• An Understanding Disability - 847 votes
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    Category: Language & Words

    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!)

    These Forms Are To Be Signed With Blood

    | Italy | Coworkers, Crazy Requests, Health & Body, Language & Words

    (My job consists of handling subcontracts for my company. Typically the customers require a lot of documents before giving the go-ahead, including our workers’ training certificates, vaccination cards, and so on. One day I receive this call…)

    Caller: “Good morning, this is [Customer Company]. We’ll need the DNA from one of your workers.”

    Me: “Uhm. First, is this even legal, and second, how am I supposed to send it to you?”

    Caller: “What do you mean?”

    Me: “How do I get DNA from our worker, provided that he allows me to do that, and how do I physically transfer it to you?”

    Caller: “You can download it from the Employment Office website, fill in with your worker’s details, and send it via email or fax.”

    (The penny drops…)

    Me: “Oh, so you’re telling me DNA is a form?”

    Caller: “Sure, it’s the (Italian for: Declaration of New Hiring)… Wait, you thought we wanted actual DNA from the guy?”

    Me: “It wouldn’t be the strangest request I’ve had.”

    French Disconnection

    | Montreal, Canada | Language & Words, Tourists & Travel

    (I’ve come to Quebec to learn how to improve my French. This is the first time I’ve ever gone on a plane by myself, much less to a place where English is a secondary language, so I’m rather nervous. I approach the customs counter wearing a shirt with English phrasing and looking very much like a tourist.)

    Agent: “Bonjour.”

    Me: *thinking I should at least give it a shot* “Bonjour.”

    (The agent goes through his directions in French. Both his speed and his accent completely throw me off and I just stand there.)

    Me: *in English* “Well, if you’re going to go that fast.”

    (He stops and stares at me before breaking down into laughter for at least a solid minute.)

    Agent: “I’m so sorry, miss.”

    Me: “It’s all right.”

    (Everything proceeds normally until we get to the reason for my stay.)

    Me: “You’ll love this. I’m here to study French.”

    (He giggles as I hand over my papers and checks to make sure everything is in order. I get everything back.)

    Agent: “Bon journee mademoiselle.”

    Me: “Bon journee.”

    (I couldn’t be mad at a guy with a good sense of humor and a thankless job. I hope I made his day.)

    A Gorgeous Faux Pa

    | Glendale, AZ, USA | Coworkers, Language & Words, Rude & Risque

    (I take the bus to work, which means walking halfway across the campus. I’m used to the walk, but it’s annoying during our 115°F (46°C) summers. My coworkers are aware of the situation, and one of them notices me come in.)

    Coworker #1: “Oh, wow, your face is red. You should rest and drink some water before you clock in.”

    Me: “I actually stopped by the water fountain in the hallway, so I’m hydrated. Honestly, I’m not that hot.”

    (My coworker is then called away. Coworker #2, having heard the tail end of the conversation, comes up to me.)

    Coworker #2: “You shouldn’t think like that.”

    Me: *thinking I heard him wrong* “What?”

    Coworker #2: “You should be confident. You know, think of yourself as gorgeous.”

    Me: “Wha- Oh! No, no, wrong kind of hot! We were talking about ‘heat’ hot.”

    Coworker #2: “Oh.”

    (He turns to walk away, and then briefly turns back.)

    Coworker #2: “Don’t tell anyone I said that.”

    Just The Sound Of Phone Robots Is Something Quite Atrocious

    | FL, USA | Language & Words, Technology

    (I’ve been discharged from the military and have moved back in with my parents. While they’re at work, I’m cleaning the house. The phone rings…)

    Me: “Hello, [Residence].”

    Telemarketer: *using generic male salesman voice* “Hello! I am with [Extremely Long and Complicated Company Name]! We are in the area for a free wire replacement! Would you like a free wire replacement?”

    Me: “Are you a robot?”

    Telemarketer: “No.” *long pause* “Are you aware that many homes are robbed because thieves cut the wire and rewire it for their own use? We are in the area for a free wire replacement! Would you like…”

    Me: “Hey, hey, HEY!”

    Telemarketer: *stops talking*

    Me: “If you are NOT a robot, say ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.”

    Telemarketer: “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Could you please repeat what you said?”

    Me: “I said, ‘If you are NOT a robot, say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.’”

    (The telemarketer gives a thirty-second pause, then laughs in the most mechanical way possible.)

    Telemarketer: “Hahaha. We are in the area for a free wire replacement! Would you like…”

    Me: “Nope. You didn’t answer my question, so you’re a robot. I believe in two strikes, not three. Goodbye.” *hangs up*

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