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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!

    This Round He Lost (In Translation)

    | New York, NY, USA | Bad Behavior, Bigotry, Language & Words, Theme Of The Month

    (I’m from the UK and have a surprisingly posh accent. Whilst studying in America, I’ve become somewhat competent in several languages including French, German, Mandarin and Welsh. A rather rude customer arrives at my checkout where I work and has been openly mocking my colleagues during his time in the store.)

    Me: “Good afternoon, sir. How might I be of service?”

    Customer: “Oh, look! This one reckons he’s some posh c***.”

    Me: *ignoring the remark and still smiling* “Can a scan through those items for you?”

    (The customer drops the basket on one of my hands, laughing as I wince in pain.)

    Customer: “You’re all a bunch of failures and drop-outs. Bet you barely even know English properly.”

    Me: “Sir, I was born in Manchester, England.”

    Customer: “Whatever, you fake c***.”

    (At this point the customer begins to swear slowly, and with a smile on his face, in French and German)

    Customer: “See, I’ve got a real education. I speak two different languages fluently and I’m not stuck in some dead end s***-hole.”

    (I finish scanning through his items, and he pays with cash.)

    Me: *flawless French* “My pardon, sir, but you’re short 50 cents.” switching to German* “Do you have correct change?” *switching to Welsh* “If not you may need to return some of these items or pay using a different method.”

    (The customer stares blankly for a few seconds, he then demands I repeat myself. I do, this time in English explaining that I’m translating the French, German and Welsh I just spoke. Once he seems to understand this, he sheepishly pays via debit and rushes off, nearly forgetting his bag.)

    Me: *in French again* “Sir, don’t forget your purchase!”

    Not So Sweet On Sugar Or Honey

    | IL, USA | Bigotry, Language & Words

    (I was born and raised in the country, and my area uses terms such as ‘honey’, ‘sweetie,’ and ‘dear’ to speak to everyone, including strangers. It’s just how I talk. I am taking care of a customer in the coffee shop.)

    Me: “Hey, sugar, how can I help you today?”

    Customer: “I don’t want sugar.”

    Me: *chuckling* “Sorry, honey, I didn’t mean that. How can I help you?”

    Customer: “Excuse me?”

    Me: “Umm… how can I help you?”

    (The customer places her order, but seems very agitated. I turn on my sweetest smile and small talk.)

    Customer: “Look, can I just get my d*** coffee, please?”

    Me: “Sure, coming right up, babe!”

    Customer: “Are you a lesbian?”

    Me: “Um… no?”

    Customer: “Then why were you just hitting on me?”

    Me: “I’m sorry?”

    Customer: “Why did you just call me babe and try to ask me out?”

    Me: *chuckling* “Oh, I’m sorry, that’s just how I talk. I don’t mean anything by it; I was raised in a family that uses terms of endearment in everyday conversation.”

    Customer: “Oh, so you’re a hillbilly?”

    Me: “Um, kind of, yeah… I’m from the country.”

    Customer: “Well, that explains so much!”

    Me: *a little hurt, but still smiling* “I’m sorry if you took offense; I didn’t mean anything by it. Just trying to be friendly.”

    Customer: “I don’t need you to be friendly, I am certainly not your friend, thank you very much. I need you to do your d*** job. Don’t call people ‘sweetie’ or ‘honey’. Only idiots do that, and it’s really f***ing rude.”

    Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t realize that it was. No one has ever said that to me before.”

    Customer: “Ugh, don’t call me ‘ma’am,’ either. What do I look like, some old lady?”

    Me: “I’m sorry, miss, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

    Customer: “Oh my god, did you go to some idiot academy or something? Do you not see the ring on my finger?” *proceeds to flash her ring*

    Me: “Well, what do you want me to call you?”

    Customer: “My d*** name! Is that so f***ing hard?”

    Me: “How would I know your name? I’ve never met you before, and you never told me.”

    Customer: “Well, you should’ve asked! So rude and dumb! There’s just no respect for people anymore!” *stalks away*

    (She leaves me standing there, dumbfounded and upset. Later, I asked my boss if I’d get in trouble. Thankfully, my boss told me she’d have a few choice names to call that lady the next time she came in!)

    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.)

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