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    Acting Cuckoo

    , | Scotland, UK | Food & Drink, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

    (Our hotel is in a pretty popular tourist area and we frequently get customers who struggle with English, especially with the bar food menu. My colleagues have already had some trouble making themselves understood when I go over to take one table’s order.)

    Me: “Hi, would you like to order some food?”

    Customer: “Yes, we would like food please.”

    (There is a long awkward pause, until I realise they are not going to order on their own.)

    Me: “So… what food would you like?”

    Customer: “Oh! I would like this. This is steak, yes?”

    (The customer is pointing to lamb shank on the menu.)

    Me: “Oh, no, that’s lamb. Lamb shank, it’s like a small leg. We have a steak just here, if you like?”

    (The customer remains pointing at the lamb shank.)

    Customer: “So this… this is steak?”

    Me: “No, no, this is steak…” *I point* “…and that is lamb.”

    Customer: “So this… what animal?”

    Me: “Pardon?”

    Customer: “What animal this?”

    Me: “Oh! Sorry! That’s lamb. Uh, sheep.”

    Customer: “Sheep?”

    Me: “Yes, sheep. Erm…”

    Customer:Maaaaaaaa?”

    (I am puzzled for a second, and then realise he is making a sheep noise!)

    Me: “Yes, baaaaa!”

    Customer: “Oh! Yes! And this?”

    (The customer points to the steak.)

    Me: “Steak. Cow.”

    Customer:Moooo?”

    Me: “Yes, mooooo!”

    (The customer points to each successive meat dish in turn, and eventually I begin to make the animal noises before he does, to save time. I manage to keep a straight face, because I don’t want him to feel patronised, but his impressions are very funny.)

    Customer: “And this?”

    (The customer points at the last menu item, which is a venison dish.)

    Customer: “What animal, this?”

    Me: “That’s venison, which means deer.”

    Customer: “Deer? What is deer?”

    Me: “Erm…”

    (I stop dead as I realise that I haven’t the faintest idea what noise a deer makes, and am certainly not capable of reproducing it.)

    Me: “It’s… ah… deer… well, it’s… stag. You know, stag?”

    (In desperation, I hold my hands above my head in the shape of antlers. The man looks puzzled for a moment, then seemingly has an epiphany.)

    Customer: “Ah! STAG! Stag…”

    (The customer looks questioningly at his wife, and then at me, seemingly without getting the help he needs.)

    Customer: “I… like… stag?”

    (The customer did end up getting the venison dish, and was very pleased with it. His wife had ‘chicken cluck cluck’ and was likewise satisfied.)

    A Perfectly Natural Request

    | Scotland, UK | Crazy Requests, Hotels & Lodging

    (I’m an off duty, live-in receptionist who has been called back to work because of a guest complaint that no one seems to know how to deal with. I phone up to the guest’s room.)

    Me: “Hello, sir, I understand you have a complaint about your room. What seems to be the problem?”

    Guest: “Yes, it’s raining too loudly outside, and I can’t fall asleep!”

    Tip Top Service

    , | Scotland, UK | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Money, Technology

    (Our card readers are set up to offer an option to add a tip to the total. This isn’t typical for card readers in our location, and it gives some customers a lot of problems, especially if they need reading glasses or don’t look at the screen.)

    Me: “Okay, sir, I just need to you to follow the instructions on the card reader now while it asks a few questions. The green button is yes, and the yellow button is no.”

    Customer: “Fine, fine, okay.”

    Me: “So, first it just asks if that’s the correct total, then it’ll give an option to add a tip if you’d like. Just press the yellow button if you’d prefer to skip it.”

    (I don’t usually spell it out quite this much, but I have the feeling that this man isn’t really listening.)

    Customer: “Yeah, fine, fine.”

    (The customer presses the buttons worryingly fast, then swears.)

    Customer: “Hey, why is it asking for my PIN again? I just entered that! Stupid machine.”

    Me: “Oh dear, I’m sorry but I think you may have entered your PIN as a tip. I’d better cancel the transaction to make sure it—”

    Customer: “No, no, it’s fine. I didn’t put in a tip.”

