Trumpeting On About His Pages

, , , , , | Right | November 18, 2018

(I am working the desk when an elderly man approaches. He hands me a piece of scratch paper with a website written on it and asks me to go there on my computer. Mind you, he has already had me look up a music festival, and become frustrated when I couldn’t find a map, directions, location, and contact information within the first thirty seconds.)

Me: “Okay, this website sells gifts for musicians. Was that what you wanted?”

Patron: “Yeah, yeah. Give me whatever you’ve got on there.”

Me: “Okay… Well, it’s a very large website. What did you want from it?”

Patron: “I want trumpets. They got any trumpet stuff on there?”

Me: *types “trumpet” into search bar* “Yes, they have trumpets.”

Patron: “Okay, great! Just print off whatever you’ve got.”

Me: “Sir, there are nine pages of trumpet-related merchandise here.”

Patron: “Well, then give me the nine pages!”

Me: “I’m not allowed to print off that much—”

Patron: “Then print off whatever you can and give it to me!”

Me: “Sir, this is an online store. If you want to buy from them, you’ll need to get on a computer and browse their inventory yourself.”

Patron: “I don’t know how to use a computer. Just give me whatever they’ve got.”

Me: “Our library offers free computer classes. I could register you.”

Patron: “I don’t have that kind of time! Just get me the nine pages!”

Me: “Sir, even if I did that, you wouldn’t be able to purchase any of the items. You would have to go online and purchase them from the store.”

Patron: “Well, if you can’t do it, just say so!”

Me: “I can’t do it, sir.”

(He left in a huff.)

Lollipops And Fisticuffs!

, , , , | Right | November 10, 2018

(My company switched their ordering system this year to large shipments every other month instead of regular shipments every month. Because of this, we can sometimes run out of popular candy in the last week or so before the shipment comes in.)

Customer: “What?! You’re out of [Popular Candy #1] and [Popular Candy #2]?! I’ve got to talk to a manager! Are you the manager?”

Me: *shrugging* “I’m the associate manager.”

Customer: “Well, now we’ve got to fight.”

Me: “Okay. Put ’em up!”

(I start “threatening” the customer by waving my fists at her cartoonishly. She laughs, but then accidentally knocks over a box of lollipops, spilling them on the floor.)

Me: “Oh, now we’ve really got to fight!”

(We didn’t fight, but she did buy a couple of lollipops.)

Gun-Control Attackers Fail To See Irony In Being Easily Triggered

, , , , | Friendly | November 10, 2018

(By some miracle, I find myself in a polite, intelligent, and coherent conversation regarding gun control. The topic drifts into people overreacting to seeing the words “gun control” at all, and then on to terrible gun jokes, such as how “AK” and “AR” mean the guns are from Alaska and Arkansas. A new person enters the chat room.)

Me: “That’s why gun control is so important; it keeps geography intact!”

New Person: “Not this f****** conversation again!”

(He promptly exited the chat room as we went back to laughing about people overreacting to seeing the words “gun control” at all.)

Caught In The Middle Of Their Inability To Find The Middle

, , , , , | Right | November 9, 2018

Customer: “Where are your bags?”

Me: “Middle shelf, next to the boxes.”

(The customer reaches for the top shelf of boxes.)

Me: “MIDDLE shelf, next to the boxes.”

(The customer moves their hand to the middle shelf of boxes.)

Me: “NEXT TO the boxes.”

(The customer moves their hand to the bottom shelf of boxes.)

Me: “MIDDLE shelf, NEXT TO the boxes.”

(The customer moves their hand back to the middle shelf of boxes, then hovers it the opposite direction of the bags.)

Me: “Other direction.”

(The customer turns and walks away from the boxes and bags entirely.)

Me: “Let me just grab one for you.”

(There are days when I have to go through this with multiple customers. And then there’s days where I’ll point at the bags on one shelf and the customer will successfully retrieve one from a different shelf.)

Well-Intentioned But Not Well-Fed

, , , , , , | Friendly | October 29, 2018

(I was a pre-teen when my family became friends with several families who recently moved to Louisiana from Iran to escape religious persecution. Many years later, I still remember the best lesson I ever got about the differences between our cultures.)

Adult Iranian Friend: “A couple of Americans set up a business meeting around noon with a couple of Persian friends of mine. My friends didn’t eat before they arrived, but when they got there, there was no food laid out. The Americans greeted them warmly but said, ‘We haven’t actually had lunch yet, so we were wondering if you would mind if we ate during the meeting?’ My friends graciously said, ‘No, not at all.’ The Americans then ate their food in front of my friends, completely unaware that my friends watched them hungrily the whole time. My friends learned that they should always eat before going to any meeting with Americans.”

Me: *confused* “Well, yeah? I mean, the Americans weren’t required to feed them. And they apologized, and your friends said it was okay, so they weren’t doing anything wrong.”

Adult Iranian Friend: “Yes, but in my culture, food would have been offered, and it would have been rude to come to the meeting on a full stomach.”

Me: “But your friends weren’t friends with the Americans, were they? Why would the Americans have to feed them? They’re not required to.”

(After a bit more discussion, I finally understood: Americans will schedule meetings through mealtimes and expect acquaintances to rearrange the rest of their day around those meetings and provide food for themselves. Americans may offer a drink or a snack to guests, but they rarely offer more than that to someone they don’t consider a close friend. These were things I’d grown up thinking everyone did. But instead, as I came to learn through regular interactions with my Persian friends, they will feed guests full meals at pretty much every opportunity, and this is completely normal for them. I’m American and I find cooking meals for other people both exhausting and expensive, so I don’t recommend following that Persian custom unless you have time, energy, and funds. But be aware that your Persian guests may have expectations that are different than you’re used to, and be sure to plan your meetings with them accordingly.)

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