Medical Professionals Share The Most Obvious Case Of A Patient 'Faking It'.
This article is based on the AskReddit question: "Doctors/nurses of Reddit; What is the most obvious case of a patient 'faking it' you have ever seen?"
Let's scrub in, shall we?
Hard To Fake It Through The Pain
Had a patient fake guillain-barr syndrome - ascending paralysis. She ended up in the ICU and I was her nurse. I was a new grad and had to put a catheter in her bladder. She had to pretend she couldn't feel a thing and I could see the pain in her eyes. Turned out she got into a fight with her husband and as he was walking out of the house she fell on the floor to make him stay. I don't think she meant to take it so far, but she didn't know how to back out.
Another ICU pt - she was a nurse on disability and would fake seizures, which are really hard to fake. She would hold her breath and shake and roll around on the bed. Her O2 saturation dropped to the 70s from not breathing (and maybe the sensor wasn't picking it up well as she was shaking) and we told her we'd intubate if she couldn't protect her airway and she would miraculously stop seizing. Never acted postictal and could remember the whole seizure and everything that was said..She told me she would call my manager since I said during one of her "seizures" we didn't need to give her ativan.
Guy came into the ER the other day FORCEFULLY trying to get himself to vomit. I'm talking over one hour of Exorcist-like wretching to get any stomach contents out. It was amusing for the first minute but then became really sad to realize how far this guy was going to get his fix for morphine.
Judgey And Jury
Get called for an unconscious intox's at a bar. Get her out to the ambulance, she shouts "I'M HAVING A SEIZURE" and starts waving her arms around. I tell her "people who have seizures generally don't announce it first." Her response? "You're being very judgemental, I was getting ready in case I had a seizure."
... gotta stretch, I guess.
That's Not How This Works
My mom's an ER nurse and she said once some crazy lady came in and complained hat she had the whooping cough. And whenever she coughed she followed it with a loud woooOOOP!"
We All Scream For Ice cream
5/15. Oooh that's a toughie. It's either:
12 or 13 year old kid was having "seizures," would have another every time the ER tried to discharge her, magically woke up when her father proposed getting ice cream with no recollection of what happened. Video EEG was negative of course.
Old lady pretending to be catatonic, was helping us transfer her from wheelchair to bed (i.e. was not limp) and when we held her hand over her face and let go she dropped it to her side (if she were truly out it would have smacked her)
A lot of pain fakers are obvious too but pain is a bit more gray area while the above have objective findings.
6/15. My partner at work is an Administrator with an ED Nursing background. She was called in to the ED one night last year to deal with a patient who was complaining of severe headaches and nosebleeds but was refusing to go for any kind of examination in favor of being admitted. They are pretty sure at this point that she is drug seeking as she refused to even lie in the bed. My friend left the room and was standing a few feet outside the patient's glass bay talking with the Charge Nurse when she noticed the patient turn around and hunch over. She subtly stopped the conversation so they could observe.
The patient turned around with more blood on her nose and blood on her fingers from where she had been reaching into her underwear and smearing period blood all over her face to fake a nosebleed.
Can You Hear Me Now?
I'm an audiologist, and it's fairly common to have people fake a hearing loss. With adults, it's commonly for worker's compensation/benefits. Children do it for attention or to get out of school for a day.
They are fairly easy to spot...patients will come in, conversing with me very normally, but the audiogram will show a profound hearing loss. We all have our tricks to get them to slip - I like to lower my mic volume to a normal range and mention that they dropped something when they're in the booth, they instinctively reach for it, forgetting that they shouldn't have heard it because of their "loss." We can also do an auditory brainstem response, bypassing the need for patient responses. A Stenger Test can identify those fakers that only have a "hearing loss" in one ear.
My favorite is when testing kids that are clearly faking, part of the test requires me to have them repeat words. So I present them at a normal volume and the kids are REEEAAALLLYY straining to hear them, then I slip in funny words like "buttcrack" and watch to see them smile because they clearly heard it.
Stroke Of Genius
Work in a hospital for prisoners. They will frequently fake chest pain to get in to the hospital, but sometimes they will try to fake other things instead.
Had a guy trying to fake stroke symptoms. Claimed he couldn't move his leg, docs examine him and he insists he can't move it. 5-10 minutes later I look in the room and he is walking to the bathroom. When he sees me, he immediately starts limping and acting like its hard to walk. Pretty sure he was discharged shortly after.
9/15. A nurse friend told me this one, this happened about a month ago. A woman and her boyfriend are rushed in by ambulance after being in a car accident. My nurse friend is with the boyfriend, who keeps yelling about his baby. It takes a minute to calm him down, but my friend gathers that the guy's girlfriend is pregnant. So they check for a heartbeat but don't hear anything. The woman keeps asking the doctor to check again. Both her and her boyfriend are in tears. Finally another nurse comes in with some of her tests results and announces that the woman wasn't ever even pregnant. The woman starts arguing, saying that yes she was pregnant and has been for a while and that the results are wrong. Turns out a few months back her boyfriend tried to break up with her so she lied to about being pregnant to get him to stay.
10/15. A girl came in complaining of 20/10 abdominal pain. Lab work all normal, pelvic normal, CT normal. I closed the door and curtain in her room, but kept a little crack where I could see her. Within 5 minutes she stopped yelling and screaming about her pain. I saw her on her phone, eating McDonald's, and walking around. This went on for almost an hour. She then heard another staff member outside her room and began screaming again. After being left alone for 5 minutes, she would stop. When I went in to discharge her, she said she was having a AAA and was going to die. She tried to rip down the curtain and then intentionally smacked her head on the computer.
Security escorted her out... She was back the next day.
Another one was the guy that said he was at a different hospital where they told him he was having a heart attack and needed morphine. But just before they could give it to him, someone came into the ER and started shooting, so he got up and ran. We called over to that hospital and they just laughed. Guy signed out AMA 10 minutes later.
There are some fun ones in psych.
The patient went into her room and, in a very obvious stage-voice (just loud enough for us to hear her in the main area), started saying random, unconnected sentences/phrases. Then she immediately came out, walked straight up to us and asked, "How do I know if the voices are real?" She would act perfectly normal when she thought we weren't looking, but as soon as we walked loudly up to her door she'd start "talking to herself" again. Yeah, no. That's not how psychosis works lol. Good try though.
Also there was the girl who "strangled" herself unconscious. There was no pressure whatsoever on her throat/neck. The doctor quietly snuck up to her, then smacked his hands together in a single giant clap. She jumped.
And another patient who had "seizures". She lay in bed, twitching, when I called her for lunch. I said all right, but if you lie there for too long you're going to be stuck with the vegetarian option. The seizures magically stopped.
