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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!

    So Pho, So Crazy

    | London, UK | At The Checkout, Bigotry, History, Language & Words, Top

    (I am working the tills at a supermarket. I am of Vietnamese descent but was born in London. An older gentleman comes through my till.)

    Customer: *practically shouting* “Ni-Hao!”

    Me: “Hello to you to sir, but that’s Chinese. I am actually Vietnamese.”

    (I point to my name tag which in our shop goes by family name instead of first name. Mine is the very common ‘Nguyen’.)

    Customer: “Don’t lie!”

    Me: “I assure you sure I am Vietnamese.”

    Customer: “There aren’t any Vietnamese people left!”

    Me: “Pardon?”

    Customer: “Yeah, the Americans killed them all back in the seventies or something.”

    Me: “I think you may have your history confused. I assure you there is still a Vietnam and it is full of Vietnamese people.”

    Customer: “Well I don’t know how you managed to escape but I wouldn’t say it so loudly. There might be Americans around looking for survivors.”

    Me: *as I ring up his last item* “Probably a good idea. That will be £10.34 please.”

    Customer: *as he pays* “Wouldn’t want a young lad like you getting caught!”

    (The customer heads towards the exit, but unfortunately notices the security guard who also happens to be my brother. He is 6ft tall and a body-builder and I dread what might happen.)

    Customer: “Ni-Hao!”

    Brother: “Actually I’m Vietnamese.”

    Customer: “Another one?! But the Americans wiped you all out!”

    Brother: *standing to full height* “I think you might want to just keep on walking.”

    Customer: “How dare you talk to me like that?! I’m going to call the Americans, and then they’ll come down here and shoot you!”

    Accentuating The Problem

    | Bend, OR, USA | Language & Words

    (My entire family emigrated from the UK a few years ago. My father and I got together for coffee over the weekend and another customer heard us speaking. In the UK cigarettes are called ‘fags’.)

    Father: “How’s kicking the habit going, alright then?”

    Me: “Well, mostly, been a few months, but I still have days where I’m just gagging for a fag.”

    Customer: “Excuse me! What did you just say?”

    Me: (I adopt my American accent.) “I’m sorry, ma’am, its a really long story. I just meant to say that I do still have cigarette cravings every now and again.”

    Customer: “Wait, what just happened to your voice?”

    Me: “Again, long story, but I can change my accent as needed.”

    Customer: “I’m calling the cops! You’re one of those terrorists! You’re going to blow this place up!”

    (At this point, she’s dialing her phone, screaming at fellow patrons to get out, screaming at the management to subdue me, on and on.)

    Manager: “What seems to be the problem here?”

    Customer: “He’s a terrorist. He has an accent!”

    Manager: “I’m not sure I understand.”

    Customer: “Just talk to him, you’ll understand.”

    Manager: “You have an accent?”

    (At this point, I go back to my native accent.)

    Me: “Well, yes, actually, I was born in Manchester.”

    Manager: *in a perfect Liverpudlian accent* “Bloody Manc! Ma’am please calm down, he’s not a terrorist.”

    Customer: “More of you!” *runs out of the store*

    Customers Should Watch Their Language

    | Buenos Aires, Argentina | Language & Words, Technology, Top

    (I work in tech support for a major US cable company, and sometimes we have to deal with people who just don’t want to talk to you because you’re foreign.)

    Customer: “You know what? I can’t understand a word you’re saying. You have an accent. Can I be transferred to someone who speaks English?”

    Me: “I’m pretty sure I’m speaking English right now, sir.”

    Customer: “Yeah, but I can’t understand you because of your accent.”

    Me: “So, basically you’re saying you want me to transfer you to someone else.”

    Customer: “Yes.”

    Me: “Because I have an accent.”

    Customer: “That’s right.”

    Me: “And you can’t understand what I’m saying.”

    Customer: “Exactly.”

    Me: “So how come you were able to understand what I just said?”

    *a few seconds of silence*

    Customer: “Don’t be an a**-hole and just transfer me!”

    Not The Only Thing In Need Of Maintenance

    , | Saskatchewan, Canada | Food & Drink, Language & Words, Top

    (We’re closed for maintenance, and have shut off all the exterior lights, including those in drive-thru. We also put a sign on the drive-thru menu stating we’re closed. A car pulls into drive-thru, and I put on a headset. All of this takes places via drive-thru speaker.)

    Me: “Hi, I’m sorry, but we’re currently closed for maintenance. Our other location down the street will be happy to serve you.”

    Customer: “Hey, we just need a minute. Your lights are off, and it’s hard to see the menu.”

    Me: “Sorry, I said we’re closed for maintenance. That’s why the lights are off.”

    Customer: “Okay, we’re ready.”

    Me: “Sorry, I said we’re closed. Our other store just a few blocks down the street will be happy to help.”

    (The customer says their order.)

    Customer: “Hello? Did you get that?”

    Me: *gives up* “Welcome to [restaurant]. Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed due to the store being closed for maintenance. For service in English, please press one.” *switches to French* “Pour service en Francais, poussez le deux.” *switches to Spanish* “Para el servicio en Español, presione por favor el numero tres.”

    (Faint laughter as the rest of the car’s passengers start laughing.)

    Customer: “Uh…” *whispers* “What do I do?” *laughter from other passengers* “Uh… one?”

    Me: “Thank you for calling [restaurant]. Our hours of operation are 7 am to 3 am, except today, because we are closed… due… to… maintenance. Please leave a message after the beep. BEEP!”

    (Squeal of tires as the car peels away, the rest of the passengers killing themselves laughing.)

    Best Not Order The French Fries

    | Tennessee, USA | Food & Drink, Language & Words

    (I come in on my day off to get my paycheck. My boss asks me to help with a table of two people who are speaking mostly French before I go. When I am done another customer calls me over.)

    Customer: “Excuse me, don’t you work here?”

    Me: “Yes, sir, I do. It’s just my day off today. Would you like me to get your server?”

    Customer: “What were you just talking in? It was some kind of foreign talk. At that other table there?”

    Me: “Oh, I speak a little bit of French, so I was helping the server.”

    Customer: “You can do that?”

    Me: “Do what, sir?”

    Customer: “You can speak French in here? Isn’t that illegal?!”

    Me: “To speak French?”

    Customer: “Yeah! I mean, this is a Mexican restaurant. You could get shot for speaking in French! Or even just thinking about talking in French!”

    Me: “Well–”

    Customer: “Shot!”

    Me: “I don’t think–”

    Customer: “Shot!”

    Me: “Sir–”

    Customer: “SHOT I SAID!”

    Boss: “It’s okay. She was thinking about the words in Spanish.”

    Customer: “Oh good.” *whispers to me* “Don’t ever try to talk in British in here. It won’t end well.”

    (My boss made a gun out of paperclips and attached them to all of my paychecks after that.)


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