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Just As Helpful To Just Say It’s Made Of Paper

, , | Right | October 1, 2020

Customer: “I’m looking for a book.”

Me: “All right, do you know the title?”

Customer: “No.”

Me: “Okay, how about the author?”

Customer: “Uh, no.”

Me: “Do you know what the book is about?”

Customer: “No… but it’s a paperback!”

Mmm, Pepperoni & Vanilla

, , | Right | June 9, 2020

I work at a very busy tourist place in the capital. The cafeteria has all kinds of food — warm or cold, sweet or salty — including twenty different-flavoured ice creams that are made at the same place.

All kinds of nationalities come to visit this place and sometimes we can get quite funny and weird questions about the food.

A group of teenagers, who clearly aren’t from this country, are all standing in front of the ice cream, talking together in a language we don’t understand. One of them comes forward and starts asking me about the ice creams.

Customer: “Is there anything from pigs in your ice cream?”

Me: *Very confused* “Um… What? Pigs?”

Customer: “Yes! It’s very important. Is there anything from pigs in your ice cream?”

Me: “Well… no. We don’t use pigs in our ice cream.”

Customer: “Are you sure? Nothing from pigs? Are you totally sure?”

Me: “Yes, we don’t use pigs in our ice cream. In fact, there is a sign in front of this glass where it says what we make our ice cream of. There is nothing from pigs.”

The customer accepted this and most of the teenagers bought some ice cream, mostly without any kind of special flavours. It turned out that most of them were Muslims and didn’t know much about this country’s customs or food, so they wanted to be totally sure it didn’t break their rules.

Við Tölum Ensku!

, , , | Right | June 9, 2020

I work in a cafeteria at a busy tourist place. All kinds of nationalities visit, and even if most of them speak good, okay, or bad English, we almost always manage to get them what they want.

There are two men in their mid-twenties standing a bit from us, talking in low voices together for a while, before one of them comes towards the counter, seemingly to order something. Before I manage to say anything, he starts speaking in a British accent, with a very sorry face.

Tourist: “I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Icelandic.”

I am totally dumbfounded for a second.

Me: “T— That’s okay. I speak English. In fact, almost everyone in this country speaks and understands English very well.”

He still looked sorry, as if it was his fault that he didn’t speak Icelandic, but he and his friend got their questions answered and orders made without any problems.

We Have Reservations About Giving You A Reservation

, , , | Right | April 17, 2020

We are a family-run guesthouse and our guests are mostly quiet, foreign couples and families that book months or weeks in advance. While we get the occasional guest from the street, my manager emphasizes that we always request ID and payment up front in such cases. She said that mostly applied to natives, as they are often only looking for a place downtown to party and cause trouble, as we are centrally located.

It is June, during the high summer season, when we are almost always fully booked. A native couple walks in, both probably in their middle or late thirties. They are wearing pretty busted punk-like clothes and smell of cigarettes and alcohol.

Woman: “Do you have a double room for us tonight?”

One of the family owners happens to be near the reception, having dropped off some groceries earlier. I glance at her, and she subtly shakes her head, indicating I should not give them a room. While she’s not the manager, I decide to trust her instincts, as she has worked in the reception for years.

Me: “Uh, I’m afraid we are fully booked tonight; we don’t have any rooms available. I’m sorry.” 

We actually have a few left, but I trust the family owner, this also being my first encounter with the supposedly rowdy locals. The woman quickly gets angry.

Woman: “No, we need a room tonight! We are going to a wedding later today and just flew to the city earlier today. Now our trip is ruined because you won’t give us a room. I can’t believe this!”

Me: “I’m very sorry, but this is the busiest time of the year. All our rooms have already been booked in advance.”

Woman: “What, are you saying the fancy foreigners who book in advance are favored over people from your own country?” 

Me: “Not at all; we serve all equally. The current guests just happened to book ahead of time.”

Woman: “I expected to be able to find a room for us natives without any trouble! What kind of discrimination is going on? We’re not as good as the foreigners?”

Me: “Nationality has nothing to do with this. I understand your frustration, but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.”

The woman starts getting really loud as she points to the breakfast lounge in the next room.

Woman: “This is ridiculous! See, it’s empty! What sort of a guesthouse doesn’t even have any guests sitting around, huh? Where are all the people?”

Me: *Still calm* “This is where we serve breakfast in the morning, but it’s usually empty during the day. I believe most guests prefer spending their days outside of the guesthouse.”

Woman: “Well, I don’t believe you. Just give us a room!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but like I told you, there’s nothing I can offer you. I’m sure you can find a room elsewhere.”

Woman: “We won’t leave without a room; I know you have one!”

