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A Change In The Weather Is Coming

, , , , , , , , , , | Right | December 3, 2023

I worked in a call center in the ancient times when the Internet came through the telephone jack. It was a horrible workplace. Everything was monitored by policy from bathroom breaks to what kind of food you brought as lunch — e.g., no bread because “it is bad for you”. It wasn’t very legal, but I needed the job. The commute was horrible, the hours were 0700 to 1200, four hours of unpaid lunch, and then 1600 to 2100, and the pay was two peanuts and a slap in the face.

My job was to walk people through troubleshooting this newfangled technology; TV through the Internet had just become common. It was my last day before I left for college, and it was the day before a major holiday where everyone expected to see TV after eating their body weight in ham, herring, and meatballs.

A major storm had ripped through the country and torn the telephone wires to shreds. I had been forced to work during my four-hour lunch, constantly berated over the phone by angry middle-aged people who didn’t take “enormous storm of doom” as a reasonable excuse for the Internet and their TVs not working. I was close to tears, tired, and emotionally drained.

This is my last call.

Me: *Faking cheerfulness* “Hello, and welcome to [Major ISP]. My name is [My Name]. How may I be of service?”

The caller speaks in the thickest, northernmost accent, here represented by badly written Scottish.

Caller: “Yah, me Internet’s doun. Cood jah help me?”

Me: “Certainly, miss! That is indeed why they pay me!”

I take her personal ID number, address, and such. She lives in the far north of Sweden. I see terrible news on top of my screen and prepare for a verbal assault.

Me: “I can see here that the problem indeed is on our side.”

Caller: “Ach, da storm? Oi thoot das was in da sooth?”

Me: “Indeed, the storm is to blame here. The problem is that snow, winds, and an avalanche have torn down the wires. It is a known problem that is… being worked on.”

Caller: “Good tae noow. Wen will it be fixed?”

Me: *Bracing for impact* “Well, miss, the servicemen have all been drafted to deal with the storm down south, so there is an expected twenty-day delay in your area.”

Caller: “Twenty daes?”

Me: “Yes. Possibly more, and I am terribly sorry. I cannot affect—”

Caller: “Doon’t jah worry! Oi’ll wait. Doose doon sooth have bigger problems and prob’ly need da help.”

Me: “You’re… okay with the wait?”

Caller: “Ah, what can jah doo? It’s not jah fault, an’ jah doon’t boss da workmen aroond!”

The shock of NOT being yelled at finally breaks me. I mute the customer so I won’t break the professional façade, but I am silent for quite some time.

Caller: “Hallo? Are jah deere?”

Me: “Yes, sorry. I’m sorry.”

Caller: “Aboot wat?”

Me: “That… you… wait…” *Choking up*

Caller: “Jah okay?”

Me: “Well… I… I have been yelled at for thirteen hours because of the storm. People call and expect me to fix their TVs by tomorrow and berate me for ruining their holiday. You are the first one to actually be nice to me.”

Caller: “Oh. Sorry aboot dat. Jah soonds loike a decent fellah.”

Me: “Thank you. I want to thank you for being nice to me.”

Caller: “Jah already did, but jah’re welcome!”

I get an idea.

Me: “Look, this is my last day. I am authorized to grant rebates without anyone else’s approval. I will give you the largest sum I can.”

Caller: “Wat?”

Me: “I will give you free Internet, phone, cell phone, and TV for…” *quick maths* “…a year.”

Caller: “WAT?”

Me: “Yes! I will not let you say no.”

Caller: “But… but… Thanks?”

Me: “You’re welcome! Thank you for calling!”

I ended the call and gave her the rebate. I checked the boxes that would give her the rebate regardless of her being eligible or not, and I made it so that any mistakes were on me personally. Then, I waited for the machine to process it, logged off, and went home. I haven’t been arrested yet!

Oh, and sorry to all Scottish people for my probable misrepresentation of your accent, but it is the closest approximation I could think of.

Not Even In The Same (B)Room As Racists

, , , | Working | December 1, 2023

We have a coworker who moved to the USA a few years ago. Their English is great, but occasionally they will mix up a word or two. He has been tasked with going outside to sweep and he looks confused.

Me: “You okay, [Coworker]?”

Coworker: “Yeah, I’m looking for… the… the, you know… the furry stick.”

Me: *Laughing.* “You mean the broom?”

Coworker: *Also laughing.* “That’s it!”

Other Coworker: *Laughing.* “That’s awesome. We’re calling it the furry stick from this day forth!”

As we’re laughing, one of our coworkers is glaring at us. 

Angry Coworker: “You shouldn’t joke about people’s accents! It’s disrespectful!”

Coworker: “No one is joking about my accent. They’re laughing because I mixed a word up and it was funny.”

Angry Coworker: “You shouldn’t let them laugh at you! They’re being racist!”

Coworker: “I am a white man from Poland. They are all white. Nobody is being racist. I just forgot a word and now that I think about it the image of a furry stick seems very funny to me.” 

Angry Coworker: “It’s still not right! Do you want me to tell the manager for you?”

Other Coworker: “D*** [Angry Coworker], you must be fun at parties.” 

