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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!

    Capitalizing On The Situation

    | Sydney, NSW, Australia | Extra Stupid, Language & Words

    (I work as a freelance editor. A regular client sends me a file to edit. I’m almost sure the client is dyslexic, because every sentence has a spelling or grammar error, and there’s never any consistency. Sometimes he will hyphenate phrases, other times he won’t. He often forgets to use proper punctuation and seems to randomly capitalise words.)

    Me: “Okay, I sent you that document back.”

    Client: “Sweet, got it.”

    Me: “Let me know if there’s anything wrong or you have questions.”

    (Often clients ask why whole sentences have been deleted or I’ve changed a word they really wanted to keep, even though it doesn’t mean what they think.)

    Client: “Um, you’ve changed the layout! I don’t want it like this!”

    Me: “How do you mean? I didn’t touch the layout.”

    Client: “It’s showing me two pages!”

    Me: “It was a two-page document.”

    Client: “No, it’s showing me two pages at once. Here, let me send you a screen shot.”

    (They send me a screen shot of the document.)

    Me: “Oh, it’s just displaying it as two up. Two pages side-by-side. I turned that on because I have a large monitor and it’s easier to work with two pages at once. You can turn it off by clicking on the percentage in the bottom left on the screen and selecting ‘one up.’”

    Client: “I can’t see it.”

    Me: “It’s just in the bottom left of the window, down the bottom next to the word count.”

    Client: “Oh, got it. That’s better.” *they pause* “What are all these dots and triangles everywhere?”

    Me: “Those show where I made changes. You asked me to track changes so you could see what amendments I’d made.”

    Client: “How do I get rid of them?”

    (I explain that they can either accept all the changes or do them manually, one-by-one. They accept all changes because there are too many to do one-by-one.)

    Client: “You’ve changed the formatting too.”

    Me: “Yes, it needed to make sense. You put paragraphs in the wrong places, and a good document doesn’t use all capitals because it tends to make people tense.”

    Client: “But it’s a marketing technique!”

    Me: “I’m an editor, not a marketing agent.”

    Client: “Put all the capitals back in.”

    Me: “With all due respect, you should have told me not to change them before you gave me the document. You said you wanted editing; I gave you editing. Next time tell me.”

    (I want to keep the client’s business. Even though he is a bit stingy, he does pay and it’s a good semi-reliable trickle if I need a bit of cash quickly.)

    Client: “You’ve also changed the capitals on some words that were meant to have capital letters.”

    Me: “I assure you, it is improper English to put those phrases in capitals. They’re not place names, product names, names of people, titles, or anything that needs capitals.”

    Client: “But it’s—”

    Me: “A marketing technique?”

    Client: “Yes.”

    Me: “Again, you should have told me not to change those.”

    Client: “You weren’t meant to change the capitals. You were only meant to edit the text.”

    Me: “That’s what an editor does. They make the text conform to English standards.”

    Client: “Well, don’t do it in future.”

    Me: “…okay.”

    Client: “I’ll fix it this time, but make sure you leave those things the way they are in future.”

    Me: “What if you capitalise one word in one sentence, but don’t capitalise it in another sentence.”

    Client: “How do you mean?”

    Me: “Well, in this part you capitalise the letter ‘A’. And in this other sentence, you don’t, but all the words around it are capitalised.”

    Client: “Well of course you fix it then.”

    Me: “So you want me to make sure the document uses consistently bad English?”

    Client: “It’s marketing. It’s not bad English.”

    Me: “So do I capitalise the second one, or put the first one in lower case?”

    Client: “You. Oh. Er. Um. How about you just leave that to me?”

    Me: “Sounds like a plan.”

    Acting Like They Were Born In A Bearn

    | Austin, TX, USA | Bad Behavior, Family & Kids, History, Language & Words

    (I work at a renaissance festival, where the workers are required to be in character when interacting with patrons. Two women are looking around the shop while their two boys, about seven or so, are horsing around with wooden swords. Sometimes I play along with the kids, but they’re getting out of control.)

    Little Boy #1: “DIE! I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna kill you!”

    Little Boy #2: “Not if I kill you first! RAAAAAAAAAAH!”

    (The moms look a little resigned to all this and don’t say anything, but now the boys are starting to trip and hit each other so I step in and yell to be heard over them.)

    Me: “Squires! Please take the arts of war outside my shop. We are a peaceful establishment!”

    (They stop dead and look at me, dumbfounded. Then they hastily scoot outside and begin whacking each other again.)

    Mom: “Wow, can you follow us around all day? They haven’t listened to us once!”

    Cut This One Down To Size

    | Auckland, New Zealand | Extra Stupid, Language & Words

    (I work in a clothing store with the basic sizes, S, M, and L.)

    Me: “Can I help you with anything today?”

    Customer: “Yes, I’m wanting a plain top for my dad in ‘men’s.’”

    Me: “Certainly. What size were you looking for?”

    Customer: “Men’s.”

    Me: “Um, what size?”

    Customer: “Men’s!”

    Me: “Were you looking for a medium, by any chance?”

    Customer: “MEN’S! MEN’S! WHY DO I HAVE TO REPEAT MYSELF!?”

    (I head out the back and grab a medium anyway.)

    Me: “We have a ‘M’ here for you.”

    Customer: “SEE! That wasn’t so hard was it!?”

    Books Are Going The Way Of The Dinosaur

    | AK, USA | Books & Reading, Funny Names, Language & Words

    Me: “Hi. What can I help you find today?”

    Customer: “I want to find a book.”

    Me: “What book are you looking for?”

    Customer: “I’m looking for that book with a bunch of words in it that sounds like a dinosaur?”

    Me: *stares for a moment* “…a thesaurus?”

    Customer: “Yes!”

    Incheon Further Away From The Answer, Part 4

    | Cheyenne, WY, USA | Bigotry, Geography, Language & Words

    (My family lives in a predominantly Caucasian town. We are half-Korean and half-Caucasian, but we were born in the US. While shopping with my sister, we are approached by an elderly lady and her younger friend.)

    Elderly Customer: “Where are the cotton balls?”

    Me: “I do not work for the store, but my sister and I can walk you to the display of cotton balls.”

    Elderly Customer: “When did you come to the country? Your English is so good!”

    (I answer with a smile, since I get asked this all the time.)

    Me: “Well, actually, we were both born and raised here in this very town. Our father met our mother while he was stationed in Korea for the Air Force. We’re first-generation American on our mother’s side, but our father is from Kansas. Our family actually owns a ‘century farm’ there.”

    (The elderly customer looks puzzled and her friend offers us an apology)

    Customer’s Friend: “Sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with her today.”

    My Sister: “It’s okay. Many people assume we aren’t American. We just correct them. It’s the nice thing to do.”

    Elderly Customer: “You people are always so nice! Orientals are the nicest people, aren’t they? And you have such pretty skin and hair, too. Isn’t Chinese food the best? Those people are so nice at the restaurant, but you must know them since they’re Oriental, too!”

    Customer’s Friend: *turning red* “They said they are American and they aren’t even Chinese!” *to us* “I am so sorry about all of this! Thank you for helping us find the cotton balls.”

    (My sister and I smile at her and bid them both a nice day. As they walk away, the elderly customer turns back, smiles at us, and yells out with her hands open:)

    Elderly Customer: “Welcome to America!”

    Related:
    Incheon Further Away From The Answer, Part 3
    Incheon Further Away From The Answer, Part 2

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