Talking Total Shiitake

, , , | Right | September 30, 2020

Server: “Table four has a shellfish allergy. Can they get the salmon without the oyster mushrooms?”

Oyster mushrooms are a specific type of mushroom; they don’t contain any oysters.

Me: “Uh… you can tell them that that’s just the name for the mushroom. There’s no shellfish in that dish whatsoever.”

The server goes out and returns.

Server: “No, they’re afraid you might not know what’s in it. They’ve never heard of an oyster mushroom.”

Me: “Ask them if Hiratake mushrooms would be okay instead?”

“Hiratakai” is the Japanese name for oyster mushrooms. The server goes out and returns.

Server: “Okay!”

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The Curious Incident Of The Book With The Wrong Title

, , , , , | Right | September 30, 2020

Many schools use the same books for summer reading. Every summer, bookstores stock up on these titles and place them prominently throughout the store. We booksellers tend to become very familiar with the various titles and covers. 

Me: “Hi. Can I help you find anything today?”

Customer: “Yes, my son is looking for The Upsided Down Dog.”

Me: “I’m not familiar with that book; let me look it up.”

I look in our system and nothing comes up for “The Upsided Down Dog.”

Me: “I’m not finding it. Did he say who it’s by?”

Customer: “I don’t know! It’s summer reading for his school.”

A lightbulb goes off. I go to a nearby table and pick up a book, showing her the cover. 

Me: “Ma’am, could it be The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time?”

Customer: *Sighs* “Yes, I suppose that must be it.”

This particular book is orange, with a small picture on the front of an upside-down dog.

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, , , , , | Working | September 29, 2020

I’m studying abroad and don’t speak Estonian. I’m in a grocery store that I go to a lot, and I grab a pastry from the bakery. I’ve done this probably about twenty times since moving into my dorm. I put the pastry in a bag and then take it to the cashier, putting the pastry on the belt. When the cashier grabs the item, she begins to yell at me in Estonian and it throws me off guard. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong and I can’t understand her.

Me: “I’m sorry? I don’t speak Estonian.”

She then proceeds to yell at the people behind me, who look confused and shake their heads. I’m really nervous at this point. What have I done wrong? She gets about three people down before she gets to a young woman, who walks over to me and looks confused. She listens to the cashiers yell for a minute and then turns to me.

Woman: “She was asking all those people if they speak English. She wants you to get a coffee; it comes free with the pastry.”

Me: “I don’t want the coffee; I don’t drink it.”

Woman: “Okay, yeah.”

She then tried to calm down the cashier for what felt like a while and finally, the cashier stopped yelling and took my money. I appreciate her trying to help me get a good value, but could she not do it in a way that made me feel like I was breaking a law or something?

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A Mountain Of Estúpido

, , , , | Right | September 28, 2020

I grew up on the border and speak Spanish as a result. After graduating from college, I moved to a small mountain tourist town, where I work in the Visitor and Conference Center. Most of our tourists come from Texas and Oklahoma, who want to ski in the winter or escape the heat in the summer.

This conversation happens one afternoon when I’m alone in the office.

Tourist: “What is this mountain range called?”

Me: “The Sangre de Cristo Mountains.”

Tourist: *Angrily* “You know that means ‘Blood of Christ,’ right?”

Me: “Yes, sir, I speak Spanish.”

Tourist: “Well, why don’t you call it by its name?!”

I am not sure if he’s serious.

Me: “I did call them by their name, sir. A Spanish explorer named them.”

The tourist turned red and marched out. His wife still bought a couple of maps, while looking rather amused at the whole thing.

Totally Estupido, Part 13
Totally Estupido, Part 12
Totally Estupido, Part 11
Totally Estupido, Part 10
Totally Estupido, Part 9

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Stuck On The First Letter

, , , | Right | September 27, 2020

My very first job after graduating is at an office within a courthouse where people can get their official documents pertaining to their lawsuit or verdict. Mostly, they need a version of the official verdict that they can take with them — the original always stays in the archives — e.g. a verdict wherein the judge says that their insurance does have to pay them, which they can then use to take steps to receive this payment.

One day, a little old lady shuffles into our office, and when I ask what I can help her with, she pushes forward an envelope and says, “Letter.” She has an obvious accent, but that’s nothing new, and usually, I can work around the fact that people might not speak Dutch very well.

But it soon becomes very clear she only knows this one word: “Letter.”

I can see the letter she’s given me is from an insurance company, but she is unable to answer any of my questions so I don’t know how I can help her. Even asking if I can read it doesn’t get me any other response than her pointing at the letter. So, I read it in the hopes that there are instructions in it and that they are asking for her to bring a certain document, which I can then provide.

But there’s no such thing; it’s about something completely unrelated.

I try suggesting she come back with a translator, but of course, she doesn’t seem to understand that, either. I decide to make her the most common document mostly used for insurance cases and she seems happy with it, so I think that’s that.

The next day. “Letter.”

Yup, there she is again, with that exact same letter. No translator, nothing. I try my best to show her examples and work around the language barrier, but she doesn’t get any of it. I decide to make another type of document, thinking maybe it was the wrong type.

The next day. “Letter.”

At this point, I’m lost. I get a second opinion from several coworkers — even though they work at totally different services and don’t know as much about our documents — just to see if they can understand. Nope. The only other thing I can do is just give her a copy — which has no “value” or use at all, short of reading what’s on it — and besides, she would have already gotten a copy by letter when the verdict came out, so I cannot imagine it’ll help. Again, she seems happy and leaves.

The next day… you get it.  “Letter.”

I try to say as clearly as I can that I have given her every document she could possibly get from us, and I can do nothing else. She does not move and just repeats, “Letter,” every once in a while.

My patience has finally worn out, so I just say, “There is nothing I can do with that letter. I have given you everything we can. I can no longer help you. Bye!” I even make a point to wave goodbye and just go sit at my computer and begin working on something else. 

She stands there for a minute, during which I pretend she isn’t there, until she finally shuffles away. 

At least I haven’t seen her since!

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