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  • Not Handing Over Justice
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    Category: Language & Words

    Go Native Or Go Home

    | Oklahoma City, OK, USA | At The Checkout, Bigotry, History, Language & Words, Top

    (I’m in line at a popular discount retail store, with two people ahead of me. The women at the head of the line is clearly new to English, and while she has a thick accent and struggles, she does her best to speak to the cashier in English, even though he rolls his eyes and makes her repeat everything several times. Finally, she is able to leave. As soon as she’s out of earshot:)

    Cashier: “Ugh, they shouldn’t be allowed in our stores until they learn our language.”

    (The man ahead of me says several things in another language.)

    Cashier: “Oh, man, not another one. This is America. Learn the language.”

    Customer: “Oh, I’m sorry. I just assumed you’d learned Cherokee, since you’re so big on people learning the local language. My mistake.”

    (The cashier turned bright red and didn’t say another word through the transaction.)

    Aggravating But Also Aware

    | TX, USA | Employees, Language & Words, Top

    (A number of years ago I was doing some service work for a particularly obnoxious client. I had done work for him before, and he was always obnoxious.)

    Me: “And here’s your invoice.”

    Customer: “I noticed this on previous invoices and wondered what the 10% A & I charge was for.”

    Me: “That’s an ‘aggravation and irritation’ charge for having to deal with your sorry personality.”

    Customer: “I can understand that. You do good work and are reliable, so keep charging that and I’ll keep calling you.”

    Can Only Be Repaired By A True Master

    | Brisbane, QLD, Australia | Coworkers, Language & Words, Technology

    (I’m walking through the corridor of my office, when I see a colleague wrestling with the paper tray on one of the printers.)

    Me: “Having some trouble with the printer?”

    Colleague: “It’s a bit tricky.”

    Me: “Ah, yes. The ancient art of fu-jitsu.”

    Watch Your Tongues

    | Brazil | Employees, Language & Words, Top, Tourists & Travel

    (In this story I am the employee. I’m currently working a football stadium in Brazil, and I’m the only multi-lingual employee in my area, as it is not a huge game. I’m waiting, in a food area that has a phone, to escort a disabled English fan to their seat, and I am making conversation with the Portuguese manager and employee.)

    Manager: *in Portuguese* “When are you expecting the call?”

    Me: “In a couple of minutes. Then I’ll head down and take them up.”

    Employee: “Do you need anything?”

    Me: “Nah, I’ve got a key.”

    (Suddenly a group of obviously Spanish speaking fans show up and start working through the menu together.)

    Manager: “I hate to ask, but our Spanish speaking server is on a break. Could you…?”

    Me: “Oh! No problem!” *switching to Spanish to take the group’s orders* “How can I help you all?”

    Fan #1: *in Spanish* “Thank you! Yes, I think we have it all figured out. We’ll need two [sodas] and three [other type of sodas], and…”

    (Just then, the phone rings. I explain to them I’ll need a second as I’m supposed to be escorting a disabled fan up. They’re very understanding and tell me to take my time.)

    Me: *in English* “Hello?”

    Caller: “Hello! Yes, I’m down here with my daughter. We requested disabled seating.”

    Me: “Oh! Yes, I’ll be there to escort you. Give me a minute to walk down.”

    Caller: “No, no, no! Sorry, see, we’re having trouble finding our way, and instead of bothering another employee we hoped you would help us with directions? We’re at the red entrance.”

    Me: “Yes, I know where you are. See, first… Uh, I just remembered I’m working with someone right now.”

    Caller: “Oh, we’ll wait.”

    Me: *to the fans, in Spanish* “All right, sorry. What else do you need?”

    (He starts to list off his order, but I continue returning to the phone. Finally I get the disabled group to the meeting point.)

    Manager: *in Portuguese* “Do you need to go now?”

    Me: *in Spanish, which he does not understand* “Let me finish their order.” *to fans, in English* “Okay, so let me finish you off and we’ll get your food.”

    Fan #1: *in English, struggling slightly* “Uh… three bag of chips. Please.”

    Me: “Why are you speaking English?”

    Fan #1: *laughing* “Because you are!”

    (The phone rings from security that I need to go escort the group now.)

    Me: *on phone, in Portuguese* “You’re ready? Good. I’ll be down momentarily.”

    (I finally notice what I’ve just done.)

    Me: *in English* “You understood none of that.”

    Caller: *laughing* “Absolutely none!”

    (We all had a good laugh about it and I quickly finished the group’s orders and escorted the disabled fan to her seat. My coworkers still joke about my ‘two language limit.’)

    Misconceiving The Point, Part 3

    | Lake Louise, AB, Canada | At The Checkout, Employees, Health & Body, Language & Words

    (A customer is buying a pregnancy test, which is very expensive at our store.)

    Customer: “This is so expensive, but better safe than sorry!”

    Me: “Yeah, sorry about how expensive it is. But next time try the store across the road.”

    Customer: “The next time?” *eyebrows raised*

    Me: “Oh, my god. I am so sorry. That’s not what I meant!”

    (Luckily she had a sense of humour!)

    Related:
    Misconceiving The Point, Part 2
    Misconceiving The Point


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