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  • Category: Geography

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

    No Vocation For Location, Part 8

    | Toronto, ON, Canada | Extra Stupid, Geography, Tourists/Travel

    (We have a screen with special offers on the wall. Customer #1 is reading the board as offers flash by.)

    Customer #1: “Wait, Paris is in Europe?”

    Customer #2: “Really? Where did you think it was? Asia?”

    Customer #1: “I never really paid much attention in Geometry class.”

    (Customer #2 starts laughing as Customer #1 realizes what she just said.)

    Customer #1: “Yeah… didn’t pay much attention at all.”

    Related:
    No Vocation For Location, Part 7
    No Vocation For Location, Part 6
    No Vocation For Location, Part 5
    No Vocation For Location, Part 4

    That Kind Of Behavior Is Just Not Cricket

    | London, England, UK | At The Checkout, Bigotry, Geography

    (I’m standing in line at a corner shop. The customer at the till is a typical 40-something skinhead, wearing an England football shirt. He’s harassing the cashier because of the difference between the display price of a packet of cigarettes, and what he’s being charged.)

    Customer: “THIS IS F****** RIDICULOUS! IT’S ILLEGAL!”

    Cashier: “I’m sorry, sir, but due to the changes in taxes, we’ve had to increase the price. We haven’t had time to change the signs yet.”

    Customer: “THAT’S BULLSHIT! YOU’RE NOT FROM HERE! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!”

    (The cashier isn’t ethnically British, but he’s been working at the store for a few years now and is a pretty decent guy.)

    Cashier: “That doesn’t matter, sir. Could you just pay for your items?”

    Customer: “I SAID WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!”

    Cashier: *rolling his eyes* “Sri Lanka.”

    (The customer tries to think of an insult using the tiny amount of brainpower not given over to alcohol and rage.)

    Customer: “…yeah … well your cricket team is s***!”

    (The customer then storms off after paying for the cigarettes. I go up to the register.)

    Me: “Didn’t Sri Lanka just win the Cricket World Cup?”

    Extreme Foreign Interests

    | England, UK | At The Checkout, Geography, Language & Words

    (I suffered from a speech disorder as a child, and while I speak perfectly now, I have a slight twang in my voice. I’m on the checkout when a smartly-dressed customer approaches the till.)

    Me: “Hello! How are you today?”

    Customer: “…where are you from?”

    Me: “Excuse me?”

    Customer: “Where. Are. You. From?”

    Me: “Um, I’m local, if that’s what you mean.”

    Customer: “No, where were you born?”

    Me: “In [local hospital].”

    Customer: *sighs* “Where are your parents from?”

    Me: “They’re from [local town] and [local city].”

    Customer: *getting irate* “I just want you to tell me where you’re from! Explain your accent!”

    Me: “Oh! My accent! Yes, there’s an explanation for that; see when I was a kid—”

    Customer: “I don’t want to hear your life story! Why are you ashamed of your heritage? You are probably bringing shame to your family by denying them! I get that there are racists here, but you don’t need to deny who you are! I won’t judge you!”

    Me: “Sir, I don’t know what you want me to say.”

    Customer: “Tell me your parents were born in a different country!”

    Me: “Um… they were born in [other country]?”

    Customer: “Yes! See how easy that is? Why couldn’t you have just said that in the first place?!”

    (He grabs his bags and marches off. I turn to the next customer.)

    Me: “Afternoon!”

    Customer #2: “That was a lie, right?”

    Me: “Yep. How can I help you today?”

    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.”

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