Walk Away Shontay
When I was a resident, I had a patient in clinic that was doing that round-about thing patients do when they want narcotics but aren't going to directly ask for them. She would hint at having arthritis pain that "just doesn't seem to get better except that one time she took lortab" and that "you know, her friend gave her a Percocet once and it helped a lot" (never mind the fact that this lady was 100% functional despite "debilitating pain").
At the end of the clinic visit, when I offered a physical therapy referral and stronger NSAIDs (the actual treatment for osteoarthritis), she suddenly sat straight up, looked me in the eye, and said, "Doctor, I don't know how...but I'm totally paralyzed."
Seriously. She pretended that, all of a sudden, everything other than her mouth was totally paralyzed. She made us send her to the ER (but not before she had my nurse unwrap a peppermint and literally put it on her tongue because "her blood sugar felt low"). We had to lift this nutcase into a wheelchair (during which we could all feel her shifting and repositioning...not something a paralyzed person would do) and roll her to the ER to be evaluated for "sudden paralysis".
While in the ER, she suggested to the ER doc that maybe Lortab would fix her paralysis, and when the ER doc rightly refused this treatment, she got out of the stretcher and walked out.
Had an employee that was "allergic to everything" and a huge hypochondriac. She was such a headache that we ended up moving her desk way away from pretty much anyone else so she would stop complaining. One day, a lady walks by with a strong perfume, and our lovable hypochondriac falls out.
Predictably, EMS is called, and by this point our employee is laying on the ground rolling her eyes back in her head. Scary stuff if you didn't know she was literally insane.
So EMS arrives and they come over, put the O2 meter on her finger, and she's choking through her speech when they're asking her if she can breathe or not. O2 saturation was at like 97% or something like that. Medic goes "ma'am, there's no reason why you should be having trouble breathing right now."
They hung around for another couple minutes, then bounced.
Had a mother come in and INSIST that her child had Silver-Russell syndrome. You can go read on it. It's not that easy to fake, as it's a bunch of metabolic conditions mixed with congenital abnormalities.
The kid was small, but not that small (around 6th percentile). He didn't weight much (5th percentile). All of this, with a right arm length 2 cm more than the left side, were borderline criteria for Silver-Russell. Did genetic testing, which came back negative, but 30% of cases are negative.
So the deciding factor was one of the "soft" criteria of hypoglycemia. Once she heard about this (she printed out 30-40 articles on the disease), she came back with the kid in a coma. But when the kid was in the hospital, he was never hypoglycemic. He went home, and came back in a coma a few weeks later. Again, as soon as he was eating normally at the hospital, he was never hypoglycemic.
She starved her child into comas repeatedly for the diagnosis of Silver-Russell. She was also a "bougon", people who live off welfare and make a game out of it. By the way, she was in a wheelchair when at the hospital. Once I had enough of her bullshit and walked into the room after only knocking once. She was walking around normally and jumped into the wheelchair as soon as she saw me.
I believe it was for money since in Canada/Quebec, you get money when your child has a genetic disability.
Bills, Bills, Bills
Gentleman called 911 from a restaurant claiming he had a migraine and was unable to see properly. He was literally 2 blocks from a hospital.
I've had migraines, I'm sympathetic. On the way to the call I was planning my treatment plan so he would be more comfortable during the wait in the emerg.
He was waiting outside, in full sunlight, waving at us. Thanked us politely for coming "to his rescue". Sat in the well lit ambulance, chatting up a storm, making inappropriate jokes, and laughing. Stating the whole time he has 10/10 pain from a migraine, and that only Percocet works to reduce the pain. He has them frequently, and wouldn't you know it, he's run out of his prescribed medication, and his doctor is on vacation.
The chef from the restaurant he called from came out and asked for his information. Our patient was "unable to pay his bill, due to the pain." He conveniently had no ID he could leave with the restaurant, and only had his debit card with him. He promised to come back, once he was feeling well enough to tap his PIN into the machine, but right now he couldn't. The chef knew 100% the guy was lying, but couldn't do anything.
As someone who has had a vomiting, shaking, vision effecting, migraine in the past, he did nothing to convince anyone he was in actual discomfort. I actually would greatly prefer if he had said, "I ate a meal I can't afford, and I'm addicted to pain killers, can you please take me to the ER." Honesty would have gotten him better treatment from everyone involved.
Edit: We took him to the ER. He waited in the loud busy waiting room reading magazines. I'm from Canada, so his ambulance bill is mostly paid by the Ministry of Health. Physicians can sign a patient as "non essential" which would cause the patient to be charged for the whole cost. The MOH has no guidelines surrounding what is essential and what isn't, so the MD/Hospital opens themselves up to a lawsuit if someone decides to sue because the MD signed their ambulance trip as non-essential. So this rarely happens.
Add to that if the patient is receiving social services from the government or has no fixed address, they are charged nothing at all.
The studies have been done, Paramedics/EMTs in other countries can tell you, charging people does not reduce the frequency of illegitimate 911 use.
[Image credit: Denis Pepin / Shutterstock.com]
Reddit user cthulhu34 asked: 'What’s a common mistake people make in their 30s?'
Most people think that by the time they're in their 30s, they'll have their life together.
It's only when they get to that point that they realize that's not totally true.
Maybe those in their 30s have a job, are in a serious relationship, and have a home. Perhaps they're married or have kids.
However, that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes.
According to Reddit, people in their 30s make all kinds of mistakes, and Redditors are ready to share what those mistakes are.
It all started when Redditor cthulhu34 asked:
"What’s a common mistake people make in their 30s?"
"Stay in unhealthy toxic relationships."
"Alternatively, leaving healthy relationships because you’re bored and want to have fun."
"Romanticizing your 20s and fearing your 40s. (live where you are)."
"This is so good. So easy to romanticize the past and fear the future. Life is organic and so are we. We will keep changing and often times in a good way (stronger, wiser, more confident etc.). I'm so happy to be who I am at 37."
Compare and Contrast
"Comparing their lifestyle to other 30-somethings."
"This is a good one. Your peer’s success can seem perfect from afar and make you feel inadequate."
"But if you sit down and talk with them you will learn all sorts of shortcomings and difficulties in their life that will make you appreciate something about yourself and your situation."
"In other words we all just out here tryna function."
It's Never Too Late
"Thinking they are too old. Never too late to switch career paths or look for a new relationship or start taking care of your health."
"Almost 40, just started my MBA. Never too old!"
"It's absolutely never too late. I'm 42 and honestly feel like everything is getting better, ESPECIALLY dating and relationships in general. It's a relief to finally know myself and what I want."
"Also, I'm returning to study next year and looking forward to a career change. Having a beginner's mindset, always curious and learning. My dad is an inspiration, her had a stroke in his 60's and changed his life. After he recovered, he got a divorce, moved countries and decided to study medicine. He's now in his 70's living this dream and working as a doctor. It's never too late!"
