Putting Your Stamp On The Language

| Yellowknife, NWT, Canada | Right | July 17, 2015

(A family friend is visiting from Quebec. His English is mostly good but suffers from occasional lapses.)

Clerk: “How may I help you today?”

Friend: “Yes, hello. I need to buy some timbers.”

Clerk: “Some what?”

Friend: “Timbers.”

Clerk: “Sir, this is a post office. Perhaps you want the hardware store?”

Friend: “No, no, timbers. To mail the letters with. The little pictures? They are, um, gluey on the back?”

Clerk: *light-bulb moment* STAMPS. You want stamps.”

Friend: “Yes! Stamps.”

(The French word for “stamp” is “timbre”, pronounced like “TAM-bruh”.)

Friend: *to me, in French* “Why didn’t you help me?”

Me: *in French* “I thought it was funny.”

Friend: *in French* “What’s a ‘timber,’ then?”

Me: *in French* “It’s another word for wood.”

Friend: *in French* “Well, that makes NO sense. English is a crazy language.” *in English* “Yes, I will have a book of stampings, please.”

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A Remote Knowledge Of Geography

| Victoria, BC, Canada | Working | March 13, 2015

Me: “Yes, hello. I’d like to complain about the time it took my package to arrive. I paid for express shipping and it took ten days to get to Victoria.”

Customer Service: “Well, we do recommend that if you live in a rural or remote area, you plan on having a little more time.”

Me: “…Victoria is not a rural area.”

Customer Service: “Anything outside a major metropolitan area—”

Me: “It’s the provincial capital.”

Customer Service: “Well, it’s still fairly remote, isn’t it?”

Me: “Only if you measure things by how far they are from Toronto.”

Making It (com)Plain To Him

| Kent, England, UK | Working | December 29, 2014

(I have never had to make a deposit at the post office before, so I manage to get it wrong. It is the manager who is serving me.)

Manager: *annoyed* “You haven’t filled this in properly.”

Me: “Oh, sorry. This is the first time I’ve done one.”

Manager: “Well, make sure you get it right next time; it’s not my job to do it for you.”

Me: *slightly taken back* “Okay. I’m sorry.”

(He hands me back the paying-in book without a receipt. After this, Head office starts asking managers to get receipts for paying-in. I get the same man next time I am there.)

Me: *laughing* “I think I filled it in right this time! By the way, can I get a receipt this time? I didn’t last time and I need one.”

Manager: “If you were paying-in you would have got a receipt. We always give them.”

Me: “Well, I didn’t last time. I’m sure it was just a simple mistake.”

Manager: *angry* “I don’t care what you think! I served you last time and I’m know I gave you one. We always staple it to the slip.”

(I take out last week’s slip which has no receipt on it.)

Manager: “That doesn’t prove anything. You probably tore it off.”

(I’m not one for confrontations so I let the matter drop. He then made rather a show of giving me this week’s receipt. I may not like confrontation but as a manager in customer service myself I know bad service when I see it so I phone up and complain about his rudeness. Next week arrives and I am waiting in the queue. The manager is serving a woman who clearly does not speak English very well and cannot understand what he is saying.)

Woman: “How much for sending to another country?”

Manager: “That costs [price]. Where’s the package.?”

Woman: “Okay, but I don’t want now.”

Manager: “Well, maybe you need to go away and figure out what you want before wasting my time.”

(She was clearly trying to say that she just wanted to know the price for future reference. She gets upset as he is shouting so she leaves in tears. Two ladies next to me in the queue have also seen this and mention that they have also had this type of service from him. I, unfortunately, get called to his window.)

Manager: “You! You complained about me!”

Me: “Yes, because you were very rude to me.”

Manager: “I wasn’t! I can’t help it if you were wrong. You shouldn’t be complaining.”

(He pays-in my money all the while telling me off for complaining. Naturally, I phone and complain again because I cannot believe that somebody like this got to be a manager. They promise to speak to his boss because it turns out others have complained as well. Shock! Next week:)

Manager: *sulking* “I’m sorry for being rude to you. I can’t believe you complained again.”

Me: “That’s all right.”

(After that he always made sure he was polite to everybody when he saw I was in the shop. I am still surprised that he thought the best way to deal with somebody who had complained about his rudeness was to be even ruder. What did he think was going to happen?)

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Someone Needs A Happy Posting

| MO, USA | Working | December 24, 2014

(It is close to Christmas and the post office is quite busy; With many people waiting, they have a ‘take a number’ system. I have been waiting close to 20 minutes. The post office worker calls my number and I approach the counter.)

Me: “Hi! How are you today?”

Worker: “Do you have to ask me that? It is obviously an awful time of year and I have obviously had a really bad day!”

Me: “So sorry to hear that; it is almost Christmas so it should be over soon! I’d like to mail this package, please.”

Worker:“Do you have to smile at me? I said I was having a bad day. You should just be quiet.”

Me: “Okay… Just the package, then.”

Worker: *provides cost to mail package*

Me: *hands over cash and turns to leave* “Happy Holidays!”

Worker: “I said NOT to talk to me.” *murmurs under breath* “Some people are so rude!”

Their Poetry Isn’t Priceless Yet

| Tallahassee, FL, USA | Right | November 3, 2014

(I’m a customer in a post office, mailing a submission for a national poetry contest (the name of which is stated on the envelope). The employee helping me has been entering information into the system.)

Employee: “So. how much is this poetry worth if lost?”

Me: “Only my heart and soul!”

Employee: “I’m just gonna go with a hundred dollars…”

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