England Swings Like A Pendulum Do, Just Like Her Moods

, , , , , | Related | November 30, 2019

My oldest brother’s first wife was smart about some things and fairly daft about others. She also always managed to find a way to blame anyone but herself when things went wrong. And no matter what you knew about a topic, even if you were the master of the subject, she always knew more and waved away any suggestions you might have.

So, after a class in college about British history, she says that she wants to go to England to see some of the sites she’s been reading about. And she wants to go at a particular time, which is also a window of time that my brother’s job requires him to be at work.  

So, knowing I went to England when I was in college — eons ago — she asks me to go. Happily for me, I have used up most of my vacation time and “regretfully” tell her I cannot go. (I would sooner have gotten into a ring with an angry bull than go anywhere with this woman.)

She asks her dear friend to go with her, instead. A lot of face-palming goes on among the family because we have all met her friend and not only is she a major lush, she is also another “I know everything about this subject which I have only just heard of” person.  

My sister-in-law calls to ask how I got around England when I was there. I remind her I was on a two-week guided tour. No, they don’t want a guided tour. They want to be their own guided tour. How much were cars to rent? I tell her it’s not a good idea to rent or drive a car since the traffic is reversed. I tell her about the railway passes and the underground/tube and how public transportation is so wonderful that you never need to drive at all. I beg her not to drive. The travel agent begs her not to drive.

Nope, they want to drive all over the country on their own. It won’t be fun, otherwise. (These are two women in their mid-forties.) So, the tickets are bought, the plane and hotels are booked, and off they go.  

We figure we won’t hear from them for two weeks.

They call the first night to let everyone know they arrived safely.

She calls the next day to tell my brother that her friend dented the rental car by turning the wrong way out of the hotel parking lot and now they don’t have a car. She calls that night because she can’t find her friend. My brother asks her exactly what he is supposed to do from East Coast, USA. She calls an hour later to report she found her friend in the bar drinking with a bunch of men.

She calls the next morning to say she and her friend cannot stand each other and she wants to come home and get a refund on the trip. My brother calls the travel agent and has to pay all kinds of cash to end the trip, change flights, and make sure she and her friend are on different flights.  

She complains for weeks about the trip and how she can never go back because the country was completely ruined for her. My brother reminds her that she took a person she knew to be a loquacious alcoholic on a trip and let her drive a car in traffic that she wasn’t used to.  

Somehow it is all his fault, my fault, her parents’ fault, and the travel agent’s fault that she hadn’t listened to any of us.  

I’m happy to say that when they divorced, we had a nice little celebration.

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Who Needs Tour Guides When You Can Google?

, , , | Working | November 18, 2019

(I work in a call center answering questions from potential visitors, but I am also a licensed tour guide on the side. I get the following inquiry through our online help chat.)

Client: “I got my tour guide license in August of 2016. When does it expire?”

(Normally, we only deal with visitor-related inquiries, but I try to help people as much as I can. I’ve also just gone through my own ordeal of renewing my license, so I decide to help.)

Me: “Typically, you need to renew your license every two years. The city should have contacted you about it already. If not, you can contact the tourism management office at [number].”

(Three minutes pass with no response, until:)

Client: “I checked the tourism board website and it says the license is good for three years. I also spoke with [Tourism Manager] and met with her at her office and she said I was good. She gave me her card but I seem to have lost the information. Could you give me her number?”

(It took me all of 30 seconds to go to the city website and find the document listing all the regulations around renewing your license, including the email and phone number for [Tourism Manager]. I think this person ultimately just wanted me to Google everything for them. I pity the poor tourists who have to deal with a guide like that.)

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Totally Estúpido! Part 9

, , , , , | Friendly | November 18, 2019

(I am on holiday in an all-inclusive hotel complex on the Spanish island of Mallorca. The hotel is a mixture of English, German, Dutch, Russian, and Spanish holidaymakers. I am English but used to live in Spain many years ago. My Spanish is a little rusty at times, but I still try to use it as much as often when speaking to Spanish inhabitants, mainly as I find it a bit more respectful than just expecting them to speak English. Sadly, some of my compatriots don’t think the same way, and many English holidaymakers don’t make the effort to learn even one or two words of Spanish that may help them get by. I have just been served a beer at the bar of the hotel, and I have just had a brief, pleasant conversation with the barman, in Spanish. As I am walking away from the bar, a fellow holidaymaker from England who I talked to a few days ago notices me with the beer in my hand and approaches me.)

