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    Category: Geography

    You may call them “lost”, but we prefer the name “geographically disadvantaged.”

    Finally Singing To The Same Tune

    | NM, USA | Geography, Home Improvement, Musical Mayhem, Top

    (I’m a piano tuner in a sparsely populated area in the rural west. The phone rings.)

    Me: “Hello, [Name] piano service.”

    Caller: “Do you tune pianos?”

    Me: “Yes I do. I also do all kinds of repairs, as well as complete restorations. The only thing I don’t do is moving.”

    Caller: “Great! What’s the total cost for a tuning?”

    Me: “I need some more information to give you a price. Do you know how long since it’s been tuned?”

    Caller: “Well, we live on a ranch on long way from nowhere, and it’s been here since before 1900, so for sure at least that long. Our family has never spoken to a piano tuner before.”

    Me: “Wow! That’s a really long time! I’m honored! So, do all the keys go up and down, and does each key make a sound?”

    Caller: “Yes, we checked, and it actually doesn’t sound that bad. Out of tune of course but everything works.”

    Me: “Great! You mentioned being on a ranch. How far from [city I'm in] are you?”

    Caller: “We’re 25 miles outside of [town of 500 people, 200 miles away] on a gravel road that goes through a mountain pass. Well, actually, you have to cross the entire mountain range to get here. We own an entire valley.”

    (I look up their location on Google maps, calculate the driving fee, and give them a price for a service package.)

    Caller: “That’s a very fair price! Sold! But you don’t do the moving? Is there a mover you usually recommend?”

    Me: “Yes, I have a favorite mover. Wait. ‘The’ moving? I’m not sure I follow. Oh, you’re moving it somewhere else before I tune it? I could contact my mover, tell them your location, and get a price, and get back to you.”

    Caller: “Wait, what? Now I’m confused. We like your price on the tuning, but now we need to add the costs of the moves to know the total price?”

    Me: “Moves? You’re moving it more than once? Am I tuning it, then it gets moved, and I tune it again? Is this all at once, or separate jobs? Now I’m lost!”

    Caller: “Do you actually do this very often? We’d think you’d have the procedures and costs all worked out by now.”

    Me: “I’m so sorry, but I’m not following you at all. Let’s start over. Where is it getting moved TO?”

    Caller: “How would we know that? Are you being a smart-a**?”

    Me: “What?”

    Caller: “Where do you live?”

    Me: “Why would you need to know that? Are you threatening me?”

    Caller: “We DON’T need to know! And of COURSE we’re not threatening you! But YOU asked where it was getting moved to. For Christ’s sake!”

    Me: *lightbulb goes off* “You want to move the piano to where I am?”

    Caller: “Of course! How else are you going to tune it?”

    (I am in stunned silence. In my entire career, no one has ever thought they had to deliver the piano to ME to have it tuned, and then have it moved back to their house.)

    Caller: “Hello? Are you there?”

    Me: “Yes. I’m here. I see the misunderstanding now. Piano tuners always drive to where the piano is, no matter how far away, and tune the piano where it’s at. The piano does not have to be brought to me. Pianos are NEVER brought TO the tuner. Tuners always go TO the piano. The price I gave you includes me driving all the way out there to your ranch and back home, staying at a motel if I have to, gas, tax, the work I’ll do, everything is included. There’s no need for a mover at all.”

    (There is a prolonged silence before they continue.)

    Caller: “We’re really not as stupid as you probably think we are right now. Really. No one here has the slightest idea what a piano tuner does, or how they do it, or what it costs. We’ve just been raising cattle for five generations out here, see, and… oh Christ.”

    (I hear several people in the background start to laugh. I can’t help it and start laughing too. We’re all choking on laughter over the phone for at least a minute.)

    Caller: “That’s a h*** of a long drive, so how about we get the guesthouse ready so you can stay overnight? Is cash okay? Do you like steak? What would you like for breakfast? If you like fishing we have miles of private streams. Bring a friend if you want; nothing but room up here!”

    (I end up with more value in free-range gourmet steaks and wild trout packed in a huge ice chest, than my entire tuning package fee!)

    Bursting The American Bubble

    | Knoxville, TN, USA | Bigotry, Geography, Language & Words

    (There are two customers in line: the first customer is in her 20s, and the second customer is a middle-aged man. The first customer hands me her credit card.)

    Me: “Ma’am, I need to see your ID.”

    Customer #1: “Oh? Is that something new?”

    Me: “Yeah, sorry for the inconvenience!”

    Customer #1: “Oh, no! It’s totally fine. My driver’s license expired while I was in Reykjavik, though. I just got back; see. Will you take my passport?”

    Me: “Oh, of course!”

    (Customer #2 stomps up to us as Customer #1 is looking for it.)

