Category: Language & Words


Let’s Have A Fiasco On Saturday Night?

| San Jose, CA, USA | Bosses & Owners, Language & Words

(Honed by an indoorsy past as a voracious reader, my English/writing skills have caught my manager’s attention and he often calls me on my desk line or brings me into his office for advice on how to word things like promotional e-mails, letters, etc. My desk line rings – caller ID shows his extension.)

Me: “Helloooooo!”

Manager: “What are some other words for party?”

Me: “Uhm… Celebration? Bash? Blowout?”

Manager: “Can you think of anything that starts with an ‘F’?”

Me: “Not offhand. I’ll let you know if I think of anything.”

Manager: “Okay.”

(We hang up. About a minute later, my phone rings again. It’s him.)

Me: “Long time no talk!”

Manager: “Is a fiasco a bad thing?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manager: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Very, very sure.”

Manager: “So it’s not like a party.”

Me: “No, [Manager]. A fiasco is nothing like a party.”

Manager: “Oh. Okay. If you’re sure.”

(We hang up a second time. This time it’s only about two seconds before my phone rings yet again.)

Manager: “I was thinking of a fiesta.”


I Need Help

| CA, USA | Language & Words

(It’s the mid-90s, and I am working at a pizza place at the front (phones and register), on a busy Monday night. There are four employees, as Mondays are not usually busy, so I am manning the front by myself. Normally, the phone greeting is “Thank you for calling Pizza Place. This is My Name. How can I help you?”… except this one time.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Pizza Place]. This is [My Name]. How can you help me?”

(I saw the other employees look at me. It took me a while to realize what I said. Fortunately, the caller had a sense of humor as I explained it was busy and I was manning the phones and register by myself.)


Would What Jew Know?

| USA | USA | Language & Words, Religion

(I have recently decided to join a volunteer organization that mans a 24-hour sexual assault hotline. It’s an intense group, and they are mandated by law to put us through 40 hours of training before we start. All this happens on the first day of training, which is led by the “new volunteer coordinator,” who is a woman who is paid to exclusively work with and prepare the new batches of volunteers.)

Trainer: “Okay, everyone come get a copy of the training manual.”

(She starts handing out binders containing no less than four hundred pages of handouts and training materials. Today is supposed to focus on prejudice, in an effort to make us not be jerks to people who call in to the hotline. We get to a handout listing various types of “isms” — racism, sexism, hetero-normatism, anti-Semitism, etc.)

Trainer: “Let’s give examples of negative views held by each of these groups of prejudice.”

(We go through them all, and the trainer stops and squints at “anti-Semitism.”)

Trainer: “I’m not sure how to pronounce this one… Can anyone tell me what it is?”

(I’m already concerned… Shouldn’t the trainer know what the words in her own training material mean?)

Volunteer #1: “Doesn’t that mean, like, people who don’t like Christians?”

Class: *murmurs of agreement*

Trainer: “Okay, so what are—”

Me: *interrupting* “Um, that’s not what it means…”

(The class turns and stares at me.)

Me: “It means people who don’t like Jews. You know, like anti-Semitic?”

Volunteer #1: “Well, but couldn’t it mean, like anything religious? Like people discriminate against every religion. We shouldn’t make it just one.”

(The rest of the group nods.)

Me: “Um, but… that’s not what it means. That’s like saying homophobia could be about straight people being discriminated against.”

Trainer: “I think we should treat it as any kind of religious prejudice. It’s not like homophobia where there’s a lot of violence that makes it important.”

Me: “You’ve heard of the Holocaust, right?”

(The class stares at me, and then looks down at their desks.)

Trainer: “Oh… are you Jewish?”

Me: “That’s not even the point. If we’re supposed to be learning about the prejudices people hold, you can’t just dismiss one of the older ones as not important. It is important. 6-million-people-dead important. ”

Volunteer #2: “You know, it wasn’t just Jews killed in the Holocaust.”

Trainer: “That’s right. So, let’s treat this word as anti-religion-ism.”

Me: “But—”

(The class then begins to list examples of all the ways Christians, Wiccans, Pagans, Hindus, Muslims, etc are prejudiced against. I raise my hand and am called on.)

Me: “A prejudice against Jews is—”

Trainer: “Let’s just move on. In fact, time for lunch break!”

(I get my lunch and head outside, shaken. The trainer comes up to me and sits down.)

Trainer: “You know, I’m worried about you.”

Me: “Oh, I’m okay; it’s just a little annoying.”

Trainer: “You seem to have an awful hang-up on religion.”

Me: “…”

Trainer: “If you hate Christians so much, I’m not sure this is the right volunteer cause for you.”

Me: “I don’t hate Christians. I just know that some people hate Jews and that’s just as important to me as people hating homosexuals, Mexicans, etc.”

Trainer: “You know, there were Christians in the concentration camps, too.”

Me: “I know… Look, is this group actually affiliated with a church or something?”

Trainer: “No, we are entirely secular. We don’t discriminate against anyone.”

Me: “Can I ask why we aren’t allowed to use the actual definition of anti-Semitism then?”

Trainer: “You know, that term really could apply to anyone, to Christians…”

(At that point I left. I think she was right, that group wasn’t for me. When my Jewish husband asked why I left, all I had to say was “Did you know anti-Semitism is prejudice against Christians?” for him to understand.)


Accentuating The Problem

| FL, USA | Bizarre/Silly, Coworkers, Language & Words, Pranks

(I recently got a job working at a hardware store. I thoroughly enjoy my new job, and all my coworkers are funny, hardworking and an absolute delight to work with. However, I’m slightly gullible, and try my best to please both customers and my coworkers as I am the youngest and the only female not in a management position, as well as the only one at our store, period. I soon learn that whenever a fellow coworker calls from either home or a sister store, it is nearly a RULE for the caller to prank whoever answers. One day I am mixing paint when the phone rings. It reads as a cellphone number, and I quickly pick it up.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Store]. This is [My Name]. How may I help you?”

Caller: “…”

Me: “Hello? You have reached [Store]. Can I help you this evening?”

Caller: *thick Indian accent* “Hello?”

Me: “Hello, sir! You’ve reached [Store]. Can I help you with anything?”

Caller: “Yes. You do key lock?”

Me: “I’m sorry? We re-key locks if that is what you mean, sir.”

Caller: “Good. Good. How many?”

Me: *starting to recognize a very familiar undertone and inflection pattern and getting suspicious* “As many as you need, sir.”

Caller: “You re-key lock, yes? Then you re-key mine. Fifty! You re-key fifty?”

Me: “Of course, sir. However, I have a question for you, if you don’t mind me asking.”

Caller: “Ask!”

Me: “Does your name happen to be [Coworker who is off that day]?”

Caller: *laugh, drops the accent* “Hey, [My Name]! How long did you know?”

Me: “You need to figure out a Scottish accent or something other than the same one you use to order us pizza, dude. Or at least learn how to drop the Southern twang when you speak. So whatchya need, mate?”

(It ended up that he was calling to change one of his choices for the weekly football pool we set up. He DID learn how to fake several different accents after that, and it kept us all on our toes.)


That’s Some Interesting Personal Interests

| Detroit, MI, USA | Job Seekers, Language & Words

(I’m the problem here. However, this particular client is very quiet.)

Client: *typing resume* “How do you spell “anus”?”

Me: *gives weird look* “Um… A-N-U-S.”

Client: *gives weird look right back* “Heinous”.

Me: “Oh.”