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The Wheels Of Stereotypes Still Go Around

, , , | Right | August 14, 2020

I am a female tire fitter; it’s a profession that has mostly male workers. I get a lot of weird reactions to me being a female. We are a small department, so when the phone rings, all the phones ring, and whoever is free can answer.

Me: “[Well-Known Tire Shop], this is [My Name]. How can I help you?”

The caller is also female.

Caller: “Yes, hello. I would like to know the price of some tires.”

Me: “Then you called the right place; what size tires are you looking for?”

Caller: “It’s for a Ford.”

Me: “That is great; do you remember the size?”

Caller: *Obviously annoyed* “That is your job.”

Me: “Okay, do you remember your license plate number?”

She gives me the number.

Me: “So, I estimate that you have not changed the rim size since you bought the car; in that case, the size would be [size]. Now, what price range and qualities are you looking for?”

Caller: “I bought some summer tires from you last year; I want the exact same! But in winter.”

Me: “All right, and what brand was that?”

Caller: “Ford.”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, but what brand were the tires?”

Caller: *Extremely annoyed* “Don’t you know your job?! Tires for Ford!”

Me: “I understand that, ma’am, but there are no tires made specifically for Ford, as most brands fit. It’s the qualities of the tires that differ.”

Caller: “You are making me unsure of the whole purchase. I want tires for a Ford!”

Me: “These are the best tires we have: [Popular Brand], and those would be [price]. That is the total cost with the job included; how does that sound?”

Caller: “And those are for Ford?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am, if the size I’ve guessed is right, these will fit your car fine.”

Caller: “Are those the same tires I got last year?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I don’t know, ma’am. If you could physically check the tires you are talking about, I will tell you if they are the same brand and size.”

Caller: “Don’t you know anything?! I need tires for a Ford! You are making me very unsure. Last time I spoke to a man; I want to speak to a man!”

Me: *Fed up* “Of course you can speak to a man.”

I transferred her to a male colleague, who then sold her exactly the same tires I tried to sell her with no problems from her.

Cat-atonic, Part 2

, , , | Right | July 20, 2020

The customer is an older lady.

Customer: “I got a paper in the mail. There was a book with a cat on it. Do you have the book?”

Me: “Do you know which paper it was?”

Customer: “I got it in the mail.”

Me: “Do you remember the author or the title of the book, then?”

Customer: “No, I don’t remember. It had a cat on the cover.”

Me: “Was it a book about cat breeds or owning a cat?”

The customer just stares silently.

Me: “Was it a novel? It might have been ‘Knut: Nobody’s Baby’ by [Popular Norgwegian Author]?”

Customer: “I don’t know. It had a cat.”

Me: “Do you remember anything about what it’s about?”

Customer: “There was a cat on the cover.”

I give up and hand her the catalogue for the big sale all the Norwegian bookshops are having.

Me: “This is the only catalogue we’ve given out recently. Can you see if you find it in here?”

She looked through it, and the next time I looked her way, she was gone. I still have no idea what she was looking for. It mystifies me that people think we can read their minds.


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You Never Know What You Might Find On These Hiking Trails

, , , , , , | Right | June 10, 2020

My dad was born in Norway but lived in Tennessee from the age of three. In the 1970s, at seventeen, he spends a summer in Norway and gets a summer job at a hiking and camping equipment store. Despite Dad being more fluent in English than Norwegian, his boss always wants to take care of the foreign customers, as he speaks German, Spanish, English, and Russian, in addition to Norwegian. One day, he comes up to Dad, slightly panicked.

Boss: “Can you help that family? I could swear they’re speaking English, but I can’t understand a single word they’re saying!”

As Dad approaches, he hears the couple speaking to their kids in one of the most backwoods Appalachian accents he’s ever heard. He decides to have fun with it.

Dad: “Well, hey, y’all! How’s everything goin’? What can I help y’all find this evenin’?”

The family looks overjoyed.

Man: “Lawdamercy, son, it sure is a blessin’ to find someone who can understand us! We been here a week and can’t nobody understand a blessed thing we say! Where you from?”

They talk, and Dad learns that the couple has won the lottery and always wanted to visit the Land of the Vikings. They’re from a city not too far from where Dad grew up.

Man: “We ain’t got any stores like this round [Town], do we?”

Dad: “Naw, the closest one is in [City four hours away]. Their prices are about twice what ours is here, and their stuff don’t hold a candle to ours, quality-wise. What all are y’all lookin’ to get?”

They end up spending the equivalent of over $1,000 in clothes, shoes, backpacking gear, climbing gear, and rafting gear, and Dad tells them where around Oslo would be best to hike with their ten- and fourteen-year-old kids. He also tells them about some fun trails back home to try.

After they’ve left, the boss comes up to Dad.

Boss: “How— What— When— How did you do that? That was more than we usually sell in a week! What language was that?”

Dad: “It was good old East Tennessean American English. The accent is one that more rural folks have in the area where I live. They’re avid hikers and just won the lottery, and it was like a breath of fresh air to have someone speak to them who could understand them and knew exactly what equipment they needed.”