    Me: “Are you sure you definitely pressed ‘no’? The only way it’d ask for your PIN again is if the first time was the tip prompt, not the PIN prompt. It’s easily done. It’s happened before—”

    Customer: “Are you calling me stupid? Are you trying to suggest I can’t follow simple instructions? I’m a high-level manager at [Department Store Chain]. Do you think I can’t work a simple machine?”

    Me: “Really sir, I think it would be safer if I redo the transaction just in case.”

    (The customer sighs theatrically.)

    Customer: “Fine, then, just to prove to you that I’m not a moron.”

    (I cancel the transaction and the receipts print out. I see a tip had been added, and I only have to glance at the first digit to see that it could not have been intentional. I quickly hand the receipt over to protect the customer’s PIN privacy, without looking at the full number.)

    Me: “Here’s the cancellation receipts, sir, and I’m giving you both copies so that you can keep your PIN private.”

    (The customer takes the receipts and his eyes go wide. He seems to swell up, and for a moment I think he’s going to start screaming at me, before he suddenly deflates.)

    Customer: “Oh god, I’m so sorry. Thank you, you just saved me from a serious talking-to by accounts.”

    Me: “I’m sure your credit card company wouldn’t have authorised it anyway, sir, so it would’ve been fine. As I said, don’t worry. It’s happened before.”

    Customer: “No, you don’t understand. This company card has a £15,000 credit limit.”

    (I’m still not sure if the credit card would have authorised that size of transaction, but we still joke about the ’1000 per cent tip.’ Just for comparison, that first digit was a 6…)

    Totally Bugging Out

    | VA, USA | Crazy Requests, Hotels & Lodging, Pets & Animals

    (It is a hot and buggy day, and a guest enters with her friend. They are talking loudly, and make a beeline for the elevators. With their backs turned to me, I see a large spider hanging on the back of the guest. The guest is oblivious because she keeps talking to her friend, who doesn’t notice.)

    Me: “Excuse me! Excuse me, ma’am!”

    (The guest ignores me and disappears in the elevator.)

    (I don’t think anything of it until a few minutes later; I get a call from her room.)

    Me: “Hello, guest services. How may I help you?”

    Guest: “Yes, you can help me by giving me a refund RIGHT NOW!”

    Me: “What’s the problem, ma’am?”

    Guest: “I’ll tell you what’s the problem! I didn’t pay $200 for a room that has BUGS! I just came back and laid down and then found a BUG on my pillow!”

    Me: “Oh, I’m very sorry about that, ma’am.”

    Guest: “You better be! This is outrageous! You all are THEIVES!”

    Me: “Well, I’ll just send the manager up to help you.”

    Guest: “Fine! I’m not lying!”

    (I send the manager up and he comes back later to say that there was a spider on the guest’s pillow. He described it and sure enough, it was the exact same spider the guest had brought in with her from outside. It had crawled into her hair, and got smashed on her pillow! The manager explained this to her, but the guest didn’t believe it, and called us all liars and con artists.)

    The Bill Of Wrongs

    | VA, USA | At The Checkout, Bizarre, Hotels & Lodging, Theme Of The Month

    Me: “Hello, may I help you?”

    Customer: “Yes, this receipt.”

    Me: “Was there something wrong with the charges?”

    Customer: “No, they’re fine, I just don’t… like it.”

    Me: “What don’t you like about it?”

    Customer: “Well, for instance, the total should be on the top, not the bottom. And my name should be on the bottom, not the top. See? And the font should be prettier.”

    Me: “So what you’re saying is you don’t like the format of our receipt?”

    Customer: “Exactly!”

    Me: “I’m sorry, but to change the format of our receipt would mean that we have change our computer’s automatic program.”

    Customer: “Well DO it then!”

    Me: “That would take hours.”

    Customer: “Well I don’t HAVE hours! I have a plane to catch!”

    Me: “I’ll get the manager.”

    (I get the manager and he explains exactly what I said to the woman, who gets more and more irritated by the second.)

    Customer: “Fine! I thought you gave good service here; I guess I was wrong! Hmph!”

    (The customer takes her bill and storms off in a huff. Later, we get a survey back taken from her, giving us poor reviews on our service. I have gotten a lot of crazy requests before, but never that!)

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