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!

Third Floor Time Lucky

| China | Language & Words

(I work at the information desk on the second floor of a museum of paleontology. It should be noted that while I am a foreigner, I speak decent Chinese and have been told that I speak very clearly.)

Visitor: “Hello! Is there anything on the third floor?”

Me: “The third floor is mammals.”

Visitor: “But is there anything on the third floor?”

Me: “Yes, it has mammals.”

Visitor: “But does the third floor have anything?”

Me: “Yes.”

Visitor: “Okay!” *walks upstairs*

This Spells Trouble

| USA | Funny Names, Language & Words

(This story happened a few decades ago, before different spellings became more common. My father only had a few names he was unsure of the spelling, one of those names being Elise (Elyse, Aleece, etc.).)

Customer: *finishing conversation* “And this is for Elise, [Last Name].”

My Dad: “All right, and how do you spell that?”

Customer: *huffing loudly* “The right way, of course!”

My Dad: “Well, to be sure I’ve got it right; can you spell it for me?”

Customer: “Argh! A-L-I-C-E, of course!” *hangs up*

China White

| CA, USA | Language & Words

(I work at an optometry near the division of the primarily Indian and Chinese areas of the city. Everyone in the office is able to at least speak Mandarin Chinese. An older Chinese patient enters.)

Me: “Hello, nihao.”

Patient: *in Mandarin* “Do you speak Mandarin?”

Me: *in Mandarin* “I speak it, yes. Do you have any problems that I can help you with?”

Patient: *in Mandarin* “Do you understand? You understand Chinese?”

Me: *in Mandarin* “I understand it. Do you have anything I can help with?”

Patient: *takes out a broken pair of glasses, points at the hinge and gives it to me*

Me: *in Mandarin* “Give me three minutes.”

(Later, after I fix the hinge and give it back to the patient, her daughter comes in and as they’re about to leave.)

Patient: *to daughter in Mandarin* “Why did they hire a white boy? He doesn’t understand Chinese.”

It’s Not Too Late To Say Sorry

| USA | Language & Words

(A customer walks in with her dog.)

Me: “Hi! Who do you have with you?”

Customer: “Sorry?”

Me: “Who do you have with you?”

Customer: “Sorry?”

Me: “What’s your dog’s name?”

Customer: “Sorry?”

Me: “Do you have an appointment?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Who is the appointment for?”

Customer: *visibly agitated* “Sorry?”

Me: *equally annoyed* “Who is-”

Me: *checking the book and suddenly realizing there is a dog scheduled named “Suri”*

Getting A Bad Reading

Australia | Bad Behavior, Language & Words

(In my store, it’s part of our job to greet every customer and tell them about all of our current promotions, even though there’s usually signs all over the store.)

Me: “Hi there! How are you going? Just letting you know while you’re browsing that we have got a 2 for $20 sa—”

Customer: “I know! I can read, thanks!” *walks away from me*

(I shrug and walk off; people like that are better off left alone. No less than five minutes later…)

Customer: *shoves a necklace in my face* “How much is this?”

Me: “All of our prices are clearly marked on the label… so you can read right here that it is $16.99.”

Customer: *continues to ask me the prices of about five other items, all of which are clearly marked*

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