"I feel and look younger than when I was 30! I know many people well into their 60's and 80's with this growth mindset and I'm determined to be like that until I die."
"Not exercising enough and eating a crappy diet. You can't get away with those things anymore like you did in your 20's."
"My doc told me at the end of last year that I'm not 16 anymore and now is the time in my life where I get to decide whether I want to see my daughters grow up or whether I wanna die of a heart attack in my 50s. Sh*t cut deep but I got the message lol."
"Dropped 40 pounds since January and might be in the best shape of my life tbh."
"Your 30s is when you are really in the thick of "adulting". It's easy to loose focus on what is really important to you among all the demands and responsibilities."
"Not Fostering Friendships: As you enter your 30s, maintaining and nurturing friendships becomes more challenging. It's a time when connections can fade, and forming new ones becomes harder. It's very important to invest effort in the friendships you currently have. Edit: A few people have commented about what to do when people don't reciprocate? My advise - keep trying! Everyone is under water in their 30's, they likely won't be able to make every attempt at outreach you make. But over time as things become less hectic they will remember you kept trying (without guilt) and will appreciate it and come back to you. But toxic people, yeah cut those out!"
"Not Nurturing Your Romantic Relationship: Responsibilities increase in your 30s like careers, parenthood, and caregiving for aging parents. It's common for the most crucial relationship – your romantic partnership – to be inadvertently neglected. Avoid taking your partner for granted, assuming they'll always be around, or treating them as an outlet for your worst moments."
Be Who You Are
"Not Preserving Your Identity: Similar to the previous points, your 30s come with a whirlwind of conflicting priorities that can lead you to lose touch with your identity. It's easy to forget what truly brings you joy and satisfaction. Maintain a hobby that gives your life purpose and regularly reflect on whether your job still fulfills your needs in terms of purpose, financial stability, and overall satisfaction."
"I'm 33 and in the process of rediscovering who I am, what I like doing beyond just 'filling in time' and how I like to present myself. It's scary to be caught off guard by the realisation that you don't know you and just as scary trying to start down a path to change that."
"I'm happy with my job and my role as a mother. But as an individual... I just feel like a crusty 90's kid, wearing 00's fashion and focusing on everyone else's needs because it's hard to find a direction for me that will 'spark joy'. I want my wonder and whimsy back!"
Change Always Happens
"Thinking you're a finished product, not likely to change all that much."
"Have you tried not moving in the ocean? It’s damn impossible. You can’t be stagnant in the turmoil of this world."
NOT Forever Young
"Biggest mistake I made in my 30's was not enjoying them more."
"Young enough to party, still play some sports, and perfectly in place in any bar. You have energy, you have a circle of friends (that will get smaller, trust me)."
"Try to carpe a diem every once in a while, the decade passes VERY quickly."
"Do whatever you can while you are young. 30s is a peak time. I'm 64 now, forced into early retirement, and I can't do half the things I "thought" I would be able to do in "retirement". Can't bend to do gardening, can't climb the ladder to get into the pool, can't handle a walk for more than a few minutes due to arthritis and more. I'm mentally "still young" but my body is telling me otherwise."
Life Is Tough
"Got laid off at 32? Just said F it, got 2 degrees in different fields (37 now). But I kept expenses really low and saved/invested a lot of money when I did work. I went from medical research, to analytics, to education, to computer science now."
"30's...uhhh not starting investing by 35, because that's the last stop on the compounding train."
"Also, I see people get wrecked by bad marriages/relationships. That's probably one of the biggest wealth and happiness destroyers I've seen."
"Also, waiting over the fertility window. People tried to have kids later on and it looks like an absolutely expensive brutal experience with the OBGYN visits and the $15k USD IVF rounds (multiples). Then dating over your thirties seems like a hopeless market from what I can see. I never really tried so I dunno (data analyst in me looked over the stats as a 5'7 East Asian male in North America, I'm out!)..."
"Oh yeah!!! Health! Working out is crucial. After 40 it gets super tough to achieve any exceptional fitness goals. That's the best case scenario. Some people come down with nasty metabolic diseases like diabetes, and the CVDs - hypertension, cholesterol, and heart disease - these are very difficult to reverse and they kind of stick to you with more aggressively the longer they persist."
"Also, daily brushing/flossing, apparently dentists are expensive in older age. Brushing avoids cavities, flossing avoids gum disease and cavities."
"Also, not constantly learning about economics and economic/social/technological/political trends, because the pace of technology will wipe out people's economic opportunities faster than their head can spin. I see a lot of people get broad sided by economic malaise because they didn't get their financial house in order before a crisis hit. Life can be rough!"
– Deleted User
I'm not 30 yet, but I sure will learn from these stories!
When people are out in public, it's sort of implied that we all stay on our best behavior.
But walk down any street on a New York day, and you quickly realize most of the world missed the memo on this matter.
Or they got it and just crumpled it up and tossed it in the garbage.
This makes us all spectators to some serious nonsense.
Oh the things we can never unsee!
Redditor Defaultuser9148 wanted to hear about the most messed up things they've witnessed others do, so they asked:
"What is the most f**ked up thing you saw someone do in a public place?"
I try not to look at people in public too much.
I've already witnessed more than my fair share of crazy.
WHAT THE ACTUAL F??!!!Oh My God Wow GIF by The Roku ChannelGiphy
"Saw a coworker take off his shoe and sock, pull up his foot, and bite his toenails DURING A WORK MEETING AT THE OFFICE."
"Covid is over, they said. Return to the office, they said. The exposure to corporate culture will be good for you, they said."
"I used to deliver janitorial supplies to businesses. Part of my route was in the Kensington section of Philadelphia it's basically zombie land there and the whole neighborhood is filthy, idk how people can even live there. Needless to say, I've seen A LOT. But the one thing I saw that really stuck with me was seeing a naked man covered in his own excrement... He was clearly very disturbed. No one paid him any mind either. It was surreal."
Rinse and Repeat
"I once saw a homeless man rinse his mouth out with water from the windshield cleaning 'bucket' at a gas station."
"Just saw something similar here in San Diego on Friday. Pumping gas and a homeless guy in a trench coat in 90-degree heat asked me about my dog in the car as he dunked his head in the windshield bucket. Asked me for a dollar right after too while dripping."
"I was waiting for a bus in the ‘rough’ part of town when I heard two men having a full-blown argument on the other side of the bus stop… one was being extremely aggressive whilst the other sounded confused at the verbal lashing he was receiving. It went on for a couple of minutes and the meeker one was nearly in tears, so I decided to walk around the other side of the bus stop to take a look at what was going on."
