path afterward."
"They used alcohol on the job. They had a bottle in the top left drawer."
"It took years to catch them, though."
"I had a few teachers like that. One lady had a can of Tab every day (remember Tab soda? laughing out loud)."
"Some kid made a mark on the bottom with a pen or something and found out it was the same can every day. She was refilling it from a bottle in her car."
One Word: Embezzlement
"Embezzling from the students. For quite a few years, she would collect money for this 'senior trip' that never seemed to materialize."
"She was arrested a few years after I graduated. I wonder if she's out of prison yet?"
"Holy s**t, I just had a repressed memory pop up in my head. We had a 'ski club' when I was in 8th grade, and the teachers constantly collected money from us for our 'ski trip' that we never took. I wonder where all that money went?"
All for the Prom Queen
"S**t, there was a vice principal that wanted her daughter, who went to the same school, to be the homecoming queen super bad."
"So she hacked into dozens of parents' district portal accounts and stuffed the ballot for her daughter."
"Not quite 'steal the money' or 'embezzle' bad, but still 'go to prison and never work in education again' and also 'your daughter isn't going to college now' bad."
A Sweet Future
"My middle school choir teacher was a closeted gay man. He had a long-term boyfriend but none of us knew about it, until one day a parent saw them at a HOUSE PARTY making out."
"They spread rumors throughout the school and multiple parents immediately removed their children from his class. The parents complained to the school and got him fired."
"The good news is, he eventually quit teaching and opened up a bakery with his partner, which did very well and got featured on 'Cupcake Wars.'"
Sprinkled with Annoyance
"A teacher threw a donut at an annoying student."
"What a waste of a perfectly good donut!"
"Because of me, I think. Once in primary school, I was messing around with a classmate, and she threw a sponge at me, making me chase her around the classroom."
"The teacher tried to stop me and grabbed me by the neck, making me fall on my back. It didn’t hurt, but I was surprised."
"I don’t remember how, but the principal and my parents got involved, and we never saw the teacher again after that. He was sort of a substitute teacher, and from what I can remember, he was pretty well-liked even by me."
Incredible Road Rage
"He cut off my grandpa in an explosive road rage incident, pulled him out of his truck, and beat him to the ground so bad that my grandpa was in the hospital for weeks."
"Thankfully, my grandpa was okay, but his job (and his marriage, and social life) didn’t survive."
High School Drama
"At my school, the new French teacher started screwing the old computer teacher, who was married to the geometry teacher."
"At the end of it, just the geometry teacher had her job and all the other two teachers' money because she divorced the computer teacher and managed to sue the French teacher as part of an alienation of affection suit."
"Then she hooked up with the metal shop teacher."
Three Strikes, You're Out
"The teacher called up a female student to work a problem on the blackboard. The student didn't want to participate. After some verbal back and forth, the student went to the blackboard and muttered something under her breath."
"The teacher grabbed the student's hair with both hands and proceeded to slam her head into the blackboard. 'You (slam) will listen (slam) to me (slam)!'"
"About three seconds later, the teacher realized what she was doing and released the student's hair. The student looked at her, said, 'You are sooooo fired,' and left the room."
"We had a new math teacher the next day."
The Dispassionate Teacher
"My memory of this is kinda hazy since this happened 10 and a half years ago."
"She was telling at us, I don't remember if anything specific triggered her episode but she said s**t like, 'I don't give a rat's a** what you think,' and 'I wish I could use the paddle.'"
"Although the one thing I'll always remember was before she sat down, she said, 'I'm going on Facebook, I don't care what the h**l you do.'"
"I guess she got fired the same day, because we had a sub after lunch, and we had a new short-term sub every few days before we got a long-term sub for the rest of the year."
That Would Do It
"He taught me physics for three years and became principal for two years."
"Then they realized he didn’t even have the teaching qualification."
It's obvious why these teachers were quickly removed from their roles as teachers and unable to ever teach again.
But the thought that these things ever happened in a classroom are deeply unsettling.
Working at a job where you get along with coworkers is ideal.
Strong teamwork can establish efficiency, and good rapport at the workplace can inspire friendships.
But not even the kindest person can vibe with everyone despite good intentions, and it could be due to toxic personalities.
Those types of coworkers can be ones who are unfriendly, manipulative, super arrogant, or completely lacking in self-awareness.
Curious to hear about the latter, Redditor Woodchipper_AF asked:
"Who is the most insufferable a**hole you’ve ever worked with?"
These individuals did not look forward to showing up, due to individuals who've made their lives miserable.
"At my old job, my boss would give me difficult projects from difficult clients. When I finished the project, she would go into the system and add her initials (whoever does the work has to initial after every step) and take off mine."
"Then she would go to her supervisor and be like, 'Look what I did! Hehe!' And she would get all the credit. When I finally figured out she was doing that, I wouldn't let her know when I was done, and I would personally submit my work to her supervisor."
"His mind was blown that I just 'magically picked up the work so effortlessly,' and I got promoted lol."
