You Could Keep Going West But That’s The Long Way Round

, , , , | Right | March 31, 2020

(I am hosting at the end of the night on a Saturday, about thirty minutes before we close, when this customer walks in. He looks a little worse for wear and very confused.)

Me: “Evening, sir, how can I help you?”

Customer: “Uh… can I use the restroom?”

(Normally, our policy is to only allow paying customers to use the restrooms, but since it’s late and he doesn’t appear to mean any harm, I allow it. He returns a few minutes later.)

Customer: “You might be able to help me with this. I’m on a trip.”

Me: “That’s great, sir. How can I help?”

Customer: “Which way is Florida?”

Me: *confused pause* “Florida?”

Customer: “Yes, I’m a little lost. Which way is it?”

Me: “Well, if you get on the interstate heading east, I suppose you’ll get there eventually.”

Customer: “Go west?”

Me: “East.”

Customer: “Ah, thanks.” *mutters* “Must’ve been going the wrong way…”

(The customer left. A few of my coworkers came over to see if I was okay after he left, because I had dropped down under the host stand to hide how I was crying with laughter. We’re located in Louisiana. How far in the wrong direction did he go?)

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A Student, Hungary For Knowledge, Visits Turkey

, , , , , | Learning | March 30, 2020

I teach fourth grade. I’m trying to get my students familiar with the nations of the world.

Me: “[Student], please name a country.”

Student: “Oh, man…”

Me: “Correct.”

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“Time” To End This Call

, , , , , | Right | March 25, 2020

(I take insurance claims in a call center. At the end of each call, we tell callers to wait four hours before calling back with questions to allow the claim to work its way through the system. I have just helped a woman in California with a claim and informed her of the four-hour wait time.)

Me: “Is there anything else I can help you with, ma’am?”

Caller: “Yeah… that four-hour time. Does it matter that I’m on Pacific time?”

Me: “Not at all! It’s just four hours from this time now that we are speaking.”

Caller: “Okay… So, it’s 8:30 in the morning here. What time is it where you are?”

Me: “It’s 10:30 in the morning, but—”

Caller: “Right! So, four hours from your time is 2:30, so I should call at 2:30 my time. Right?”

Me: “Well, not exactly. And that wait time is if you have any questions later. You would be able to call about your claim at 12:30 your time.”

Caller: “No, no, no… Four hours from 8:30 is 2:30. I can tell time, thank you!”

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This Lesson Headed South

, , , , | Learning | March 14, 2020

(In fourth grade, we have to do a project where we choose a country from Africa to do research on.)

Teacher: “Okay, let’s say what country we’re going to do!”

Student #1: “Egypt.”

Student #2: “Kenya.”

Me: “South Africa.”

Teacher: “No! You don’t understand; you have to do a country! You can’t just choose the southern or northern part of Africa! Look at this map and choose an actual country.”

(I silently pointed to South Africa.)

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No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 15

, , , , , , | Right | February 22, 2020

(I work for a company that has only one sale a year, both in our stores and on our website. The sale is treated by many as a very big deal. I’ve been on the phone with a customer for almost half an hour as she complained that the website was slow — because so many people were on it — some items sold out before she could get them, and not everything she wanted was covered by the sale. Annoying, but at least true, until…)

Customer: “And another thing! Why does the sale start for the people on the West Coast before it does for people in Ontario?! That’s not fair! It should start at the same time for everyone!”

Me: “It does, ma’am.”

Customer: “It does not! I’m looking at your website and it says 6:00 am Pacific time, 9:00 am Eastern time! People in Toronto should get a chance to buy stuff at 6:00 am, too!”

Me: “Ma’am, 6:00 am Pacific time is 9:00 am Eastern time.”

Customer: “You’re trying to claim six is the same as nine? What do you think I am, stupid?!”

Me: “We’re in different time zones. If you’re in Toronto, it’s now five o’clock, right?”

Customer: “Of course, it is!”

Me: “Right, well, I’m in Vancouver and it’s 2:00 pm here right now.”

Customer: “I know that; I’m not an idiot! I don’t see what that has to do with why people in BC get to start on the sale earlier than the rest of us!”

Me: “But that’s what I’m trying to tell you. The sale only started at one time. It’s just that that time was 6:00 am for us, and 9:00 am for you, just like right now it’s 2:00 pm for us and 5:00 pm for you.”

Customer: “I can’t believe you’re lying to me like this! This is f****** ridiculous! I want to talk to your manager, right now!”

(I dutifully got her my supervisor, who spent the next fifteen minutes trying futilely to explain to a grown woman how time zones work. The customer finally hung up, still calling us liars.)

No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 14
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 13
No Fortitude For Longitude, Part 12

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