    Customer #2: “You mean to tell me that I’m having to stand in line and wait behind a foreigner? I’m an American! I demand you help me before helping her!”

    (Customer #1 rolls her eyes and shows me her passport.)

    Customer #1: “Will this work?”

    Me: “Yeah, that’s fine.”

    Customer #2: “No! Don’t help her! What country are you from, b****? Russia? Don’t help her! It’s people like her that are ruining this country!”

    Customer #1: “Sir, I am an American. And even if I wasn’t, how dare you speak to me and this cashier in such a manner?”

    Customer #2: “Liar! An American wouldn’t have a passport!”

    Me: “Sir, if you’d looked at her passport, you’d see that it says USA all over it.”

    Customer #2: *looks at Customer #1′s passport* “But… but that can’t be! She wouldn’t use a passport if she’s a native American!”

    Me: “Right. She’s really from Italy; she just likes to draw random eagles all over her passport. Now where are you from, sir? I’m sure this lady would like to know, so she can be sure never to visit.”

    (Customer #2 leaves in a huff, threatening to call the manager and corporate.)

    Customer #1: *sighs* “Is your manager here?”

    Me: “Oh, yeah. Do you need to talk to him?”

    Customer #1: “Please.”

    (I get the manager, and he and Customer #1 have a conversation. I go back to work. The manager comes back a few minutes later and drops a $20 in the tip jar.)

    Me: “What is that?”

    Manager: “From the customer I was talking to. She said she wanted to be sure you didn’t get in trouble for standing up for her and thought you deserved a tip.”

    The Maine Difference Between The Accents

    | West Gardiner, ME, USA | Geography, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

    (I work in a travel plaza in a town in central Maine, fairly close to the Canada/USA border. The plaza is the only sort of gas station, restaurant, and other amenity on the highway for miles, so we get the gamut of travelers, most of whom are weary from long hours of driving. We are encouraged to be as helpful as possible, and to make conversation while ringing up customers.)

    Me: “Did you find everything alright?”

    Customer: “Well, I did in here, but…”

    Me: “But?”

    Customer: “You from around here?”

    Me: “Actually, I grew up in the next town over.”

    Customer: “Excellent. What is there to do in this area?”

    (I offer a few suggestions of popular tourist attractions, and unique local restaurants. The customer gives me an odd look and is silent while I tell him his total. While I’m counting his change, he suddenly explodes. He knocks half his purchases off the counter to get in my face and starts shouting.)

    Customer: “DON’T YOU LIE TO ME!”

    Me: “I’m sorry; excuse me?!”

    Customer: “You stupid b****! There’s no WAY you’re from here! How do I know everything you just told me isn’t all fake? I want to talk to someone who is actually from this area!”

    Me: “With all due respect, sir, what makes you say that?”

    Customer: “You don’t have the accent!”

    Me: “What?”

    Customer: “See! I told you you were lying! If you really grew up here, you’d have that authentic Maine accent! ‘Pahk the arnge cah in the yahd’.”

    Me: *drawling into a thick ‘Maine’ accent* “Ayuh well there sir what you got yourself there is a Boston accent; you ain’t soundin’ like no Mainer, deyah.”

    Customer: “What the f*** did you just say?!”

    Me: *in normal voice* “I said, I worked very hard growing up to learn to enunciate properly, but I can assure you I’m far more authentically Maine than these lobster souvenirs you just spent $10 on and then broke. I’m glad to know my hard work paid off. Have a safe trip now, ‘deyah.’”

    Canada’s Net Worth

    | Edmonton, AB, Canada | Canada, Geography, Technology

    (I work in a Canadian call centre that is contracted by an American cable internet company. Therefore all my customers are American.)

    Client: *after the issue is resolved* “I can’t place your accent. Where am I calling? Are you in India?”

    Me: “No, ma’am. I’m in Edmonton, Alberta. That’s in Canada.”

    Client: “Canada? Really?”

    Me: “Yes.”

    Client: “Do they even have cable internet up there?”

    Me: *pausing to swallow incredulity* “Yes, ma’am, we do. In fact, we actually have had cable internet for a bit longer than most US markets.”

    Client: “Oh, well, I don’t know nothin’ about Canada. I thought it was a third-world country or something.”

    A Whole New World

    | NC, USA | Extra Stupid, Geography, Language & Words

    (I’m spending the summer with my grandmother in a small southern town, but I’m from Connecticut.)

    Me: “Hello, I’m [name]. I’ll be your server today. Can I start you off with something to drink?”

    Customer: *in a thick southern drawl* “What an unusual accent! Where are you from?”

    Me: “I’m from New England.”

    Customer: “How lovely! I’ve always wanted to go to Europe!”

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