Earl-y Language

, , , , | Right | February 14, 2019

I was working for a small weekly advertising newspaper in a semi-rural area. I was mostly the computer person, but one of my duties was taking classified ads over the phone when it was busy.

A caller wanted to place an ad to sell some “Earl drums.” Since I was still cleaning up after my predecessor, whose spelling had been — how shall we say it — creative… and I know some percussion instrument manufacturers can have complicated spellings — e.g., Zildjian — I asked him to spell the name.

In disbelief, he replied, “You know: Oh. Ah. Ell. Earl!”

He was selling oil drums.

Unfiltered Story #135397

, , , | Unfiltered | January 2, 2019

Customer called to complain, saying I “sensationalized” a news story by writing that a business had “burned down to the ground” when he knew perfectly well the walls were still up at the end of the fire. That was true. They were burnt to a crisp, but they were standing. Photo available.

The Location Of That Office Is Classified

, , , | Right | September 17, 2018

(I work as a reporter for a community newspaper, which has multiple papers throughout the county. Due to an effort to “centralize” everything, my office consists only of reporters and the circulation manager. Things like ads, classifieds, etc., are based out of our county flagship office, a good 25- to 30-minute drive from my office depending on traffic. We’re understaffed at the moment, as one of the two reporters out of this office recently quit and his replacement has yet to start, so I am literally the only person in the entire office most days. But we get almost no foot traffic here, so it isn’t usually a problem… Until today, when a little old woman comes in wanting to place a classified ad.)

Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t do ads here in this office, but if you wait one moment, I can get you the name and contact information for the classified department.”

(After pausing a moment to see if she’ll protest, I go back to my desk to do just that. Less than a minute later, I return with a name and direct phone number for a classified ads person.)

Woman: “I wanted to do this in person!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but like I said, we don’t do that in this office. It’s based in our [Location] office.”

Woman: “I could have called from home! I wanted to do this in person! I even called to make sure there was an office here before I came!”

Me: *thinking maybe she should have specified what she wanted to do at the office before confirmation* “I’m sorry for the inconvenience. It’s just reporters and circulation here, though, so I can’t help you.”

Woman: “At [Competitor] I can go down and we do it in person! They talk me through the whole process!”

Me: *thinking* “Then just go place a classified ad with them and leave me alone.” *speaking* “Again, I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

Woman: “This was such a difficult trip to come down here! I want to do this in person!”

(She then proceeded to steal two Post-It notes and a pen before hobbling away, grumbling about the awful trip to our downtown location with the best public transit in the county, assuming she uses that, and an elevator to come up to the floor our office is on, and how she wanted to do it in person and how I, personally, was making life so hard for her.)


Unfiltered Story #118765

, , | Unfiltered | August 23, 2018

(All the papers across the country recently got a new phone system, and it seems to have confused many callers. I have personally experienced people calling multiple times to get a hold of me, and I’ve heard many coworkers complain that their sources are having troubles with the system as well. One day as I am busy at work at my desk, I get a call.)

Me: *sees it’s from a non-local number, thinks it’s strange* “Hello, [My Name] speaking.”

Caller: “Hi, what department is this?”

Me: “What department were you hoping to reach?”

Caller: “I was hoping to reach someone at [newspaper in small city in Ontario].”

Me: “…well, we’re actually a paper in [small city in Alberta].”

Caller: “…Where the hell is that?!”

It’s A Whole Lot Of Charcoal Now

, , , , | Right | August 1, 2018

(I have just started my internship in a newsroom when I overhear this conversation my editor has over the phone.)

Editor: “Newsroom, editor speaking.” *pause* “Yes?” *pause* “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that; what did we get wrong?” *pause* “Really…” *pause* “Well, we apologize; mistakes do get made. We’ll fix that right away.” *hangs up*

Me: “What was that?”

Editor: “Some lady was screaming at me for a correction in an article about a house that burned down.”

Me: “What did she say we got wrong?”

Editor: “We said the house was white. It was actually white with a bit of brown.”

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