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    A Burning Question

    | Missoula, MT, USA |

    (Our restaurant is having work done to the roof. A construction worker accidentally sets the insulation on fire, pouring smoke into the building. As the fire trucks are fighting the fire, a lady pulls up in a car.)

    Customer: “Do you sell gift certificates?”

    Me: “Why yes, but I can’t sell you any right now.”

    Customer: “Why not?”

    Me: *points at the fire and the firemen* “The store is currently on fire.”

    Customer: “Can’t you just run in and grab some for me?”

    Cost In The Translation, Part 2

    | Cambridge, UK |

    Customer: “This food is terrible. I want a refund!”

    (Turns to her daughter and starts speaking in Spanish.)

    Customer: “The food was amazing, actually!”

    Me: *also in Spanish* “I’ll send my compliments to the chef, then.”

    Cost In The Translation

    Fishing For The Truth

    | New Orleans, LA, USA |

    (A tourist couple comes in at lunchtime. The woman orders crawfish bisque, a rich dish served with stuffed crawfish. I bring the food to their table, but she lets out a scream, pointing frantically at her plate.)

    Customer: “What’s that!”

    Me: “It’s crawfish, ma’am. It’s what you ordered.”

    Customer: “That’s not a fish, that’s a bug! Get it away from me, that’s horrible!”

    Me: “Ma’am, I promise you, that’s a crawfish. They’re not actually fish, they’re like little lobsters. Would you like me to show you how to break one open?”

    Customer: “Do you think I’m stupid? I know what a fish looks like! I’m calling the Health Department!”

    (She asks the manager for a phone book and uses the restaurant phone. The manager asks me to pick up the extension so I can help explain the situation.)

    Customer: “I am at [restaurant] and they just served me food with giant bugs in it!”

    Health Officer: “What did you order?”

    Me: *on the extension* “This is the waitress. She ordered Crawfish Bisque.”

    Health Officer: “Ma’am, what kind of bugs are in your food? Roaches?”

    Customer: “No, they’re not roaches, they’re huge! And there’s a whole bunch of them!”

    Me: “I tried to show her how to open the shell, but I think she got confused and was expecting crawfish to be regular…you know…fish.”

    Health Officer: “Ma’am, are these giant bugs on top of a plate full of rice and sauce?”

    Customer: “Yes!”

    Health Officer: “Do they have a dark red shell?”

    Customer: “Yes!”

    Health Officer: “Ma’am, you’re supposed to eat those!”

    Customer: *drops the phone and runs out of the restaurant*

    Random Encounters

    | Bay Area, CA, USA | Top

    (A girl orders a cheeseburger and fries.)

    Me: “All right, you want that for here or to go?”

    (There is a long pause as she very loudly ‘hmms’ and ‘haws’ about this question, until finally:)

    Customer: “…sweatshirts.”

    Cereal Alcoholic

    | Manitoba, Canada |

    (It is 9 AM. I am serving a mother and her young son.)

    Me: “Can I get you anything to drink while you’re looking at the menus?”

    Mom: “What’s in a Roy Rogers?”

    Me: “Grenadine and coke.”

    Son: “I want that!”

    Mom: “No, you can’t have coke for breakfast!” *to me* “Can you make it with sprite instead?”

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