No Money, No Problem, No Second Date

, , , | Romantic | June 17, 2018

(A friend has made plans to go on her first date with a guy she met on Tinder. They’re both in their early 20s; he’s a university student, as is she, with a decent part-time job. He suggests a nice, upmarket mall in the area and chooses a restaurant which is fairly pricey, but has reasonable prices for the mall he’s chosen. After sharing a large meal — with a beer for him and free tap water for her — the check comes to about R300 — $24. Having previously agreed to split the check, she puts her R150 — $12 — on the table.)

Date: “Oh.. um.. That’s a lot. I don’t have that much money.”

(My friend, feeling backed into a corner by this guy who apparently brought less than $12 with him on a date, offers to cover his half of the check, as well. Unfortunately, he seems eager to get as much out of the evening as possible. After turning down a suggestion that they catch a movie — which he will be unable to pay for — and recommending a bar nearby, my friend excuses herself and calls in an SOS to me. Fortunately, a small group of our friends has a plan to always be nearby when one of us is on a first date, for a rescue in this exact type of situation. We “bump into” our friend and her date in the mall and “remind” her of an important obligation she supposedly forgot about.)

Date: “Wow, when you mentioned your friends, you didn’t say they were models. Hi, I’m [Date]. I like your outfit.”

(He was being really cringe-y and laying it on thick, obviously, and we managed to get our friend out of there in record time. Later, he messaged her to tell her which of her friends was the most attractive and asked for her number.)


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A Token Caller

, , , | Right | June 13, 2018

(I work for a pet food manufacturer, and we are presently running a competition on one of our foods. Twenty tokens have been placed in bags of food, and if you find a token, you win a hamper. At least 100,000 bags have been released nationwide, with banners on them indicating the competition, and all the rules. All information is very clear and straightforward, yet many people still seem to be confused. These are some of the interactions I have had so far:)

Me: “Good morning, ma’am. How can I assist you?”

Customer #1: “Hi, I’m calling about that competition you guys are running. I’ve just bought two bags of food, and I haven’t found a token yet. Why haven’t I won?”

Me: “I’m sorry; did you say you have purchased two bags? Ma’am, we have made a very large volume of food that is distributed nationwide, with only twenty tokens available. It may take more time to find a token.”

Customer #1: “Oh… Well, that’s very misleading! I thought I’d win! I wont be supporting your product anymore!”

(Later:)

Customer #2: “Hi, I bought that bag of yours that has the banner about the competition! How do I get my hamper?”

Me: “Oh, that’s great! Did you find a token?”

Customer #2: “Token? What are you talking about? The bag says I get a hamper. Where’s my hamper?”

Me: “You have to find a token inside the bag in order to win.”

(Later:)

Customer #3: “Hi, I see you’re running this competition, and I wanted to find out: will the token be inside the bag, or outside the bag?”

Me: “Uh… It will be inside the bag.”

Customer #3: “That’s great! Thanks!”

(Later:)

Customer #4: “Hi, I’ve bought three bags of food and I haven’t found a token yet. Is your competition over? Why is your company still selling these bags if the competition is over?!”

Me: “Apologies, ma’am, but our competition only began about two weeks ago, so it is still running.”

Customer #4: “THEN WHY HAVEN’T I FOUND A TOKEN YET? I BOUGHT THREE BAGS!”

(Later:)

Customer #5: “Hi there. I think I may have found a token! Is it the same size and color of the food?”

Me: *wondering WHY we would ever make it look like the food* “No, ma’am, it’s very large and noticeable, and has a reference number on it.”

(Later:)

Customer #6: “Good day. I have been buying your product for years; it’s the only food my pet will eat. I see you are running some kind of competition, but I haven’t found a token yet. I think I should be compensated for being such a loyal customer! It’s not fair that I haven’t won yet!”

(We had numerous customers calling, all with the same type of complaint or query. We have yet to have anyone actually call about finding a token.)

