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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!

    His Translation Is A Sham(rock)

    | Portland, OR, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words

    (I work as a cashier. Two customers are in my line: an older man with a grimace and a younger man with a thick Irish accent. The Irishman, Customer #1, has jostled the older man, Customer #2.)

    Customer #1: “Hey, watch it!”

    Customer #2:You watch it, boy! Why’d you get in my way?”

    Customer #1: “Get in your way? Oh, come on!”

    Customer #2: *looks at me* “You saw that, right? He bumped his cart right into me!”

    Customer #1: “Look, let’s not get her involved. You can just go in front of me. ‘Pogue mahone’ (póg mo thóin), alright?

    Customer #2: “What was that?”

    Customer #1: “Oh, ‘Pogue mahone’? It’s an Irish phrase. We say it when we want to end an argument. Here you go, you can go first.”

    Customer #2: “Darn right I will. Youth these days need to learn to be a little more respectful.”

    (I check him out and he leaves. Customer #1 steps up, and I begin checking his things out.)

    Customer #1: “I sure hope he doesn’t look up what that really means when he gets home.”

    Me: “Why? What does it mean?”

    Customer #1: “It’s Irish for ‘Kiss my a**’.”

    Losing English Patience

    | OH, USA | Awesome Customers, Language & Words, Math & Science, School

    (I work at a sandwich shop across the street from a high school. I serve a lot of teachers who come over here for lunch.)

    Me: “You want a turkey on white with tomato? That’s [price].”

    Customer #1: “Oh, and can I have a bottle of water?”

    Me: “‘Course!”

    Customer #1: *scoffs* “I can’t believe you just said that. As an English teacher, I think I should tell you that saying that isn’t proper English.”

    Me: *not sure what to say* “Um… sorry?”

    Customer #1: “There you go again! Those are fragments, not complete sentences! All the other teachers who come in here would be ashamed.”

    (The customer behind her speaks up.)

    Customer #2: “Yeah, well, I’m a math teacher, and trust me, we don’t care.”

    Waaay Lost In Translation

    | Aurora, CO, USA | Language & Words

    (It is a pretty mild day, and most everyone is buzzing about the new Ikea that has opened up the month prior. I am chatting with a particularly effervescent woman with a full cart to scan. She has asked about my studies.)

    Me: “I’m just going to school downtown. I’m studying Spanish and German.”

    Customer: “Wow! That’s impressive! Pretty and smart!”

    Me: “Oh, well thank you! I actually pick up languages easily. I’ve also studied Chinese and French, and for the past year my best friend has been teaching me Swedish.”

    Customer: *scoffs* “Swedish? Ha! Like you could speak Swedish!”

    Me: “Yes, actually I can. He actually was born and raised in Stockholm… he’s still living there, actually. He’s Swedish, teaching me Swedish, so I can go to Sweden.”

    Customer: “Well, I know people who work at Ikea, and they know Swedish. So, tell me, what’s ‘Hello,’ then?”

    Me: “‘Hej,’ or ‘Hallo.’ That can be followed up with ‘Hur mår du’ and other various phrases.”

    Customer: “Ha! I knew you didn’t speak Swedish. That’s not how you say ‘Hello!’”

    Me: “Yes, it is, actually.”

    Customer: “No, it’s not! My friends work at Ikea! They would know! You’re not speaking Swedish. That’s not Swedish!”

    Me: “Okay, then apparently my Swedish friend doesn’t know how to speak his native tongue. How do you say, ‘Hello’, in Swedish?”

    (The customer looks proud in her win and straightens herself.)

    Customer: “It’s f*******e.”

    (My jaw drops. The translation of this is roughly ‘c***face’.)

    Me: “Yes… yes sweetie, that’s exactly how you say that. You’re right. Have a nice day.”

    (She left looking incredibly satisfied. The moment I got off of work, I texted my friend. He and I still laugh about this over a year later.)

    The Less-Errant Of Two Evils

    | The Netherlands | Health & Body, Language & Words

    (I’m a cashier at a supermarket and am checking out a customer. All cigarette packages have a warning on them.)

    Customer: “I’d like [brand] cigarettes please.”

    (I grab a package.)

    Customer: “Oh no, not that one. I don’t like the text on it.”

    Me: “Oh, you mean the, ‘Smoking is deadly’ text?

    Customer: “Yes, get me one with a different text.”

    (I grab another package.)

    Me: “Okay… how about, ‘Smoking leads to a slow painful death’?”

    Customer: “No, I don’t like that one either.”

    Me: “Is, ‘Smoking increases the chance to get lung cancer’ fine, then?”

    Customer: “Ah yes, that one is good!”

    Es-pwñ-ol

    | Phoenix, AZ, USA | Language & Words

    (I work at an electronics retail store where we check receipts. It’s 20 minutes past closing time and I have to stand by the electronic doors and open them manually. A middle-aged couple approaches me with a 50-inch television.)

    Wife: “We’re going to need someone to load the TV into our car. My husband has a problem with his arm.”

    Me: “Not a problem, ma’am. I’ll have to try and get someone’s attention, as I can’t leave my spot here. We’re closing right now so we don’t have very many employees at the moment.”

    Husband: “I need someone now. My arm is messed up and I can’t lift the TV, so go get someone.”

    Me: “I understand that, sir. I will find someone for you, but you have to understand that I cannot leave this area as I have to guard the door.”

    (I begin scoping the area to find an employee that can load the TV for them when I hear them talking about me in Spanish. I am very pale and white, but I’m fluent in Spanish.)

    Wife: *in Spanish* “She’s just being lazy. She could leave if she wanted to. Retail workers are unbelievable.”

    (After two minutes, I manage to get someone’s attention from the parking lot. I turn back to the couple, who are still insulting me.)

    Me: *in Spanish* “Excuse me, that gentleman in the parking lot would be glad to assist you.”

    (Their faces go white and they rush out of the store. My coworker, who has just joined me, speaks up.)

    Coworker: “That’s golden.”


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