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On Vacation From Reason

, , , | Right | January 31, 2013

(I am working at a salon through a Cooperative Education program at my high school, and am still a senior. I answer the phone.)

Me: “[Salon], how can I help you?”

Customer: “Yes, I’d like to book an appointment today with [Employee who is on vacation].”

Me: “Sorry, [Employee] is actually on vacation. I could book you with another stylist today or with [Employee] when she returns.”

Customer: “What do you mean, she’s on vacation? I need a haircut!”

Me: “Oh, well, yes, she is on a cruise. But like I said before, I can book you with another stylist or—”

Customer: “No, no, no! This is unacceptable! I want to book an appointment today with [Employee]! How could she go on vacation and do this to me?”

Me: “Well, she had vacation days to use up, so she is gone. Now, would you like to book an appointment for a later date?”

Customer: “No! I want [Employee] to cut my hair today! Gosh, what don’t you understand? Are you stupid?”

(I try to explain several more times that the certain employee she is requesting has gone on vacation and would be back in a few weeks, but she simply won’t listen.)

Customer: “Fine! This is just ridiculous! I guess I will book an appointment with another stylist but this is just silly! [Employee] should not be allowed to go on vacation!”

Shogun The Way To Go Home, Part 2

, , , , | Right | January 29, 2013

(I grew up in Japan and am bilingual, even though I am Australian by birth. I am showing some Australian friends around Tokyo.)

American Customer: *to the station attendant, in English* “Hey, I need to get to Akihabara station. How do I do that?”

Station Attendant: *in Japanese* “Sorry, I do not speak English. Could you point it out?”

(As the station attendant speaks, he has a big map of the subway system and his gestures make it VERY obvious what he wants the customer to do.)

American Customer: *in English* “Are you deaf?! I need to get to Akihabara station!”

Station Attendant: *in Japanese, while gesturing at the map emphatically* “I don’t know English, sorry. Please point where you are going.”

American Customer: *in English* “Stupid Asians. Just tell me how to get there!”

(I intervene at this point as I feel sorry for the poor station worker.)

Me: *in Japanese* “He wants to get to Akihabara station. I know the way; I’ll explain it to him.”

(I explain, in English, how to get to the station, and tell him that the station attendant was trying but he doesn’t speak English.)

American Customer: *to me, in English* “These stupid [slurs] should learn English. Why couldn’t he tell me that?”

Me: “When Asians visit your country, you expect them to speak English, right? So it’s only fair when you come here you try to use their language. Plus, he was trying to help you, if you had just pointed it out on the map.”

American Customer: “Everyone should know English!”

(He storms off without apologizing or thanking me or the station worker.)

Station Attendant: *to me, in Japanese* “Thank you so much for helping. I didn’t know what to do.”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. He was just being rude. I feel like I should be apologizing for his behaviour on behalf of all foreigners.”

Station Attendant: “Oh, don’t worry, we get much worse. Then there are people like you who help convince me you’re not all bad. Thanks again!”


This story is part of our Japan roundup!

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Don’t Have A Cow, Ma’am

, , , , , , | Right | January 25, 2013

(It’s my first day working in this cafe. It’s late in the afternoon and we are getting ready to close. I am in the back kitchen, cleaning, when I overhear this conversation between the waitress and a customer who has just walked in and is looking at the food we have left on display.)

Waitress: “Hi! What can I get for you?”

Customer: “Don’t you have anything else vegetarian? All I can see are these quiches, and they look disgusting! Like they’ve been here for hours!”

Waitress: “I’m sorry, ma’am. Normally we do have a few more vegetarian options, pasties and such, but as you can see, it’s almost the end of the day, so we’ve sold out of most things. But I can assure you that the quiches are baked fresh here and these ones are still fine to eat.”

Customer: “Well, they look terrible. I’ll just have one of those pies.”

Waitress: “Are you sure, ma’am? These are meat pies; they’re not vegetarian.”

Customer: “Just give me a d*** pie!”

(The waitress reluctantly bags up the pie and the customer pays for it and leaves in a huff. Sure enough, less than five minutes later, the customer returns.)

Customer: “How dare you sell this to me! It’s not vegetarian! It’s got f***ing meat in it! What the f*** is wrong with you?!”

Me: *to my fellow kitchen employees* “I’m going to love working here, aren’t I?”