She did indeed tell our manager. Our manager put us all, Polish coworker included, on some form of sensitivity training. Basically, we all got paid to sit in a room and watch a DVD for a few hours while our angry coworker and manager had to deal with the customers. Score!

Sounds Like A Salad We’d Prefer, To Be Honest…

, , , , , | Right | December 1, 2023

About fifteen years ago, I worked as an assistant manager in a pub restaurant that was very popular for lunches, evening meals, and Sunday dinners.

During the week, it would get quite quiet in the afternoon. Our prices were at the low end of expensive, so during these quiet periods, we would get random low-income people who would come in and just order a couple of starters to share: a portion of garlic bread and some chicken wings between four, for example.

One afternoon, I was having a smoke in the back with the owner when a waitress came through with a perplexed look on her face, requesting advice on how to deal with her customer.

The customer had called her over and complained that her meal did not have any crisps with it. (That’s potato chips for you Americans.)

The waitress explained that it did not come with crisps.

The customer stated that on the menu it clearly said that it came with a “crisp salad”. 

After we split our sides laughing, the owner just said to take her a handful of tortilla chips, as it wasn’t worth the effort of explaining.

The Saddest Victory

, , , , , , | Legal | November 26, 2023

I live in France, and I’m a native French speaker, but I can speak English quite fluently. I also took German when I was in high school and college, and I remember some of it.

I’m hanging out at my home, and I get a phone call.

Me: “Allo?”

Scammer: “Hello! Do you speak English?”

He speaks with a strong accent I cannot identify, and he sounds awkward, like English is definitely not his mother language.

Me: “Yes?”

Scammer: “This is Microsoft. There are three dangerous viruses on your computer, and I’m here to help you get rid of them.”

This is an obvious scam attempt. I could just hang up, but I decide to play with him instead.

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English. I really, really don’t speak a single word in English, so I guess I cannot help you.”

Scammer: “You’re telling me that you don’t speak English, in English.”

Me: “Yes!”

Scammer: “There’s a problem with your computer. Whenever you use Google, it attracts dangerous programs, and you need to get rid of them.”

Me: “But I don’t have a computer!”

Scammer: “Are you Mrs. [Not My Name]?”

Me: “No, and I don’t speak English at all!”

He hangs up. I shrug it off and start going about my business again. Then, the phone rings again and it’s him. I decide to answer in German until he hangs up.

Me: “Hello!”

Scammer: “Hello. I need your phone number to help you get rid of this virus.”

Me: “I don’t understand.”

Scammer: “What are you saying?”

Me: “I don’t understand. I only speak German.”

Scammer: “I don’t understand. Speak English.”

This goes on, and then I hang up. One minute later, guess who phones again? This time, I answer in French.

Scammer: “This is Microsoft. Are you Mrs. [Not My Name]?”

Me: “No, I’m not Mrs. [Not My Name]. Would you like me to sing you a song?”

Scammer: “I don’t understand what you’re saying. There’s a problem with your computer.”

I sing something and go about my business again. He has hung up when I come back. I think I’ve gotten rid of him, but then he phones again. This time, I answer in English.

Scammer: “You have a virus on your computer. Please, give me your phone number.”

Me: “Why would I do that? I’m a married person, and I will never, ever cheat on my wife!”

Scammer: “Your wife or your husband?”

Me: “My wife! She’s beautiful!”

This is a lie as I’m a happily single lady. However, this seems to trigger the scammer.

Scammer: “This is wrong! Really wrong! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

He hung up and never called again. This scammer was stoic no matter how silly I acted, but the single idea of interacting with an LGBT person was enough to make him run away. This is a very sad way to win the war against telemarketers.

When Even Being Quadrilingual Isn’t Enough

, , , , , , | Learning | November 26, 2023

I was working at this school many years ago, in a small town where some 40% of the inhabitants were Finnish immigrants. Most worked at [Major Corporation] in the nearest city. That city also had a large number of Finnish immigrants, and there were entire work teams at [Major Corporaton] with just Finnish workers. Thus, only one of them needed to be able to speak and/or understand Swedish, and the rest got by speaking Finnish.

One day, the phone rang in the teachers’ lounge. I answered, and on the line was this elderly Finnish lady who apparently only knew a handful of words in Swedish. I gathered that she was trying to reach the pool house. It was in the same area as the school, and they partly shared a name. I quickly found their number in the phone book, and I explained to her that she had reached the school and gave her the number she had to call. She just talked over me, saying, “Pool house,” over and over again. So, I hung up.

A couple of minutes later, the phone rang again. It was the same lady. This time I explained to her in English that she had the wrong number and gave her the correct one. She still just talked over me.

Ten minutes later, the lovely lady called again. This time, I switched to French. She continued to just talk over me.

Five minutes later, she called again. Once again, she kept talking over me, instead of admiring my amazing explanation in Spanish. After I hung up, I unplugged the phone.

And yes, we did have a Finnish teacher, but she split her time between two schools and this was her day at the other school. My Finnish is less than rudimentary; I can’t even count to ten. I do know the phrase for not covering the radiator in Finnish (as does probably 90% of the Swedish population). Unfortunately, this amazing knowledge was useless in this situation.