New VP In Town
"Matt, the new VP of operations decided that everything about our company needed to change, including undermining my role, essentially taking over my team, and started implementing these incredibly micro managing processes that nearly halved our productivity, then blamed it all on me. He then proceeded to place our junior as the team lead and left me on my own island. It really felt like he was trying to get me to leave and well, he got what he wanted. F'k you, Matt."
Her Way Or The Highway
"Sierra. Sierra knew the answer to every single question, had better ideas than you, had done more than you had done, tried everything that you thought of, seen more a problems than you had, and just all around was an insufferable know-it-all. Everything had to be done exactly the way she wanted it to be done even if it didn't need to be done that way, it still had to be done that way because that's the way she wanted it. She micromanaged everyone around. I was so happy when she moved to a different job."
"Sounds like my insufferable coworker. Except mine is also a f'king hypocrite who’ll rat you out for bending a rule that is flexible while constantly breaking rules she’s not supposed to because she’s been working this entry level job for 30 years."
"I look forward to the day she gets fired but unfortunately this is a union job."
Sometimes, things backfire.
"I had a coworker who would sh*t all over my ideas in meetings and then offer up the same solutions I'd just offered like 5 minutes later. Everyone watched her do it and I don't know if she thought she was getting away with something or had some kind of mental block where she didn't even realize she was doing it. After a year or so we had this guy Dave get hired and the first meeting she did that he blurted out, 'wait a minute, 5 minutes ago Joe suggested that and you sh*t all over it.' And she was kind of like, 'Oh,' and like mumbled something while everyone stifled a giggle."
"Lady tried to get me fired and was totally harassing me - it backfired and she was escorted out by HR. I’ve been with my company for almost ten years now. See you never✌️"
"Yeah I just went through 2+ years of hell because of a total abusive gaslighting coworker a-hole. She would say abusive stuff to me when no one else was around and then completely deny it with management. She would create weird situations to make me look bad or crazy and would like daily attempt to turn coworkers against me. She would straight up mock me in front of coworkers and customers. Also, many incidents of her mocking me for being a guy and being 'too sensitive.' Sh*t like 'You are too sensitive. You should be able to handle what I say.'"
"She even knew I was sober (25+ years) and on a couple of occasions managed to make me feel like sh*t as if I was some total scumbag. It was unbelievably frustrating and I had no idea how to handle all this. I managed to kick alcohol and drugs a long time ago and survive a very rough childhood but had no tools to handle something like this. It was like the twilight zone. She successfully convinced management I was the problem and that I was making the whole thing up for a long long time. I felt completely defeated and hopeless."
"Massive stress for something like 2 years. I finally broke and told management do something or I will sue. They first hired a mediator who took us through the mediation process. I was not told what the mediator thought of the situation but I definitely get a sense the mediator told management yes you have a problem here."
"Then the company called in lawyers who investigated my claims. Took about 6 months but it turns out several of her own employees (we were both foreman) backed me up and from what I know the lawyers told my company they were in serious legal jeopardy. Every one of the women I work with said I am kind and never have I ever been mean, snapped or been rude to them."
"Several of them said they love working with me and some actually witnessed some incidents. I was kept in the dark as to the whole timeline of the investigation but one recent Friday management walked in and told her to gather her things and they escorted her out of the building. I literally had to step out and weep. Not just because it was finally over but why did any of this have to happen? I still don’t really know why I was her target and I don’t think I ever will. My stress levels are 1000 times better but yeah I think I need therapy. Still processing it all."
These are the kind of work colleagues you don't go out for drinks with afterward.
The Thing About Dave
"Dave is a guy who thinks he’s much smarter than he is. He’s been with the same company for 20 years and has worked his way up the ladder at a small company, where he now leads Operations."
"He’s a control freak and micromanager and this job is pretty much all he has in life. He will do anything and everything to block progress and innovation and will ruthlessly stab anyone in the back who gets in his way."
"Sometimes I have pity on Dave because this job is as good as it’s ever gonna get for him. I’m gonna leave this job soon and move on to better things, but Dave’s gonna be doing Dave things until a heart attack or kidney failure takes him out eventually."
Can't Be Pleased
"Guy that I worked with on a cabinet door assembly line. One night we got done about 30min early and this guy throws a fit. How is he going to pay his bills if they send us home early ect ect. Two nights later we had to work about 45min late. This guy starts throwing a even bigger fit. No one helps us, whining we have to work overtime ect ect lol."
"Got a dude i work with who always claims he will quit when it comes to OT. Thing is, its never mandatory unless dire. We usually always have volunteers to fill in. Its been like seven years. Quitter still works there, claiming he's gonna quit."
I've been fortunate enough to have worked with amazing groups of people throughout my performing career.
But my first job experience as a 16-year-old was not a positive one. I worked in retail selling video games at the mall where I grew up.
My trainer who worked shifts with me behind the counter was the boss's girlfriend. She was condescending and would often abandon her job duties when things at the store was slow and go shopping around the nearby shops and department stores.
Of course, whenever she was gone, I dealt with mayhem. I had to figure out how to deal with exchanges, giving refunds, which I had yet to learn.
