Doesn’t Know When To Finnish

| Canada | Crazy Requests, Language & Words, Rude & Risque

(I’m teaching myself Finnish by talking to a friend over texts and by reading the newspaper clippings she sends me every now and then. It takes me a long time to read them, because I’m just beginning, so I do it in a library with a notebook to jot down notes. An elderly woman comes up while I am in the middle of getting my clippings, notebook, and pen out.)

Woman: “Oh! What are you doing there? Learning Arabic or something?”

(I look down at the very obviously not-Arabic text.)

Me: “Nope, actually Finnish.”

Woman: “What?”

Me: “Finnish? Suomi?”

Woman: *annoyed* “Are you telling me you don’t want to talk to me?”

Me: “No, miss, I’m just saying that I’m teaching myself Finnish, the language from Finland.”

Woman: *finally clicks* “Oh! I’m so sorry! I keep sticking my foot in it!”

Me: “Not a problem, ma’am.”

(I go to start working, and then I see the headline and stop.)

Woman: “What’s the problem? You can’t do it?”

Me: “No, ma’am, it’s just I’m not sure this story is quite appropriate.”

(I go to turn the page, but the woman snatches the clipping away and looks at it, bewildered.)

Woman: “Don’t be ridiculous; how hard could it be?”

Me: “Finnish isn’t related to English, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to recognize much.”

Woman: “You’re just faking; [you’re] trying to pick up women by looking clever! I f****** hate you f****** a**-holes who think they can fool people! You’re just a f****** b****** who thinks he’s so smart! D*** f****** kids these days!”

(The woman flings the clipping back down and storms off. I begin translating, saying it as I write just loud enough for her to hear.)

Me: “HORNY BEARS TORMENTING PEOPLE…”

An Unlikely Story

| WA, Australia | Books & Reading, Liars & Scammers, Money, Theme Of The Month

(I have been checking books back in that have been left on our returns desk and come across a new book that has been badly damaged by what looks to be coffee. When the patron comes back to the circulation desk, I show her the book.)

Me: “Good morning! I’ll check those out for you in just a moment. Unfortunately because this book has been damaged quite badly, we won’t be able to have it in our collection any more. The replacement cost will be [dollar amount]; are you able to pay now or should I send an invoice out?”

Patron: “Oh, it was like that when I took it out!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we’d never loan something in that condition, and as it was on your membership, you are liable for the damage done to it while on loan.”

Patron: “I didn’t do it! You can’t prove I did it! It must have been the person before me! I won’t pay! It’s been like that for ages.”

Me: “Ma’am, this is a new book. We only got it last month and the only person to have it before you was I. And I can assure you, I didn’t spill coffee on this book.”

(There is a long pause.)

Patron: “Um, how much was it?”

The Odds Of Her Believing Are Ever In Your Favor

| MD, USA | Books & Reading, Family & Kids, Theme Of The Month

(I overhear the following conversation between a boy who is about 12, and his grandmother.)

Grandmother: “What are you reading there?”

Boy:The Hunger Games.”

Grandmother: “What’s that about?”

Boy: “Don’t worry Grandma. It’s about these kids who enter a Hungry Hungry Hippos tournament, and the winner wins a bag of candy!”

Grandmother: “Oh. That sounds nice!”

Didn’t Read The Signals

| WA, USA | Books & Reading, Family & Kids, Technology, Theme Of The Month

(I overhear a library patron talking to his small daughter.)

Patron: “You’re turning five today; do you know what that means?”

Daughter: “Uh…”

Patron: “Do you know what you finally get today? It’s so exciting!”

Daughter: “A pink Nintendo DS?!”

Patron: “What? Uh, no. We’re getting you a library card.”

Me: “…weeee! Happy birthday!”

Doesn’t Make A Lycan Sense

| USA | Books & Reading, Geeks Rule, Pets & Animals

(We get a lot of kids at the library where I work. One of our regular customers, who’s about eight years old, walks up to me.)

Customer: “[My name], I have an important question.”

Me: “Yes?”

Customer: “Are werewolves real?”

Me: “Nope, werewolves are made up.”

(He looks taken aback, like that wasn’t the response he was expecting.)

Customer: “What?! But, but wolves are real!”

Me: “Right. But wolves are wolves, and people are people.

Customer: “Huh?”

Me: “If you’re born a wolf, you’re a wolf for the rest of your life. If you’re born a person, you’ll stay a person. So since you were born a person, you’ll never turn into a wolf.”

(The customer thinks about this for a minute.)

Customer: “That doesn’t make any sense!”

(The customer walks away, slowly shaking his head.)