This goes on a little further, with the woman constantly raising her voice and getting angrier. The man with her, however, never speaks; he just stands there looking menacing. The other owner has also stepped in and backed up my claims, but it seems of little use.

While I’m on the verge of telling them to leave, I try instead to keep my calm, a tactic that I find works better on angry customers. After pushing this for a little while, they finally fall silent for a moment and just glance at each other.

The woman then speaks up again, suddenly calmer.

Woman: “Okay, fine. Do you have a phone I can use? I need to talk to my friends.”

She then abruptly bends really close over my desk, reaching for my reception phone. My initial thought is that she is trying to take it with her, so I quickly push it further away. I’m a little taken aback.

Me: “I’m afraid this one is private, but we have a payphone downstairs in the basement that you can use.”

Annoyed, they both walk downstairs and the two of us just sigh deeply, relieved that this is over. But then, the family owner remembers that the door downstairs that leads to the private section is open, as she had just come back from the grocery store and left some bags there to be sorted.

We both get up quickly, but then we see them both running up the stairs and out the front door. We notice that the woman has one of the leeks from the grocery bags in her hand! We just stare dumbfounded after them, thinking there’s no use making a further scene and glad they’re gone.

Family Owner: “Did they really just steal a leek in revenge? I’m glad we didn’t give in. Those were definitely troublemakers; I knew it.”

We then both shrug it off, thinking that’s not too much damage after all. However, shortly afterward, an owner we know from another much smaller guesthouse next street comes in. She’s panting, as if she’d been running.

Guesthouse Owner: *out-of-breath and quite angry* “Hey, did you happen to see a punk-looking couple around here? Older, like thirty- or forty-something years old?”

Family Owner: “Yes! We did! They were here arguing for like ten minutes earlier, because we wouldn’t give them a room. They then stole one of our leeks and ran off!” 

Guesthouse Owner: “Well, they also asked for a room with me, but I was honestly fully booked tonight, so I declined them. They argued with me for a few minutes, but then they went and ripped my outdoors speakerphone right off the wall and dashed off with it! I’ve been running after them, but I can’t find them. They were so fast! I’m going to go out again and look; they can’t have gone far. I will make them pay for damaging my property!” 

We were both stunned but also even gladder that we hadn’t let them in, considering ourselves lucky we only lost a leek in comparison. The other guesthouse owner later told us that she never found the couple and ended up paying for the damage herself. Considering they were capable of such wreckage, we figured that the whole wedding tale was probably just a lie and that they were most likely just some schemers looking for stuff to steal. While a pretty extreme encounter, it certainly made me understand the reservations my owners have!

Trapped In The Kar(ma) Park

, , , | Right | March 31, 2020

(I am an operator for a security company. I oversee the fleet, alarms, and cameras and answer calls. We have one gate we have to watch out of a parking complex, as a lot of people try to skip paying, saying the machine is broken.

We are instructed to, no matter what, not open the gate unless people have paid for their tickets. If the machine is broken, I have to let people know that the bill will be sent to the owner of the car instead, seeing as we see the license plate.

One guy calls in:)

Customer: “Hey, I’m at [parking complex] and the machine is broken. Can you open the gate?”

Me: “Have you tried [possible solution]?”

Customer: “Just open the gate, please.”

Me: “I can do that but I have to caution that the machine should be up and running, so if I open the gate I’ll have to send the owner of the car a bill for it.”

Customer: “But the gate is broken.”

Me: “I understand, sir, but you have to pay either way.”

Customer: “OPEN THE D*** GATE!”

Me: “Sir, I have to know if you accept that the payment will fall to the owner of the car. It’s policy.”

Customer: “No, I do not accept! Let me out!”

Me: “I’m afraid I can’t until you acknowledge what I just said.”

Customer: “I’m calling the cops! This is stealing!”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way, sir. Feel free to call the police.”

Customer: “Call the cops! I want you to do it!”

Me: “Sir, I’m not calling the cops; they have enough on their plate.”

Customer: “I’m going to f****** kill you!”

Me: “That’s unfortunate.”

Customer: “What’s your name?!”

Me: “I do not have to provide you with my name. If you have a complaint, my company has ways to figure out who you spoke to.”

Customer: “Where are you?! Come here so I can kick your a**!”

Me: “I’m not coming to you so you can kick my a**.”

(My coworkers are listening intently. I’m usually the one who handles calls like this because I remain indifferent to threats and shouting. I care when you’re polite but I don’t have any sympathy for rudeness, and least of all for threats of violence.)

Customer: “Where are you?! Tell me, so I can come kick your a**!”

Me: “I’m at our HQ at [address]. If you have trouble finding it, it’s the big building full of security guards. You’re being extremely rude, so I’m not letting you out. You can walk home and get your car tomorrow. Have a good night.”