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Driving Away The Bad Passengers

, , , , , , | Right | August 24, 2021

I’m sitting on a bus, in a seat near the middle. It’s at the very beginning of its route, so it hasn’t left the transit loop yet. The only other passenger is an older white man who’s dishevelled and stinks of beer, sitting near the front.

A young, pretty Asian woman gets on and sits down a few seats away from the man. She takes out her phone and starts looking at it, and the man swivels in his seat and leers at her.

Passenger: “Hey, girlie!”

I can’t see her face from where I am, but I can see her shoulders tighten and she holds her phone higher.

Passenger: “Hey! D’ya speak English? You wanna learn some? I’ll teach ya! Come sit next to me!”

I’m wondering what I should do, when the bus driver calls from his seat.

Driver: “Sir, please do not bother the other passengers.”

Passenger: “Mind your own business.”

The driver gets up and stands in front of the man. 

Driver: “Sir, the safety and comfort of the passengers is my business.”

The man starts laughing. 

Passenger: “What, you want her for yourself, huh? What, you think she’d be interested in you, you [racial slur]?”

This statement is so outrageous that I actually snort. Even apart from the racism, the driver is a quite handsome young man, tall and athletic; his uniform and turban are clean and neat, and his beard is well-groomed. The contrast between him and the slovenly, drunken older man couldn’t be starker.

Driver: “I must ask you to get off the bus now.”

I’m briefly worried that the man will get even more belligerent, but in the face of direct confrontation, he backs down and gets off, still grumbling. While he’s getting off, I move to sit across the aisle from the woman.

Me: “Are you all right?”

Although she’s obviously very embarrassed, she nods, and then she looks at the driver.

Woman: “Thank you. I was a little afraid.”

Driver: “No problem, miss. Besides, if my mother and my wife found out I let a man talk to a woman like that, they would never let me hear the end of it.”

The Teacher Did Not See That Coming

, , , , , , | Learning | July 3, 2021

My family moved from a small, traditional island community to a bustling city when I was really young because my parents were offered an opportunity they couldn’t afford to miss. This meant changing schools, meeting new friends, etc.

It is the first day of secondary school for my older brother, and he is nervous, to say the least. His name is Natsei, pronounced “Nat-say,” but everyone calls him “Nat” or “Nats” to avoid the obvious. He is in his first class of the day, English, where the teacher is doing attendance.

Teacher: “Erm… Mr. [Our Last Name]?”

Brother: *Raises his hand* “Here.”

Teacher: “Could I ask, how do you pronounce your name?”

Brother: “You can call me Nat; a lot of people do to avoid what I know you’re thinking about.”

Teacher: “For future reference, however, how do you pronounce your name?”

Brother: “Nat-Say.”

Teacher: “I bet your parents didn’t think that one through, did they?”

Brother: “Considering that it’s a traditional name handed down through my family, I would say they did.”

The teacher ended up calling him by our last name for the rest of his time in school.

Et Voila!

, , , , , , , | Working | June 18, 2021

I’m on the last stage of my training for this call centre, which involves me taking calls with my trainer listening in to make sure I’m doing it right. One reason I’ve been hired is that I’m bilingual in French and English, but the trainer on this call is not fluent in French. 

Trainer: “Okay, now I’m going to connect you to the network. Ready for your first call?”

Me: “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

The phone rings immediately. 

Me: “Thank you for calling [Employer], this is [My Name]. How can I help you today?”

Caller: *With a very thick Quebecois accent* “Sorry, I thought I call the French phone?”

I switch over to French, as I notice that my screen is telling me the call is coming from a part of Quebec notorious for the weirdness of its accent.

Me: “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t notice that it was a French call. What can I do for you?”

The caller explains his issue, which I solve for him.

Me: “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Caller: “No, that’s great, thanks. Bye!”

I hang up and turn to my trainer.

Me: “How was that?”

Trainer: “Well, since I understood about a tenth of what you said and not a single word the caller said, I’m going to assume you did awesome.”

Me: “Yay!”

Trainer: “I am going to ask the manager to put you on English-only calls during our training shifts, though.”

Me: “Boo…”

Some People Just Can’t Be Helped

, , , , , | Right | June 5, 2021

I work in a coffee and tea shop in a shopping centre. There is a branch of the city public library housed in the same building. There are signs in the shopping centre that indicate which way the library is, but they don’t mention the fact that it has a separate entrance; you have to leave the mall proper and go in through a different door.

My workplace is right next to the mall door closest to the library entrance, so it’s no surprise that my coworkers and I are often asked by confused visitors where the heck the library is. We never mind giving directions… but then there’s this guy.

Customer: “Excuse me, which way is the library?”

Me: “Oh, you just have to go out that door and go left.”

Customer: “Sorry?”

Me: “Out the door. It’s on your left, past the greengrocer and the fish market.”

Customer: “Out?”

Me: “Yes. Go outside and turn left down the walkway there. It’s at the end of the walkway.”

Customer: “But… outside?”

Me: “Yes.”

Customer: “The library is outside?”

Me: “It’s the same building, but it has a different entrance. You have to go outside to get to it.”

He looks at the door and then back down the hallway he just came up, looking completely baffled.

Customer: “But… outside?”

Me: “Yes. Outside.”

Customer: *Confused silence*

Me: “Here, I’ll show you.”

I come out from behind the counter, walk to the mall exit, open the door, and point about twenty metres away AT THE LIBRARY ENTRANCE with a sign reading “Vancouver Public Library” over the door. 

Me: “It’s right there.”

The man looks at me, starts to come closer, walks out the mall door… and starts walking in completely the wrong direction, across the parking lot.

Me: “Sir? Sir? You’re going the wrong way.”

He doesn’t stop and is soon out of earshot.

Me: “Well, I tried.”

I hope he finally got to the library in the end.

You Always Under-Budget For That Question

, , , , | Right | April 1, 2021

I work at a store that sells luggage and other travel accessories and bags. We always try to keep a large selection to suit everyone, so as a result, we have suitcases at many prices, ranging from $75 to $3000. Almost every day:

Me: “Do you have a budget or price point in mind?” 

Customer: “Oh, you know, not too much!”