With Your Toast, She Is Toast

, , , , | Working | July 10, 2018

(I’m in a cafe mid-morning. My rather young waitress looks a bit odd; she’s not looking right at me, and is leaning against the table as she speaks.)

Waitress #1: “So… Hi. What would you like to drink?”

Me: “Just a coffee, black, please.”

Waitress #1: “Coffee… Yeah, coffee. I think I need a coffee, too.”

Me: “Er… Okay. Do you want my food order?”

Waitress #1: “Oh, you know what you want? Hold on…”

(She writes on her notepad, stares at it, crosses something out, writes again, rips off the top page, writes again on a fresh page, then looks back at me.)

Waitress #1: “What drink did you want?”

Me: “Coffee. Black.”

Waitress #1: “Okay. Coffee. Yeah… Sorry, I was out all night with my mates at a nightclub. I didn’t get home until six o’clock this morning. I had to come to work at eight o’clock, so I didn’t even get to sleep; I only had time to wipe off my makeup. Can you see?”

(She leans forward to me and looks up, pointing at her eyes. This close up, I can see the remains of black eye makeup smeared across her face.)

Me: “Er, yes.”

Waitress #1: “I am so tired.”

Me: “Okay… Can I order food? I’d like some beans on toast, please.”

Waitress #1: “Yeah… Beans on toast… Yeah…”

(She wanders off to the kitchen, and a few minutes later a different waitress comes over with my coffee.)

Waitress #2: “Hi. I am so sorry; your order has been misplaced. Can I take it again?”

Me: *pointing to kitchen* “Is she okay?”

(Right then, [Waitress #1] comes out of the kitchen, throws her apron to the floor, and storms out the cafe door, swearing and yelling incoherently.)

Waitress #2: “…aaand she’s fired. Finally.” *big smile* “So, welcome to [Cafe]. Your coffee is free today. What else would you like to order?”

It May Be All Greek To Me But I Understood

, , , , , | Working | July 9, 2018

(While our family is German, my sister’s fiancé is Greek and moved to Germany with his whole family due to the Greek economy crisis. They went back to their home in Greece for a month in summer and invited my sister to join them for her summer holiday. It’s also important to note that my sister’s fiancé is very white, blonde, and blue-eyed, and doesn’t look typically Greek at all but rather Scandinavian. The two of them are out shopping. My sister does not speak Greek, and relies on her fiancé to translate or just speaks English. They are currently in a small clothing store. My sister wants to try on some shoes while her fiancé has gone elsewhere.)

Sister: “Excuse me, do you have these in [size]?”

Employee: “I think we do! Give me a moment; I’ll check in the back.”

(She comes back with the shoes in the correct size and my sister tries them on, but they don’t fit very well.)

Sister: “I like how they look, but they’re too narrow at the front and loose in the back. Do you maybe have something similar in a wider cut?”

(The employee is very polite and professional, and proceeds to show her several similar pairs. However, all of them are lacking a specific detail that the other shoe had and my sister liked very much. She doesn’t know how to describe it in English, though. Just then, her fiancé shows up with a few shirts he wants to buy.)

Fiancé: *in German* “Hi, babe, how’s it going? Did you find anything?”

(He kisses her.)

Fiancé: *to employee* “Hi!”

Employee: *to fiancé* “Hello, sir. Did you find everything all right?”

Sister: *in German* “[Fiancé]! I’ve been looking for shoes with [detail], but I don’t know how to say it in English! Can you translate it for me?”

(She then explains in German what she couldn’t say in English. Her fiancé proceeds to translate it to Greek for the employee. When he starts speaking Greek, the employee’s eyes go wide and her whole demeanour changes.)

Employee: *speaks rapidly in Greek, gesticulating wildly*

Fiancé: *answers in Greek, brows furrowed*

Employee: *more gesticulating, bats her eyes at [Fiancé]*

Fiancé: *shoves his shirts into the employee’s arms, says something in Greek angrily, and puts his arm around [Sister]*

Fiancé: *in German* “Come on, honey. We’re leaving.”

(He then pulls her out of the store. The employee yells something in Greek after them. Now outside, my sister asks what happened in the store.)

Fiancé: “When the employee realized I was Greek and you couldn’t understand us, she offered to sell everything to me without tax and receipt. I refused. She then called it a ‘special discount’ and started hitting on me, right next to you. She also said some racist things about Germans being greedy and taking all our money, and that I’d be better off without you. I told her to go f*** herself and her ‘discount.’”

(He looks at my sister and laughs.)

Fiancé: “After all, I love you, and your father is a tax accountant!”

One Carrot Can Be The Straw That Breaks The Donkey’s Back

, , , , | Right | July 9, 2018

(I volunteer at a local farm, feeding animals, cleaning stables, etc. It is open for visits, and we easily get around twenty or so grandmas visiting a day with their infant grandchildren.)

Me: “Excuse me. I see you have a bag of carrots. I’m sorry, but visitors aren’t allowed to feed the animals.”

Customer: “It’s just four carrots, and you have two donkeys; it won’t make a difference.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but that’s what everyone says. If we allow that, the donkeys will overeat and that’s bad for their health.”

