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    Indecisively Incognito

    | Gainesville, Florida, USA |

    (I am calling a customer, we’ll call him John Smith, to get feedback on a service he registered with. It’s required that they verify their name.)

    Me: “Hello, I’m calling from [organization]. May I speak to John Smith?”

    Customer: “Yeah, who’s calling?”

    Me: “This is [my name]. I’m calling because you recently signed up for one of our services and we’re gathering feedback. Is this a good time to talk?”

    Customer: “Oh, uh…John isn’t here right now.”

    Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. I’d be happy to call back. When’s a good time?”

    Customer: “I don’t know. What’s this about?”

    Me: “We’re just trying to improve our programs and services. It’s optional, but we’d like to get as much feedback from our customers as possible.”

    Customer: “Okay, go ahead.”

    Me: “I do need to speak to Mr. Smith, though. When will he be available?”

    Customer: “He’s available now.”

    Me: “Oh, may I speak to him then?”

    Customer: “You are speaking to him.”

    Me: “Oh.” *laughing* “You got me. Why didn’t you say this was John Smith at first?”

    Customer: “I didn’t know who you were.”

    Me: “I see. Okay, shall we begin then? I just have a few questions. So to begin, what is your first name?”

    Customer: “No, I don’t give out my name over the phone.”

    Me: “Don’t worry, it doesn’t get attached to your answers, it’s just to confirm–”

    Customer: “You don’t have my name. I’m not giving you my name.”

    Me: “Well, Mr. Smith, I already have your name, but I don’t do anything with it except to have something to call you by–”

    Customer: “This isn’t Mr. Smith.”

    Me: “It’s not? But you said–”

    Customer: “You asked if you were speaking to John Smith, and I said yes. But I’m not telling you who I am. C’mon, I wanna do the survey.”

    Me: “I have to do it with the customer, though. If Mr. Smith is available later, though–”

    Customer: “No, he’s available! I’m available!”

    Me: “So this is John Smith? Again, I can assure you that your feedback is anonymous.”

    Customer: “I don’t give out any information over the phone. I don’t know who you are.”

    (Thinking that maybe the lines have crossed, I ask to verify the phone number to be sure this is actually the customer’s number.)

    Customer: “Maybe that’s the number you called, maybe not. I’ll answer your questions though. And also…”

    (He begins rattling off suggestions for improving our services.)

    Me: “If I can’t verify that I called the right person at the right number, I can’t take down any of this. I’m sorry.”

    Customer: “But I’m who you’re looking for!”

    Me: “So, you’re John Smith?”

    Customer: “Maybe! Let’s do the survey.”

    Me: “Okay, I’m sorry, sir, but there’s nothing I can do if you can’t verify your identity. Have a good evening.”

    Customer: “Wait! I’ll do the survey!”

    DWC: Driving While Caffeinated

    | Aberdeen, UK | Food & Drink

    (I work in a restaurant. This conversation takes place when I am clearing plates away from a couple’s table.)

    Me: “Would you like any tea or coffee?”

    Customer: “Yes, please, I’ll have a latte.”

    Me: “No problem.” *turning to customer’s husband* “Would you like any tea or coffee?”

    Husband: “No coffee for me, thanks. I’m driving.”

    Me: *blank look*

    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation, Part 4

    | Wisconsin, USA | Top

    Customer: “I want books on gynecology.”

    Me: “Okay. This way, please…”

    (I start to take her to the health section.)

    Customer: “Yeah, I really want to learn about my ancestors.”

    Me: *quickly change course to the genealogy section*

    Related:
    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation, Part 3
    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation, Part 2
    The Horrors Of Mispronunciation

    A War Unwon

    | Sacramento, CA, USA | Bigotry, Military, Top

    (I am on leave and meeting an old friend in a restaurant inside a mall. Since I don’t know the area, I get there early and decide to window-shop beforehand. An old guy in his 80s approaches me.)

    Customer: “I remember the good days when I didn’t have to see many of you orientals. Now, you’re everywhere stealing our jobs. All you do is get in the way and take from my great country.”

    Me: “Sir, I’m a Marine. I’ve been in Afghanistan on multiple tours for the last three years. I serve OUR great country.”

    Customer: “Oh! That’s good. Better you than losing some American boys.”

    (I think about how the Marines trained me to survive everything an enemy can throw at us, but not how to listen to an old racist white man.)

    A Dogged Sense Of Humor

    | Cochrane, Alberta, Canada | At The Checkout

    (A customer comes to me with two giant bags of dog food. I ring them through.)

    Customer: “You must think I have a bunch of dogs huh?”

    Me: “Um, yeah. Sure.”

    Customer: “Nope! The in-laws are in town!”


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