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    Category: Geography


    | Seattle, WA, USA | Coworkers, Geography, History

    (I work with a Korean guy who, while otherwise cool, will usually insist that every waking thing in the world is “originally Korean.” Today it was this charming conversation. I had just ordered lunch for the office – a meat-lover’s pizza.)

    Me: “Pizza’s here.”

    Coworker: “You know, pizza is actually Korean.”

    Me: “No, dude, it’s Italian.”

    Coworker: “That’s what they want you to think. During World War Two, Japan stole pizza from Korea and traded to its Italian allies. See? That’s why pepperoni is sliced in a round way like that – to look like the Japanese flag.”

    Me: “…”

    Regionalised And Regionalized Spelling

    | San Diego, CA, USA | Coworkers, Geography, Language & Words

    (I’m a software engineer, but it’s well known in the office that I’m working on a novel. This happens when a coworker is having problems with his spell-checker.)

    Me: “I’ve been getting some weird behavior, too. Mine switched to British spellings, and I can’t figure out how to change it back.”

    Coworker: “I like the British spellings.”

    Me: “So do I, but I feel pretentious using them.”

    Coworker: “You’re a writer. Aren’t you allowed to be pretentious?”

    Me: “Nah, I write genre fiction. I can’t get away with that.”

    In A State Of Confusion, Part 3

    | Salem, OR, USA | Employees, Geography

    (I have very recently moved to Oregon from California, and still had my California driver’s license. While I am at the grocery store I decide to pick up a 6 pack of beer to celebrate my arrival with my fiancée.)

    Cashier: “ID, please?”

    Me: *completely fine with being carded, due to having worked at a liquor store* “Sure. Here ya go.”

    (The cashier proceeds to look at my California ID waaaay too long, even calling over another cashier to ask if my ID was fake. Finally she accepts it and enters my birthdate.)

    Cashier: “I’d never seen any ID like this before… It’s so weird.”

    Me: “It’s a California license. I wouldn’t expect you to get too many of them this far from the border.”

    Cashier: “But it’s so odd looking…”

    (She proceeds to use as many different synonyms for ‘weird’ as she can think of to describe my license for a good 30 seconds, stalling out the transaction.)

    Me: *in all honesty* “You do realize there are 49 other states, all with different styles of driver’s license, right?”

    Cashier: “…Oh, yeah…

    In A State Of Confusion, Part 2
    In A State Of Confusion

    Non-Flights Of Fancy

    | Winnipeg, MB, Canada | Coworkers, Extra Stupid, Geography

    (A coworker is a recent immigrant from The Philippines, who used to work in Saudi Arabia. She is relating her experiences to her coworkers, including our manager.)

    Manager: “So how far is Saudi Arabia from The Philippines, anyway?”

    Coworker: “I don’t know the actual distance, but it’s about 11 hours travel.”

    Manager: “…Driving?”

    (I was straining hard to keep from slamming my head into a table at that point…)

    Unhealthy Set Of Questions

    | Vancouver, BC, Canada | Employees, Geography

    (I am visiting Canada as part of my vacation, which, yes, I am taking solo. I come into Vancouver on the train from the USA. The Customs official asks me fairly normal questions like where I was born and when I’m departing, until…)

    Customs Official: “And what is the purpose of your visit?”

    Me: “Tourism. I’m on vacation.”

    Customs Official: “Do you make a habit of vacationing alone?”

    Me: “Um, yes, I suppose I do. I usually vacation alone once a year or so. I like my ‘me’ time.” *laughs*

    Customs Official: “Well, that’s weird. How do I know you’re not trying to cross the border for free healthcare?”

    Me: “Well, I’m in generally good health, so I don’t think that’s a concern unless something sudden and unexpected comes up. To your direct question, I live all the way on the other side of the US, so I suppose if I were trying to cross the border just for free healthcare, I would most likely fly directly to Toronto or Montreal rather than go all the way across the country first? I’ve already shown you my return train ticket for a few days from now, and I have my return plane reservation to go home a couple days after that, if that helps. Besides, I have insurance with international coverage. I’d probably pay more in Canada than the US with that insurance, but I’m happy to show you my insurance card, too.” *takes out insurance card*

    Customs Official: “Yeah, I guess that makes sense, but it’s just weird that you’re traveling alone. It’s suspicious, you know.”

    Me: “I guess you maybe don’t see a lot of people traveling alone for vacation, but I promise you I’m just on vacation. I met up with friends in other US cities on this trip before I came here, and am now spending a little down time alone to relax and do what I want. Taking a few days alone isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoy it!”

    Customs Official: “I don’t know; you seem awfully suspicious to me.”

    Me: “I know many people don’t vacation solo, but I promise I’m just spending a few days solo to relax.” *light bulb* “Hey, maybe this would help? Ask me what I do.”

    Customs Official: “What? Okay? What is your employment situation?”

    Me: “I’m employed by the U.S. Federal Government. Here is my work ID, official passport, and, if you’ll note, my insurance is through the U.S. Federal Government employee plan. Please don’t scan my official passport; I’m only allowed to use that for work travel.”

    Customs Official: “Well, why didn’t you just SAY that? Welcome to Canada.”

    (The most frustrating Customs experience I’ve ever had. Never knew going to Canada for four days alone was so “suspicious!”)

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