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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!

    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.”

    Taking The Hi Road

    | TX, USA | Bizarre, Language & Words

    (It’s been an unusually busy day, and my coworkers and I have been taking calls back to back for several hours.)

    Me: “Thank you for calling [name of business]. This is [my name]; how can I help you?”

    Caller: “Hi, [my name]!”

    (I wait a few seconds for her to tell me what she needs, but she remains silent.)

    Me: “Yes, how can I help you?”

    Caller: “Hi, [my name]!”

    Me: “Ma’am, is there something I can help you with?”

    Caller: “Hi, [my name]!”

    (I’m starting to think this is a prank call or the person is not all there.)

    Me: “Well, if there’s nothing I can help you with, I’m going to have to—”

    Caller: “It must take a lot of effort if you won’t even say ‘Hi’.”

    Me: “…Hello?”

    Caller: “Hi, [my name]!”

    Me: “Hi.”

    Caller: “It took way too much work for you to just say ‘Hi’ to me. I don’t want you to help me! Transfer me to someone else!”

    (She had probably waited at least 10 minutes before reaching me, and would have to wait at least 10 more minutes to speak to someone else. She was fine with that!)

    Sprucing Up His Christmas Tree Knowledge

    | Bay Area, CA, USA | Holidays, Language & Words, Theme Of The Month

    (The hardware chain I work for sets up a Christmas tree lot every year and sells fresh cut trees. One evening, a customer comes into the lot ahead of his family, who are still getting out of the car.)

    Me: “Good evening! Tree hunting tonight? Are you after anything in particular?”

    Customer: “Oh, I don’t know anything about them. I’m just looking for a tree.”

    (I launch into a quick explanation of the three types of tree we carry; Noble firs, Douglas firs, and Grand firs.)

    Me: “…and so Noble firs are pretty popular, since they hold their needles a bit better than the Douglases, as well as having stronger branches.”

    (A few moments later, the customer’s wife and children catch up and walk into the lot. The customer, beaming with his new-found understanding of Christmas tree nuance points a tree out to his wife.)

    Customer: “This is the kind of tree that we want. It has better needles than the others, because it has what you call, noble fur!”


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