"When I poked my head around the corner the poor guy was crying but his aggressor was nowhere to be seen, I asked if he was okay to which he said 'Yeah, don’t worry about him, he’s all talk.' I nodded and turned around just as the nastier man re-emerged to berate his victim… only it wasn’t another person, it was the same guy shouting at himself with an alternate personality. Until you see these things up close you don’t realize how disturbing it must be to suffer from such mental health issues."
It's heartbreaking to see people like that.
The DisturbedScared Kermit The Frog GIFGiphy
"Saw a kid follow around a toad at a state park for a bit, pick it up, and ground it against a tree, eviscerating it in an instant. An adult immediately grabbed them and took them off yelling as the kid didn't look bothered by the interaction at all. It was surreal and disturbing."
"A scary a** woman was yelling at people in a store. The manager told her to leave. She screamed insults at him as security escorted her out. When I left the store, she was still screaming at him. He was blocking her from going back into the store."
"Then she did something I never thought I'd see in my entire life: She reached into her pants, pulled out a bloody tampon, and threw it at the manager. She missed but it stuck to the glass door. She laughed as she ran off. I wanted to vomit. I never want to see anything like that again."
All is Well
"21st B-Day at a Festival in FL called Langerado. Was incredibly drunk but I'll never forget this... unfortunately."
"So, we're listening to a band called Umphrey's McGee and everyone is having a good time. All is well. Heaven on Earth. Until I turn around."
"There's a guy, late 30s or early 40s by himself and he was having quite a time."
"He kept shoving his hand [in his pants] and licking his fingers afterward. At some point, he started chasing people and then some poor souls working security had to deal with him. Ewwww."
In the Bathroom
"A woman at my old retail job I used to work at came in dry heaving to our restroom. It sounded like she was about to give birth. Nope, much worse. She goes into our restroom and shi*s all over the stalls, the floor is coated. It became a complete swamp. This woman proceeds to take off all her clothes and leave them there. She walks out of the store nude, screaming."
"Woman recording a mother and her two children after the mother collapsed and was unresponsive in a Costco. Asked her to stop, but she looked at me and scowled, so I amplified my request which was 'Stop recording, you completely demented, witch!' and the immediate unfavorable attention that got her compelled her to stop. The woman who collapsed, and her small children were terrified, screaming and crying, and it was awful. Can't imagine why you would want footage of such a thing. Just remembering makes me sad and hope that everything turns out alright."
When you gotta go, you gotta go!!Peeing Ladies Night GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"In my hometown, I was using the mall food court bathroom which is usually a bad idea... but I had to. While I was taking the worst poop of my life, the people in the stall next to me were getting on the whole time. I can't image someone being that horny next to me in my worst time."
Some people will do it anywhere.
I would run to another restroom if I could make it!
Do you have any wild stories for us, let us know in the comments below.
Yes, civilizations have rules for legitimate reasons. However, when you invent around those rules or find loopholes, does that make you a vigilante? It sure puts some people in hazardous situations, but for these rebellious minds, the rewards outweigh the risks.
Rank The Concertred and yellow light on a dark roomPhoto by Wesley Pribadi on Unsplash
When I was 16, a friend and I created a website with fake reviews of concerts in the Washington, DC area that we didn't actually go to. It ended up working out better than I could have ever imagined: Once we had built it up to our satisfaction, we used it as credentials to gain backstage access to a huge DC area music festival three years in a row.
A simple call to the radio station that sponsored the event got us free passes and access to hang out with and interview most of the bands, including Cypress Hill, Coldplay, Social Distortion, and Offspring. Nobody ever caught on, and oddly, nobody seemed to be suspicious of our age.
The Parking Spot Whisperer
I used to keep a can of white paint, a can of yellow paint, and a small paint roller in the trunk of my car. Why? Because I'm an evil genius, that's why.
Whenever I pulled into a full parking lot I just added a space. I expanded a total of four parking lots before I decided to quit. I also cut a “NO PARKING” stencil from two pages I printed off the internet. It didn't really benefit me in any way, I just wanted to see how obedient people could be. Turns out people are very obedient. I spent an entire day at my bedroom window, watching people drive up, almost park, then pull out and drive around the block looking for spaces. One of the better moments in my life.
Sorry, Wrong Applicant
I was applying to colleges, and having slacked off all through high school, I was getting rejected from every one of them. I finally applied to a university I had no chance of getting into, and marked down that I was "Native American", though I'm very clearly white.
A month later, I learned that I had gotten in, contingent on me completing a summer in a program for minorities, focused on bringing up their skills and background to their more-qualified peers. I accepted, had a very interesting summer—a whole other story—and graduated with honors.
You Here?men's blue collared top near silver MacBookPhoto by Austin Distel on Unsplash
When I was a teenager I worked for one of those crappy call centers with one of those horrible micromanaging plans. So they would divide us into "teams" with "team leaders". So one day they switched our teams and I noticed that they never placed me in another team—therefore, I was never accounted for. I had a crazy idea. I figured there was no way it would work, but I had to try:
I would go in every day, clock in, go home or whatever, then come back and clock out. Eventually, I got too lazy for this and just paid a girl to clock me in and out. This lasted for a month and a half before anyone ever noticed.
That’s Why They Hire Interns
When I was in Paris studying abroad, a large group of us had called a trendy club early in the night to reserve a couple tables, so we showed up around 1 am or so expecting to skip the line—which was a few hundred feet long at this point—and get our table. That's why you make reservations, right?
Well, naturally the bouncer apparently didn't get the memo and wouldn't let us in. After a few minutes of pseudo-arguing with their management, my friend pulls out his secret weapon: His ABC press pass—his expired ABC press pass—that he had from his summer intern work for ABC in London. He told them that he was writing a story on Paris nightclubs and that theirs was now going to be let off the list because they weren't letting us in. I started laughing thinking, "yeah sure Ted, good one, let's go home".
And then, boom, all of a sudden the velvet ropes open up and we get two bottles for free at our tables.
That was the coolest trick my friend Ted has ever pulled.
Have You Been A Good Boy?
This happened many, many years ago when I was still a kid. As I was old enough to figure out the truth about Santa Claus, mom took me shopping with her for Christmas. She was buying gifts for the whole family, so the shopping cart was quite full. The department store ran a well-publicized contest where each customer could have all their purchases reimbursed. It went like this: at checkout, the cashier asks you to pick an envelope. If you get the magic voucher, you just walk away and don't pay anything.
Obviously, she asked the "innocent kid" to pick the envelope. But, I quickly realized something: As the cashier handed me the envelopes, the lighting was well-positioned behind them, so I could see through. They're thin and I quickly realize most of them are empty; only one contains a piece of paper. The rest is family history. Not an impressive feat, but it made my day as a young boy!
