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!

Lima Oscar Lima

| TX, USA | Language & Words

(Working the counter, I help two guys in Army fatigues bring in two big boxes of medals or ribbons that they had to separate and mail each to a different person. All was quiet for a while as they process this large order. Nearing the end I think they found a mistake because all I heard for a few minutes was:)

Customer: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!”

Losing Him In Multiple Translations

, | Houston, TX, USA | Language & Words, Liars & Scammers

(I am an entrance photographer at a theme park.)

Me: “Hello, folks. Welcome to [Theme Park]. I need you to please stop for two quick pictures.”

Adult Male Park Attendee: *in obvious Texan Drawl and slightly bad Spanish* “No hablos English.” *yes, he said English, not Ingles*

(Trying to do my job, be polite, and not jump to conclusions I switch to Spanish, which, while I’m not a native speaker, I’m relatively fluent in, and have practiced specifically for Spanish speaking park attendees so they’re not left out of the full experience.)

Me: “No hay problema, señor. Necesito que dejes de para dos fotos rápidas, por favor.”

Adult Male Park Attendee: *still in obvious Texan Drawl and now broken French* “Polly View Frances?”

(Again, he said view, not vue, and while I could do the entire spiel in French, thanks to learning it from my Louisianan coworker, just in case, I’m certain at this point the guy is bluffing, plus he doesn’t actually ask me to say it in French, so…)

Me: “Oui, monsieur.”

(Got to give the guy credit for persistence, because he takes one more shot to avoid the inconvenience of having his photo taken.)

Adult Male Park Attendee: *not even really trying to speak in the language* “German?”

(Yup, he says German, not ‘Deustche.’ At this point, I’m bluffing his bluff. I never learned the spiel in German, but I do know enough to say…)

Me: “Ja, mein herr.”

Adult Male Park Attendee: “Ah, dang nabbit, just take our god-d*** pictures.”

(The family poses and everyone smiles except him. I smile and hand the man the slip with his roll number and finish my duty with them with a cheerful final comment.)

Me: “Your pictures will be ready any time after four pm. Thank you for your time and consideration. Hope you all enjoy this wonderful day.”

(Epilogue: The guy’s wife and kids dragged him to check out the pictures. They bought several framed, a few key chains, and both mini viewers… totaling enough for me to get $40 of commission off just them… They were my only sales that day!)

This Conversation Plunges To Lower Depths

| Canada | Language & Words

(A customer comes up to my till with a toilet plunger.)

Me: “Hello! How’s your day going?”

Customer: “S***ty. Pun intended.”

Speaking American Is A Country Diction In Terms, Part 3

| Torino, Italy | Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

(As the city is hosting a big international event, we’ve been having a lot of people asking for information about venues, transports, and such. For guests’ convenience we set up two different lines, one for information in English and Spanish and one for information in French and German, as these are the four main languages our guests require. We used flags to represent languages, with a standard UK flag standing for English. A third colleague is standing by the door, answering questions in miscellaneous other languages and directing people to the lines. A couple walks in and addresses him in English.)

Guest: “Excuse me, sir?”

Coworker: “Yes, sir? How can I help you?”

Guest: “We need information in American. Which one of these lines is the correct one?”

(My coworker points to the English speaking line.)

Guest: *pointing to the flag* “That’s an English flag. There’s no American flag here. Are you sure this is the correct line?”

Coworker: *trying not to laugh* “Yes, sir. Yes, I’m quite sure it is.”

(At this point the couple cuts the entire 20-something people line and simply walks up to me while I’m busy with another guest.)

Guest: “Good morning, we would like to know if—”

Me: “Sir, I’m sorry, but you can’t just cut the line like that.”

Guest: “But your colleague said this was the American speaking line.”

Me: “It is sir, but as you can see there’s a lot of people waiting for information. You’ll have to wait like everybody else. I promise you it won’t be long.”

Guest: “But… but… I’m AMERICAN!”

Related:
Speaking American Is A Country Diction In Terms, Part 2
Speaking American Is A Country Diction In Terms

Has An Asian Dissuasion

| San Francisco, CA, USA | Bigotry, Language & Words

(I work as an intern pharmacist at a pharmacy. Even though I’m still in school, I’m comfortable enough to consult patients on common prescriptions. A woman comes up to pick up some antibiotics and my supervising pharmacist asks me to consult with her on the medication. I am Asian, raised speaking Chinese, but born in Canada and moved to California when I was young, so I speak English and Chinese fluently.)

Woman: “Hi, I’m picking up for [Woman].”

(I find the prescription, and bring it to the counter.)

Me: “All right, I have it here. Have you ever taken this medication before?”

Woman: *screaming behind me at the pharmacist, who is white* “CAN I HAVE YOU HELP ME?”

Me: “Ma’am, I can help you.”

Woman: *still waving at the pharmacist*

(Giving up, I walk behind the counter, and tell my pharmacist what happened. She moves up to take care of the woman. I stay behind the counter, but I can still hear their conversation.)

Pharmacist: “How can I help you?”

Woman: “I’m just picking up my medication.”

(My pharmacist finishes the consultation as usual. When she finishes…)

Woman: *speaking at normal volume* “I don’t know why you have him back there. How do you know if he can even speak English?”

Pharmacist: “Ma’am, he speaks English fluently. He is a current pharmacy student.”

Woman: “But he’s Chinese. No one could understand his English.”

Pharmacist: “Ma’am, his English is fine. Just a good as mine.”

Woman: “I don’t think you should have him here…”

(She walks out like nothing happened. My pharmacist walks back behind the counter.)

Me: “What was she talking about?”

Pharmacist: “I don’t know. I guess she’s either new to the city or she never noticed how many Chinese people are in San Francisco.”

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