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Studying Post-Grammatic Stress

, , , | Right | May 23, 2010

(I work for the university psychology department where several labs have students participate in experiments. A girl is wandering around the hall looking lost.)

Me: “Excuse me, but you look a little lost. Can I help you find something?”

Volunteer: “Yeah, I signed up to participate in an experiment, but I don’t remember which one or what the requirements were.”

Me: “All right, that’s fine. We can look you up on one of our computers. Can I have your name?”

Volunteer: “[Name].”

(I go to the office computer and find her name, the experiment, and the requirements.)

Me: “Well, it looks like you’re going to be in the lab down the hall and the only requirement is that you should be a native English speaker.”

Volunteer: “Oh, but I don’t know that language.”

Me: “What language?”

Volunteer: “Native English. I’m not familiar with that language, only regular English. I’ll just go tell them I can’t do it. Thanks!”


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Alternative Five-Year Calling Plan

, , , , | Right | May 8, 2010

(I am at the admissions office at my university. A coworker leaves a message with a younger kid telling them they’d “call back later” to speak to the adult.)

Me: “Hello, [College]?”

Caller: “Oh, this is a college?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am?”

Caller: “Well, then, why were you telling my kid you were coming to our house?”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean.”

Caller: “Someone called my house the other day from this number and told my five-year-old daughter that they would ‘come over later.’ Why would anyone be coming over later?”

Me: “I believe they probably said, ‘Call back later.’ That’s what we usually say if a younger child answers the phone.”

Caller: “Oh, so now you think my five-year-old is dumb?”

Me: “I never said that, ma’am; we just usually don’t leave messages with young children.”

Caller: “If my daughter couldn’t take a message, I wouldn’t let her answer the phone!”

Me: “Well, with all due respect, ma’am, she did tell you we said we would come to your house, which is not correct at all.”

Caller: “Yeah, well, your people should speak more clearly. She’s only five! She gets things wrong sometimes!”

Totally Flunked That One

, , , , | Right | May 6, 2010

(I am working in a cafe near one of the main halls for university examinations, for which the students have to wear full robes. Every time an exam finishes, the students come out and celebrate with champagne and confetti.)

Tourist: “Excuse me, what time is the next show?”

Me: “I’m sorry? There’s a theatre round the corner from here. They might be able to help you.”

Tourist: “No, the next university show. With the costumes and everything.”

Me: “I’m afraid that’s not a performance. Those are the university’s students, and they’re finishing their exams.”

Tourist: “So, when will the next one finish? I want to bring my wife.”


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Even Professors Fail At Pass(Words)

, , , | Right | April 30, 2010

(I am a student worker at my university’s IT help desk. Professors’ passwords are set to expire every ninety days. A professor having connection problems informs me he hasn’t changed his password in months.)

Me: “Oh, okay! I think that’s the issue here. Your password has probably expired and…”

Professor: “Expired?!”

Me: “Yes, they’re set to expire every ninety days for security.”

Professor: “Ninety days! Why don’t you tell us these things?”

Me: “I’m so sorry; usually we email professors at the beginning of term.”

Professor: “Well, you didn’t tell me! I didn’t get any emails from you people!”

Me: “I’m very sorry. Let me reset your password for you now so that you can connect.”

(I reset his password and write it down for him.)

Professor: “What the h*** is this?”

Me: “That’s the pound sign.”

Professor: “I know what it is! Why is it in my password?”

Me: “It’s a regulation from our administration. Your password has to have letters, numbers and special characters.”

Professor: “And when were you planning on telling us this?”

Me: “There should have been an email last week.”

Professor: “There was no email! Seriously, do you do anything? Where’s your boss? I need to speak with him.”

Me: “He’s out right now.”

Professor: “You need to let me know the moment he gets back.”

Me: “Of course. How should we notify you? We can send you an email?”

Professor: “Don’t email me. God! I never read those. Call my office phone.”

Double The Pictures, Half The Brain

, , , | Right | April 10, 2010

(I am giving information about documents students need to bring to their university interview.)

Me: “We’ll need you to bring your birth certificate, an ID, your high school diploma, and eight black and white photos for your file.”

Customer: “Eight photos? How?”

Me: “Yes, eight black and white photos.”

Customer: “You mean four black and four white?”


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