Dropping A Conversational Bomb

, , , , , , , | Right | July 6, 2020

This story happens in the early 2000s. I am backpacking through Germany, and I have a few days in Berlin before I move on. I decide to take a bus tour of the city, having never been there before.

On the bus tour, the tour guide is a man who appears to be in his twenties or early thirties. Most of the bus is filled with a group of elderly British men and women. The bus pulls away from the curb, the tour guide introduces himself, and then he asks if anyone has been to Berlin before. 

All of the British men raise their hands.

Guide: “Wow, this is more than usual. When were you all here?”

The British men mumble among themselves for a few seconds.

British Man #1: “Well, if it’s all right with you… we would rather not go into detail.”

Guide: “Oh, come on. Please, share your experiences.”

British Man #2: “If you insist. We were all in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command during the Second World War. We flew bombing raids over Berlin, and other cities, of course.”

British Man #3: “We’ve all seen documentaries about old soldiers who travel to their battlefields one last time, so… here we are.”

The tour guide is at first caught off guard by this response, but he recovers brilliantly.

Guide: “Then I believe we have you, gentlemen, to thank for Berlin being such a unique mix of the ancient and the modern! I do hope you enjoy seeing the city from the ground this time!”

Best bus tour ever. Every time the tour guide pointed out a historic building or landmark, the British gentlemen would share stories about the times they used those buildings as guides and targets for their bombing runs. The tour guide genuinely enjoyed having someone who could share so much insight into what was already a key piece of his lectures, and hearing so many different perspectives and stories made the tour well worth it for the rest of us, as well. I’m pretty sure the tour guide earned at least ten times his normal tips for that tour.


This story is part of our July 2020 Roundup – the best stories of the month!

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Unfiltered Story #198672

, , | Unfiltered | June 25, 2020

For reference: you choose knitting needles depending on your yarn – rule of thumb is, the thicker the yarn, the thicker the needles. They can be anything between 2 mm and 20 mm thick, so there’s quite a range.
Customer: “I need some knitting needles”
Me: “Sure, they’re right over here.”
Customer: “Which ones do I get?”
Me: “That depends on your wool. There will be information on the label as to what size needles you need.”
Customer: “Well, I don’t have it with me.”
Me: “Do you know what kind of wool it is?”
Customer: “Oh, just regular wool…”
Me (looking around the 50 or so wildly different varieties of wool I have in my department): “Riiiiight…”

A Good Head On Your Well-Toned Shoulders

, , , , | Learning | May 2, 2020

I spent four years rowing in college and I keep it up on rowing machines once in a while. Today at the gym, I sit down next to a guy with horrible technique and start passive-aggressively impressing and challenging him by pulling better numbers with lower resistance and waaay fewer strokes per minute.

Two guys are having a look at the machine on my other side. One sits down and starts pulling.

Me: “Hi. Can I give you a tip?”

Curious Guy #1: “Sure!”

Me: “The motion goes: legs-back-arms, arms-back-legs. Make sure your hands come forward before your legs bend; that way you’ll never hit your knees with the handle.”

I repeat a couple of times and demonstrate slowly. The guy starts to pick it up and then switches with his friend. The man with horrible technique stands up from the machine on my other side and approaches the Curious Guys.

Horrible Technique Guy: “You should be pulling the handle up high into your chest.”

Me: “I rowed for four years, and I pull it right at my bra strap — not that you have a bra strap, but… right here.” *Demonstrates* “Pulling it up so high gives you what we call chicken arms.”

Horrible Technique Guy: “Yes, but the trainer here told me that.” 

Me: “Yes. How long has the trainer spent rowing?”

Horrible Technique Guy: “All I’m saying is that everyone will have different advice, and you just have to find a way to do it that makes you comfortable.”

Curious Guy #2: “You have four years of experience; I’m going to trust you.”

Me: “Thanks. And when you’re ready, relax your shoulders!”

