Kindness Knows No Language Barrier

, , , , , | Hopeless Right | January 10, 2019

I’m a customer in a pharmacy in Berlin, behind an older man. I don’t speak German as I’m just a tourist, but he is very obviously driving the cashier crazy, pointing to everything five times and asking the price, wasting her time by debating the price, raising his voice, and flailing his arms about. Even though I can’t understand a word he is saying, his rudeness is clear! The cashier is doing a great job of staying calm, but he is visibly upsetting her.

When he finally leaves — some five minutes later, only having purchased one thing — I approach the register, smile, and roll my eyes. As she serves me, she chats away about the customer — made obvious from the things she points to while talking — and it’s clear from the relief on her face that she just needs to unload on someone who understands. I smile and nod and laugh when she laughs, and say, “Ja,” a couple of times, and she seems much calmer and happy by the end of the transaction.

Dear cashier, even though I didn’t understand a word you said, our conversation was wonderful and friendly; we both speak the universal language of “hating bad customers”!

That Was Close… Too Close…

, , , , | Right | August 2, 2018

(In the mornings I go to a grocery store to get lunch for work. Sometimes people queuing have no idea how to queue, coming way closer than it is comfortable for the person using the pin machine at the register. This shop has enough space along the conveyor belt, but the actual register area is small. When people don’t wait at the conveyor belt, they are standing right next to the pin machine. This morning I have had enough. I am packing my stuff as quickly as possible, as there is very little space.)

Cashier: “It’ll be [amount].”

Me: “I’ll pay with a card, please.”

(Lifting my head I notice the next customer standing right in front of the card machine.)

Me: “…”

Guy: *looks at me, doesn’t move*

Me: “Sorry, did you want to pay for this?”

Guy: “Oh, no.” *still doesn’t move*

Me: *making shooing motion with hands* “Then give me some space, please.”

Guy: *takes one tiny step back, basically still looming over the pin machine*

Me: “Keep going…”

Guy: *reluctantly takes one more step back*

(After that I could pay. The register lady had an interesting smile on her face and gave me a look that said she’s seen people like the other customer a few times too many.)

Awaiting The Frozen One

, , , , , | Right | June 8, 2018

(My boyfriend and I are at a bowling center to celebrate the birthday of a good friend. Everyone is having drinks and my boyfriend orders a chicken burger to eat.)

Waiter: “Here you go; one chicken burger. Enjoy your meal!” *walks away*

Boyfriend: “Hey, [My Name]. Could you try the burger? I think it is still frozen in the middle.”

(I try the burger and the chicken is indeed frozen. We call up the waiter to complain about it.)

Boyfriend: “Excuse me, but the chicken is still frozen inside. Also, the burger is pretty cold itself.”

Waiter: “I’m terribly sorry. Do you want a new chicken burger, or can I bring you something else?”

Boyfriend: “A new burger will do, thanks.”

(The waiter walks away. Meanwhile, I chat with a friend until I see the waiter returning with the new burger. I turn back to my boyfriend, only to see him stuffing half of the frozen burger inside his mouth. I am shocked. The waiter puts down the new plate and grabs the plate with the now noticeably smaller, old burger.)

Waiter: “Wait a minute. Did you just eat half of the burger you just complained about?”

Boyfriend: *while still chewing* “No! I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why would I do that? That would be pretty stupid.”

(The waiter looks disbelieving, but then walks away, probably thinking he is mistaken.)

Me: “What did you do that for? You got a new burger!”

Boyfriend: “Yeah, so? I’m really hungry and I didn’t want to pay for two burgers. It was a happy coincidence.”

(At the end of the evening, I gave the waiter a huge tip to compensate for the behavior of my boyfriend.)

Knows How To Drive Them Away

, , , , | Working | March 30, 2018

(I’m on a bus late in the evening. It’s packed, but it gets worse when two young guys board who have obviously been drinking. They seem like trouble waiting to happen, but unless they actually break any laws, they can’t be kicked off. I’m hoping the bus driver will step in — the guys reek of booze and keep making loud, inappropriate jokes — but when the driver announces the next station, her voice sounds really timid and girly, so I expect that’s not going to happen. Then, somewhere along the route, there’s the sound of a glass bottle falling over. The driver’s voice comes back on the intercom, suddenly rather stern:)

Driver: “Guys, was that a beer bottle?”

Drunk Guy: “Haha, sure! Don’t worry; I just finished it!”

(Without further warning, the driver pulls the bus over to the side of the road and actually stops.)

Driver: *still over intercom* “Then I suggest you get off here. Alcohol is not permitted on the bus, so I guess you’re walking.”

Drunk Guy: “What? Are you crazy? You looking for a fight?”

(The other passengers, me included, haven’t said anything so far. At this announcement, though, I can see a few male passengers getting ready to intervene. Before anyone can actually step in, the driver opens the bus doors.)

Driver: “What if I am looking for a fight? Let’s settle this outside!”

(The two guys, too drunk to realize what she’s doing, actually get off the bus to wait for her outside, only to have her close the doors in their faces. We think that’s the end of it and I’m in awe of her genius move, when one of the guys kicks the bus door in frustration. The driver opens one of the doors again and is out of her seat in a second. We can all hear her from outside, yelling, and definitely nothing timid about her:)

Driver: “Yeah, that’s right! If you kick my bus one more time, I’ll kick you so hard you’ll cry for your mommy to save you, only she won’t, because she won’t be able to recognize you! Now run, little boy. That’s right. I knew you didn’t have the balls!”

(That five-foot-nothing bus driver gets two drunk guys to slink off in shame. They simply run away. The bus driver casually gets back on the bus, closes the door, and continues the route, while those passengers who were prepared to “save” her are left looking a bit sheepish.)

Driver: *again over intercom, now back to quiet timid girl voice* “Next stop is [Station]. And, uh, sorry for earlier. That’s usually not my style.”

(I sure hope it’s her style, and I really want to be her when I grow up!)

If Only The Trains Were As Efficient As The Announcements

, , , , | Working | March 3, 2018

(Berlin is known for its lack of politeness. Actually, people are somewhat proud of being “honest and direct,” no matter the situation, so being insulted by service personnel in the city is pretty much part of an authentic experience. Public transport workers in particular are said to be pretty grumpy. I am travelling by train from one end of the city to the other, so it is a rather long train ride, and the automatic announcements, which announce upcoming stations and the like, aren’t working. Therefore, the train driver has to do that himself, and seems to become increasingly frustrated to the point of being absolutely hilarious.)

Announcement: “Next stop is Pankow. Please mind the step when leaving the train.”

Announcement: *at the station* “Please leave the train carefully. Now, waiting passengers please enter the train, and mind the step. Departing southbound now.”

Announcement: *near the end of the line, at the station* “Marienfelde! Get out! Get in! Shut up! Leaving now!”

Page 1/212