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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!

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Nic U Too

| GA, USA | Language & Words

(The customer is proofing a write-up I put together for her.)

Customer: “Change the ‘an’ to ‘a’ before ‘NICU nurse.’”

Me: “’An’ is technically correct in this context; use of a/an is determined by the vowel sound at the beginning of a word/abbreviation/acronym, not necessarily the letter itself. Since ‘NICU’ is traditionally pronounced ‘en-eye-see-you’ we would use ‘an.’ However, if we wrote out the whole thing, it would be ‘a neonatal intensive care unit.’”

Customer: “I pronounce it ‘nic-u’ so change it to ‘a.’”

Me: “…seriously?”

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My English Is Bad (Language)

| NV, USA | Language & Words

Me: “[Call Center], this is [My Name]. May I help you?”

Caller: “Is there someone who speaks Spanish?” *this is a frequent request, but one we cannot fulfill at this time*

Me: “No, I’m sorry. I do not, and neither does anyone else here in the call center.”

Caller: “F***!” *hangs up*

(At least he knew that much English!)

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You Can’t Teach An Up-Dog New Tricks

| Smokey Mountains, TN, USA | Bizarre, Language & Words

(I work in a toll booth at an amusement park collecting money for parking. My coworker sharing the booth with me has a customer and the transaction proceeds as normal until the end. I catch onto what the customer is doing and am snickering throughout the conversation.)

Customer: “Can I take a bag of up-dog into the park?”

Coworker: “Hotdogs?”

Customer: “No, up-dog.”

Coworker: “What’s that?”

Customer: “What’s what?”

Coworker: “Up-dog?”

Customer: “Yeah, up-dog.”

Coworker: “What is that?”

Customer: “It’s up-dog. ”

Coworker: “Yeah but what is it?”

Customer: “What’s what?”

Coworker: “Up-dog.”

(This repeats a few times.)

Coworker: “Huh?”

Customer: “You’re suppose to ask me what it is.”

Coworker: “Okay… What is it?”

Customer: You’re supposed to say ‘What’s up-dog.’”

(At this point I started laughing and my coworker awkwardly laughed. Defeated, the customer drove off. I then explained to her what it was he was trying to do. We shared a laugh over the poor guy’s failed attempt at ‘up-dog.’)

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Not A ‘Good Morning’ Person

| Norfolk, England, UK | Bad Behavior, Language & Words

(I am working on reception, doing 11-hour shifts to cover the Christmas break.)

Me: “Hello!”

Customer: “Good morning.”

(He hands me his membership cards.)

Me: “Are these for the gym?”

(We are a leisure centre so we have other facilities in the building, plus I don’t recognise him. We are a small centre and have our regulars.)

Customer: “Yes! And I am still waiting for you to say ‘Good Morning’ back!”

(He just glared at me and made me feel like a piece of crap. Out of nervousness, I laughed, then swiped his card, said ‘good morning,’ and took his debit card payment. He snatched the card out of my hand, grunted, and went off to the gym. I mouthed at my colleague who was standing behind him ‘what a dick!’ which made me feel better. No need for people to be like that.)

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Greek Shriek

| USA | Bad Behavior, Bigotry, Food & Drink, Language & Words

(I am 15. Like many Greek Orthodox churches, my church holds an annual Greek Festival where we sell Greek food and display Greek culture. It’s my first year working there, and my older sister has promised to help me. We are the only people working at the the dessert stand. Note: Greek is the language we speak at home, so it’s the language my sister and I communicate in.)

Sister: *in Greek* “Why don’t you take this one?” *points to approaching customer*

Me: *in English* “Hi, I’m [My Name]! How may I help you today?

Customer: “DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”

Me: “Yes, I do. What can I get for you today?”

Customer: “Good, I heard that other girl talking in that foreign muck and I was afraid you’d be too stupid to speak English too. Give me a dozen baklava.”

Me: *shocked* “Yes, ma’am. That’ll be [Price]. Just pay [Sister] after I load your box.”

(I start to load a styrofoam take-away box with baklava.)

Customer: “NO! I don’t want those. They’re too small. Give me the big pieces!”

(She points to galaktoboureko, a completely different dessert cut into bigger pieces than the baklava.)

Me: “I’m sorry, that’s galaktoboureko, a custard-based dessert, not baklava. If you’d like to try some I’d be happy to give you a sample—”

Customer: “Don’t you dare try to cheat me! I want the big pieces, you little foreign brat!”

Sister: *in Greek* “Just give her the galaktoboureko.”

Customer: “I know you’re insulting me in your language! Speak English like a normal person!”

(I nod and smile as I fill a new box up with galaktoboureko. She pays and walks away with a smug smile on her face.)

Me: *in Greek* “Do you think she’ll notice?”

(One hour later, the customer returns dragging the Festival Director behind her. She looks angry.)

Customer: “There! That’s the girl that cheated me! She gave me this squishy stuff instead of baklava! I demand my baklava and I want a refund!”

Festival Director: “[My Name], is this true? Did you give [Customer] the wrong dessert?”

Me: “Yes, but she asked for it. She said she wanted the big pieces, and I told her it was galaktoboureko and not baklava, but she accused me of cheating her, so I gave her what she wanted. Also, she called me a ‘little foreign brat.’”

Customer: “No! That’s a lie! She purposely tricked me, and the other girl insulted me in your language! You should really hire employees that are smart enough to speak English.”

Festival Director: “[Sister], did you insult her?” *in Greek* “I don’t blame you if you did.”

Customer: “YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN! STOP INSULTING ME, YOU B*****S! I WANT MY FREE BAKLAVA!”

(She throws her galaktoboureko box to the ground and starts stomping on it, then moves aggressively towards my sister.)

Festival Director: “Ma’am, I’m going to ask you to leave.”

Customer: “FINE! I’LL JUST MAKE MY OWN BAKLAVA AND IT WILL BE BETTER THAN YOUR S***!”

(She storms out and security confirms that she’s left the premises.)

Sister: *in Greek* “I swear to you nothing like that has ever happened before.”

(The next year I worked in the kitchen and I liked it much better. People still talk about “crazy baklava lady.”)

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