Car Swapred car parked on parking lotPhoto by Krzysztof Kotkowicz on Unsplash
Working in the city, I really didn't want to pay $80/week for parking. I noticed there was very little differentiation between the “0” and “O” they used on plates. That gave me a crazy idea. I registered a custom plate—O101101—and parked my car on the street every day. 9/10 times, they would put 0101101 on the ticket. Never came back to me and I saved a ton of cash!
Not Lost But Found
Go to the library a day after it rains and tell them you forgot your black umbrella. Free umbrella!
Lose your phone charger? Go to the front lobby of any hotel and see if they have a match in their lost and found bin.
You Better Have My Money
There used to be a routine that you could do which took advantage of the lag between funds available and check processing with ATM deposits.
Basically, it worked something like this: You have two bank accounts with nothing in them. Write an uncovered $1000 check from one to the other. Wait a day and write a $1000 check from the second to the first. The first check will eventually clear using the phantom money from the first because funds were available faster than check processing.
With the right timing you could get a substantial amount of imaginary money flying around in a long cycle for more or less as long as you like. You could then take short-term loans out of the circulating money but managing it would be a lot of work.
I never did this myself, so I might have the details wrong. I had a friend who did this when he was short on cash. But he's maybe not a guy you should listen to... I'd check with him for the details—but he's currently in federal penitentiary.
Did You Beat The System, Or Beat Yourself Upsmiling boy wearing white crew-neck t-shirt during daytimePhoto by Moses Vega on Unsplash
When I was four, I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. When I was six, I took over the day-to-day management of it. That included testing my blood sugar and taking my injections, which then was twice a day—parents still supervised of course but didn't need to do everything and anything for me. It took a few months before I was capable but eventually, I was able to take care of it all on my own and therefore able to do all the other things my Grade 2 classmates did, like have sleepovers and go on school trips, etc.
Sometime later, I can't remember how old I was but I would have been under ten, I discovered how the machine that tested my blood sugar level did it. It would read the color of my blood.
For those who don't know, Type 1 diabetics need to test their blood sugar by pricking their finger and putting the blood on a small strip of plastic. That plastic then goes into the machine and the machine tells you what your reading is. Back in the 80s, it was a little different. I had to drop the blood on the strip of plastic, wait about 90 seconds then wash the blood off with water, then put the strip in the machine.
I figured out that the darker my blood was on the strip, the higher my reading, and the lighter it was, the lower my reading... and the lower my blood sugar, the more I would need a "boost"...like candy.
So my young self thought, “That's interesting”. What is also interesting is that the strip I have to put the blood on is white.
So I started doing my blood tests as normal, then not putting the strip in the machine properly. The machine was no longer reading my blood, it was reading the white strip and giving me a low reading—which to my young mind was full of win! Lollies, cake, and all the awesome things I was never allowed!
My parents were scared and confused. The doctors were baffled as my pathology results were not matching my daily readings, the manufacturers were confused as when they tested my machine it was in full working order. I was getting all the awesomeness I wanted...and getting sicker and sicker.
Eventually, I confessed to my doctor. Although my parents were a little angry I think my doctor was a little impressed.
So there it is...not so much beating the system when all I'm doing is making myself sick but as a child, it felt awesome!
Throughout college, I had a sneaky way of cheating the system when studying for tests. Whenever it was time for me to study, I would send out an email to my entire class saying something like "Hey, I'm working on a study guide for the test...if anyone wants to send me a copy of theirs I will send you mine...just to make sure we haven't missed anything of course".
This is the genius part: Within an hour I would get several study guides sent to me...and I would just send them back a copy of another person's study guide. In the end, everyone is happy and none the wiser.
Thunder Buddies For Life
My swim team has meetings every Saturday morning. They tend to last between three to four hours. On one particular Saturday, there was a thunderstorm. Every time you hear thunder you can't get in the pool for 30 minutes, so the meeting got delayed several hours.
By the time the storm cleared up everyone just wanted to go home. So to encourage the officials to cancel the meeting, I walked out to the parking lot and hit a dumpster with my fist. The boom it created sounded just like thunder. From where I was standing, you could hear everyone in the pool area yell "THUNDER". Dismayed by another delay, the other team's coaches forfeited the meeting and we all got to go home.
You’ve Got Mailperson showing white envelopePhoto by erica steeves on Unsplash
Used to live in NYC for a long time. For personal mail within the five boroughs, I would put the recipient's address in the return address spot on the corner and my address in the center of the envelope. I'd "forget" to put a stamp on it and drop it in a mailbox. Inevitably, the mail would be returned-to-sender...to the address I wanted it mailed to. It worked every time.
Tweet All Your Worries Away
We all know customer service phone centers make it impossible to get good customer service, especially when you need to return something or get your money back. But I found another way.
Pretty much all large companies now have teams of people monitoring Twitter for complaints. Since hardly anyone uses Twitter to complain, I find that any time I complain via Twitter, someone contacts me almost immediately and rectifies the problem.
For instance, my dress shoes fell apart—Johnston & Murphy—and calling their phone center was really painful, but after I complained on Twitter, I got a brand new pair shipped to me the same day. Pretty decent move if you ask me.
My dad works in a chemical company as a scientist. One day, when he was cleaning out the old chemical closets, he found an unopened package containing one kilogram of solid Silver Chloride that had gone past its expiration date. Normally it would get thrown out, but my dad decided to take it instead. He took it to the kilns and decomposed the Silver Chloride back into elemental silver and chlorine gas, and managed to get about 700 grams of silver out of it.
An Endless Roller Coasterpeople riding red and white roller coaster during daytimePhoto by Gabriel Valdez on Unsplash
My dad and I waited in line for hours to get onto the fastest ride at Six Flags. Feeling adventurous, we decided to just see what happens if we don't get off the ride at the end. It turns out that in the rush, nobody notices that you're still on the ride. I couldn't believe it worked. We were only asked to step off after getting five or six rides, but by that time my dad had blacked out anyway.
Thinking Outside Of The Box To Get Inside Of The Bin
When I was in second grade, our school had a carnival with a bunch of different midway-style booths, run by our teachers. One in particular challenged us to build a paper plane, throw it about ten feet, and land it in a small trash bin. Nobody had succeeded in doing so, and I watched many paper airplanes veer off to one side, nosedive, tailspin, and so on. Cleverly interpreting the definition of "paper airplane", I wadded my piece of paper up into a really compact ball, aimed carefully, and tossed my paper ball into the trash bin.
They didn't award me the prize.
Doppelganger Saved The Day
Didn't happen to me but to a woman I met in Japan a couple of years ago, who had gone on a trip to China. After driving in a bus for two hours, they arrived at some destination only to be told that it was already crowded, it was late and they would have to return the next day. Well, one of the people on the bus looked a little like a certain ex-president's daughter, so they told the Chinese people that it was Chelsea Clinton. The place was suddenly open for business again.
