, , , , | Working | May 16, 2018

(I am a foreign tourist traveling in Sri Lanka. I am perusing the goods of a local spice vendor.)

Me: “How much is your saffron?”

Vendor: “For you, my friend, I’ll sell to you at [price that is similar to what I would normally pay in my home country].”

Me: “Aww, gee, I don’t think that’s going to work for me. And how come your saffron powder is so much cheaper than your saffron threads?”

(I point to a large jar full of orange-colored powder that is clearly marked, “SAFFRON,” with a price that is unrealistically low.)

Vendor: “Uh, well, you see, the reason it’s so cheap is because that’s actually turmeric. I keep the real stuff behind the counter.”

Me: “Thanks for your time.” *walks away*

(I appreciated that he was being honest with me, but that doesn’t make it okay to lie to other people!)

A Pear Of Puns

| USA | Working | May 18, 2017

(I work at a fruit market and a customer is making a scene.)

Coworker: “That’s just bananas! I wish someone would turnip the music to block that guy’s voice out!”

Me: “You’re fired.”

(I don’t do puns.)

All Things Are Not Sound

| Canada | Right | November 23, 2016

I work at a seasonal produce market that sells local fruits and vegetables as a cashier and grocery bagger. Today, a man and his wife came through with four bunches of garden carrots that still had the green tops on while I was on bagging duty. The tops of these carrots are usually all over the place, so to get them to fit nicely into our bags, we have to bend the leafy tops over.

The cashier hands me the bunches and I start putting them into the bags as usual. As I’m doing this, I hear a faint sound, which sort of resembles coughing and doesn’t really phase me.

As I go to put the last bunch in the bag, I hear a terrifying and loud screech that completely stuns me and the cashier I was working with. I look up to see the man staring at me very angrily.

It turns out he had a tracheostomy and could not speak whatsoever but was trying to tell me not to bend the carrot tops (hence the faint coughing noises).

The screeching sound was him screaming at me through his tracheostomy for not following his wishes, which he clearly could not get across.

Through all of this, his wife, who could communicate and understand her husband perfectly well, said nothing to indicate I was doing something they did not want.

That screeching sound will haunt my coworker and me forever.


| Canada | Right | November 22, 2016

(It is just around opening at my job, when one of our regulars, who isn’t quite all there mentally, walks in. Because the store has just opened, it’s pretty quiet, and my coworkers and I are sitting around the tills, chatting. The regular customer spends a few minutes walking around, when finally she makes her way over to us.)

Customer: *to me* “You’re not busy! Go and get me some rhubarb!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, but we’re all out of rhubarb right now.”

Customer: “No! I mean go get in your car, drive around the city, and don’t come back until you’ve found some for me!”

(She wasn’t kidding.)

Give Me My Change Or I Am Sai-Gone

| Vietnam | Working | October 1, 2016

(A friend and I are on vacation in Vietnam. We go to a big market in a major city to do some souvenir shopping. I’ve visited Vietnam several times, and am familiar with this market. Around the outside edges, high-priced shops with “fixed prices” attempt to lure in less savvy tourists, while deep within the market you can bargain for a better deal. We’ve scored some great deals and are on our way out when I decide to buy a few cheap – but still overpriced – trinkets at a fixed price shop for my young family members… Basically, it’s not worth bargaining over what would amount to a couple cents.)

Shopkeeper: *who speaks very good English* “Those are [price].”

Me: “That’s fine. Here.” *hands her a note for just over the price*

Shopkeeper: *plays with her calculator a bit, rummages around first in her pockets, then in a display case way in the back, then comes back to me, suddenly forgetting most of the English she spoke 30 seconds ago* “You take [less than the correct amount of change, by a decent margin].”

Me: “No! Fixed price! Giá cố định!” *fixed price in Vietnamese*

Shopkeeper: *a little startled by me saying anything in Vietnamese, replies rapidly in Vietnamese*  “No small notes.”

Me: *back to English* “Fine, then give me [what amounts to about $.15 US too much change, but gets us to the next bill I can see she has in her hand]. My advantage, or go find small notes!”

Shopkeeper: *also English* “No, too much! You take this!” *tries to give me the incorrect change again*

Me: *hands her back merchandise and holds my hand out for my original bill* “Không. Còn lâu!” *No! No way!*

(After some plying, the shopkeeper gives me back my original bill. I was a bit surprised that she carried that (common) scam to overcharge all the way over the edge of a no-sale. I walk across the aisle to another fixed price shop selling basically the same items, for basically the same price.)

Me: “Do you have change for this?” *holds up original bill*

Shopkeeper: “Yes, madam. You would like [exactly what I was going to buy five meters away]?”

Me: “Yes, cảm ơn!” *thank you*

Shopkeeper: “Here is your change. Ngày tốt.” *Good day*

(I gave the first shopkeeper the smuggest look I think I’ve ever mustered on my way out. Yes, I realize $.15 is absolutely nothing, but score one for not just swallowing what I know to be a common overcharging scam, by shopkeepers who already charge more and make more profit by being in the highly visible and fixed price perimeter of the market!)

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