(She just walks off to the field where we keep the donkeys and I let her. The farmer is nearby and has already spotted her, so I continue work. About ten minutes later, she returns with one of her grandchildren crying.)

Customer: “One of your donkeys bit my grandson! You didn’t warn me that they bite!”

Me: “No, I warned you that you’re not allowed to feed them; if you went ahead and ignored me, then it’s not my fault your grandson got bitten. The wound isn’t even bleeding, so I doubt he’ll get infected with anything.”

Customer: “Well, I’m taking him to the doctor, and if he has anything, I’ll come right back and you can cough up the medical fees!”

Didn’t Make The French Connection

, , , , | Right | July 9, 2018

(I am almost done with my Masters Degree to become a French-as-Foreign-Language teacher. I have an internship in an official test center that hosts government-recognized language exam sessions. In France, the law requires that foreigners applying for some jobs, such as doctors or journalists, have to prove that they know French, as well. While most of the candidates are foreign students that need that certification to study in France, even if the actual applying person comes from a native French-speaking place, as much as we hate it they need to have one of these certifications to apply to these jobs. Most of them just shrug it off once they figure out the exam will be easy, as they are French natives, but some feel offended that they are forced to come to our place to be tested on their knowledge of their own language.)

Man: “Hey. Do I need to register here for the paper thing?”

Me: “Sure, do you have any ID? It doesn’t need to be a passport; any ID of any country is accepted.”

Man: *gives Moroccan ID*

Me: “Thank you. Now I’ll just need you to fill that registration form, and either cash or a bank check to [Treasury]. The next exam session is on [date]; be sure to be available for that session, because you can’t get a refund if you don’t show up unless you cancel it 24 hours before it starts.”

(I hand him the registration form while I go to make a copy of his ID. He starts filling out the form.)

Man: “It asks for ‘native language.’ What does that mean?”

(Hearing how fluent that man is, I am surprised by the question.)

Me: “That’s your mother tongue.”

Man: *slams hands on desk* “Dude. I’ve spoken French since I was three.”

Me: “Okay?”

Man: “Even if I grew up in Morocco, French is the only language I’ve known! WHY DOES IT ASK FOR ‘NATIVE LANGUAGE’?!”

Me: “Because the Ministry of Education registers what the mother tongue of each of our candidates is. What’s the problem with that?”

Man: *screaming at me* “I’VE ALWAYS KNOWN FRENCH! I SPEAK FRENCH ALL THE TIME! I GREW UP SPEAKING FRENCH!”

Me: “Then… write down ‘French’?”

Man: “Huh?”

Me: “Just like other candidates from eastern Canada, Togo, south Belgium, Senegal, western Switzerland, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and others. While they don’t have French nationality and might have an accent different from ours, their mother tongue is still French when they come here.”

Man: “…”

(I’m not sure if the man had a bad day, just didn’t figure out he could write “French,” or if he just wanted to hide his mother tongue, thinking it’d increase his chances for success. He went silent filling the rest of the form, and grumbled while writing the check, saying he shouldn’t have to pay for that, and left. I do agree the situation is unfair, as the exam remains to be a waste of time for them. Two weeks later, he didn’t show up for the exam session, despite my warning that he could only get a refund if he called before the exam took place, and I never heard of him ever again.)

I’ve Got A Lunch Hunch

, , , , | Working | July 8, 2018

(Over the past few months, a huge number of people’s lunches and food have gone missing from the break room fridge. I set up a camera and catch the culprit taking a lunch. I have to sit down for a write-up with her and her supervisor.)

Me: “We called you in because I have evidence that you’ve stolen from a coworker.”

Employee: “I’m not a thief! I didn’t steal anything.”

Me: “Okay, I have the video here, and your supervisor has already watched it. It clearly shows you taking someone else’s food out of the refrigerator and eating it.”

Employee: *laughing* “Oh, that’s not stealing.”

Supervisor: “Yes… Yes, it is. In fact, my lunch went missing a week ago; was that you, as well?”

Employee: “I have to do that, though! I only get a twenty-minute break. It’s just long enough to throw food down my throat. I don’t even get a chance to enjoy it; I just have to throw it down.”

Me: “That’s a standard break for a four-hour shift, and it doesn’t mean you can steal from others.”

Employee: “You don’t understand! I can’t go out for a meal in that time. I can’t have a good meal. I’m just eating as fast as I can.”

Supervisor: “But you have taken other’s things. Just bring your own food, or buy from the vending machine.”

Employee: “But that’s money! It’s not fair that I have to just shove food down that I paid for.”

Me: “Okay. I need you to understand that this counts as a final written warning. Any other problems, and we will be letting you go.”

(Two days later, an employee tells me that their lunch is missing again. I review the footage and find the same employee stealing the lunch. I find her on the floor and hand her her termination papers.)

Employee: “You can’t do that! It’s not fair! I thought you would stop recording after you caught me the first time! You had to tell me you were still watching the fridge! I’m going to sue.”

(I kind of hope she does. I’d love to hear her argument in court!)

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