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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!

    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?”

    Common Sense Abhors A Vacuum

    | Vancouver, BC, Canada | Bizarre, Language & Words

    Customer: *whispering* “Faaaaaaahkew…”

    (I am slightly ticked off by this. I didn’t say or do anything to the customer for him to say ‘F*** you’ unprovoked.)

    Me: “What!? Say that again?!”

    Customer: *whispering* “Vhaaaaaaaaaakeeew…”

    Me: “Wait, are you asking where the vacuum cleaners are?”

    Customer: *nods*

    Me: “Right this way.”

    (Sometimes, you have to be patient with customers.)

    Giving Them A Spanish Inquisition

    , | Spain | Language & Words

    (I’m a teenager, although I look younger. My father owns a small, English-run shop, and I work some shifts there if I want some extra cash. My father can’t speak a word of Spanish, although I can since I go to school in Spain. Two customers walk in, talking in Spanish.)

    Customer #1: “I hate this shop! It’s stupid, and they don’t even speak Spanish.”

    Customer #2: “I know, right? I only come in here so I can mentally mock everything.”

    (I’ve been listening the whole time, but they’ve only just spotted me.)

    Customer #1: “Look! They’ve hired some low-life kid to help them out. I swear that’s illegal; I’m going to report it because it will be funny.”

    (I’ve been keeping quiet, but now I get angry. I twist around, facing the men, and start talking to them in Spanish.)

    Me: “Okay, listen up: I’m a teenager, and my dad owns this shop. In case you haven’t noticed already, I do speak Spanish, and I’ve heard everything you just said. So if you hate this shop so much, why don’t you get out?”

    (We never see them again, which my father appreciates, since they were always coming in without buying anything and he didn’t know how to say anything!)

    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.”

    Can’t Get A Handle On The Situation

    | NB, Canada | At The Checkout, Language & Words

    (We sell brooms and mops, but we also sell a variety of replacement broom handles and broom and mop heads, all of which fit with each other. I get called to the cash for customer service.)

    Customer: *in French* “Yes, my father was in here yesterday and bought me five mop handles, but he never brought the mop heads.”

    (I figure he left them behind at the cash, and the customer has come to retrieve them. She hands me her receipt, and I see he only paid for the mop handles, not the heads. She cuts me off before I can speak.)

    Customer: “Yes, so I can’t really do much without the mop heads you know. Somebody should have told him. I’m going to need the mop heads.”

    (I realize that the customer thinks they come together, and wants me to correct ‘our mistake.’ She cuts me off again, speaking to her friend in French.)

    Customer: *in French* “I don’t think this girl understands a word I’m saying. This store is unbelievable. Their manager doesn’t even know what I’m talking about. I should—”

    Me: *in perfect French* “Yes, ma’am, I understand perfectly. Your father came in yesterday and bought you five mop handles, but forgot to buy mop heads to go with them. That is unfortunate, given that you had to come back today to buy them. However, as they are sold separately and do not come together, and customers often buy one or the other as replacements, my cashiers would have had no reason to believe that he had forgotten to pick them up or remind him. If you would like to buy some mop heads, I can show you exactly where they are; just follow me.”

    (The customer turns bright red, and her friend turns away trying to hide her laughter.)

    Customer: “Oh, uh… no it’s okay, thank you. I’ll find them myself. Thank you.”

    (The customer practically runs away to the cleaning department, pays for her mop heads without ever making eye contact with anybody, and leaves quickly. I’ve never seen her since.)

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