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    Category: Language & Words

    This category features customers whose mishandling of vocabulary and grammar are so bad that we literally have no words to describe them!

    Nothing To Tip Him Off

    | Colorado Springs, CO, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Language & Words

    (My coworker and I are working at a gas station while our manager is working in the back room. A customer comes up to the register.)

    Customer: “Can I get a wine (tobacco product)?”

    (Because these products come in either wood tip or plastic tip, we always ask the customer which they would like if they don’t specify.)

    Coworker: “Wood or plastic tip?”

    Customer: “Wine.”

    Coworker: “Yes. Wood or plastic?”

    Customer: “WINE.”

    Coworker: “WOOD or PLASTIC?”

    (This continues on for another minute or two until they are near shouting at each other, despite my coworker acknowledging the request for wine-flavor. My manager comes around the corner with her phone out.)

    Manager: “Sir, she’s asking you very clearly which kind of wine (tobacco product) you would like: one with a wood tip, or one with a plastic tip.”

    (The customer has a dumbfounded look for a moment, and then slaps his hand to his forehead in embarrassment.)

    Customer: “OH! Oh, my goodness. I’m SO sorry! Plastic tip, please!”

    (We all start laughing as my coworker shakes her head and begins checking the man out. Before he leaves, he looks at my manager, who is still standing next to me, giggling.)

    Customer: “Why did you come out with your phone out, anyways?”

    Manager: “Oh, because it was just too perfect! I had to get it on video or no one would ever believe it really happened!”

    (She had recorded the exchange, and has since showed it to some of my other coworkers who couldn’t believe that this even happened. The man still comes in and has since remembered to specify which kind of tip he would like on his product.)

    Do Not Like

    | USA | Bizarre, Language & Words, Money

    (I work at a branch in a college town, so our customers are often in their late teens. I have just been commenting to a coworker that all these kids make me feel old when this happens.)

    Customer: “I, like, want to, like, deposit some money in, like, my, like, account.”

    Me: “Certainly. Is that going to checking or savings?”

    Customer: “Like, checking?”

    Me: “Of course. Do you want all of your check going in or would you like some cash back for yourself?”

    Customer: “Like, can I, like, get $20, like, back?”

    (I process everything through and the customer leaves.)

    Me: *to coworkers, who are dying laughing* “And that, my friends, is the future of the world. Dear god, I hope she isn’t an English major.

    This Round He Lost (In Translation), Part 4

    , | USA | Extra Stupid, Family & Kids, Language & Words

    (People call us to set up appointments at counseling clinics. One of our affiliated clinics’ entire staff speaks English, Arabic, and Chaldean, so we get a lot of Arabic callers seeking appointments who may need an interpreter. I know a little bit of Arabic, but not enough to have an entire phone conversation.)

    Me: “Good afternoon. [Call Center]. How many I help you?”

    Caller: “Hello, I’d like to set up my father with an appointment to see [Doctor at Arabic facility].”

    Me: “Okay. Do you have legal guardianship over your father?”

    Caller: “No, he is his own man.”

    Me: “Well, since he’s an adult you can’t make the appointment for him, due to HIPAA laws.  Is he there with you?”

    Caller: “He’s next to me, but he only speaks Arabic.”

    Me: “Not a problem! We can do one of two things: I can get an interpreter on the phone, or he can give me permission over the phone for you to make the appointment on his behalf.”

    Caller: “Uh… but he doesn’t speak English…”

    Me: “Oh, I understand! You could explain to him in Arabic that I’m going to ask ‘Is it okay if I speak with your son on your behalf?’, and to say “N’am” or “Yes”, if he wants that service. It’s legal, and we do it all the time since some people are more comfortable with us speaking with a family member.”

    Caller: “Okay, I’ll do that. Here’s my father.”

    (I hear the phone shuffle around, and don’t hear any kind of verbal exchange indicating he’s telling his father what’s happening.)

    Me: *in Arabic* “…Hello?”

    Caller’s Father: “Huh?”

    Me: “… Is it okay if I speak with your son on your behalf?”

    Caller’s Father: “HELLO?!”

    Caller: “See, this is stupid because he doesn’t understand English.”

    Me: “… Did you explain to him what I was going to say?”

    Caller: “Ma’am, you misunderstand me! He does not speak English!”

    Me: “I understand that, sir. What I’m saying is, you could interpret this portion of the phone call, and explain to him, in Arabic, what I am about to ask him, and what he should say back if he wants you to make the appointment. I’m not asking him to understand English. If you want, I’d be more than happy to dial our interpreter line for you?”

    Caller: “NO! He wants ME to do it! He gave me permission before the call!”

    Me: “I need to HEAR the granted permission. If you don’t want an interpreter, please explain to him the Arabic translation of what I’m about to ask him in English.”

