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    Category: Bigotry

    This category is dedicated to the bottom rung of humanity at its worst — racists, homophobes, and other bigots — and, occasionally, employees at their finest.

    No Vocation For Location, Part 5

    | London, England, UK | Bigotry, Geography, Language & Words

    (I work at a call center for charities where we call people to confirm their details and thank them for their donations. I have recently moved from South Africa and am still getting used to some of the pronunciations around the UK.)

    Me: “Hello, this is Sarah calling on behalf of [charity]. I believe you spoke to John in Inverness on Saturday. Is that correct?”

    (I’ve pronounced it ‘In-ver-niss’ as opposed to ‘In-ver-ness’.)

    Man: “What?! How can you work in a f***ing call center and not even know how to pronounce the names?”

    Me: “I’m so sorry, sir. I’m not from England so I’m still getting used to all the names.”

    Man: “How f***ing dare you! I am not from England! I am from Scotland, you dumb b****! They’re different places! How don’t you know that? Didn’t you go to school?!”

    Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I meant to say I’m new to the UK. Some of the names of places are still a bit tricky for me.”

    Man: *calmer* “Well, okay then. Where are you from?”

    Me: “Johannesburg in South Africa.”

    Man: “Oh, you mean Zimbabwe!”

    Me: “No, sir, they’re different countries.”

    Man: “They’re the same thing!”

    Related:
    No Vocation For Location, Part 4

    Suited To The Role

    | San Francisco, CA, USA | Awesome Workers, Bigotry, Top

    (I work the floor at an independently-owned menswear store. The owner, my boss, spends a lot of time at the shop, and tries to keep prices as low as possible to help our city’s large homeless population get good job interview clothes. A clearly homeless man is wandering around the store. The other patrons are giving him looks.)

    Customer: “Excuse me, sir?”

    Me: “Yes, ma’am?”

    Customer: “I think you may want to call security. That… bum over there, he keeps feeling the suits and muttering to himself. I’m just sure he’s planning to steal one.”

    Me: “Well, ma’am, I think that’s quite unlikely.”

    Customer: “Oh, come on, you know how they are! I mean, I’d keep an eye on him even if he wasn’t homeless!”

    (The homeless man in question happens to be Hispanic.)

    Me: “We don’t discriminate here, ma’am.”

    Customer: “Well, I’m sure the owner would want to hear about this!”

    (I give in and call him over. The customer explains her concerns. As a black man, my boss isn’t happy with her racism, but agrees to talk to the homeless man.)

    Owner: “Excuse me, sir, are you finding what you need?”

    Homeless Man: “Well, not really. I’m hoping for something versatile in a dark or navy wool, but most of the options in my size are cut American style instead of European, which fits me a little better. Not to mention they’re all pinstriped, which I really don’t have the build for, you know?”

    Owner: “I… yes, I understand. I think we may have some options over here, if you’ll follow me. How did you know all that?”

    Homeless Man: “Back before I lost my job, I used to be really into this stuff. I’m not looking for anything fancy, just something I can use to look good for a job interview later today.”

    (My boss helps him find something he likes, and comes to the counter with him. The suit is priced at $87.)

    Homeless Man: *digging in his pockets* “Hang on, I think I’ve got enough.”

    Owner: *to me* “Take my card. I’m buying it for him.” *to the homeless man* “Here. The suit’s yours, on one condition. After your interview today, you come back and apply for a job here too. Got it?”

    Homeless Man: “I… oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much.”

    (Two years later, that formerly-homeless man is my manager, and has a little girl with his new wife—the owner’s sister.)

    Dislike Father, Like Son

    | Cincinnati, OH, USA | Bigotry, Language & Words, Top

    (My father is having an issue with his prepaid cell phone that I haven’t been able to fix. I tell him to call the service provider. I am making dinner when I hear yelling in the other room, so I go running in.)

    Operator: *with strong Indian accent* “Sir, can you please confirm your father’s middle name?”

    Father: “What? What did you say? Speak English for the love of f***ing God!”

    (Note: I have a head cold and am nearly deaf from the pressure in my ears, yet I understand the operator just fine.)

    Operator: “I need you to confirm your security question, sir. Please, what is your father’s middle name?”

    Father: “I don’t know what you’re saying! Why can’t you just fix my phone?”

    Me: “Dad, give me the phone.”

    (I proceed to spend 45 minutes on the phone with the operator trying to figure out what my lunatic father has done to his account. It turns out that he registered the account with his name and my mother’s information. The operator finally managed to fix everything and was just about to end the call.)

    Father: “I want his name, address, and phone number before you hang up!”

    Me: “Um… why?”

    Father: “I’m going to complain about him. D*** foreigner needs to speak English! I can’t understand a thing he’s saying.”

    Me: “Seriously? He just spent nearly an hour fixing the account you screwed up and you want to complain? What is wrong with you?” *to the operator on the phone* “Thank you for your help. I’ll handle my father from here…”

    (Operator, wherever you are from, thank you for putting up with jacka**es like my dad. Not all of us are belligerent and bigoted.)

