Out Shopping For A New Friend

, , , , , , | Friendly | April 18, 2016

(I am a teenage Chinese male, but was born and raised in Scotland, so I have the local accent and cultural awareness. For as long as I can remember, a grumpy old woman has lived on the other side of the street. She would moan and scowl at most passersby, but is mostly harmless. I am leaving my house for football practise, when I notice the old lady get off the bus with what looks like heavy shopping bags.)

Me: “Excuse me, would you like me to help you with your shopping?”

(The old lady just stops and stares at me for a moment, like a deer in headlights.)

Me: “I know you only live down the road, but those look heavy.”

(The old lady is still staring, but wordlessly hands me her bags. I take them and we slowly walk towards her house.)

Me: “Wow, you seem to have a lot in here. Are you planning a feast?”

(My efforts of small talk don’t seem to get anywhere, so we walk slowly in silence, until we get to her front door.)

Me: “If you’d like, I can take these to your kitchen for you?”

(At this point she finally speaks.)

Old Lady: “How long have you been able to speak English?”

Me: “Pardon?”

Old Lady: “Your English. It’s almost like you’re a local.”

Me: “That’s because I am. I was born in Dundee.”

Old Lady: “All this time, I thought you couldn’t speak English.”

Me: “Well, I guess we just never spoke to each other until now.”

Old Lady: “No, I suppose we didn’t.”

(She then opens her front door, and gestures for me to take her bags inside. Straight away, I can tell that this old lady might not be able to take care of herself very well, as the house is a bit of a mess, and the kitchen surfaces are dirty and sticky. The old lady seems a little embarrassed so I don’t make anything of it.)

Me: “Right, let me know where you want me to put your shopping.”

(I put the things away for her, making small talk. She says she’s seen me grow up over the years but just assumed because we are Chinese we don’t speak English and don’t associate with ‘locals.’ I am able to correct a few of her misconceptions, too. I finally put the last of her shopping away.)

Me: “Okay, that should be everything.”

Old Lady: “Would you like to stay for a cup of tea?”

(I’m about to mention that I will be late for my football practise, but the look in her eyes and the tone of her voice indicates that she probably hasn’t shared a cup of tea with anyone for a long time.)

Me: “You know what? A cup of tea sounds fantastic.”

(And for the first time in my entire life of knowing this grumpy old woman on my street, I see her smile.)

Old Lady: “Oh, lovely! I’ll get out the good biscuits!”

(For the next hour we chatted some more and got to know each other. She was a widow in her seventies who had lived alone for the last sixteen years, and didn’t make friends easily. From this one hour chat, we established an ongoing plan where I would go to the local supermarket with her once a week to help with the shopping and come back for a cup of tea, and I helped out around the house to keep it clean and tidy. We invited her over to our house for every birthday, Christmas, and even Chinese New Year, which she found very interesting, although the food may have been a little too spicy for her! We remained friends for ten years until her death, where my entire family attended her funeral, much to the surprise of her family, who hadn’t visited her once in the last decade. She will always be a close friend I will remember for the rest of my life.)


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Best Keep An Eye On Her

, , , , | Related | April 13, 2016

(My sister is cleaning up a Barbie doll in preparation for giving it to a charity shop. The doll’s head has seen better days, and its facial decorations are gone, making it look odd with no eyes or lips. She is rethreading its hair and is making plans for painting on the face again.)

Me: “That thing looks so creepy without eyes.”

Sister: “So will [Brother].”

Brother: “Wait, what?”

(I just laughed. My sister is amazing and creepy at the same time.)


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Wish You Could See What You’re Saying

, , , , , | Working | March 10, 2016

(A new colleague and I are screen-checking a film that is about to start and making sure people aren’t disturbing others or fooling around. The “strobe lighting” warning comes up on the screen to alert anyone who is sensitive to light effects that they are in the film. The warning is white text on a black background but no speech.)

New Colleague: “What’s that for?”

