Talking Shop

source: notalwaysright

Lost In Their Own Translation
(My husband and I are from America. We move overseas to Belgium for his job, and make every effort to learn the native language. I am shopping for a computer part, but am tripping over the technical terms. The clerk mercifully switches over to English for my benefit. As he is helping me, a few native men queue up behind me and overhear us.)

Customer #1: *in French* “Such a typical American; expecting everyone to cater to them and their stupid language.”
Customer #2: *in French* “Can’t blame her. This b**** looks too stupid to learn French.”
Me: *in French* “Looks can be deceiving, gentlemen.”
(The customer turns red and quickly wanders off. The clerk is laughing so hard, he has to sit down.)

In Line And Out Of Line
(I’m in line to pay. Customer #1 in front of me is about in his 40s, and very well-dressed in a suit and tie. Customer #2 in front of him seems to be a single mother with her child. I’m 25, and pretty shabbily dressed; wearing only faded jeans, an old, novelty Star Wars shirt, and have my long hair almost covering my eyes.)

Customer #1: “Lady, can you hurry up! Some people are important and actually have places to be!”
(Customer #2 is fumbling with her money. In her cart she only has basic groceries and what appears to be a birthday cake for her child. She mumbles something about not having enough money, and decides to leave the cake behind.)
Customer #1: “Don’t waste everyone’s time if you can’t even pay for your s***! Or maybe you need another government handout that comes from my taxes?!”
(At this point, I feel like I’ve got to step in.)
Me: “Hey man, that’s enough!”
Customer #1: “Who do you think you are? I’ll have you know I’m the [high profile position] at [large shipping company], and no one ever talks to me like that.”
(Suddenly, I become much more respectful.)
Me: “I’m so sorry, sir. I had no idea you were so important. Would you mind if I asked you for your business card?”
(Customer #1 smugly hands me his card. I see he is, indeed, who he says he is.)
Me: “And here’s my business card.”
Customer #1: “Why the h*** would I want your—”
(Customer #1 suddenly goes pale, as he notices that I am co-owner of [large shipping company].)
Me: “Now that I know your name, I’ll be sure to phone your supervisor to ensure you’re put on probation. One more act like this and you’re fired.”
(Customer #1 stammers for a bit, before practically running from the store. I end up paying for the mother’s cake, and even gave them a bit extra to buy the kid any toy from the store.)

They Should Have Stolen Some Intelligence
(Three shoplifters run out of the store with a bunch of liquor. Our Loss Prevention agent has been watching them, and manages to catch the one holding most of the liquor, but the other two get away. Later in the night, the police come. One officer goes upstairs with the shoplifter, while the other takes quick statements from us. Suddenly, the two other shoplifters who had run off earlier came back inside.)

Shoplifter: “Hey, is our friend still here?”
(I quickly look at the cop right behind me.)
Me: “Uh, yeah, he’s upstairs.”
Shoplifter: “Sweet, can one of you guys go upstairs to get him or something? He has our pot.”
(The cop and I share an incredulous look, while the two shoplifters just stand there.)
Cop: “I think you’re gonna need to come with me.”
(The officer took the shoplifters upstairs, where they were all arrested for possession.)

She Also Speaks Ironic
(I manage a fast food restaurant. I’m currently serving a customer who is from East Asia. She is clearly new to the country, as she is having significant trouble with the transaction, and I’m finding it difficult to communicate. My coworker steps in.)

Coworker: “Excuse me, where are you from?”
Asian Customer: “I am from Korea.”
(Suddenly, the next customer in line speaks up.)
Customer: “Racist! You’re a racist!”
Coworker: “Excuse me, ma’am?”
Customer: “I said you’re a racist! It doesn’t matter where this young lady comes from, she should be welcome in your store. You should feel ashamed!”
(The shouting customer turns to me.)
Customer: “You! Do something about her!”
Me: “I absolutely agree. You see, my coworker here is studying a master’s degree in Asian studies. She was just asking because she could process this transaction in Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese or Indonesian, and didn’t want to look like an idiot by making an assumption about someone she didn’t know.”

Not All Customers Are Sick
(A customer comes up to my counter.)

Customer: “I have a fascinating offer to make you.”
Me: “Uh-oh?”
Customer: “If you let me use some cleaners, and give me a free water from the fountain, I’ll clean up the mess I just made throwing up all over your bathroom.”
Me: “Oh… Well, the fountain drinks don’t have water, but I’ll get you some. [Coworker] over there is actually cleaning the men’s room right now, so you can talk to him.”
Customer: “Thank you. I’m sorry.”
Me: “Oh, it’s alright.”
(She does indeed borrow some cleaning spray and some towels, and disappears into the women’s restroom for a few minutes. My coworker approaches.)
Coworker: “What was that all about?”
Me: “She didn’t say?”
Coworker: “She just said you said it was okay to borrow the cleaning supplies.”
Me: “Oh. She said she threw up and wanted to clean it up.”
Coworker: “Really?”
Me: “Yup.”
(She comes back out at the end of this conversation.)
Customer: “Again, I’m really, really sorry.”
Me: “Most other customers would have just left it there and not even told us. You told us, apologized, and helped us clean it. You can come in here and throw up every night for all I care. Hope you feel better!”

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