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How Many Languages Can You Tell Her To “Shut Up” In?

, , , , | Right | February 5, 2020

(I’ve always been friendly with this customer and she has been coming into the store for at least a month. My coworker doesn’t speak any English. This happens while I am serving another customer nearby. Note, most Germans do understand English and many speak it very well. They are often happy to help someone in English, as long as that person isn’t being unpleasant. This customer gives a pile of change with some paper money to my coworker and tries to explain something in English. My coworker looks confused as there is no obvious sense for all the change.)

Me: “[Coworker] doesn’t understand any English!”

Customer: “I’m sick of being harassed for not speaking German! I’m not here long enough to bother learning any. Why are you being rude to me? Every time I come here, you are rude to me!”

Me: “I’m not being rude to you. Every time you have come here, I have served you nicely and in English. I’m just telling you that my coworker doesn’t understand English. She speaks German or Turkish.”

Customer: “I don’t care; translate for me!”

(I quickly translate for my coworker while trying to still serve my own customer in German.)

Customer: “I’m the customer; you should respect me! You’re always rude to me! Why should I learn German when I’m not going to be here long enough?”

(By this point, the other customers are just staring at her as most of them know me and know that I am usually very friendly and will serve people in both German and English, depending on their requirements. Then, the customer storms out while yelling about how I am rude to her and that I should respect her because she’s the customer.)

Coworker: *in German* “What was that about?”

Me: “Apparently, I am rude because I told her that you don’t understand English.”

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Tablets And Wi-Fi and Money, Oh My!

, , , , , | Right | January 28, 2020

(I get out of the underground train chatting with my brother on my ten-inch tablet; we are in the middle of some exciting banter. Since it is kind of awkward, walking while chatting on a tablet, I sit down on the station bench next to a young lady who is busy with her own iPhone. Some five minutes later, I hear someone clear their throat and turn around to face the lady who has been looking at me expectantly since who-knows-when. I am confused but try to be polite and ask her what is wrong.)

Random Lady: “You must go away.”

Me: *taken aback* “I’m sorry?”

Random Lady: “You must go away; I want you to go.”

Me: “Why?”

Random Lady: “I don’t feel safe talking with you near me; you can eavesdrop.”

(I think, “Why would I want to eavesdrop on a stranger’s phone call?”)

Me: “I’ll be off in a minute.”

(My brother just told me he would be off soon.)

Random Lady: “No, you are not allowed to sit next to me with that.” *pointing to my tablet* “I’ve worked there and I can sue you.”

(I’m now even more bewildered, as I honestly have no idea what she’s talking about. She then points to my tablet’s brand, one of the big and well-known electronics brands.)

Random Lady: *holding out her phone* “This is [Famous, Well-Known Phone Brand which is my brand’s competitor]. You are not allowed to bring [My Tablet’s Brand] near [Her Brand]. You have to go unless you have cash.”

Me: *starting to get annoyed, also wondering if I heard the last part right* “This is a public place. I have the right to be here.”

Random Lady: *angry* “NO! I am here because I need a safe place to make a call without someone overhearing! You owe me money; you have to pay me cash or go away!”

(I am thinking, “You didn’t want anybody to listen to your call and you chose one of the biggest and busiest underground train stations in Berlin?! And what the h*** with suddenly demanding I pay her?”)

Me: “I just need the Wi-Fi for a moment longer.”

Random Lady: *even more ticked off* “You can’t use the Wi-Fi for free.”

(The public Wi-Fi in the station has been provided by the government for free since 2016; I’ve checked their website again just in case.)

Random Lady: “You have to pay! You owe me money or I’ll sue you. That is the law; you have to pay me cash!”

Me: *getting fed up and packing my tablet* “Even if the Wi-Fi is not free, I am sure I do not owe you anything.”

(I left at that point, still bewildered and not really sure what had just happened. The lady was still rambling about lawsuits, money, my tablet brand versus hers, etc.)

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