Evil Twinphoto of woman's face reflectionPhoto by Alexander Grey on Unsplash
My friend really didn't want to go to her group meeting for a group engineering assignment in the first year of college. Every week, we persuaded her to make up an excuse and not go. After a few weeks, we've started to run out of plausible excuses. So we decided that she should have appendicitis. And then I had an incredible, devious idea.
I decided that it would be fantastic if she walked into her group meeting, pretended to be her own identical twin and told them that she had appendicitis. She did, and they ended up doing the whole assignment for her.
I took the SAT for my best friend. We had someone at our school store make a school ID for us using my picture and his name. When I got to the testing center I told them I lost my driver's license and this was the only ID I had. Worked like a charm. I scored a 1400 for him, which was better than I got for myself, and apparently was about 400 points higher than what he scored when he took it himself.
This threw up a red flag and the SAT people weren't happy. They told us—him—we had three options: get a refund and cancel the score, cancel the score and take the test again for free, or send in handwriting samples to prove it was really him who took the test. This is when we decided to roll the dice. We chose to put up a fight and take option three. I pulled a bunch of homework assignments that I hadn't written my name on and put his signature on them.
We sent them in but apparently, there was still too much of a discrepancy in the score and handwriting that they couldn't accept the score. And that was the end of it.
Cooperating With The Teachers
My school had trips to Spain offered every two years. As a fundraiser, we would sell candy bars. I was quite a bit more entrepreneurial than my counterparts, and offered candy bars on credit. This caused me to essentially corner the market to a point that one of the teachers went into competition with me.
The problem with that sales system was that we could only do it the year before the trip, not after. This is because it was, after all, a fundraiser for Spain. I decided that if I wanted to keep my business going I would need to get a little bit shadier.
The same teacher who ran the Spain trip also was in charge of Key Club. I gave 25% of my profits—not total sales—to Key Club in exchange for protection from the school authorities.
All in all, I netted around $1,600 in profit, or $3,200 in revenue—about 4 per person in my school—while going to school, without breaking the law. The year after was the Spanish fundraiser, so the teacher wouldn't accept protection money.
Like Having A Time Machinered apple fruit on four pyle booksPhoto by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
When I would have an assignment that was overdue, I would leave it somewhere under or around the teacher's desk. So, they would just assume you turned it in on time and that they had just misplaced it; I did this once or twice.
The hotel I work at has a membership to a full-service gym that's totally free for guests. All they have to do is show their room key, and bring a towel.
The cheating part comes from knowing that they don't verify that people with a room key are actually staying at the hotel. Hello, free gym time!
One Step Ahead
In college from—1998 to 2002—at the end of a semester, I already knew who my professors were for the next semester, and those professors used the same coursework every semester. So, I would download their entire website, where they had the current semester's homework/quiz/test answers. That info was very useful when I started the class.
Taking Quality Notesflat lay photography of blue backpack beside book and silver MacBookPhoto by Matt Ragland on Unsplash
When I was in school—at the beginning of the year—we were supposed to deposit empty notebooks for each subject. Throughout the year whenever the teacher for that subject would give us a test, they would distribute the notebooks to us to take the test on at the beginning of the day.
After the test was completed and checked, the notebooks would be again collected and locked in the class cupboard. What I and some of my buddies did was, whenever they would distribute the notebook at the beginning of the day we would write the answers to most probable questions or important stuff on the last pages of the notebook. When the test was taken, we would copy the answers from the back pages. Once done with the test, we would quietly rip off the last pages before submitting the notebook to the teacher. We always scored well.
Hey, Can You Come Pick Me Up?
In high school, a friend of mine had a cell phone. During class, if he felt like leaving school, he would just call the classroom he was in, imitate a security guard's voice, have the teacher write him a note and he was on his merry way.
Losing My Religion
In grade nine math, I told my teacher I was Jewish—I'm not. She was from the Caribbean and had no knowledge of the Jewish religion. Whenever I would miss a day and she asked why, I would just say "Oh, it was Yum Kavandash" or whatever series of Jewish-sounding words I thought would work that day. Basically, this let me take two weeks off the class while playing cribbage with my buddies in the cafe.
Friend With Benefitsman wearing blue denim jacket and sunglasses taking selfiePhoto by Tânia Mousinho on Unsplash
I had a friend from Belgium of Moroccan descent.
This guy was the most charismatic human being I've ever met in my life. I used to own businesses on the Santa Monica Promenade in LA—in the 90s before it became a corporate dystopia—and he worked for me. I remember going to the movie Independence Day when it came out at the time and was about to pay at the box office for myself, him and two other employees who had all done a hard day's work in the sun when he suddenly stopped me.
Instead of "wasting my money" as he called it, he dragged us—a party of four—to the ticket checker and started sweet talking rapidly—something about a lost cell phone. The next second, we were all waved through without paying. We were all astounded but elated. We'd somehow hacked the system through this guy. And my wallet was heavier through not having to pay. He would have taken it as a personal affront if I had paid. He impressed me to the point that I still remember him 15 years later.
Soon after, I learned he had talked the California DMV into granting him a driver's license even though he was a foreign national. Also, not long after, I learned, he'd gate-crashed the Oscars dressed as a chef and hung out for the night with Oliver Stone. All of this I confirmed.
The guy blew my mind.
We Love Free Candy
My high school had a shop run by the student council and they kept all the candy and soda in a locked room by the gym. One day, I noticed they had left the key in the padlock. During football practice, my friends and I snuck in and looted several duffel bags of candy. We did this for the next few days until they finally changed the lock. The best part, nobody thought twice when they saw a bunch of kids making off with full duffel bags because it was by the gym and everyone had them!
Play The Sick Card
I was up the Sydney Tower and for some reason—I can't remember—they were delaying everyone going down the lift. The queue was approx 1.5 hours long to get in the lift down. They wouldn't allow me to take the emergency stairs—but I knew I had one card to play.
I stated I was a diabetic and I needed my injection which was in my hotel, since I never planned on being up the tower so long. They told me to wait in the queue and I agreed as long as I had a Sydney Tower letter signed by the manager stating that I told them I was diabetic and I was to wait in line delaying me getting my injection. They asked what I wanted this for, and I stated that it was so I had evidence to help my case to sue them when I fell into a coma. Needless to say, I got the next lift down.
Catch Me If You Canperson holding credit cardPhoto by CardMapr.nl on Unsplash
I used to fill out credit card applications: Platinum Visa, AmEx, Discover card, etc. It took about three weeks, but they'd send me cards. I used to go from store to store and just "charge it". After about two weeks, I'd call in and report the card stolen. Then just repeat. I guess based on their system, it's hard to catch or something. I would also buy stuff from the mall with said cards, then take the bags back and get the cash.