    (The caller grumbles and again hands the phone over without saying anything to his father. His father keeps yelling ‘No English’ and ‘Hello.’ The caller takes the phone again and starts screaming.)

    Caller: “HE DOES NOT SPEAK ENGLISH! You are completely incompetent! How am I supposed to interpret if he doesn’t speak English!”

    Me: “Here is how interpreting works. You tell him, in ARABIC, what I am going to ask him. So you are explaining that I will say the ENGLISH EQUIVALENT of what you are saying to him IN ARABIC.”

    Caller: “Don’t tell me how my language works!”

    (Suddenly, I hear a door slam and a confused female voice in the background. The caller is yelling with the female voice in Arabic and English, and the female voice suddenly says, ‘hold on, let me speak with her.’ She takes the phone.)

    Caller’s Sister: *calmly* “Hi. I just came home from work, but I believe you were speaking with my brother. I thought I could help. What is it that he’s not understanding?”

    (I explain the scenario exactly as I’ve been explaining it to her brother.)

    Caller’s Sister: “Oh, okay. So I can just tell my father, in Arabic, what it is that you’re about to ask him in English?”

    Me: “Yes.”

    (The caller’s sister speaks with her father.)

    Caller’s Father: “Oh! N’am! Yes! You… speak with… my… DAUGHTER.”

    Caller’s Son: *in background* “What?! That’s bulls***! I know what I’m doing! She’s just an idiot who thinks I can’t speak Arabic!”

    Caller’s Sister: “I think you’ll be hearing from me more often than my brother. He’s spoken English his whole life, but I swear, he’s dumber than a box of rocks when people give him instructions. So sorry about that. Well, now, what else do you need to know, love?”

    Related:
    This Round He Lost (In Translation), Part 3
    This Round He Lost (In Translation), Part 2
    This Round He Lost (In Translation)

    This Friendship Is Fried

    | Bowling Green, KY, USA | Extra Stupid, Food & Drink, Language & Words

    (I approach a table occupied by a young couple.)

    Me: “Hello. I’m [My Name] and I’ll be your waitress. Can I get you something to drink?”

    Young Man: “Hello. Um, yes.  I’ll have a [Soda Pop] and we’re ready to order, if that’s okay?”

    Me: “Certainly, what can I get for you?”

    (The young man, polite and well-spoken, places his order and I turned to the vacant eyed young lady with him. All empty smiles and mindless giggles, she inquires…)

    Young Lady: “Hee, hee, hee. What’s a kwee-sa-dil-la?”

    Me: “I’m sorry?”

    (She points to the quesadilla plate and I calmly explain the concept to her.)

    Young Lady: “Hee hee! Oh, I don’t think I’d like that? What’s chicken ‘friend’ rice?”

    (The young man takes on a look of pained embarrassment and I try to spare him by keeping my expression neutral.)

    Me: “Its rice that’s been stir fried and had vegetables, egg, and chicken added to it.”

    Young Lady: “Tee hee. Oh, so, it has shrimp in it?”

    (Young man face palms.)

    Me: “We have a shrimp fried rice plate that has shrimp in it.”

    Young Lady: “No, no, no. I want that chicken ‘friend’ rice stuff.”

    Me: “All right. So chicken fried rice and—”

    Young Lady: “And that’s got shrimp, right?”

    (Young man drops head to table and tries to disappear.)

    Me: “Um, no, it has chicken but I can have them make shrimp fried rice instead.”

    Young Lady: “No, no. I want chicken ‘friend’ rice with shrimp, not chicken.”

    Crappy Management

    | NV, USA | Funny Names, Language & Words, Rude & Risque

    (I work as a cashier. One evening, two customers walk into the store and ask for an exchange. One of the men walks around the store to find what he wants while his friend stays with me. We make small talk while he waits.)

    Customer’s Friend: “You’d make a good manager here.”

    Me: “Thanks, but I don’t think so. I don’t have enough experience here.”

    Customer’s Friend: “You shouldn’t say that about yourself. You’re a wonderful person.”

    Me: “Thank you. But I’ve only worked here for less than a year. I don’t think corporate would let me become a manager yet.”

    Customer’s Friend: “Stop that! You can do anything you want.”

    (At that moment, the customer’s friend returns to the counter. His friend goes over to the other counter to wait with him as one of my managers processes the return. Just as they’re about to leave…)

    Customer’s Friend: “You have to stop being so negative about yourself. It’s not good.”

    Me: “Okay, sir. I won’t.”

    Customer’s Friend: “I’m serious. Don’t self-defecate!”

    Me: “… I won’t, sir. I promise.”

    (I had to wait until they left before I could start laughing. I’m sure his intentions were good, and that he meant to say ‘deprecate’, but his small mistake made my night.)

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