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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!

    A Mixed Bag

    | USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Language & Words

    Coworker: “Paper or plastic?”

    Customer: I don’t care. I’m bi. I like it both ways.”

    So Pho, So Crazy, Part 4

    | NY, USA | Extra Stupid, Language & Words

    (I am half Vietnamese and look somewhat ethnically ambiguous.)

    Customer: “Are you Japanese?”

    Me: “No, Vietnamese.”

    Customer: “Really? Are you sure?”

    (Later, another customer runs into the store, heads directly for one of our Buddha statues, and rubs its belly. She is about to dash off again when she sees me looking in her direction.)

    Customer: “I’m sorry! Every time I see a Buddha I just have to touch it. But you must understand. You have the look of the Buddha about you.”

    (A third customer comes in and asks about the meaning of some Chinese characters on a teapot. Having taken some Chinese in school, and, more relevantly, having read the product description recently, I manage to tell her the meaning of a couple.)

    Customer: “Are you Chinese?”

    Me: “No, Vietnamese, but I took a bit of Chinese in school.”

    Customer: “Really? But isn’t that shaming your family or something?”

    Related:
    So Pho, So Crazy, Part 3
    So Pho, So Crazy, Part 2
    So Pho, So Crazy

    A Welcome Change

    | Sydney, NSW, Australia | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Top

    (I’ve been a nurse for a long time. There have been a few patients over the years that think nurses are slaves and never say please or thank you.)

    Patient: “Turn the TV on.”

    Me: *turns TV on*

    Patient: “Get me a glass of water!”

    Me: *hands him a glass of water*

    Patient’s Relative: “Pass the tissues over.”

    Me: *passes the box of tissue over to the relative*

    (This had been going on all day with never a please or thank you. I have had enough so I say:)

    Me: “You’re welcome!”

    Patient: “Pardon. What was that?”

    Me: *acting surprised* “I said ‘you’re welcome.’ I thought I heard you say ‘thank you.’ My mistake. Sorry.”

    (The manners improved substantially after that! I’ve only had to say it three or four times in 30 years, but it’s always worked!)

    All Men Must Serve

    | NY, USA | Awesome Customers, Books & Reading, Geeks Rule, Language & Words

    (I am the librarian.)

    Patron: “Do you have any books on Japanese architecture? I play the game Minecraft and we’re building Westeros. You know, Game of Thrones? Part of it is going to be Japanese themed.”

    Librarian: “I think we do. Let me look…” *searches the catalog* “Yup, there are some e-books you can get by clicking the links here, or there should be a couple upstairs. Are you able to find things by call number?”

    Patron: “Yeah, I should be able to find it. Thanks!”

    Librarian: “You’re welcome! Valar Morghulis!”

    Patron: “Yeah.” *starts to walk away, but stops suddenly and turns around* “Wait, did you just…”

    Librarian: “Yeah, I really did.”

    Patron: “That’s awesome! Valar Dohaeris!”

    Hasn’t Quite Cottoned On

    | Australia | Extra Stupid, Language & Words, Top

    (I work in a fabric store and am a lot younger than I look, so customers often patronise me. I’m used to it.)

    Customer: “I’m looking for cotton fabric.”

    Me: “Okay, any particular weave? We have plain woven, knitted jersey, japara—”

    Customer: “I don’t think you heard me. I want cotton fabric.”

    (Deciding not to argue I take her to the cheapest cotton fabric, which is just plain woven poplin, very similar to the fabric they use to make bed-sheets.)

    Customer: *in a patronising tone* “Don’t you know anything? I want c-o-t-t-o-n!”

    Me: “Yes, this is 100% cotton.”

    Customer: “No, it’s not. Cotton is the fabric they make jeans out of.”

    Me: “Oh, you mean denim?”

    Customer: “No, cotton. Jeans are made of cotton.”

    Me: “Yes, jeans are made of cotton, but it is woven in a particular way to make a fabric called ‘denim.’”

    Customer: “It’s not called denim, you silly girl. Denim is a boy’s name. Cotton comes from a special animal and is used to make jeans. Or have you not gotten to that part of school yet?”

    Me: “Actually, cotton comes from a plant and has a variety of uses that are not just restricted to jeans. Now if you’ll excuse me, my shift ended two minutes ago and I need to get home and finish my university assignment, which is a literature review on the critical success factors of the implementation of enterprise resource planning information systems.”

    (I showed her the fabric she was looking for on my way out. She looked embarrassed when she saw the tag did, in fact, read ‘denim.’)

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