What A Dummkopf

, , , , | Working | January 13, 2018

(I have fractured my wrist. I’m at the ER, getting an x-ray. The x-ray technician is trying to strike up a conversation.)

Tech: “You have an accent! Where are you from?”

(I have a slight accent, although I was born in the US.)

Me: “Oh, well, I was born in the US—”

Tech: “I mean, what nationality are you?”

Me: “I’m a quarter French, a quarter German—”

Tech: “German?”

Me: “Yes?”

Tech: “What’s that?”

Me: “German? Like Germany?”

Tech: *confused look* “I’ve never heard of Germany, ever. I’m going to have to look this up later!” *laughs*

(Needless to say, I was concerned with how he was working in a hospital.)

New Mexico, Old Problem

, , , , , | Working | January 11, 2018

(It’s the end of the 90s, and my wife has moved from a small town in New Mexico to San Antonio, TX. She calls a bank to see if she can open an account.)

Wife: “I just moved here and haven’t gotten my new license yet. Can I open an account using my New Mexico driver’s license?”

CS Agent: “Yes, as long as you have your green card or other paperwork showing you are legally permitted to live in the USA.”

Wife: “What? I’m from New Mexico… a state in the US… one state west of here.”

CS Agent: “Oh… ummm… no, you need your Texas license.”

(So, out of country, no problem; same country but different state, FORGET IT! She has also been complimented on how well she speaks English when she tells people where she’s from.)

Drama Queen Meets The Queen’s English

, , , , , , , | Right | January 9, 2018

(I am just arriving at my workstation at shift change, and I catch the tail end of an irate customer’s complaint to the staff member who I am relieving. I am English, but have been a legal resident in the US for almost 20 years. I have never lost my accent.)

Customer: “…and I called here the other day, and some woman with a British accent answered the phone, and I wonder how those people can even be allowed to work for you!”

Me: *addressing my colleague in my best and most cheerful Princess Diana voice* “Good afternoon, [Colleague], and how are you today?”

Customer: *glares at me and stomps off without another word*

No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 10

, , , , , , , | Working | January 9, 2018

(I am a territory salesman for a chemical company. I am sound asleep with my wife at just after 5:00 am and the phone rings beside the bed.)

Me: *groggily answering the phone* “Hello.”

Caller: “Hello, it’s [Caller], from [My Employer] in Toronto calling.”

Me: “Do you know what time it is?”

Caller: “Yes. It’s 8:05.”

Me: “Not in Prince George, it isn’t.”

Caller: *hesitating* “Oh… What do you mean?”

Me: *realizing the caller has no clue how the world works* “Well, you know how the sun comes up in the east and goes down at sunset in the west?”

Caller: *obviously unsure where this is leading* “Oh… Yes?”

Me: *trying to impart just a wee bit of wisdom* “Well, it hasn’t gotten here yet.”

Caller: *sounding really confused* “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, the sun may be up in Toronto, but it will be three more hours before we see it, so it’s only ten after five in Prince George.”

(The caller is either completely unaware, or disregards the fact that she has woken me from a sound sleep and by this time, my wife is sitting up in bed beside me with a very puzzled look on her sleepy face.)

Caller: “Well, while I have you on the line, can you pop by this morning to [Customer] in Prince Rupert and drop a copy of an invoice that they didn’t receive?”

Me: “Well, I can get a copy to [Customer], but it won’t be this morning. Do you realize that Prince Rupert is 500 miles from here, which is a whole day’s drive, one way? Why don’t you just fax a copy, and then I won’t have to do anything until my next trip out west?”

Caller: *sounding shocked and perhaps just starting to realize the enormity of Canada* “Oh, okay. I guess I can do that.”

(Many years later, I sometimes think of that young clerk,and imagine her hanging up the phone and sitting there stunned by the incredible knowledge that the whole world doesn’t operate on Toronto time.)

No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 9
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 8
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 7

Doesn’t Seem To Realize Where English Comes From

, , , , , | Right | December 27, 2017

(After assisting a customer with an account issue.)

Customer: “I hate having to speak to all these foreigners before speaking to a real American. They can’t even speak English half the time. Thank God I am speaking to a real American.”

Me: “I will say, it can be hard to understand some of our overseas reps at times.”

Customer: “Yeah, lucky you and I were born in the USA. Real Americans.”

Me: “Actually, I was born in England, in the UK.”

(Shocked silence.)

Customer: “Well, you speak English real good. Fooled me.”

Me: “Uhh… Thanks? Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Customer: “No, no.” *muttering to himself before he disconnects the call* “D*** fooled me. Don’t know what’s going on in the world these days. Can’t tell the foreigners from the Americans!”

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