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    Category: At The Checkout

    Speaking Germaniac

    | Germany | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, Employees, Language & Words

    (I moved to Germany quite recently and although I understand the language fairly well, I can only speak in simple sentences. I am also easily flustered. This happens at the university cafeteria, when I pick up a sandwich from the case and go to the counter to order a drink and pay for the items.)

    Me: *holding up the sandwich and in my best German* “Here, please, and an orange juice to go.”

    Grumpy Guy: *says something very fast in German, which I don’t understand*

    Me: “Pardon?”

    Grumpy Guy: *repeats the question equally fast, sounding irritated*

    Me: *getting flustered, but doing my best* “Sorry, I don’t understa—”

    Grumpy Guy: *cutting across me, still in German* “What. Kind. Of. SANDWICH, God d*** it!”

    Me: “Oh, it’s the tomato and cheese. And an orange juice to go, please.”

    (He glares at me, stomps off, and returns with the juice in a glass instead of a plastic cup.)

    Me: *increasingly flustered* “Sorry, I’d like that to go, please.”

    Grumpy Guy: “Argh, why the h*** didn’t you say so earlier?”

    (He stomps off again, muttering to himself and finally returning with the juice in a plastic cup, which he bangs onto the counter. I move to pick it up but knock it over instead. Juice splashes all over the counter, my pants and the floor.)

    Grumpy Guy: “You clumsy idiot! Now look what you’ve done! Bloody fool!”

    Me: *very embarrassed and close to tears* “I’m really sorry! So sorry!”

    (I grab paper towels and mop up the mess on the counter and the floor, apologizing profusely all the while. He just stands behind the counter, yelling at me, and I don’t understand a word he’s saying. Finally I finish cleaning up, pay for the items and rush out, very upset and getting stared at because of my wet pants all the way home. The next day, I’m relieved to see a different guy behind the counter. When I go to pay, however, I realize that I’ve picked up a sandwich with meat in it by mistake.)

    Me: *hesitantly, in German* “Sorry, I’m a vegetarian and this has meat. May I put it back and get something else?”

    (Before he can answer, the grumpy guy from the day before sees me and pipes up.)

    Grumpy Guy: “Oh, she’s back with another problem, is she? Bloody fool, can’t do a thing right. So many people waiting behind her, too. It’s people like her who’re always causing trouble and holding up our work.”

    Me: *speechless with anger which I am unable to articulate in German*

    Second Guy: *looks shocked* “What are you saying? Shut up!” *to me* “No problem, ma’am, you can go pick out something else, and I sincerely apologize for my colleague’s rudeness. In fact, have any item you like for free.”

    (He waited till I returned with a vegetarian option, even holding the queue for me, and refused to take any money for the order. As I walked away I could hear him arguing with the grumpy guy, who seemingly lost the battle and skulked off to the back. To the nice man who restored my faith in the cafeteria staff: Danke Schön!)

    Life Just Handed You Lemons

    | Allentown, PA, USA | At The Checkout, Extra Stupid, Food & Drink

    (I arrive at a sandwich shop for breakfast on my way to work and walk in to find an employee complaining to someone about a coworker.)

    Employee: “…and she never cleans right! Now we’ve got wilted lettuce and slimy chicken!”

    (They both suddenly stop and realize that I’ve been standing there for a large portion of the conversation.)

    Employee: “Oh. Hi. What can I get you?”

    Me: “Well, I was going to have food, but I think I’ll just get lemonade.”

    Making A Meal Out Of It

    | Turku, Finland | At The Checkout, Employees, Food & Drink

    (We have had a terrific, albeit busy, Sunday, making triple the amount we usually do. Due to this, me and my co-workers are a bit tired and slaphappy.)

    Customer: “Is it possible for me to get a [Product] meal?”

    Me: *deadpan* “No.”

    (The customer gets a heartbroken look on his face.)

    Me: “Oh, dear, I was only joking! I’m very sorry; we have had a very busy day and are not too sharp at the moment. Of course you can have your meal!”

    Customer: *laughing* “That’s all right. I’ve been doing inventory at my workplace for nine hours today, so I can sympathize!”

    When The Register Is Frozen, Let It Go

    | Kansas City, MO, USA | At The Checkout, Employees, Technology

    (This happens on my second trip to the pharmacy in the same day. Note, I have plenty of experience as a cashier and actually own a small shop, but I generally pretend to be ignorant as a customer so as not to offend cashiers who do not know what they are doing.)

    Pharmacy Tech: *referring to the Point of Sale machine* “It’s going to tell you to sign before you swipe your card.”

    Machine: *displays words* “Please swipe card.”

    Me: *swipes card without waiting for the screen I am supposed to sign*

    Machine: *flashes rapidly between the screen I was supposed to sign and the total, then says* “Processing, please wait.”

    Me: “Oops! I was supposed to sign first.”

    Pharmacy Tech: “On my end, it says it is waiting for you.”

    Me: *turning POS around so he can read it* “On my end, it says, “Processing, please wait.””

    Pharmacy Tech: “Well, these are new. I have no idea what to do about that! Try hitting cancel.”

    Me: *hits cancel*

    (The pharmacy tech hits cancel about twenty times, which any cashier who has used a POS before should know causes the system to freeze. He calls to another employee behind him.)

    Pharmacy Tech: “She swiped her card before signing. It’s frozen. What am I supposed to do now?”

    Pharmacy Tech #2: “I don’t know. Just shut it down and move to another register.”

    (I left wondering how long it would take before they froze all three of their registers.)

    A Damning Account Of History

    | Bremerton, WA, USA | At The Checkout, Bad Behavior, History

    (I’m a female in the Navy, wearing a t-shirt with a classy ‘Sailor Jerry’ style sailor pin-up girl and a banner that reads ‘D*** the Torpedoes’.)

    Me: “Oh, you guys have a military discount, right?”

    (The cashier reads my military ID, then rolls her eyes as she punches in the discount code.)

    Cashier: “You’d think a troop would dress more appropriately.”

    Me: “Excuse me?”

    Cashier: *gestures at my shirt* “You’re supposed to represent the armed forces at all times, right? So why are you wearing clothes with smutty girls and filthy language on it?”

    Me: “Lady, ‘D*** the Topedoes’ is a famous quote by Admiral Farragut from a battle in the 1800s. And I’m pretty sure sailors have been getting this exact girl tattooed on themselves since before either of us were born. This IS the Navy.”

    (She refused to say a word for the rest of the transaction.)

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