College On A Budget
College textbooks are very expensive, but buying used books at the Student Book Exchange (SBX) can save you some money. However, you need to act fast when the book is a new edition and there won't be many used copies available. Since everyone tends to sell old books and buy their new books during finals week, you need a game plan to lock in a deal, especially if you are short on cash—which was me.
What I used to do was cruise the bookshelves and find a used copy of the book I knew I would need the next semester that got turned in early, a week before the current semester was over. I wouldn't have my cash then as I had not yet traded my current books in, so I would create a bridge loan by taking that used copy from one shelf and sticking it behind a big pile of books nearby. The bigger the pile the better as that pile needs to hold up until I return the following week. Piles that are all new books last longer than a pile of used books.
The next week I would sell my books, walk over to the big stack and grab the used copy that I had stashed and buy that one at a lower price. Often that used copy I had stashed was the only used copy available.
When There’s Smoke, There’s Fire
When I was 16, there was a fire drill in my high school in Texas. My boyfriend and I were skipping class and walking around the hallways when we heard the alarm go off. We decided it would be really awesome if we stayed in the school while everyone left—there's about 2,000 kids at my high school. So, we hid and waited.
When we couldn't hear any more voices we proceeded to skip around the halls and goof around. I realized I had a pack of cigarettes in my bag. I told this to my boyfriend. The moment I said it I knew I had to smoke one, the irony was too much to refuse. So, while the fire alarm was still going off, and in the hall right in front of the library, I lit one and we shared it. He put it out on the wall and we ran away screaming with laughter.
Twenty minutes later, after everyone had already come back in, we decided to check out that hallway again. We come across the administration—the principal and a few of the vice-principals. They were sniffing around, clearly wondering why it smelled. I've never felt so empowered.
That’s Why They Call It “Payphone”gray phoneboothsPhoto by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
There was a row of pay phones outside of my local movie theater. After finishing a movie with some friends, we all waited outside to get picked up by my mom. We were bored, just walking and looking around when I saw a quarter stuck in the middle payphone. I tried pulling it out but couldn't reach it, so I took a piece of cardboard on the ground and pushed it in. Little did I realize, I'd just hit the jackpot: A huge pile of coins came tumbling out from all the people who put money into the—malfunctioning—payphone.
The next few days I would pay a visit to this payphone and push the coins in the back and collect my payment. I even went so far as to create "Out of Order" signs and put them on a few of the other phones to encourage people to use the broken one. Eventually, the theater fixed the phone and put an end to my easy money, but I made away with something like $40 in coins.
Nobody Can Block My View
My house is on a very popular public beach. Tourists usually like to come on the holiday weekends and they will set up tent cities right in front of my house—blocking my steps and walkway to the beach.
So, I just started setting up a whole row of fishing rods and chairs near my steps and walkway. You see tourists start to walk up, take one look at the fishing equipment, and say to each other "Ugh, let's sit over there instead".
Solution Is One Button Away
Recently? Big conference. 18th floor, top of the building. Everyone was going down the limited number of elevators at breaks. Big lines.
People are not going down the stairs by one floor because if you hit down you'd just get a completely packed elevator. My solution? Go down one floor. Hit “up”. Board empty elevator. Welcome people on the 18th and enjoy my quick trip down. The greatest hacks are the simplest.... though it would have been better if it didn't fail the categorical imperative.
Of course, if I wasn't an American I'd just take the stairs all the way down.
Let’s Reset The Tankperson holding black corded devicePhoto by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
Several local gas stations near me would switch from "regular'' pay to prepay-only at a certain time of night. Let's say it was 10 pm. I'd pull up and start filling my tank at 9:58 pm—making sure to keep filling as the clock rolled over to 10:00. When it hit 10, the pumps would go into the pre-pay mode and reset themselves. I'd finish filling my tank and only have to pay for about two gallons.
This stopped working when gas went to $4/gallon and drive-offs became a huge problem, making all the stations go to pre-pay-only full-time.
Life Hacks: Airport Edition
As a college student that lives on one coast and goes to school on the other coast, I have to get a lot of stuff across the country every year. This trick saves me a ton in overweight bag charges.
Go down to the nearest Army/Navy surplus store and pick up one of their backpacks. These fit a ton of stuff and don't look all that big. Pack two backpacks—one regular, one from the surplus store—plus your personal item. When you get to the airport go through security as usual, they don't care if you have more than the usual “1 bag + 1 personal item rule that the airlines use.
After getting through and to your gate, go up to the counter and say you're worried the flight is too crowded and/or you think your bag won't fit—don't let them see the other bag. Ask if there is some way to check your bag now. Most likely they'll "check the bag gate side" for you. Which means they put a tag on your bag and when you walk down the ramp there is a spot to put it. They then put it below with the other checked bags. On the way off the plane, you pick up your bag and you're on your merry way. Best part is you don't get charged for it.
For two years that I was in the dorms, I picked a roommate who said he was going to pledge and join a fraternity. That way, a few weeks into the term, he would move out. It would take another one or two terms to get the paperwork in line that I needed to get a new roommate. I would pick another guy who was soon joining a fraternity. I had roommates in my closet-sized dorm room for maybe two months of my two years, and I only paid for 1/2 the room.
Photoshop Your Way To The Topman in grey shirt using grey laptop computerPhoto by Desola Lanre-Ologun on Unsplash
I was a junior in high school, and I was transferring schools due to a recent move. However, my grades at my previous school were mediocre to say the least. The awfulness of my grades didn't stem from stupidity—I'm quite brilliant, mind you, but rather I had problems with undiagnosed insomnia for a very long time and never went to school because of it. My new school required a personal interview between the principal and myself. During this interview, I was told the school had very strict GPA requirements—my grades didn't cut it.
They'd requested a copy of my transcripts from my previous school, and as I was walking out of the office, I saw a sealed envelope on the secretary's desk—it was from my previous school. I took the envelope from the secretary's desk when she wasn't looking and proceeded to go home with it. I opened it up and sure enough, they were my transcripts.
I took the transcripts to Kinko's and had them scanned at the maximum resolution and quality possible and took them home with me on a CD. Then, I meticulously photoshopped the transcripts and changed my GPA from a mediocre 2.3 to an astounding 3.9. Finally, I had a buddy of mine whose dad worked for the US Postal Service don his dad's work uniform and deliver the transcripts the next day.
Needless to say, it worked. I went on to graduate with a 3.8 GPA in my senior year—I got my stuff together—and was accepted to one of the state's best 4-year institutions. I've since graduated and have a very rewarding career.
Is It A Six Or A Nine?
