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Talking Turkey, Literally

, , , , | Right | January 8, 2021

I’m an American ex-pat living in Berlin, Germany, where it is heavily multicultural with people from all different ethnic backgrounds. It’s almost a given here that the average person speaks one other language aside from German.

With that said, I have a customer come in and insist on giving his order in Turkish. After informing him three times that I speak English and German, he explodes.

Customer: “There are two million people from Turkey in Germany! It’s not my fault you are too lazy to learn Turkish!” 

Right. While I’m at it, I suppose I should brush up on Russian, Czech, Arabic, French, Spanish, Romanian, Italian…

Christmas Tarts Never Tasted So Sweet

, , , , , , | Working | December 24, 2020

I’m training as a cook in a fine-dining restaurant. The head chef tells me on my first day to take home any leftovers I want that would otherwise get thrown out anyway; everyone in the kitchen does it, and many servers also pack little lunch bags for themselves every day.

I’m surprised, because any other food service place I worked at before was very strict with leftovers and meals for workers, sometimes even making us pay full price if we ate stuff that was going to be thrown out or could not be sold for some reason.

One day, the chefs miscalculate the savoury tarts they need for a special dinner and we end up with two whole trays left over. After everyone has had their pick, I begin stacking the last tarts — at least fifteen or so — in a to-go container.

Head Chef: “Woah, you really like those, don’t you? Are you going to be eating them for the whole week?”

I’m nervous, because I’m still fairly new at this place and wondering if I misjudged the situation and shouldn’t take more than maybe one or two for myself.

Me: “Actually, I had an idea. I walk past [Train Station that is a well-known hangout/sleeping place for many homeless people] on my way home, and I was gonna hand them out to anyone who wants some. They’re good to eat cold, right?”

Head Chef: “Absolutely. That’s a wonderful idea. Here, let’s pack some sweet tarts, too.”

I’m relieved he’s not actually mad, and many of the homeless people are happy about the free food. A few weeks later, I come into work after a big Christmas party booking the day before, and the head chef waves me over.

Head Chef: “So, we have about twenty leftover Christmas dinners in the walk-in fridge upstairs. I told the night crew to keep them for you for the train station. Make sure to tell me before you leave, so we can heat them up and pack ’em to go, okay?”

I was a bit flabbergasted. True to his word, I found several trays of roast goose, sauce, dumplings, veggies, and red cabbage in the fridge, and he helped me with reheating and packaging them after the dinner rush.

Thanks to the attention of a very conscientious head chef, a whole group of homeless people were treated to a first-class Christmas meal. That was the point at which I realised I was quite lucky to get a trainee position at his restaurant and learn from him.

This story is part of our Most Inspirational Of 2020 roundup!

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Holy Guacamole! Part 2

, , , , | Right | December 6, 2020

Customer: “I want that burger from the advertisement on the television.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but we have advertisements for multiple burgers, and I don’t have a TV so I don’t know what advertisements are running.”

Customer: *Visibly annoyed* “The one with the star.”

Me: “We have multiple burgers with stars, but I suppose you are talking about [burger]. Do you want to have your burger classic, with guacamole, or with BBQ?”

Customer: “What’s guacamole?”

Me: “It’s avocado with spices and tomato.”

Customer: “Avocado? What is that?”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Whatever, okay.”

Me: “Do you want chicken or beef?”

Customer: “This is ridiculous. You’re asking way too many questions. I just want to buy a d*** burger, but it’s taking me ages because of you.”

He then stormed out the door. The customer after him was his neighbor and he told me that I shouldn’t take it personally. Apparently, that happens sometimes. After two or three months, I saw the customer again and he apologized. He had a bad day and didn’t mean to let it out on me.

Holy Guacamole!

No Shrimping Violet, Part 2

, , , , | Right | December 3, 2020

I am working at a famous fast food chain and am serving a customer who ordered multiple burgers, fried, drinks, and one pack of shrimp worth 35€.

Me: “Sir. Unfortunately, we don’t have the shrimp that you ordered. We just ran out of stock a few minutes ago and I wasn’t notified yet.”

Customer: “I want my money back.”

Me: “Of course! Since you will not receive any shrimp, you don’t have to pay for them, either.”

I proceed to give the customer his 3€ something back and close the cash register again. I give the customer the rest of his order and end the order on my screen.

Customer: “No, I want all my money back. I will not buy anything here.”

Me: “You want to cancel your whole order because we don’t have shrimp?”

Customer: “Yes! You lied to me. I will not buy something from a person who lies to me!”

After ending an order, you cannot cancel it in the system. My manager had to take out the money manually to give it back to the customer. Later that evening, I had to explain to my store manager why my cash register was over 30€ in minus.

No Shrimping Violet

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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