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Translation Kollaboration

| NY, USA | Language & Words, School

(Campus security has stopped a lost visitor, and is trying to work out where he wants to go. The visitor speaks very poor English, but the officer is trying his best.)

Visitor: “I want go, skink labatree.”

Security: “You wanna go where?”

Visitor: “A skink labatree.”

Security: “Oh, that’s, like, a little lizard. Reptile lab? Lizards? Snakes?”

Visitor: “No, no, a skink labatree. Kell skinky.”

Security: “Kill? Like, animal disposal?”

Visitor: “No, no! I want call my daughter, but…”

(The visitor holds up a cell phone.)

Visitor: “No battery!”

Security: “Ahh, okay. Wanna try mine?”

(Security offers the visitor his phone.)

Visitor: “No, no, I don’t know she kell. No battery my kell.”

Security: “Hold up a sec.”

(Security points to his cell phone.)

Visitor: “Kell phone, no battery!”

Security: “Kell laboratory?”

Visitor: “Kell labatree!”

Security: *scribbling on a piece of paper* “Skink?”

Visitor: *overjoyed* “Yes! Skink labatree!”

Security: “Okay, let’s go!”

(On the paper: “SCIENCE.” I later learned that the visitor had taught himself English almost entirely by reading, and assumed all ‘C’s were hard ‘K’s.)

Suffering Some Confucian About Where He Is

| Beijing, China | Extra Stupid, Theme Of The Month, Tourists/Travel

(My coworker is a tour guide for American groups in Beijing.)

Tourist: “Is there a Chinatown here?”

Coworker: “…I’m sorry?”

Tourist: “Well, most major cities have a Chinatown. I just wanted to see if I could visit the one in this city.”

Coworker: “You do know what country you’re in right?”

On A Roll About The Roll

| USA | At The Checkout, Crazy Requests, Money

(My boyfriend and I are at our regular grocery store. We always get in this particular cashier’s line when she’s working because we connect on a “we both work with customers daily and it’s awful” level. The customer ahead of us is giving her a hard time.)

Customer: “This should only be $1.50!”

Cashier: “It’s ringing up as $2.00. You may have picked up the wrong item.”

Customer: “No! This is on special! It said it was on sale.”

Cashier: “Hold on please; I’ll check with the bakery.”

(The customer pouts as the cashier calls on the phone nearby. We only hear her half of the conversation. She gives an item number and describes the item.)

Cashier: “There is a special on this item, but not in this packaging. This has six rolls in it; the one on sale has four. It’s not even a big difference; you’re paying 50 cents more for two more rolls.”

Customer: “That’s not right!”

Cashier: “I just called the bakery. I just checked. You can put this back and get the one on sale or you can get this one.”

Customer: “Okay. Okay, just this, okay, fine, fine, fine.”

(The cashier finishes with the customer. The customer walks away.)

My Boyfriend: *grins* “Just another day, huh?”

Cashier: “Seriously. 50 cents for two more rolls. Oh, hey look. She’s going over to customer service.”

(We all look over as she brings up her receipt and more or less yells at the representative. She points over to our cashier and we watch the representative get on a phone.)

Cashier: “Great, looks like she’ll be getting that discount. The manager always caves in to these people.”

(My boyfriend and I simultaneously groan.)

Me: “We know how that is.”

Cashier: “I have to stop myself from yelling at these people. I tell myself, I love my job! I really do. I really… really do. Really.”