I went to a conservative university that had a nightly curfew. If you went away for some period of time, you'd have to fill out an overnight leave form online which would need to get approved by a student dean or dean or something. One fall break, I needed to fill out one of these forms for 10/03/06 to 10/06/06. I purposely filled it out for 10/03/06 to 10/06/09—in my mind, hitting a nine instead of a six was a legitimate typo if I had to explain myself. Their online system didn't automatically check for this kind of discrepancy, and the student dean overlooked it when he approved it because the month and day columns looked correct. It got me three years without curfews. I never had to worry about it again.
Think Simple, Think Fast
There was this really nice apartment complex next to our not-nearly-as-nice apartment when I was in elementary school. During the summer, it got really hot and the community pool was not walking distance. Unfortunately, the complex was pretty well fenced so no one without a key could get in—and they had a really nice pool which everyone was envious of. On top of that, the people living inside were pretty strict and would never just let us in. One day, I realized I could stick my hand through the metal grating of the fence and open it from the inside. I swam a lot more after that.
Don’t Overthink Itwhite plastic laundry basket beside yellow front load washing machinePhoto by Anca Gabriela Zosin on Unsplash
I used to live in a condo building that had three clothes washing machines and two dryers on each floor. Often all of these machines would be in use at the same time that I wanted to use them. My solution: Go to another floor and use the machines there. There are 18 floors in the building, that's 54 machines to choose from, so that I could wash my clothes simultaneously, in parallel. It's kind of obvious, but when I first realized this, it seemed pretty cool to me.
Okay, so in Ireland we have two official languages, Irish—Gaelic which is the first—and English. Because of our constitution, all services provided by the state have to be in the two official languages. The funny thing is though that the majority of Irish people cannot speak their mother tongue—Irish. Whenever I do my taxes or any other business with the state I always conduct it through Irish or demand that it be conducted through Irish. The advantage of this being that the queue/line and waiting time for things to be processed for things such as passports, tax credits etc. is always minimal or practically nonexistent.
I don't like the way my co-patriots don't speak our language, but it sure is a massive advantage to me. Also, if the state cannot provide the service through Irish, they try to fast track you through their system of whatever so as to try and not to offend you so you wont complain. I love it.
We’re Here, Obama!
My friends and I went to the Obama inauguration and since driving and walking were out of the question, we took the Metro. Well after the ceremony ended we headed towards the nearest metro stop which happened to be near the Air & Space museum. The stop was closed with a huge crowd of people trying to get in, so we went back to the museum and played poker for an hour and a half. After that we checked back at the station, still closed, so we walked up three blocks to another station, also closed. Then we were told we had to walk all the way across the mall.
At this point it was like four or five in the evening and we had been up since 3:30 am. So, we sucked it up and walked the mile or two across the mall to the one open station, and there was a line because it wasn't open yet...so we waited in a nearby food court for an hour until the station opened, and then we got back in line.
After we got inside the station, there was a solid mass of people trying to get back to Virginia, it would have easily been another hour or two waiting for the train. Then, I noticed that the Maryland-bound platform was nearly empty so I said, "Hey let's ride up a few stops then get on the train headed the other way".
Everyone agreed this was at least a better idea than waiting. After two stops, the platforms were empty and we got off that train and right on to another headed towards home. I was quite pleased as we rode past the platform of people who would be stuck waiting for empty trains for hours.
Like Father, Like Sonperson using phone and laptopPhoto by Austin Distel on Unsplash
I got a free trial cell phone and just didn't give it back. It stayed free for like 7 years, until someone took it from me.
Also, me and my dad used to tell the cable company that C-SPAN wasn't broadcasting clearly—like there was static and stuff. They would come over and remove some "block" which allowed us to watch HBO for free.
Also, in 1999, my dad worked in the IT department of a large insurance company. For Y2K, they needed one person to stay in the building, in case everything exploded or whatever. To determine who would stay, there was a tournament of coin flips throughout the company. Out of the hundreds—maybe thousands—of people who worked in the building, my dad was one of the final two people. It all came down to one coin flip, between him and his former college roommate. My dad said, "Okay, if it's tails, you stay, if it's heads, I don't". Apparently, the guy did not realize that either way, my dad would win.
Also, my friends and I inadvertently realized how to get free food at fast food establishments. You go through the drive-thru and tell them something like you spilled a drink in your car and you need some napkins. Something that they won't make you pay for. Then you pull up to the first window, they just wave you on, because you didn't order anything. Then you get to the second window, and usually, you'll get the food ordered by the people behind you. The two windows don't communicate. The first one just assumes you're going to ask the person at the second window and not take someone else's food.
Does This Ring A Bell?
When I was in high school, we had a bell system that sounded through a tone in the phone that was in each class instead of an old school bell. That gave my friend a brilliant idea. Realizing that this "bell" sound had a very digital ring to it, my friend and I decided to record it one day. Now having acquired the tone, I was able to replicate the sound of the bell, thus fooling my fellow students—who instinctively would get up and leave once they heard the bell—and the teacher into believing that the class had ended.
I was able to use this to end class early throughout a large part of the year until the administration caught on and started changing the tone daily.
This one time on a road trip me and my friend stopped at a local restaurant and bar to grab lunch. Halfway through my friend knocked over the salt and I told him to throw some over his shoulder for good luck. Unfortunately, the man behind us didn't enjoy it so he came over—he was much, much larger than us—and secreted a fluid out of his mouth right in my friend's burger.
Disgusted, but wanting to get back at them, I came up with a great idea. I went over and apologized to him and his friends and offered them a round of beers. They of course accepted and then, me and my friend headed over to the cashier. We said that this man and his group of friends felt bad and wanted to pick up our tab. The girl was skeptical at first but we pointed him out, and he signaled for what he thought was his round of beers. The waitress obliged and we headed out of the restaurant with a free lunch!
Count Me Twicegray computer monitorPhoto by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
About 10 years ago, I had a summer job that used online timesheets. When I started, my name was spelled wrong on the system. I had it corrected and received a new login, but they didn't disable the old one. That gave me an idea. For two months I completed two timesheets every week and got paid double. Nobody ever found out.
Confidence Is Key
My best “cheating the system” moment wasn't even clever or really even cheating the system. It was just outright lying mixed with extreme confidence. When I was seventeen, a bunch of my friends who were already eighteen wanted to go to an adult club. I didn't have a fake ID, but I didn't want to miss out—so I just went with them anyway. As we're walking in everyone gives the woman at the front podium—there was no outdoor bouncer—their IDs. I'm the last in line and I just gave her my real driver's license.
She looks at it for a minute, and then looks at me with confusion on her face: "This says you're only seventeen". Figuring there's nothing to lose I just went for it: "No it doesn't". She looked back at it, back at me, shrugged, and said, "Okay, go ahead".
BOOM, adult club jedi.
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.