Category: Language & Words


An All-Consuming Business

| England, UK | Coworkers, Language & Words

(I’m looking at a mark-up of a transaction document. I’m having a bit of a slow moment and turn to my office mate.)

Me: “Hey, stupid question. Is consummation of an agreement when you sign it or when you complete the deal?”

Colleague: “Eh?”

Me: “It says, basically, ‘There are no agreements, etc. that will on consummation of this agreement provide a right to anyone, yada yada.’  Is that signing or completion?”

Colleague: “That’s a weird word to use. Well, I guess … when you get married, you sign the piece of paper. But you don’t consummate it till later. So being married is signing and consummation would be—”

Me: “The coming together of all the parties’ desires?”


Got That Gar-Licked

| Berlin, Germany | Food & Drink, Language & Words

(My boyfriend and I are on holidays in Berlin. We decide to stop for lunch in a Mexican restaurant along the way. Our server speaks a bit of English, but not too much. We are giving our order when this happens:)

Boyfriend: “Oh, and I’m allergic to garlic. Is there any garlic in [plate]?”

Server: *puzzled* “…garlic?”

Boyfriend: “You know, it’s kinda like an onion but smaller… err…”

(He looks at me. I quickly sketch a some garlic on a piece of paper and show it to the server.)

Server: “I’m sorry, I don’t… uhm…”

Me: “Oh! Oh, I know! It’s the thing you use to keep vampires away!”

Server: *smiling widely* “Ooh, I know it! I’ll go and ask!”

(No garlic was found in our food, and she happily smiled at us when we left. I never thought I’d end up playing charades while ordering food!)


Give Me My Change Or I Am Sai-Gone

| Vietnam | Language & Words, Liars/Scammers

(A friend and I are on vacation in Vietnam. We go to a big market in a major city to do some souvenir shopping. I’ve visited Vietnam several times, and am familiar with this market. Around the outside edges, high-priced shops with “fixed prices” attempt to lure in less savvy tourists, while deep within the market you can bargain for a better deal. We’ve scored some great deals and are on our way out when I decide to buy a few cheap – but still overpriced – trinkets at a fixed price shop for my young family members… Basically, it’s not worth bargaining over what would amount to a couple cents.)

Shopkeeper: *who speaks very good English* “Those are [price].”

Me: “That’s fine. Here.” *hands her a note for just over the price*

Shopkeeper: *plays with her calculator a bit, rummages around first in her pockets, then in a display case way in the back, then comes back to me, suddenly forgetting most of the English she spoke 30 seconds ago* “You take [less than the correct amount of change, by a decent margin].”

Me: “No! Fixed price! Giá cố định!” *fixed price in Vietnamese*

Shopkeeper: *a little startled by me saying anything in Vietnamese, replies rapidly in Vietnamese*  “No small notes.”

Me: *back to English* “Fine, then give me [what amounts to about $.15 US too much change, but gets us to the next bill I can see she has in her hand]. My advantage, or go find small notes!”

Shopkeeper: *also English* “No, too much! You take this!” *tries to give me the incorrect change again*

Me: *hands her back merchandise and holds my hand out for my original bill* “Không. Còn lâu!” *No! No way!*

(After some plying, the shopkeeper gives me back my original bill. I was a bit surprised that she carried that (common) scam to overcharge all the way over the edge of a no-sale. I walk across the aisle to another fixed price shop selling basically the same items, for basically the same price.)

Me: “Do you have change for this?” *holds up original bill*

Shopkeeper: “Yes, madam. You would like [exactly what I was going to buy five meters away]?”

Me: “Yes, cảm ơn!” *thank you*

Shopkeeper: “Here is your change. Ngày tốt.” *Good day*

(I gave the first shopkeeper the smuggest look I think I’ve ever mustered on my way out. Yes, I realize $.15 is absolutely nothing, but score one for not just swallowing what I know to be a common overcharging scam, by shopkeepers who already charge more and make more profit by being in the highly visible and fixed price perimeter of the market!)


Sleeping On The Job

| Vista, CA, USA | Language & Words, Musical Mayhem

(My coworkers and I have been discussing the French language. I speak it reasonably well; they, not at all.)

Coworker #1: “What’s that French song, parlez-vous français or something?”

Me: “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi”?

Coworker #1: “Yeah, that’s the one.”

Coworker #2: “What does that mean?”

Me: *pause* “Would you like to sleep with me?”

(There are some things I never thought I’d wind up saying at work.)


Putting It Bluntly

| VA, USA | Bosses & Owners, Language & Words

Man Checking Out: “Sir, do you have [type of cheap cigar product]?”

Cashier: “I’m not sure. Let me check.” *yells out to middle-aged manager across the aisle to see if they carry that product*

Manager: “No, but we have blunts… Oh, I mean, we have cigarillos!”

Cashier: *trying to keep a straight face as the man is asking for a different product*

Me: *trying so hard not to burst out laughing*