Thursday, May 26, 2011

Short, Short Stories: Part 1

I’m Starving
On the first night of my arrival to St. Thomas, we got in so late that there were very few restaurants open.  Starving, I pulled the car over and asked someone where a restaurant called Sibs was, as I had been told they served late night food.  In broken English and with an extremely heavy Caribbean accent, the man said to keep going straight, ’don’t go left, don’t go right’ he said. 
Upon moving ahead not even 1/8 of a mile, I reached a ‘Y’ intersection. 
Can I Get Some Help Here?

Since signing the lease to my home, I had been working directly with my landlord on anything related to the house.  He seemed pretty involved in the place and didn't have a problem talking to me about issues.  In addition, he was already working with me on fixing an issue with the refrigerator.  So, when I emailed the real estate agent, that had originally showed us the unit, for my landlord's personal contact information, I was taken off-guard when she firmly stated that she was managing the property and that any and all issues should go through her.  She called me to further discuss the issues at hand.  When I explained to her that the TV was shutting off automatically after being on for 5 minutes, she said that this was an issue that the landlord would have to deal with since he would have better knowledge of his own TV than her. 

Quality Customer Service

In order to set up phone/internet/cable on the island, you have to go in and meet personally with a representative of the cable company.  You can’t do this over the phone.  After spending an hour and a half with my cable company rep, who would hardly speak to me except for occasionally asking basic account set-up questions, the receptionist walked over to get my rep's extension so she could transfer a call.  Since my rep seemed too preoccupied with finding information to set up my account, the receptionist took it upon herself to look at the rep's phone to find the information she needed.  When the call was transferred, my rep was visibly upset and through clenched teeth she said, ‘Can’t she see I’m with a costumer?!” as though I was suddenly the most important thing to her.  She then answered the phone, all the while looking around for someone to express her frustration with in regards to the receptionist. 

Bravely, the receptionist came over to see what the problem was at which point my rep – still on the call with another customer - held the phone away from her ear and barked, ‘Can’t you see I’m with a customer?!?!  Why would you transfer a call?’  The receptionist immediately turned around and said ‘sorry’ in a meek, yet unapologetic voice as she was walking away.  Feeling as uncomfortable as a 5 year old that had just seen my friend get spanked by her parents, I wanted to look at my rep and say, ‘Yes, you are with a customer.  Could you please calm down?’, but instead I persevered through another 30 minutes of this nonsense before I could pay up and get the hell out of there.

Union Work At Its Best

While at the American Airlines counter to check in for our flight from Miami to St. Thomas, an hour and a half early, I noticed that it was taking a lot longer than I had expected.  Originally, I thought this was because we were checking in with our two dogs since there are guidelines to follow and additional paperwork to complete when traveling with pets.  The dogs seemed fine, so I decided to join my visibly annoyed boyfriend at the counter to assess the situation. 

Our airline representative had taken out a rather long checklist of things that needed to be done when checking in pets, and she seemed to be asking the representative next to her something about each item on the list.  She would then reiterate to us whatever the knowledgeable and capable woman next to her had just said even though we were standing right there and could hear everything.  Then the cycle would start again for the next item on the list.  I mean, this lady didn’t know one thing about the items on the list, and we came to the realization that not only had she never checked in pets, she couldn’t read English.  I’m not kidding.  She was at a complete loss as to what she should be doing with this checklist. 

When she couldn’t figure out how to peel a sticker to put it on the dog crates, my irritated boyfriend asked if he could do it for her.  She declined his offer and told him that he needed to calm down.  In his defense, I explained to her that we were concerned about making our flight.  She then reprimanded me by saying that we were supposed to be there two hours ahead of time since they were very busy and had important things to do.

Get It Together

When I got off the flight from Miami to St. Thomas, I was relieved to see that there were only 2 people in line at the car rental counter because it was getting late, and I was exhausted from a week of traveling and moving.  I quickly got in line behind a rather tall, middle-aged, southern gentleman.  After standing in line for a few minutes, I could tell that this man was looking for a reason to chat.  He looked down at me and said, ‘Wow!  What a pretty shade of toenail polish that is!’  I immediately didn’t believe that he liked my polish since it was an electric blue shade that would have been better worn on a 15 year old than me, but this guy had a southern accent so it seemed wrong for me not to oblige.  I responded with a sincere “thank-you”, which was the invitation he was looking for to converse further with me.  He asked me if I was on vacation, and I responded by telling him that I was actually moving to the island.  When he asked me why, I told him that we were moving for all the obvious reasons.  Meanwhile, the lady at the counter left and he moved ahead to take her place. 

This man then proceeded to take approximately 30 minutes to figure out whatever it was that he should have figured out prior to booking his reservation.  After standing there forever, the man’s wife walked over to me to apologize for the time it was taking him to get a car, and to thank me for my patience.  This only made things worse for me.  I looked at my boyfriend who was standing over in the luggage claim area and told him out loud that I was losing patience, and that I needed backup right away.    

Stool Sample

Anxious to start working again, I decided to look into a serving/bar tending job at a popular island place right on the water.  I figured, if nothing else it would be quick, easy money, and maybe I could make some friends. 

I bellied up to the bar around lunchtime and asked the bartender if they were looking for any help.  He said they were looking and asked if I had a Health Card.  Confused, I told him that I had health insurance, while I dug through my wallet for my insurance card.  He corrected me by saying that the Health Card is something totally different from insurance, and it’s exclusive to the service industry on the island.  He then proceeded by instructing me to buy a sampling cup, poop in it and then take it to the local hospital for inspection.  Before going to get his manager to meet me, he warned me to go to the hospital early because apparently there are a lot of people out there needing to have their poop checked and it gets really busy. 

Eventually, the manager came out to let me know that they were definitely interested in hiring me, but that I had to get a Health Card first.  Legally, they couldn’t hire me without it, and he didn’t think that it was even worth it for me to fill out an application until the Health Card was obtained.  In all my life, including 6 years in the service industry, I’ve never had to give a stool sample.  So, I couldn’t help but ask the manager what they were looking for in my sample.  He looked at me and reassuringly stated, “Oh, don’t worry they aren’t looking for drugs.”    

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