    Related:
    Dislike Father, Dislike Son
    Like Son, Like Father
    Like Father, Like Son

    UK is OK

    | Alabama, USA | Awesome Customers, Bigotry, Language & Words, Theme Of The Month, Top

    (I’m British, white-skinned, blue/green-eyed, red-haired, Celtic. I’m studying in the U.S. and work at a restaurant part-time. It’s a small-ish town and most people there seem to be quite sweet and any comments on my accent have always been ones of surprise or complimentary.)

    Me: “Good afternoon, sir and madam, are you ready to order?”

    Customer #1: *confused* “I’m sorry, what?”

    Me: “Are you ready to order?”

    Customer #1: *looks at her husband, confused* “What did she say?”

    Customer #2: “Must be a foreigner not bothering to learn English.” *slowly and loudly* “I CAN’T UNDERSTAND YOU. DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”

    Me: *slowly and loudly* “YES, I DO, SIR. I ASKED IF YOU WERE READY TO ORDER.”

    Customer #2: “Oh, this is ridiculous! She doesn’t speak a word of English! Tell you what, all these foreigners are coming into America, taking American jobs from real Americans!”

    Customer #1: “Let’s find one who can understand us!”

    Me: “I can find someone else to take your order from you, if you’d prefer.”

    Customer #2: “Oh, she does speak English now!”

    Customer #1: “She was screwing with us the whole time! This is unacceptable! We don’t come here to be made fools of!”

    Customer #2: “Stupid foreigners coming in stealing our jobs and screwing up the American way of life!”

    Me: “If you’re worried about foreigners coming to America and stealing your livelihood and culture, you can take your complaints down to the nearest Native American reserve, where they will be more than happy to sympathise.”

    Customer #2: “How dare you?! You think you can come over here and disrespect the American people like that!”

    Customer #1: “We want the manager here now! I’ll have you fired and deported back to your own dirty country!”

    Me: “I’ll fetch him now for you.”

    Manager: “What seems to be the problem?”

    (Customer #1 & #2 rant excessively at him for employing foreigners who don’t speak English and disrespect Americans.)

    Manager: “Well, sorry to burst your bubble there, guys.” *gestures to me* “[My name] here is from the United Kingdom and arguably speaks better English than all of us. And she’s a valued employee so if it comes down to a choice between your custom and her working here, I’m a have to choose her over you two. Now get out of here!”

    (At this point, Customer #3, an old man with a thick southern accent, beckons me over.)

    Customer #3: “Hey, you, girlie.”

    Me: “Can I help you, sir?”

    Customer #3: “On behalf of the United States Of America, I just wanna apologise for the way those two morons just treated you. I been a citizen here for 78 years, an’ I ain’t never let nobody tell me howta treat people. I served alongside a British guy in a the last war and I never had a problem wi’ him. Far from it.”

    Me: “That’s so nice! Thank you!”

    Customer #3: “Woulda married him too if people like that wouldn’t make such a fuss about it.”

    Taiwannical Behavior

    | Taiwan | Awesome Customers, Bigotry, Language & Words

    (I’m browsing in a bookstore in Taiwan, when I notice two Caucasian customers looking in the Young Teenage Girls section and laughing.)

    Customer: *to his friend, in English* “Watch this.”

    (He grabs a random book and hands it to an employee.)

    Employee: *in somewhat broken English* “Can… I… help you?”

    Customer: “Yes. I should like that you would exemplify the thesis behind the philosophies illustrated in this literature.”

    (I’m looking at them now, rolling my eyes, but the pair are having a good time of it and don’t notice me. The employee is very confused and mutters in English as best he can.)

    Employee: “Eh… uhh… sorry?”

    Man: *gesturing as he speaks* “You. Need to. Exemplify. The. Theories. Of the. Thesis. As manifest. In this literature.”

    (It’s obvious the customer has no idea what he himself is saying, and is just having a laugh at the employee’s expense. The other guy with him has a wide grin on his face like he’s thoroughly enjoying the exchange. I’ve had enough, so I go to the employee, take the book out of his hands, turn to the synopsis given on the back cover and turn to the two guys.)

    Me: *in perfect English* “A girl’s parents have just divorced and the father moves her to a new school. She’s having difficulty adjusting to a new environment and life as a young woman and the changes to her body as he matures. Because she’s new, she’s having a difficult time telling anyone about it and doesn’t know how to tell her father about the various changes she is experiencing with her body. She falls for a popular boy, but she’s new and awkward and nobody likes her. Eventually, she contemplates suicide.”

    (The two customers are staring at me like I’ve got ten heads. I decide to rub it in a little further.)

    Me: “What the h*** is this? You managed to find the girliest book in here!”

    Customer: *opens his mouth, as if to say something*

    Me: “Where’re you from?”

    Man: “Uh, uh, uh, uh… CANADA!”

    (Embarrassed, he and his friend dash out of the store.)

    Me: *to the employee in Mandarin* “They were just screwing with you. There’s only one thing you need to know in English if something like that ever happens again: you tell them:” *in English* “F*** off!”

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