Only Trafficking Excuses

, , , , , | Working | May 29, 2018

(I just moved to a new country and need to set up a bank account. The HR manager at my institution puts me in touch with a field representative of one of the major banks, who will meet me at work so that I don’t have to go the bank. The first time we are supposed to meet, she calls and says she’s running late because she’s stuck in traffic. When we meet, she has a bit of a strange vibe, very chatty and fake-friendly instead of just professional. She leads me to understand that it’s very complicated to set up a bank account for a foreigner. According to her, I need additional documentation to set up the account, so we have to meet a second time.)

Bank Rep: “I’m sorry; I’m stuck in traffic again.”

Me: “Okay, no problem.”

(Since I’m not familiar with the local traffic, I don’t make any assumptions as to whether or not it’s normal to have a jam in the midafternoon. She finally shows up 45 minutes late again. There are a lot of forms to fill out and she seems to be giving me conflicting information as to what documents I need, compared to the first meeting. While we are going through the forms, her phone rings:)

Bank Rep: “Hello! Yes, I’m sorry, but I’ll be late; I’m stuck in traffic.”

(She said this while we were sitting in a building, nowhere near her car or the road. That was the final straw. I took my documents to the nearest branch of the same bank and had an account set up in less than an hour.)

Pay It Forward To America

, , , , , , | | Hopeless | May 21, 2018

Several years ago, when I was studying abroad in South Africa, two of my friends and I decided to do a road trip along the Garden Route. Our first stop was in Addo, where there is an elephant reserve. I booked all the accommodations and scheduled the whole trip.

We were already renting an 1970s Mercedes Benz and, despite warnings, we took it with us. We underestimated the time it would take to get to Addo from Cape Town and ended up arriving very late to our first hostel. Much to our dismay, the owners weren’t there. A family staying said the owners were out of town but to call a number, get the information, and leave our money. We tried the number several times and got no answer. Since we had seen signs for other hostels on our way in, we decided to take our chances and find another place.

We ended up driving to several with no luck. Despite the car being an automatic, it stalled out like crazy. While I was driving us around trying to find a new hostel, it stalled out again. While I was trying to restart it, someone knocked on our window. All three of us screamed at the top of our lungs. We were in an extremely rural area, late at night, surrounded by almost nothing. After composing myself, I slowly rolled down the window. The older man asked us if we were okay. We explained our situation. He pointed to the only hotel in the area, a high-end place surrounded by a giant wall. We said it was too expensive for us. He said it was late and we should give it a shot, then told us good luck and went on his way.

After driving to more than five other hostels, we gave up and decided to try the hotel. If it was really expensive, we’d ask our parents to wire us more money. The woman who checked us in was quite kind and later, after we’d settled in, she and her husband sat with us while we had dinner in their dining room. They gave us great advice for the rest of our trip.

The next morning, after sleeping in one of the nicest little cottages I’ve ever seen, we went to check out. The woman at the desk was older than woman from the night before. She insisted we have breakfast, even though we’d already had the cereal we brought with us. She was so insistent, we ended up eating at their massive buffet.

And that’s when it happened. As we were eating, she came by and told us that not only was our breakfast free, she was comping our meals from the night before and giving us a discount on our room. We were shocked. It turns out that the woman from the night before was her daughter. It was a family-run joint. She said she knew we came in late and were slightly desperate for a place to stay, and she couldn’t make us pay full price in that condition.

But there’s more. While we were still processing this woman’s kindness, the older man from the night before walked into the dining room. When he saw us, he came over and said, “She give you a good discount?” It was her husband. He’d been out for a nightly walk when he came upon us, sitting in a stalled car, looking terrified. He told his wife to go easy on us if we showed up.

We thanked him profusely for his kindness. He said, “My son went to live in the States. I’m only doing what I hope one of your fellow Americans would do for him if he got in trouble.”

It’s been ten years, and it remains one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. Believe me, we reviewed that place on every site we could after our trip was over.

Not A Standardised Way Of Saying It

, , , , , | Learning | May 1, 2018

(In South Africa, the years in school used to be called, “standards,” like in Malaysian primary schools, but in the 1990s they switched to calling them, “grades,” like in the USA. My friends in this story are in their late 30s, so they would have been in school before the change.)

Me: “English is my home language; I only learned Malay in Standard One.”

South African Friend #1: “You have standards?”

South African Friend #2: “Hey, that’s not nice, to say she doesn’t have standards.”

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