Not What Is Meant By Giving A Voice To Minorities

, , , , , | Right | April 3, 2020

(I am a white male working at a well-known fast food franchise in a predominately-black area. I am working the drive-thru order and payment window. A car pulls up to the speaker box and I talk into my headset.)

Me: “Welcome to [Store]. Can I take your order?”

Customer: “I’ll take a [order].”

Me: “That will be [price]. First window, please.”

(So far, it seems like a standard order. The customer drives around. The customer is a black woman. Before I can even repeat the price, she looks up with a shocked expression.)

Customer: “YOU’RE NOT BLACK!”

(I am speechless.)

Customer: “You sound black on the box! WHY DO YOU SOUND BLACK?!”

(I do not know what else to say except:)

Me: “That will be [price].”

(The customer pays and then drives off to pick up her food. Then, she starts talking to herself.)

Customer: “Shouldn’t be making himself sound black like that. He’s not black.”

(My coworkers at the food window told me later that she told them to tell me to stop pretending to be black.)

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American Cheese Is For The Dogs… Or Not

, , , , , , | Related | April 1, 2020

This is an old story my dad loves to tell. He has an old friend who is a bit of a picky eater. One night, my dad is making burgers. His friend brought his own cheese to put on the burgers — specifically, American cheese slices, which my dad personally finds to be an affront to the wonder that is cheese. 

My dad looks at him in disbelief and tells him, “Dude, that’s not real cheese.” His friend vehemently disagrees, so my dad says, “I’ll prove it. [Dog] likes cheese. C’mere, girl,” and throws a full slice of the cheese on the floor for our dog. 

It’s true, our dog loves cheese — she loves any and all human food and we frequently let her lick our dishes after meals — so she is well-acquainted with various cheeses.

Anyway, she trots over, sniffs the slice on the kitchen floor, and turns her nose away and trots back off into another room, entirely uninterested. 

To this day, his friend insists that my dad gave her some secret signal to leave the treat on the floor. Our dog was a bit of a wild one when she was a pup, but at this point, we had gotten through to her and she was excellently behaved… but there was no signal on earth that would stop her from taking good food that was placed on the floor, which was considered her domain.

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Sales End, But Bad Customers Are Forever

, , , | Right | March 27, 2020

(I work at a health food store, and we pride ourselves on having the lowest prices. In the rare case we don’t, we can almost always offer a price match.)

Me: “Hello! Are you finding everything okay?”

Customer: “Yes, my sister was here last week and got this hair dye for $2 less. Will you price match?”

Me: “Oh, that’s because it was on sale last week. The sale ended two days ago.”

Customer: “So, will you price match?”

Me: “You’re asking for us to price match an expired sale?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “I’m sorry. We can’t do that.”

Customer: *scoffs*

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Seat Down And Choose Your Battles

, , , | Right | March 26, 2020

(I’m talking to an elderly patron on the phone. He’s buying tickets to the most recent show.)

Me: “I can get you two seats in the middle of orchestra right, row C.”

Patron: “I don’t want them near the far end. What seat numbers are they?”

Me: “C8 and C10.”

Patron: “No, I want two seats together.”

Me: “They are together; the seats in orchestra right are numbered by even numbers and orchestra left is odds.”

Patron: “Oh, okay. How many seats are in this row?”

Me: “Ten, sir.”

Patron: “But you’re putting me in C10! That’s the last seat.”

Me: “No, sir, the seats go from C2 to C20.”

Patron: “That doesn’t make sense!”

Me: “As I said before, the orchestra right seats are assigned even numbers only.”

Patron: “I want to be in the middle!”

Me: “Yes, your seats are in the middle of the row. That last seat in this row is C20.”

Patron: “So there are twenty seats in this row?”

Me: *pause* “Yes.”

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Even Language Teachers Have Language Barriers

, , , , , | Learning | March 22, 2020

(I am working as an online English teacher for kids in China. Sometimes during a lesson, a kid might not understand what he is supposed to do. The most direct explanation would be to explain it in Chinese; however, there are three reasons why this is the last resort. The class is supposed to be immersive and the students should not hear or speak Chinese during the lessons. My Chinese is not good enough to carry on a conversation. Despite my best efforts, my accent confuses kids who have not had much English experience and they think my Chinese is just more English they do not understand. Here is an example of what can happen when I resort to Chinese.)

Me: *circling the fire truck on the screen* “What is this?”

Boy: “What… is this?”

Me: “No, no… What is this?”

Boy: “What is this?”

Me: “No…” *still circling the firetruck* “Zhege shi shenma?” *“This one is what?”*

Boy: “Zhega shi shenma…”

Father: *laughing and saying in Chinese* “No, the teacher is trying to speak to you in Chinese. He is asking you what this is.”

Boy: *sheepish chuckling* “Oh, oh, oh… It’s a firetruck.”

(The rest of the class proceeded much easier as he got better at recognizing the receptive language. It’s nice when there is an English-proficient parent around to bail me out.)

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