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Best If You Button Your Lip

, , , , , , , , | Related | October 24, 2021

I went to Germany for work-related purposes and ended up falling in love with and marrying a girl who had a very charming eight-year-old daughter.

My birthday came along, and my wife bought me a Playstation 2. In this boxed set, it included a karaoke game and a pair of microphones. Upon my unwrapping of the gift, the little girl’s face lit up and she begged me to let her play with it. As it turned out, singing, dancing, and talent shows were her ultimate passion.

That child loved that karaoke game — to the point where I ironically ended up just putting the console in her room and even more ironically would have to ask her from time to time if I could play my game! Otherwise, you would constantly hear her (along with her cousin) singing her heart out all throughout the day. I bought her a few more karaoke-related games, and it made her all the happier.

One day, I was babysitting her and her cousin. They set up a little “talent show” in our living room and asked me to watch their performance. I gladly obliged.

With bright glowing smiles — and neither one of them understanding a single word of English — they started the song and began passionately performing The Pussycat Dolls’ “Buttons”. If you are not familiar with that song, Google the lyrics.

And then, picture two eight-year-old girls singing that in front of a grown man while he turns four shades of red and begs them to switch the track to something else. What made it even funnier was how mortified they looked when I ended up interrupting the performance, and when they asked, “Do we sound that bad?”

Flipping Off And Flipping Out Over Foreigners

, , , , , , | Friendly | August 10, 2021

As an American expat who isn’t white, hostility from locals (in any country!) toward foreigners is something you will encounter from time to time. My remedy is to simply give them a bored and uninterested look, or to say in German, “Sorry you don’t have a job, but that’s really not my fault!”

I was standing in a train station, and this man walked by and flipped me off, his hand so close to my face his finger almost touched my nose. Not wanting to spoil a clean criminal record, I let it slide and continued waiting for my train.

I turned to the side and noticed that he was yelling in my direction. I happened to be wearing some rather large headphones, so all I could see was his mouth moving with an enraged expression on his face, with people around him giggling and laughing. I pointed to my headphones, mouthed, “What?” in German, and turned back in the other direction.

Moments later, he got into my face while visibly screaming something, at which point I removed my headphones to hear him screaming:

Man: “Get out of my country! If you aren’t German, you don’t belong here! Go home!”

Giving no reaction, I simply put my headphones back on, and he jammed his finger into my chest while continuing to yell. Immediately, I shoved him, causing him to topple over backward while surrounding people rushed in between us to de-escalate the situation.

Understandably, security was summoned, which was immediately followed by the police. After everyone’s information and statements were taken and it was determined that the schmuck was the perpetrator at fault, one of the officers informed me of some very interesting facts concerning this genius:

  1. He wasn’t even German. He was Russian.
  2. The officer said he spoke the worst German he’d heard from a foreigner in a while.
  3. His residence permit had been revoked two years earlier and he had been ordered to leave Germany under threat of deportation; he simply disappeared off their radar.

Gute Heimreis, bud!

This story is part of our Best Of August 2021 roundup!

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Dealing With The Schoolmom-Three

, , , , | Right | June 17, 2021

I work in a bookstore in a state where parents have to buy some books and workbooks for school themselves; in other states, schools supply at least the books for free. They can either order them online or buy them in a local bookstore. This year, it’s a more difficult time because of the global health crisis. Our suppliers are having trouble shipping our orders on time, our customers are annoyed because they have to wear masks in our store, etc.

Customer #1: “You didn’t call me to tell me that my school books arrived!”

Me: “You didn’t leave a number to call with your order.”

Customer #1: “You could have sent an email!”

Me: “I did.”

Customer #1: “I didn’t get one.”

Me: “Maybe it’s in your spam file?”

Customer #1: *Checks* “Oh…”

Next customer:

Customer #2: “Why are school books so expensive?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I have no control over the prices of books.”

Customer #2: “But you sell them! You make the prices!”

Me: “No, I really don’t.”

[Customer #3] had ordered school books via our webshop and comes to collect them.

Customer #3: “There is a book missing.”

I check the books against the order she made online.

Me: “It looks to me as if all the books you ordered are here.”

Customer #3: “Yes, but I needed another one. It wasn’t available, so the homepage told me to send an extra order, to let you know that I need that book, too.”

Me: “I’m so sorry, I didn’t receive that order form.”