Boss: “Well! I know you’ve been saving up to get that new exterior frame backpacking backpack. You’ve got, what, half saved up?”

Dad: “About that, yeah.”

Boss: “How about you give me half of what you’ve saved and we will call it even? I can’t believe you just did that!”

About thirty years later, Dad, Mom, my sister, and I are hiking at a state park in Tennessee. Dad is using that same backpack, as he still does today. We see another backpacking family taking a break, and Dad stops in shock.

Dad: “Excuse me, sir, but does that pack happen to be from [Store in Norway]?”

Hiker: “Well, yeah! My dad got it there about thirty years ago when we went there on vacation! My daughter’s using the one he got for me then! Why do you ask?”

Dad: *Long pause* “Did… Did you happen to go there ’cause your dad won the lottery?”

Hiker: *Surprised* “Uh, yeah! How’d you know?”

Dad: “I believe I am the one that sold y’all those packs! Y’all got so much stuff, my boss let me have this pack 75% off as a thank you!”

Hiker: “Oh, wow! I do remember that! That’s crazy! Hah! And you sure weren’t kidding about the quality, were you? It’s been, what, thirty years or so?”

Dad: “About that, yeah.”

The hiker told Dad about how the rest of the Norway trip went and shared some fun tales of the adventures they went on in Tennessee using the equipment Dad had sold them. They exchanged numbers, and Dad has since taught the hiker and his kids how to mountain bike. The hiker is a boat repairman and always gives Dad a good deal on servicing his boat. It’s crazy what a little serendipity and customer service will bring your way!

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Skewering Your Hopes Of Staying Contactless

, , , , , | Working | May 23, 2020

Due to the regulations in Norway surrounding the recent disease outbreak, most restaurants are closed except for takeout. I head over to surprise my husband with some of his favorite döner kebab to cheer him up. 

As I am waiting — patiently, one meter apart from all the other patrons — to order, I see advertisements everywhere in the restaurant asking people to pay with contactless payment methods to avoid unnecessary touching. They’re on the digital menu screens, on signs,  everywhere, asking people to pay with contactless methods.

I almost always try to use contactless anyway, so I’m pleased. There should be no reason to touch the PIN pad, as it is a transaction under the currency requirement that makes you enter your PIN code using your bank card. 

I eventually make my way to the front, place my order, and go to pay using contactless payment, only for the screen to prompt for me to enter a tip into the keypad and hit “OKAY” to acknowledge the total. The gentleman working there has no ability to enter it in himself, so I am forced to touch the PIN pad regardless.

Should’ve Hitched A Ride With Santa

, , , | Working | May 18, 2020

We are tourists who have booked a reindeer-feeding experience directly through our hotel. The shuttle bus forgets to pick us up; when it arrives at the location and the reindeer park staff realise we are missing, they immediately send for a taxi, which is relayed to us by our hotel reception.

I should note that the name and address of our destination was listed absolutely nowhere on our hotel’s website when we booked the tour. We don’t know where we are going and don’t know the contact details of the location; it has all been handled via our hotel. Once we’re already in the car and moving, the taxi driver asks me:

Taxi Driver: “Where are you going?”

Me: “Uh, we don’t actually know; you were arranged for us by the park we are going to.”

Taxi Driver: “Yes, but where is it?”

Me: “I’m so sorry, we really don’t know. We were supposed to be picked up by a bus and they forgot us; we don’t know the location.”

The driver scoffs and starts laughing.

Taxi Driver: “What? You don’t know where you’re going?? Why did you call a taxi?”

Me: “I’m sorry. As I just said, we didn’t call you ourselves; it was arranged for us. Didn’t they tell you the address?”

The driver is still laughing condescendingly.

Taxi Driver:  “I can’t believe you don’t know where you’re going.”

He then proceeds to pull over and call the tour company. They try to give him the address and he hangs up before confirming that he’s spelt it right. Then, he starts typing it into his map and driving at the same time. It is worth noting that he is speaking to them in English, which seemingly is not his first language nor that of the person he’s talking to, and the trouble they are having communicating is evident.

I am only a tourist and not familiar with the local area, but I know for sure the address he has just typed in is a major city that is over a seven-hour drive away. I feel panic rising in my belly because I have severe social anxiety and his attitude so far is stressing me out. The driver realises the address can’t be right, pulls his phone out again, and calls them back.

Taxi Driver: “You expect me to drive these people to [Faraway City]?” *Pause* “Well, the address you gave me says it is there.” *Pause* “So, it is not there?” *Pause* “Okay, I will just guess, then, because your address is wrong.”

He hangs up on them again and makes no further attempt to fix the address in his maps. I am unable to speak at this point out of panic that he is not only driving us to an incorrect location but will expect me to pay him myself when he can’t find it. The driver speaks to me once more, quite scornfully now.

Taxi Driver: “Unbelievable that you call a taxi and don’t know where you are going.”

He continued driving and, gods be good, guessed correctly and delivered us safely to our destination. It turned out to only be about twenty minutes away from our hotel. The staff were ready and waiting to pay for the taxi and greet us.