Me: “To warn people the film contains strobe lighting in case they need to leave.”

New Colleague: “Why would they need to leave?”

Me: “Well, strobe lighting can cause seizures in people with epilepsy, for example, so they put a warning on it.”

New Colleague: “Oh, okay.”

(Pauses.)

New Colleague: “There’s no sound on it.”

Me: “No.”

New Colleague: “What about the blind epileptics?”


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Sold A Hamster By A Dirty Rat

, , | Working | January 4, 2016

(My daughter’s hamster has died of old age. My daughter is still young, so we decide this time to tell her that her hamster is being looked after by the shop. The day before I see and reserve a hamster of the same colour. That morning we bring her to the shop to pick the new hamster up. Whilst my wife and daughter look at the pet toys I quickly pull a sales guy aside.)

Me: “Hey, we are here to pick up a hamster.”

Sales Guy: “Okay, sure, let me get a travel box for you.”

Me: “Just a sec. Look, my daughter’s hamster died. She is really upset about it and thinks this is her one. Can you please either play along? Her old hamster was called Ruby.”

Sales Guy: “Uh huh.”

(He disappears returning moments later with a box. My wife and daughter join us to pick up the new hamster.)

Sales Guy: “So, this is a Russian hamster, it needs [type] food and plenty of space. His name is Alan and he’s three months old.”

Daughter: *to me* “Why did the man call Ruby, Alan?”

Me: “Oh, I’m sure he is just mistaken. The hamster is called Ruby.” *glaring at the sales staff* “We know that, don’t we?”

Sales Guy: “Oh, yeah, sure.”

(We walk over to the till. The sales guy finishes the transaction.)

Sales Guy: *loudly to my daughter* “Look after Alan for us!”

(The whole way home our daughter starts to wonder why her hamster is being called Alan and why it looks different from the last time she saw her. She gets quite upset and confused. With no idea what to do, I return to the store after dropping them off. Luckily I see a staff member in a suit talking to the same sales guy.)

Me: “Excuse me? Are you a manager here?”

Manager: “Yes, I am; what seems to be the problem?”

(I explain the issue.)

Me: “It’s left my daughter very upset.”

Manager: *to the sales guy* “You come with me! And sir, could you join us, please?”

Me: “I– yeah, sure.”

(He led both of us to a back room, where he verbally laid into the sales guy. The manager was calm, fair but brutally honest. It turned out the sales worker’s attitude had been an on-going issue and he was now on his last warning. We visited the store to pick up some food later in the week. The manager recognised us and spent a while asking my daughter how Ruby was and how they looked after her for us.)


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Their Financial Advice Is Handicapped

, , , | Right | January 1, 2016

(At our golf shop, we get one-off requests all the time. I occasionally get smart remarks about how we’re missing a trick because no one else is selling whatever it is, but generally, they give up and go elsewhere pretty quickly. Today, I had a guy with a very specific request…)

Customer: “Hi there! Do you sell headcovers for Vokey wedges?”

Me: “No, I’m sorry. We only have the matching headcovers for the clubs we sell.”

Customer: “Do you know what I mean by a Vokey wedge?”

Me: “I’m sorry. I’m not a golfer, but I do know that we don’t sell them.”

Customer: *proceeds to tell me what this particular golf club is* “…You should get some neoprene and a little bit of soft sock and make some. You could sell them for £10 and make a fortune.”

Me: *at this point I probably have quite a stunned and bemused look on my face* “Oh, right. Well, you’re the first person in seven years of working here to ever ask for one.”

Customer: “I’m telling you, you’d make loads selling them online.”

(He can see I’m not about to take him up on his offer and manufacture one on the spot for him.)

Customer: “I had to make my last one myself.” *on that note, he leaves*

(Now, I’m not a business wiz, nor an expert in manufacturing, but if it’s such a lucrative opportunity, I was left wondering why he doesn’t take his own advice and make his “fortune.”)


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