Customer #3: “Oh, I didn’t send it.”

Me: “You didn’t send the order?”

Customer #3: “No, I didn’t. You should have known that I needed this book, too. Why didn’t you order it?”

“Yeah, I Guess,” And Its Sequel, “I Dunno”

, , , , , | Right | May 25, 2021

Two boys, around fourteen years old, walk in and just stand inside the door, hands in their pockets, not looking at anything. I walk over.

Me: “Hello. Can I help you?”

Boy #1: “Yeah, we need books.

Me: “What kind of books?

Boy #1: “Dunno. Books.

Me: “For yourself? Or as a gift for somebody?

Boy #1: “Ourselves.

Boy #2: “We’ve got detention and the teacher said to bring a book to read.”

Me: “Ah, I see. What kind of books do you like?”

Boy #1: “Dunno.”

Me: “Would you like to look around and see what we’ve got?

Boy #2: “Nah, you show us.”

I start at the nearest display.

Me: “Do you guys like to take pictures?

Boy #1: “Yeah, I guess.

Me: “Here are some books about photography. This one’s about cameras and lenses and so on, and this one shows how to take a great photo with just the right colours and lighting. Would you like to look at them?

Boy #1: “Nah, sounds boring.

Me: “No photography books, then. Do you like scary stories?”

Boy #1: “Yeah, I guess.

The two of them are “Yeah-I-guess” interested in adventure, technology, sci-fi, true crime, cars, animals, foreign countries, history, philosophy, whodunnits, superheroes, Norse mythology, politics, and romance.

Every book I suggest either “Nah-sounds-boring” or “Nah-looks-too-long.” They never take their hands out of their pockets. I wonder if I should send them to the library just to get them off my hands.

While I’m taking the two of them from display to shelf and from shelf to display, showing them everything except the preschool picture books, my coworker is helping other customers. The doorbell chimes and one of our regulars comes in.

Coworker: “Hello, Mrs. [Regular]! Over here.”

He pulls a book from a shelf and holds it out to her. 

Regular: “That’s the one. Thank you!”

She follows my coworker to the till, buys the book, and leaves. My two teenagers have been watching. 

Boy #2: “Why can’t you do what he does?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Boy #2: “He just looked at that lady and knew what book she wanted.”

Boy #1: “Yeah, why can’t you do the same thing for us?”

Boy #2: “Or maybe he should look at us and give us our books.”

I suppress a groan, turn a beginning facepalm into a hair-adjusting gesture, and switch my smile back on.

Me: “My coworker has a special gift. If you’d like, we can go over and ask him to find the books you want.”

I walk them over. My coworker must have heard what we said, because as we are approaching, he squints at [Boy #1], then closes his eyes, murmurs to himself, and says:

Coworker: “Yes, yes, I can see it. You want, you want—” *points in a random direction* “—that one!”

He’s pointing at the technology shelf. [Boy #1] walks over, pulls out a book about the history of cars, and says:

Boy #1: “Yeah, this one looks good.”

My coworker repeats the process with [Boy #2]. Both end up buying books that they didn’t want earlier when I suggested them. After they’re gone, I turn to my coworker.

Me: “Mrs. [Regular] called ahead, didn’t she?”

Coworker: *Grinning* “Yes, she did.”

Me: “Why do you always get the easy ones?”

A Whole Continent Of Brotherly Disdain

, , , , | Right | January 10, 2021

An African dressed in a tribal dashiki comes in, speaking some form of African tribal language.

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but we only speak German and English.”

After he gives me an order in barely intelligible English, I quote the price. He becomes irate.

Customer: “Why is it so much?!”

I go through each item and state its price.

Customer: “Why didn’t you tell me the food costs a lot here? I am your African brother! Why do you treat me like this? We are brothers! You are a black man! Give me a fair price!”

Me: “I do not set or negotiate prices at this fast food restaurant.”

He eventually dug the money up and slapped it forcefully on the counter. After eating, he arose, and as he was heading for the door, he waved to me and said something in an African language. Extremely annoyed with the scene he’d made, I simply nodded. This made him irate again, and he began screaming in whatever language it was until some customers pushed him out of the door.

He continued to stand in the window, staring directly at me with his fists clenched and his eyes wide, breathing heavily. After a solid fifteen minutes, he finally left.