I also had to call security on a kid who wandered in unattended and swiped an item from behind the counter, then later dealt with his irate mother who had to leave her job to pick up her kid from the mall and yelled at me for accusing him of stealing.
After two weeks, I quit.
We all have those moments when we want to have the perfect comeback, but we draw a complete blank.
Until three days later when we have an epiphany about what we should have said.
Well, maybe these bons mots can put some weapons in your arsenal.
Reddit user MirrorFunhouse asked:
"What's an insult that's been thrown at you (or you heard toward someone else) that you actually admired or just made you laugh?"
So many insults to choose from...
"You look like someone who would pre-heat the microwave."
Some are one-liners.
"It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others."
Others require a little set up.
"My bestfriend and I were roasting each other.
"Me: 'What are you going to say to me that my parents haven't already said?'"
"Her: 'I'm proud of you'."
"I would agree with you, but then we would both be wrong."
"It’s not worth insulting you as nature has already done enough damage."
"Heard one of my sister’s bullies call her fat and mock her weight at school."
"She just yelled back 'B*tch you’re the f'king ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, I can lose weight, what the f'k are you going to do about that face?'”
“You think in low power mode.”
“You’ve got two brain cells left and they’re competing for third place”
"I like 'you only have two brain cells, but one of them is lost and the other went looking for it'."
"Or 'you only have two brain cells left, and they're each trying to bum a smoke off the other'."
"You are living proof that the education system needs better funding."
“Wisdom has been chasing you, but you’ve always been faster.”
“You’re as smart as you look.”
"Random dude online told me to go back to Mexico when I made a joke about the US medical insurance costs."
"I corrected him saying I was Canadian, and he replied with 'stfu, you're just a snow Mexican then'."
"For some reason I just immediately imagined a dude removing snow off his car while wearing a sombrero and laughed for a good 3 minutes."
"Que pasa, eh?"
"As a Canadian living in Texas, my stepdad would call us icebacks."
"I can only explain it to you, I can't understand it for you."
"You're intellectually on the ground already and what do you do?"
"Begin to dig."
Self owns are rife with opportunities.
"My friend got in a heated argument with her son (nothing new, they’re both hot-tempered) and she called him a son-of-a-b*tch and he said 'that’s right, I am!!' And they both cracked up laughing."
"My cousin jokingly called her teenage son a son-of-a-b*tch and I laughed and said 'You just called yourself a b*tch!' and then she told me to f'k off. It was great!"
"My friend once had the same thing happen and shouted back: 'At least we can agree on something, MOM!' His mom was pissed as soon as she figured it out a hot second later, but his dad tried his hardest to keep a straight face."
“You look like you have a favorite flavor of glue.”
~ triggamonThe Simpsons Eating GIFGiphy
"I envy people that didn't get to know you."
"In elementary a kid once shouted at me 'you're so weird, you probably were able to read the paper when you were THREE YEARS OLD!!'."
"Basically he called me 'smart' to my face."
"Unintentional compliments are the best. You know they aren’t lying because they tried to insult you."
"My brother said to me ‘you look 16 at age 20' and I was like 'OMG THANKS'."
"You behave like someone who snacked on lead paint too often as a child."
"You're not the dumbest person on Earth, but if I were you I'd hope that person doesn't die soon."
"In my early teens I told a good friend of mine (roughly translated) 'Dude, you're like the king of all dumba**es!'."
"Without missing a beat he asked 'Shouldn't you obey me, then?'."
"At that point I had to admit I had indeed gotten got. It's been over 20 years and it still burns a bit."
"I'd explain it to you in a way even you'd understand, but I have neither the time nor the crayons."
"Your self-confidence contradicts your expertise."
"My friend and I were at a place known for its clubs and drinking spots. We were waiting for our car when a man was hitting on us and inviting us to drink."
"Dude told us he's 47 and without hesitation, I asked 'Oh, so are you here with your kids?'."
"My friend was holding in a laugh while I was just clueless why, then I realized I pretty much called him an oldie."
"Some tree is woking its a** off to produce the oxygen you're consuming."
"You owe that tree an apology."
"I had a Mexican girlfriend who was self-conscious about her bad grammar in English. She got into an argument with another girl in English."
"She suddenly turns to me and points at the other girl and says, 'she is a little b*tch', then just jumps back into the argument. I found it a bit odd, but whatever."
"Afterward I ask her were you trying to bring me into the argument by telling me she was a little b*tch? She said 'no, I just wanted to call her a little b*tch and wasn't sure if it was, you are a little b*tch or you is a little b*tch. I knew she is a little b*tch was correct so I said that, but I couldn't say that to her, so I just said it to you'."
"The delivery carried some weight, and there were many subtle elements, although unintentional. There was uninvolved 3rd party verification, and it felt like she was undermining her that she was such a little b*tch that she didn't even bother directly telling her."
"It was very effective. The other girl was visually dissed."
"My expectations towards you were low and what do you do?"
~ triggamonlimbo belt GIFGiphy
So do you have a favorite comeback?
If not, you have some to choose from now.