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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!

    One Word Republic

    | Bartlett, TN, USA | Bad Behavior, Language & Words, Musical Mayhem

    (I work at a well-known music store. A customer in his mid-40′s approaches my register.)

    Customer: “Hi, I’m looking for a CD for my daughter for her birthday by ‘One Republic’. I forgot which CD the song it is on. It goes like this: ‘it’s too late tapollagize, it’s too late’.”

    Me: “I think you mean ‘to apologize’, sir. But right over here, please follow me.”

    (I pick up the CD ‘Dreaming Out Loud’ and hand it to the man.)

    Customer: “No, no, no! This can’t be it.”

    Me: “I assure you this is the CD with the song ‘Apologize’ on it, sir.”

    Customer: “Are you stupid?! This can’t be it! ‘IT’S TOO LATE TAPOLLAGIZE!’”

    (I was eventually able to convince him he was wrong, but he still left the store without buying the CD.)

    They’re Talking Babel

    | Boston, MA, USA | Extra Stupid, Language & Words, Religion, Top

    (I am a customer in line behind one man and one woman. The employees at this shop all have fairly heavy accents, but speak perfectly understandable English. However, they do converse amongst themselves in Spanish.)

    Female Customer: *turns around* “What is the matter with these people? Why the h*** can’t they just speak English the way God intended?”

    (The other customer and I raise our eyebrows at each other.)

    Male Customer: “What makes you think God intended people to speak English?

    Female Customer: “Well, the Bible is in English, duh!”

    Taiwannical Behavior

    | Taiwan | Awesome Customers, Bigotry, Language & Words

    (I’m browsing in a bookstore in Taiwan, when I notice two Caucasian customers looking in the Young Teenage Girls section and laughing.)

    Customer: *to his friend, in English* “Watch this.”

    (He grabs a random book and hands it to an employee.)

    Employee: *in somewhat broken English* “Can… I… help you?”

    Customer: “Yes. I should like that you would exemplify the thesis behind the philosophies illustrated in this literature.”

    (I’m looking at them now, rolling my eyes, but the pair are having a good time of it and don’t notice me. The employee is very confused and mutters in English as best he can.)

    Employee: “Eh… uhh… sorry?”

    Man: *gesturing as he speaks* “You. Need to. Exemplify. The. Theories. Of the. Thesis. As manifest. In this literature.”

    (It’s obvious the customer has no idea what he himself is saying, and is just having a laugh at the employee’s expense. The other guy with him has a wide grin on his face like he’s thoroughly enjoying the exchange. I’ve had enough, so I go to the employee, take the book out of his hands, turn to the synopsis given on the back cover and turn to the two guys.)

    Me: *in perfect English* “A girl’s parents have just divorced and the father moves her to a new school. She’s having difficulty adjusting to a new environment and life as a young woman and the changes to her body as he matures. Because she’s new, she’s having a difficult time telling anyone about it and doesn’t know how to tell her father about the various changes she is experiencing with her body. She falls for a popular boy, but she’s new and awkward and nobody likes her. Eventually, she contemplates suicide.”

    (The two customers are staring at me like I’ve got ten heads. I decide to rub it in a little further.)

    Me: “What the h*** is this? You managed to find the girliest book in here!”

    Customer: *opens his mouth, as if to say something*

    Me: “Where’re you from?”

    Man: “Uh, uh, uh, uh… CANADA!”

    (Embarrassed, he and his friend dash out of the store.)

    Me: *to the employee in Mandarin* “They were just screwing with you. There’s only one thing you need to know in English if something like that ever happens again: you tell them:” *in English* “F*** off!”

    Wales Is A Country Too

    | San Antonio, TX, USA | Language & Words, Pets & Animals

    (The marine park where I work features a show starring beluga whales.)

    Guest: *runs up* “I need to find Belgium stadium!”

    Me: “I would be happy to help… what are you looking for again?”


    Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t have a Belgium stadium. Belgium is a country in Europe.”

    Guest: “But I need to find Belgium Stadium! The show is about to start!”

    Me: *dawns on me* “Oh, do you mean Beluga Stadium? Like the big white whales?”

    Guest: “What the heck is a beluga? I want to see Belgiums!”

    Me: *gives up* “Right this way, sir…”

    Shogun The Way To Go Home, Part 2

    | Tokyo, Japan | Awesome Customers, Bigotry, Language & Words, Top, Tourists/Travel

    (I grew up in Japan and am bilingual, even though I am Australian by birth. I am showing some Australian friends around Tokyo.)

    American customer: *to the station attendant, in English* “Hey, I need to get to Akihabara station. How do I do that?”

    Station attendant: *in Japanese* “Sorry, I do not speak English. Could you point it out?”

    (As the station attendant speaks, he has a big map of the subway system and his gestures make it VERY obvious what he wants the customer to do.)

    American customer: *in English* “Are you deaf?! I need to get to Akihabara station!”

    Station attendant: *in Japanese, while gesturing at the map emphatically* “I don’t know English, sorry. Please point where you are going.”

    American customer: *in English* “Stupid Asians. Just tell me how to get there!”

    (I intervene at this point, as I feel sorry for the poor station worker.)

    Me: *in Japanese* “He wants to get to Akihabara station. I know the way; I’ll explain it to him.”

    (I explain, in English, how to get to the station, and tell him the station attendant was trying but he doesn’t speak English.)

    American customer: *to me, in English* “These stupid Japs should learn English. Why couldn’t he tell me that?”

    Me: “When Asians visit your country, you expect them to speak English, right? So it’s only fair when you come here you try to use their language. Plus, he was trying to help you if you had just pointed it out on the map.”

    American customer: “Everyone should know English!”

    (He storms off without apologizing, or thanking me or the station worker.)

    Station attendant: *to me, in Japanese* “Thank you so much for helping. I didn’t know what to do.”

    Me: “Don’t worry about it. He was just being rude. I feel like I should be apologizing for his behaviour on behalf of all foreigners.”

    Station attendant: “Oh, don’t worry, we get much worse. Then there are people like you who help convince me you’re not all bad. Thanks again!”

    Shogun The Way To Go Home

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