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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!

    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.’”

    Chipping Away At A Translation

    | USA | Family & Kids, Language & Words, Theme Of The Month

    (I am eating lunch in the lobby of my store, having a sandwich and a bag of chips, when a Spanish-speaking family walks in with a three-year-old boy. As they order, he walks a few feet over to me and points at my bag of chips. I don’t speak any Spanish.)

    Little Boy: *pointing at my chips, saying something in Spanish*

    Me: “Sorry, sweetie, these are mine. Maybe your mommy can get you some?”

    (The little boy is pointing more furiously now, repeating a phrase I don’t understand.)

    Me: “I’ll let you have some of mine if your mommy says it’s okay. I don’t want to give you anything you’re not allowed to have.”

    (The little boy repeats the phrase again. This time, his teenage sister, standing in line, rushes over and pulls him away.)

    Sister: “I’m so sorry!”

    Me: “Oh, that’s okay! If it’s okay for him to have some he can—”

    (By this point she has dragged the little boy to the other side of the store, where his parents are paying. I finish my break and go into the back to put away my purse and grab my apron. My Spanish-speaking coworker rushes over to me.)

    Coworker: “Are you okay?”

    Me: “Yeah, why?”

    Coworker: “You didn’t hear what he was saying to you?”

    Me: “I figured he wanted some of my chips.”

    Coworker: “Yeah, then he started calling you a f****** a**-hole!”

    The First And True Language Of America

    | Santa Fe, NM, USA | Bigotry, History, Language & Words, Top

    (I’m waiting in line behind a woman speaking on her cellphone in another language. Ahead of her is a white man. After the woman hangs up, he speaks up.)

    Man: “I didn’t want to say anything while you were on the phone, but you’re in America now. You need to speak English.”

    Woman: “Excuse me?”

    Man: *very slow* “If you want to speak Mexican, go back to Mexico. In America, we speak English.”

    Woman: “Sir, I was speaking Navajo. If you want to speak English, go back to England.”

    Verbose On Verbs

    | Dayton, OH, USA | Language & Words

    (At our store we have a policy where we greet every guest we can.)

    Me: “Good evening, sir. How are you doing today?”

    Customer: “I’m doing alright. How about you?”

    Me: “I’m doing well.”

    Customer: “No, you’re not.”

    Me: “Excuse me, sir?”

    Customer: “You’re doing ‘good,’ not ‘well.’”

    Me: “As you say, sir. Is there anything I can help you with?”

    Customer: “Yes, you can start speaking proper English!”

    (At this point the customer is starting to become visibly upset and starts making a scene.)

    Me: “I can assure you, sir, that there is nothing wrong with my grammar. ‘Good’ is a word that can be used in conjunction with copular verbs. ‘Well,’ on the other hand, is an adverb, and in the context of the sentence ‘well’ would be the correct choice.”

    Customer: “Cop… ad… what? You don’t know what you’re talking about! You’re just a work drone!”

    Me: “Would you like to see my master’s degree in English and creative writing?”

    (The customer stammers a bit more and becomes very sheepish.)

    Me: “Now, is there anything I can help you with?”

    Customer: *embarrassed* “The ribs on sale?”

    Me: “Right over there on the end-cap. I hope you have a pleasant evening!”

    One Sandwich, Hold The Plural

    , | Stillwater, OK, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Food & Drink, Language & Words, Top

    (I am working at a very popular fast food place. I am very sick, and have tried to call in, but as we were short-handed, I am asked to come and just work the lunch rush. Since the lunch rush is over, my manager tells me to help the last two customers, who appear to be construction workers, and then I can go home. I smile brightly despite feeling like crap.)

    Me: “Hi, what can I get for you?”

    Customer: “I want [sandwiches]!”

    (I am confused, as he pluralizes the word and doesn’t specify the number of sandwiches.)

    Me: “Sure, how many would you like?”

    Customer: *glaring* “I… want… ONE… [sandwich]. Do you understand? ONE… [sandwich].”

    Me: “Sure, sorry for the misunderstanding. It’s just usually when someone pluralizes a word, that means they want more than one. Would you like the meal, or just the sandwich?”

    Customer: “I said ONE [sandwich]! I don’t want the d*** meal!”

    Me: “Okay, no problem. Would you like anything else?”

    Customer: “Yeah, give me a small fry and an orange juice.”

    Me: “Sir, it would actually be cheaper for you to just get the meal, which comes with a medium fry, and then you could still get orange juice as the drink.”

    Customer: “I said I don’t want the meal! Are you stupid?”

    Me: “No, sir, just trying to save you money. But that’s fine. Your total is [total].”

    (His total is a couple of dollars more than how much the meal would have been.)

    Customer: “Wait. How much would the meal be?”

    Me: “Just one moment, and I’ll total that up for you.”

    (I press a few buttons, canceling out his order, and replace it with the meal with an orange juice.)

    Me: “Your total doing it that way is [new total].”

    Customer: “Huh. I guess it is cheaper. I’ll do that instead.”

    (The customer pays, and I help the next customer in line, who is apparently one of his coworkers. This one is much nicer than the other one, and even says please and thank you. I get off work and go to change out of my work clothes so I can walk home. On my way out of the bathroom, I’m stopped by the two men.)

    Customer: “Listen, I’m really sorry for how I treated you. There was no excuse for that. I’ve just had a really bad day.”

    Me: “It’s okay, sir, really.”

    Customer: “This is for you.”

    (He hands me an apple pie, which he had apparently gotten after I had gone into the bathroom to change.)

    Customer: “Your manager tells me that you are sick today, and still came in. I never would have guessed you weren’t feeling well. Your customer service is really extraordinary, and I told him so.”

    Me: “Thank you so much, sir. I hope you have a much better day from here on out, both of you!”

    (They wish me a good day also, and tell me they hope I feel better soon. Somehow, after that, I DO actually feel better!)


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