A Stroke Of Misunderstanding

, , , | Working | November 21, 2017

(My father suffers a stroke and we have to take him to the hospital. My mother stays with him and I go home in the morning, so I have to call in at his workplace.)

Me: *crestfallen* “Hi, I’m calling about [Father]. Sadly, he had a stroke last night, and we had to take him to the hospital. He won’t be able to come in until further notice.”

Secretary: “Oh, no! What did he do?”

Me: *repeating* “He had a stroke.”

Secretary: “Oh… No. I mean… like… medically.”

Me: *beginning to grasp after a few seconds of confusion* “Umm… I think you might be referring to the figurative meaning of the word, when people act stupid or funny. However, ‘stroke’ is actually a medical term describing when the brain doesn’t get enough blood.”

Secretary: “Oh, wow! I did not know that until now. Can you imagine? Anyhow, tell him to get well soon, to catch some restorative sleep, and to send in a letter from his doctor if it will take him longer than two days to recover.”

(Needless to say, it took him longer than two days. When I told my dad this story some days later, he had a good laugh about it, saying it was a good thing that secretary did not work in a medical office. Tomorrow, he’ll be starting work again after about a year.)

Some Caffeinated Banana Drama

, , , , | Working | November 17, 2017

(It is summer and I am sitting in a café. I love iced coffee. They don’t have it on the menu, but they do have coffee and ice cream. In Germany, an iced coffee is cold coffee with vanilla ice cream in it and whipped cream on top. So, I think I’ll just ask if they would make one for me. Worth a shot, right? The waitress shows up and I ask her.)

Waitress: “Yes, no problem. I sure could make one for you.”

Me: “Awesome, thank you!”

Waitress: “Which kind of ice cream would you like in it?”

Me: *confused* “Uh… Vanilla?””

Waitress: “I’m sorry, we only have banana and strawberry.”

Me: “Yeah… I think I’ll just have a coffee. Thanks.”

(I appreciated the thought, but seriously, iced banana coffee? Yuck.)

Repeating The Same Old Baggage

, , , , | Right | November 17, 2017

(Most major retailers in our city have just recently signed an agreement to reduce the number of plastic bags. All stores that signed the agreement have since started charging for plastic bags or switched to paper bags, which also come at a small fee.)

Customer: “Just this.”

Me: “That will be €9.99. Do you need to buy a bag?”

Customer: “How will I get this home?”

Me: “I can offer you a small plastic bag for 10 Cents, a large plastic bag for 20 Cents. or a canvas bag for 1 Euro.”

Customer: “How will I get this home?”

Me: “A small plastic bag should be sufficient. It’s just a small book; it will fit.”

Customer: “How will I get this home?”

Me: “If you don’t like plastic bags, I can also sell you a canvas bag for 1 Euro. Or we sell those pretty foldable fabric shoppers. They run €4.95, though.”

Customer: “But how will I get this home?”

Me: “…”

Customer: “I bet you also charge for gift wrapping.”

Me: “No. That’s actually a complementary service we offer.”

Customer: “Then gift-wrap this.”

Me: “Okay, no problem. €9.99.”

(The customer pays. I wrap her book and hand it to her.)

Customer: “How will I get this home?”

Me: “I could still sell you a plastic bag or a reusable canvas bag if you don’t like plastic.”

(The customer huffs loudly, picks up her book and walks off.)

Coworker: *looks at me and says* “Well, you could have offered to walk her to her car and carry it for her, couldn’t you?”

Painting A Picture Of Mild Obsession

, , , , , , | Learning | November 15, 2017

(During the two last years in high school in Germany, you pick two classes as your “major,” for which you have more hours per week and exams count most during graduation. I pick art, and since only nine other people do, and we are all genuinely interested and enthusiastic, and as this is the first art major ever at this school, our art teacher makes class a lot of fun while also educational. For our final project, he allows us to each paint a mural on sections of the walls of his classroom. We get really into it and often spend not only class hours but also breaks painting. One day we go a bit too far, though.)

Art Teacher: “Okay, guys. Class is officially over. Pack up your brushes and clean up.”

Student #1: “But I just need to finish this bit! I’ll never be able to mix this colour right!”

Me: “I just got into the zone! Let us stay!”

Art Teacher: *sighs* “Okay, you can stay for break, but after that I have another class in here, so have everything cleaned by then!”

(We promise, yet somehow forget. Not a problem, since the next class has to be shifted to another room for whatever reason, and our teacher completely forgets about us staying during break. Ninety minutes later, after finishing his class, he comes back into the room to find us still painting.)

Art Teacher: “Wait, you’re all still here?! Do you have a free period right now?”

Me: “Uh… No. We forgot.”

Art Teacher: “You forgot to go to your classes because of painting?!”

Student #2: “Oops?”

Art Teacher: “I’m going to get into so much trouble for this.”

Student #1: “Can’t we just all say we skipped class?”

Me: “Yeah, nobody knows we were in here. We could’ve just gone to get fast food or something.”

Student #2: “Yeah, it wouldn’t be fair to get you in trouble for us messing up.”

Art Teacher: “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear this conversation, but I’ll also not talk to the principal or your other teachers until tomorrow. You guys decide whatever you want to do.”

(We agreed to stick with the lie of skipping class, and we all got detention for it. Retrospectively, I have to wonder if our art teacher told the principal the truth, though, since detention mysteriously got scheduled in the art classroom, so we could just spend it painting even more. I went to visit our art teacher years after graduating, and our murals were still there.)

The Eternal Tomato

, , , , | Working | November 9, 2017

(I work in the kitchen at a family-run cafe. Usually, the owner of the cafe does our grocery shopping; we have a pre-printed list with any items we need and only fill in quantity. Since everyone in the kitchen knows the basic amount of items that are needed, we don’t write down, “1 kg tray of tomatoes;” we only note, “tomatoes: 1,” as the owner knows what amount we actually mean by that. Everyone is so used to this system that we forget it’s not as obvious to others as it is to us.)

Owner’s Husband: “Hi! [Owner] is out sick today, so I’m going to do the grocery run. This is the list?” *grabbing it and already heading out the door*

Me: *to another coworker* “Has [Owner’s Husband] ever done the shopping for the cafe before?”

Coworker: “I don’t think so. He’s never in, to be honest.”

Me: “Oh, dear. We should’ve explained the list.”

(We tried to call him multiple times, but couldn’t reach him. He returned an hour later with a tiny shopping cart filled with barely anything. He literally bought one single tomato, one lonely onion, one bag of rice, etc. It took almost another 30 minutes for us to explain to him why we needed another grocery run. I completely understand that our list might be difficult to understand for an outsider, but wouldn’t anyone be surprised that a cafe that serves 200 to 300 people a day only needed one onion for two days?)

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