Let’s Just Stick To Google Earth From Our Couch

, , , , | Working | March 3, 2021

Years ago, my mother and I went on a one-week bus tour across part of the United States. We had a tour guide who was worse than useless. For example, her idea of introducing us to a new city was to hand out brochures on fun things to do in that city as we were leaving. This particular story stands out, though.

We arrived in [City], where we were scheduled to attend an outdoor play that evening.

Tour Guide: “We’re going to a very fancy restaurant before the play, so make sure you dress up!”

We all put on the nicest things we’d brought. Some people really had some expensive clothes, too — much nicer than I would have brought on a bus tour, but I digress.

The bus arrived on time to drive us to the restaurant, but there was no sign of [Tour Guide].

Bus Driver: “She said she’d meet you there.”

Okay, fine.

We got to the restaurant, only to find that it wasn’t due to open for another hour. The bus had already left, so there was nowhere to sit, and it was EXTREMELY hot. Many of the tourists were elderly and looked like they were about to faint. [Tour Guide] finally showed up as the restaurant was opening, which makes me think that SHE knew its hours of operation. Too bad she didn’t share them with us. She ignored how miserable we all looked.

Tour Guide: *Brightly* “Okay! Let’s go have dinner! You’ll love this place. It’ll probably be one of the best meals you ever had.”

We got inside, and… it was a cafeteria — the kind where you grab a plastic tray and choose your food from a cold case or order a hot entrée from the folks standing behind the counter. All of us looked at each other in our finery and raised our eyebrows. We were all thinking, “We got dressed up for THIS?”

After a very mediocre meal, we got to the play which, as I mentioned, was outdoors and therefore in the heat. At least we got to sit down! Oh, and the play was The Passion Play. Neither my mother nor I were remotely religious and hadn’t realized beforehand what it was about. We were bored to tears.

For that reason and many others, Mum sent a furious letter to the tour company when we got home, and they offered her a free shoulder bag — with their logo on it, naturally — as an apology. Mum told them politely where they could stick their free advertising.

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So Much For Going Postal

, , , , , , , | Friendly | February 13, 2021

Many, many years ago in the 1990s, when GPS, smartphones, online bill pay, and other such commodities were but a sci-fi dream, I was a teenager, and my parents and I took a family trip to California. Since we would be gone for a few weeks, my mom had brought the checkbook and was staying in contact with our house sitter who was opening our mail so that she could pay any bills that came in during our trip. So far, so good.

One morning, after staying in a motel in San Jose, we went in search of a post office to buy more stamps and mail out the bills. This was a suburban area, so we stopped at a gas station, filled the car, and went in to ask the cashier where the post office was. He stared at us in puzzlement.

Cashier: “Post office? I don’t think we have one of those.”

After assuring him that he absolutely did have one — otherwise, the mail would not arrive — we moved on in our search.

A short while later, we saw a traffic cop. Aha! Surely a police officer would know where the post office is. We parked off to the side and walked up to him. We explained how the gas station cashier thought there was no post office and laughed. He laughed with us.

Police Officer: “No, of course, we have one! It’s… It’s…”

Oh, dear. We sensed trouble.

Police Officer: “No, we do have one, I just… don’t think you can get there from here.”

Stymied by how a post office could be located in a place unreachable by humans, we left him at the corner.

In the end, we decided to wait another day to mail our letters. Thankfully, San Francisco had the foresight to install a post office and roads that led all the way to it.

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And That’s The Historical Tea

, , , , , , , | Right | February 12, 2021

The cafe I work in sits near several major transport links, so we get a lot of travelers, national and international, on a daily basis. One of my coworkers is somewhat notorious for having little to no brain-mouth filter and fairly anti-establishment views.

It’s late November and we have an American guest who’s making small talk after receiving her coffee. She starts talking about Thanksgiving and how the UK doesn’t have a comparable day.

Guest: “I just don’t understand why you don’t celebrate anything like it. Are you not thankful for your country?”

Coworker: “We are, but if we celebrated every time we exterminated a native population and stole their country, we’d only need to work twenty days a year.”

Guest: “…”

She made a hasty retreat to her table afterward.


This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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Being Trilingual Is Such A Burden Sometimes

, , , , | Right | February 12, 2021

I am the somewhat stupid customer here. It’s a Sunday morning and I’m browsing a baked goods stall for breakfast. I’m on this island unexpectedly because there were rough seas and our ship had to divert to a different port, so I’m still adjusting.

Me: “I’d like twelve of the beignets with cheese.”

Merchant: “The beignets. You want twelve for six Euros?”

Me: *Suddenly in Italian* “Yes, for six.”

Merchant: *In French* “Pardon?”

Me: *Laughing, speaking in French* “I’m sorry. I just arrived from Italy and still think in their language.”

Merchant: *Laughing* “I thought you were American.”

Me: “Oh, I am. I’m just very confused today.”

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You Don’t Have To Stick To English

, , , , | Working | February 8, 2021

I work in a museum that gets a decent number of international tourists. A few of my coworkers and I know enough of various foreign languages to get visitors through the entry to the museum, but even if we don’t, we’ve gotten pretty good at rephrasing ourselves to be better understood by people who only know a little English.

Today, I’m checking in a Russian family.

Me: “And if you would like, we have a free scavenger hunt for the kids!”

Russian Visitor: “Scavenger hunt…?”

I pick up the pamphlet and open it, pointing to the pictures.

Me: “It’s a game. They look for the things in these pictures and mark it down if they find them.”

Russian Visitor: “Oh, I see! Yes, we will take two.”

Me: “And if they find everything, they get a sticker for a prize!”

Russian Visitor: “What is ‘sticker’?”

Me: “It—”

I realize I’m about to say, “It sticks to things,” and stop myself just in time, but my brain breaks and I can’t come up with an explanation that doesn’t use the word “sticky.” I mime slapping my hands together, as if putting a sticker down on a piece of paper, and helplessly turn to the coworkers standing near me.

Me: “How do you explain a sticker?”

They laugh at me. The scavenger hunt prizes are kept in a different room, but one of my coworkers quickly searches some drawers and finds a random sticker someone’s left there. She shows it to the guest, who laughs.

Russian Guest: “Oh, I see!” *Gestures at her daughters* “Yes, they love stickers!”

They took their scavenger hunts and went on their way. A few hours later, I saw the family leave, both girls proudly attaching their stickers to their coats. I’m glad my failure didn’t keep them from getting their prizes!

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