Holidaymaker: “Where did you get that beer from?”

Me: *motioning behind me to the large bar that I am about five feet from* “Erm, from the bar.”

Holidaymaker: “Aww, I really want a beer.”

(He then looks at me expectantly. An awkward silence follows.)

Me: “Umm… just go and ask for one at the bar, then?”

Holidaymaker: “But… I don’t speak Spanish.”

Me: “Erm… okay. I’m pretty sure that the barman speaks English.”

Holidaymaker: “But… I heard you talking to him in Spanish. Why would you do that if he speaks English?”

Me: “Because I can speak Spanish and we’re in Spain. It’s not a big deal. Honestly, I don’t think he will mind if you can’t speak Spanish. Just ask him for one in English.”

Holidaymaker: “But… you’re English. Why didn’t you ask him in English? Are you taking the mickey out of me?”

Me: *utterly confused by now* “What?”

Other Holidaymaker: “If he speaks English, and you’re English, then why didn’t you ask him in English?”

(There is another long awkward silence.)

Me: *trying to get away from him* “Lo siento mucho, señor. No hablo ingles.”

(I walked away from him, leaving him totally and utterly confused.)

Totally Estupido, Part 8
Totally Estupido, Part 7
Totally Estupido, Part 6

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Worse Than A Baby On A Flight Is A Man-Baby

, , , , , | Right | October 24, 2019

(I work for an airline call center. A man calls to get the bassinet seat on his flight, which is a crib that attaches to the wall on a flight. I ask him if his child is able to sit up without help and if he is over 25 pounds. He is. I explain that I cannot get that seat for him because he is too heavy and it is dangerous for the baby. The man is upset.)

Caller: “This is a nine-hour flight! What am I supposed to do?”

Me: “Well, you do have the option to purchase a seat for him, but you need to bring your own car-seat.”

Caller: “I am not paying hundreds of dollars just for a baby! That’s too expensive!”

Me: “I understand. It is for this reason you do have the option to have him on your lap during the flight since you’ll be holding onto him.”

Caller: “How am I supposed to hold a baby for nine hours?!”

Me: “There is the option to buy a seat, as I said, but otherwise, he will have to be on your lap. Many travellers choose this option.”

Caller: “This is ridiculous! Who will be responsible if I drop my baby?! Huh?”

Me: *taking a second to breathe because he is pissing me off* “I don’t know, sir, but all I can say is that the bassinet is not available for infants over 25 pounds because it is too dangerous. We are following air traffic laws and they permit lap-held infants. If you have any complaints about the options, you can write to customer relations.”

Caller: “This is bulls***!”

(Sorry for caring more about your child than you do.)

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They Should Have Czeched Before They Traveled

, , , , | Right | October 21, 2019

(I have a summer job at the reception of a hotel in Prague’s city centre, and our guests are mainly tourists. It is July 3rd. We have two national public holidays coming up, one on July 5th and second on July 6th. Neither is really celebrated unless it’s an anniversary year. The guests are clearly Americans; one of them has an American flag around his suitcase. There are four guys in total, somewhere from thirty to forty years old. They are generally pleasant and cooperate during the check-in.)

Me: “All right, you are all set. Can I help you with anything else? Any places you would like to visit and need directions for?”

Guest: *with the American flag on his suitcase* “Where are the celebrations? What is a good spot to watch the fireworks?”

Me: “Oh, the holidays are on July 5th and July 6th. Unfortunately, there won’t be any festivities. Only some places might be closed, and others might have different opening hours. But definitely nothing major.”

Guest: “What?!”

(He has been really nice up to this moment; however, he starts to raise his voice.)

Another Guest: “The fourth of July.”

Me: “Oh, you mean the American Independence Day?”

Guest: “YES!”

Me: “I’m terribly sorry, but I’m afraid that here in the Czech Republic we do not celebrate the American holiday.”

Guest: “But we came here to celebrate it!”

(After that, the manager came down to the reception and dealt with them. All four guys seemed to be genuinely perplexed that there wouldn’t be any festivities to mark American Independence day in the middle of Europe. However, my manager was quick on his feet and suggested that they look for some Facebook group for expats living in Prague to find some Americans living in Prague that might be celebrating. When I asked my manager about the idea, it turned out they were not the first ones to ask about it.)

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