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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!

    Pales In Comparison To Wales

    | Wales, UK | Geography, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

    (I work in a tourist information centre in a Welsh town. As well as its regular Welsh town name, the town has an anglicised version since it is a popular seaside destination for a large swathe of people from central England. The anglicised name sounds similar to another popular seaside resort that actually IS in England, but it’s a good 350+ miles away from us.)

    Me: “Bore da, Canolfan Groeso [Welsh town]. Sut gallai helpu chi? Good morning, tourist information [Anglicised name of Welsh town]. How may I help you?”

    Caller: “Yeah. I want sailing times for the ferries to the [island near the English town].”

    Me: “I’m afraid I don’t have that information to hand, sir. I can either give you the phone number for [English Town]‘s tourist services or I can pop you on hold whilst I look it up.”

    Caller: “But people sail from [town not far from English town] all the time. Why haven’t you got it to hand? I could look it up on the Internet myself!”

    Me: “We are [Welsh town], 350+ miles from [English town]. We tend to only provide information for [Welsh town] and the surrounding county.”

    Caller: “I don’t understand.”

    Me: “You’ve called Wales, sir. The services you want are in England.”

    Caller: “Wales?”

    Me: “Yep, Wales.”

    Caller: “So you’re not [English town]?”

    Me: “Nope, we’re [Welsh town].”

    Caller: “Well, what’s the point of that? Why would you do that?”

    Me: “Erm, I’m really sorry but I don’t follow?”

    Caller: “Why would you be in Wales?”

    Driving A Hard Bargain

    | Chennai, India | Hotels & Lodging, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

    (I am standing in line at the travel desk of a very nice hotel in Chennai. Just ahead of me is a guest with an accent from somewhere in Britain, but I cannot place it. He is being very abusive toward the young man at the desk.)

    Guest: “I’m not paying your rates for a car. I’m going to hire an auto outside the hotel. You people are thieves”

    Desk Clerk: “Certainly, sir, but how may I help you?”

    Guest: “Write this address down. Write it down in Hindi. I’ll hand it to a driver. I’m not paying you.”

    Desk Clerk: “Yes, sir.”

    (I watch him write down the address from English to Hindi.)

    Me: “I must compliment you. He was very rude and you handled it well.”

    Desk Clerk: “Just doing my job, sir Thank you.”

    Me: “You did just what he asked…”

    Desk Clerk: *looks up smiling slightly*

    Me:“You wrote it down in Hindi. The local language is Tamil… and what are his chances of finding a literate ‘auto’ driver out there, anyway?”

    Desk Clerk: *smiling broadly* “You have been here before, sir!”

    Diolch yn fawr Very Much, Part Dau

    | Deiniolen, Wales, UK | At The Checkout, Language & Words

    (I am on about my third shift as a new employee at a petrol station. I am currently the only day-staff member who speaks Welsh, and many customers, it seems, have never met the store’s Welsh-speaking night staff. As I live and work in a very Welsh-speaking area, my ability to use the language seems to be something of a novelty for the regular customers).

    Customer: *in Welsh* “So nice to have a true Welsh-speaking Welshwoman on the staff here, even if you’re not local.”

    Me: *in Welsh* “Well, thank you for the compliment. There are actually two ‘true Welsh-speaking Welsh’ staff members, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them!”

    Customer: *in Welsh* “Sure you are. I mean it’s obvious you’ve come up from, like, [Mid Wales Town] or somewhere to study at [Nearby University], as your manner of speaking is a bit more polite than us lot. We do like to yell at each other, you know.”

    Me: *in Welsh* “Well, you’re right about me studying at [Nearby University], but I’m actually from [Southern England town]. I’m polite because I am working in a shop and I’ve been trained to always treat customers with care and respect.”

    Customer: *in English* “No f****** way! You can’t be English. Your Welsh is too good!”

    Me: *in Welsh* “I assure you, I am English. I’ve had 3.5 years of Welsh lessons, and plenty of friends who’ve encouraged me to practice the language so that I’m comfortable using it in a work situation. I am flattered that you felt my Welsh was good enough to count me amongst born-and-bred Welsh speakers, though.”

    Customer: *in English* “So you could understand everything I was saying to you just now?”

    Me: *in Welsh* “Well, weren’t you of the impression I was from [Mid-Wales Town]? We sustained a conversation in Welsh.”

    Customer: *in English* “I just can’t get my head around being able to talk in Welsh to an English person. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to talk to you in English. I can’t deal with talking to you in Welsh. It’s too much.”

    Me: *in Welsh* “Whatever makes you more comfortable. Would you prefer it if I also switched to English?”

    Customer: *in English* “Oh God, no! It’s about time you lot learned our bloody language!”

    Related:
    Diolch yn fawr Very Much

    Only Your Pen Required

    | IL, USA | Funny Names, Language & Words, Rude & Risque, Theme Of The Month

    (I work in an office where I assist clients with their paperwork. I am helping a male customer complete some forms.)

    Me: “All right. Now, we just need you to sign this form at the bottom here, and we’re done.”

    Customer: “What was that?”

    Me: *trying to be friendly* “Just sign here, please. We need your John Hancock.”

    Customer: “John Hancock?”

    Me: “Uh, yes. You know, your signature? Like the guy who signed the Constitution.”

    Customer: “Oh! You want me to sign it. Okay! You know, the first time someone asked me for my John Hancock, I thought they were talking about my…” *he gestures to his groin*

    Me: *quickly* “Oh… oh! No, no, sir! We just need your signature and that’s all!”

    Customer: *laughing* “Yeah, I was pretty confused!”

    Me: *quickly wrapping up his paperwork and not wanting to hear how that story ended* “Yes, sir. Well, you’re all done here. Have a great day!”

    Requires Protection From Customers

    | Watseka, IL, USA | Language & Words, Rude & Risque, Theme Of The Month

    (The store has just opened, and the first customer in the store is a very elderly gentleman in an electric wheelchair. He approaches me in the hardware department.)

    Me: “Good morning, sir. Can I help you find anything?”

    Customer: *after long pause* “… I need screws.”

    Me: “Okay, the screws are right here behind me. What size do you need?”

    Customer: *points* “Hand me that box.”

    (I hand him the box, and he opens it and removes one screw.)

    Customer: “Now… I need protection for my screw. Where would I get that?”

    Me: “Well, the nuts and washers are all right here.”

    Customer: “No…” *doing air quotes with his fingers* “‘PROTECTION,’ for my ‘SCREWS.’”

    Me: “I don’t follow you, sir…”

    Customer: *talking under his breath* “… rubbers.”

    Me: “Rubbers?”

    Customer: *yelling* “CONDOMS, OK?! I NEED CONDOMS!”

    Me: “Sir, this is a farm supply store… We don’t sell those.”

    Customer: “Oh, okay.” *hands me back the screws* “Put these back, I don’t need them.”

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