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Cold Hearts Can Leave You In The Cold

, , , , , , | Working | January 22, 2013

(Even though I have graduated college, I still use the campus fitness center almost daily. I’m used to the student employees there being rude and late to open the gym in the morning, and I’ve had problems with campus security being unhelpful in the past. This particular morning, I wake up to a blizzard. As I pull up to the gym, I see four other regulars waiting outside the door: two old ladies and two students, one of whom is in shorts. Keep in mind it’s 6:00 am in January in Minnesota.)

Me: “Hi, guys! I take it no one is here yet?”

Old Lady #1: “Yeah, we’ve all been here since six and there is no sign of anyone yet.”

Me: *to the student in shorts* “Do you want to go sit in my car and turn the heat on? I really don’t mind.”

Student In Shorts: “No, I’m okay. I’m sure they’ll be here soon.”

(Ten minutes later…)

Old Lady #2: “Okay, this is starting to get silly. Maybe I should call campus security and see if someone can let us in.”

Student #2: “I tried five minutes ago. No one answered.”

Me: “I bet you all a million dollars that even if someone from security did come, they’d say it was against policy to let us in.”

Old Lady #1: *laughs* “Even they won’t be that ridiculous!”

Me: *to the student in shorts* “Are you sure you don’t want to sit in my car?”

Student In Shorts: “I’m still fine. It can’t be much longer.”

(After 20 more minutes of making small talk and pacing around, we are starting to get angry and contemplate just leaving.)

Old Lady #1: “Hey, I think there is someone at the front desk! Finally, we can go inside!”

(We all rush to the door, and, sure enough, there is a campus security guard leaning against the front desk. She doesn’t seem to see us, so we start knocking on the door.)

Me: “Hey, can you let us in, please?”

Student In Shorts: “Hello!”

Old Lady #2: “Woman! Open the d*** door!”

(The guard looks in our direction and clearly sees all of us waving, but she doesn’t move and looks away.)

Old Lady #1: “Oh ,you’ve got to be f***ing kidding me. Hey!”

(We continue knocking and yelling until she finally slowly walks over and opens the door.)

Security Guard: “I’m sorry, I can’t let you in until the employee gets here. It’s against procedure.”

Old Lady #2: “You can’t be serious.”

Security Guard: “There’s nothing I can do.”

Me: “Can’t you just let us stand inside? We don’t have to go to the gym. We’ll just sit on those benches until the employee gets here.”

Security Guard: “No.”

Old Lady #1: “We’re not going to do anything. What does it matter if we just sit there?”

Security Guard: “It’s against procedure.”

Old Lady #2: “That girl is in shorts and we’ve all been out here since six! Just let us in the d*** building! You can stand and watch us sit on the bench if you’re worried.”

Security Guard: “No.” *closes the door*

(By this point, we’ve all had enough and decide to just keep pounding on the door and yelling until the guard finally lets us sit inside. She grumbles and complains about this until the student worker finally shows up. By now, it’s 7:00 am.)

Old Lady #1: *to the student worker* “It’s about d*** time, young lady. Why are you so late?”

Student Worker: “I felt like sleeping in. Plus, it looked so cold outside. I didn’t want to leave.”

Student In Shorts: “Wait, don’t you live on campus?”

Student Worker: “Yeah, so?”

Student In Shorts: “Which building are you in?”

Student Worker: *says building name*

Me: “The one across the street from this building?!”

Student Worker: “I didn’t want to deal with the cold!”

(The other regulars and I were left speechless. I still see that student worker some mornings. If it wasn’t for the fact that I can use the gym for free, I’d never go back!)


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Losing English Patience

, , , , , | Right | January 3, 2013

(I work at a sandwich shop across the street from a high school. I serve a lot of teachers who come over here for lunch.)

Me: “You want a turkey on white with tomato? That’s [price].”

Customer #1: “Oh, and can I have a bottle of water?”

Me: “‘Course!”

Customer #1: *scoffs* “I can’t believe you just said that. As an English teacher, I think I should tell you that saying that isn’t proper English.”

Me: *not sure what to say* “Um… sorry?”

Customer #1: “There you go again! Those are fragments, not complete sentences! All the other teachers who come in here would be ashamed.”

(The customer behind her speaks up.)

Customer #2: “Yeah, well, I’m a math teacher, and trust me, we don’t care.”


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