Meet Her Friend Mardeline

, , , , , , | Right | November 25, 2018

(I work twelve-hour shifts in registration in a very busy emergency department. I’ve just walked into work and we are currently experiencing downtime with our system, so I have to manually enter patients in with the correct spelling and date of birth, or the system will reject them. A patient comes up to me to check in.)

Patient: “I need to be seen by the doctor.”

Me: “Okay, I just need your first and last name.”

Patient: *speaking extremely low* “Dara Smith.”

Me: “Okay, did you say Dara?”

Patient: “No, I said Da-ra-thy.”

Me: “So, is that Dorothy?”

Patient: “No, Dorothy has no syllables; my name has three.”

Me: “Okay, can you spell your first name for me?”

Patient: “I can’t believe you don’t know how to spell Do-ra-thy.”

Me: “Is it just the traditional spelling of Dorothy? D-O-R-O-T-H-Y?”

Patient: “Yes.” *shaking her head*

Me: “Okay, ma’am, the way you are saying it makes it sound like there is an A in there somewhere. But I have you checked in, so take a seat and they will call you up shortly.”

Coworker: “And we still have eleven hours to go with this s***.”

You Know You Have A Drinking Problem When Even The Olive Oil Looks Good

, , , | Right | November 25, 2018

(I work in a hotel in Bali, at one of its restaurants. I am assigned to be the host during breakfast time. It’s near closing time, and as always, there are a few Indian people that come in late. I am about to have my break when I have to handle this one particular guest. With guests that don’t speak English, I tend to use simpler — though grammatically faulty — English.)

Guest: *speaks in an Indian language, asking for a drink*

Me: “I’m sorry? Drink?”

Guest: *repeats what he said, making a grand gesture that looks like he’s chugging down a beverage*

(Hot milk comes with the breakfast package, but the guests have to request it.)

Me: “Milk?”

Guest: “Yes!”

Me: “Okay, white or chocolate?”

Guest: “YES!”

Me: *pauses* “Sorry, white or chocolate?”

Guest: “YES!”

Me: “WHITE?!”

Guest: “YES!”

Me: “Okay, hot or cold?”

Guest: “Um, YES!”

Me: *speaks slowly* “Hot. Or. Cold?”

Guest: “YES!”

Me: “Hot plain milk it is, then.”

(I am more amused than anything. A little bit later, I see him by the salad bar pointing at a bottle.)

Guest: *says the word “drink” in his language again*

Me: “Sir, with all due respect, you can’t drink olive oil!”

The English Patient

, , , , | Healthy | November 23, 2018

(I am about eight years old when my family and I relocate to China for a year. Despite my Chinese heritage, I was born and raised elsewhere, so English is my first language, whereas I tend to struggle with Chinese. In that year, I fall sick enough to warrant a week-long stay at the nearest hospital. My mother and my grandmother accompany me in the daytime to take care of me as well as talk to the nurses and doctors on my behalf. When I’m alone, however, my sole form of entertainment is the TV in the room, which I leave on the only English-speaking channel they have. None of us think much about it until my mom comes in one morning and happens upon two nurses conversing outside my room.)

Nurse #1: “That little girl, she doesn’t talk much when I ask her questions, but she is so focused when it comes to [English channel] on TV. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s all she’s been watching since she got here!”

Nurse #2: “Wow! She’s that dedicated to learning English and keeping up with school, even though she’s this sick? What a studious girl!”

(And that’s how I inadvertently impressed a couple of nurses by lazing around in bed all day watching the telly.)

When You’ve Got An Ex To Grind

, , , , , | Working | November 22, 2018

(I’m a female on my 20s at the checkout line with a single purchase: an axe.)

Female Cashier: “Is that for firewood or your ex-husband?”

Me: “Firewood. I broke mine earlier this week… My axe, not my ex-husband.”

(Ironically, I had gotten divorced a few months earlier. She really picked up my spirits on a day I was feeling down, and I still laugh about it.)

When The Person You’re Insulting In A Foreign Language Isn’t Foreign To The Language

, , , , | Right | November 21, 2018

(On a particularly busy day, a group of Arab women come into the store keen on getting some tea. I’m excited because I actually speak fluent Arabic.)

Customer #1: “We want tea; what are the discounts?”

Me: “We currently don’t have any discounts on, unfortunately! Is there a specific tea you are looking for?”

Customer #2: “We want the one that’s like the one at [Restaurant In Town].”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I’ve never been there. Could you describe it?”

(This continues for about thirty minutes; they want teas from random places, and I bring down what I think will work, and they seem pleased. It’s at this point they start bickering in Arabic to each other.)

Customer #1: *in Arabic* “She is so stupid; she doesn’t even know what she’s talking about.”

Customer #2: “She’s probably going to overcharge us.”

Customer #3: “Could she go any slower?”

Me: *smiling, still pretending I don’t understand* “Your total today will be $127.83.”


Customer #2: *in English* “How can this be? You have to give us a discount; it’s way too much!”

Me: “I’m sorry. I can’t apply any discounts, but I’d be happy to make you a tea on the house.”

Customer #1: *very angry* “No, just let us pay so we can get out of here.”

(I ring them through,and before I reach for a bag, I decide to make this whole transaction worth my while.)

Me: *in Arabic* “Would you like a bag?”

(I had never seen anyone turn so white in my life; I thought they were going to pass out. They said nothing as I handed them their bag and wished them a wonderful day again in Arabic, just to hit the point home. Most satisfying feeling ever!)

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