These Redditors who toil in the ol' customer service mines shared their stories of the questions that had them completely perplexed—from garden-variety stupid to straight-up bizarre.
I was standing next to a HUGE bathroom sign, restocking silverware as a woman in her mid-30s entered the establishment. Woman: “Sir, where is the bathroom”? Me: “Down that hallway, ma'am”. I pointed to the direction the sign was pointing. Woman: “No, it isn't”. Me: “Err, what”? I was not prepared for what she said next. Woman: “That's a couple's restroom, see? Man AND woman”. Me: Chuckles “Oh, no. That’s a unisex bathroom, you can use it”. Woman: “I'm not a unisexual. I'll just run over to Applebee’s”. She left.
Once, while working at an eye doctor's office, a woman was upset because we were charging her to make new lenses with an updated prescription. She was getting frustrated and asked, "Why do you have to make new lenses? Can’t you just inject some more medicine in the ones I already got"? It took all I had not to laugh in her face.
Years ago, before the Internet was a thing, I worked in a small electronics shop. One day, I got a phone call and it went like this: Him: Yeah, hi. I was just wondering...how far is it to your shop? Me: (Long pause, calculating how galactically stupid this question was, whether I was being pranked, and how a professional business person would handle this). At that moment, I knew exactly what to say.
Me: Oh, it's just a few miles away. Come on down. Him: OK. See you soon. No idea if he ever actually arrived. I got busy and people came and went all day. But it was still the dumbest question I've ever received.
I was volunteering as a cashier at a used book store for the library. It was not my regular job, but I did it often. In came this older fellow who bought a big stack of books for about 10 bucks. He was really nice and chatty, though he didn’t seem entirely aware, mentally. It was not a big deal, and I just had to explain sales tax and the book pricing a couple of times before he seemed to get it.
He paid by credit card, and I explained to him how to sign the touchscreen for the payment to go through. Then it got weird. He asked for my name, which no customer had ever really done, but I told him anyway. He then took the iPad and told me he was going to sign my name for the card so “they” would know to send the money to me. Before I could say, “No, wait,” he submitted the signature.
I couldn’t see his receipt, but he kept telling me I was great and to keep the change, so I assumed he was being legit. It was really bizarre and it made me wonder if he had been signing cashier names the entire time he’s had a credit card. Thank goodness the card companies rarely check those things.
As a pharmacist, I had to explain to a man that you need to take the suppositories out of their foil packaging before you use them. He complained that they didn't work and were uncomfortable. I bet they were.
Working in Banff National Park, I've seen some stupid tourists. But this one woman was downright dangerous. She asked me what time we let the animals out, as they wanted to get photos. I just looked at her for a second, and then went into the spiel of "all of the animals found in the national park are wild and we strongly recommend you keep your distance as they are unpredictable".
I worked at a supermarket in the dairy department. One day as I was stocking eggs on the shelf a customer asked, "Where is the Eggos"? Me: “They are in the frozen department”. Customer: “No, I buy them in this aisle”. Me: “We don't have waffles in the dairy department”. Customer: “Not the waffles, they are liquid eggs”.
Me: “I've worked here for years, we don't sell Eggo brand liquid eggs”. Customer: “What do you call that”? She pointed to EggBeater brand liquid eggs. Me: “EggBeaters”. Customer: “That's what I'm looking for”. Me: “You asked for Eggos”. Customer: “That's what I call them”. Me: “Think carefully before you answer this, how would I know your random liquid egg nickname”? She complained. I was sent home early for arguing with her.
I fly private jets. Once we were flying east early in the morning so the sun was directly in our eyes. I was quite used to this, but apparently not everyone on board was as comfortable. A passenger was sitting directly behind us on the jump seat. He leaned forward and uttered the stupidest question I’ve ever heard.
He asked me: "Is there any way we can just climb and get above the sun”? No.
I used to work at the UPS store in high school. Our last pickup was at 7:00 pm and we closed at 8:00 pm. Since we had private information and people’s personal mailboxes in the store, security was a big deal. It was 8:30. Our tills were counted down, the alarm was set, our copiers, fax machine, and computers were shut down, our lights were off.
We had also closed and locked a ginormous red gate that separated the entrance from the rest of the store. Some woman ran up to the door, and like some demon in a horror movie, she hurled herself against the glass and screeched like a banshee. Keep in mind, we are very obviously closed with a sign saying we are closed, no lights on, and a giant red gate drawn down over the store.
She began pounding on the glass and frantically yelling at us. My coworker was worried that something was wrong, like maybe she was being chased and needed help. He carefully opened the door just a crack to ask what was wrong. She immediately tried to wedge her hands and head in the crack and asked, “Are you open”? We informed her that we obviously weren’t.
Her logic was, “Well, you opened the door so now you have to help me”. She began wailing and crying that she had to mail a package. We explained that even if we were open, our last pick up was an hour and a half ago and we couldn’t even mail it until tomorrow. She protested and protested and we eventually got the door shut and locked. But that was just the beginning of the nightmare.
She kept pounding on the glass saying, “I know you’re open”! As we debated what to do and if we should call the authorities, this lady pulled out her cell phone and called them herself! The officers arrived, we explained the situation, and the woman accused us of lying, despite the sign on the door saying we closed an hour ago at this point.
Then, in front of the officer and on security camera, the woman launched herself at my coworker and hit him in the face. She immediately jumped back and began fake crying that he had hit her. We were dumbfounded. She ended up getting detained and my coworker pressed charges. So, the stupidest question I got was, “Are you open”?
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I worked in a cell phone store. I spent 90% of my day explaining that just because Facebook is on your phone, doesn't mean we control Facebook, your email, or any other problematic app. Once, had an "ask for a manager type" come in and insist that we used our computer to reset her iPhone and Apple ID. She'd gotten herself locked out by not knowing her password, and her kid had tried to get around it by doing a factory reset.
Doing that on an iPhone registered to AppleID locks the phone down completely. Since she didn't have her password, she couldn't even power the phone on. When I explained that she would have to contact Apple since they were the manufacturer of the device and her AppleID was an account with them, she absolutely lost it right then and there. She screamed, "So you sell a product, but you don't support your product"!?
Before I could explain, again, that we do not make the phones, my coworker chimed in, "Lady, Walmart also sells these phones. When was the last time you went to them and got a repair done"? She sputtered for a minute and walked out, raging about a lawsuit that failed to materialize.
This is a conversation I had with one customer trying to buy something online. “Hello, I made an online order and I see that you've charged me the shipping cost twice”. “Hmm, that's weird, let me check. No, I see that it's the right amount, sir”. “You’re wrong, I've made two orders and I've already paid the shipping cost for the first one. I shouldn't have to pay twice”.
“Oh, I see! You've made two orders, sure, we can make it one package and only charge you once for the shipping, but can you tell me the order numbers for your orders, because the system shows me that you've only placed one today”. This is where it unraveled. “Yeah, the second one was not placed today”. “When was it placed, sir”?
“I don't know, like three or four months ago, but still, I've paid for the shipping cost before. Why would I have to pay again”?
This is a dialogue I had to have with a grown adult. It was a man who was looking to purchase a shirt in our store. He pointed at the price tag on a shirt and said, "Excuse me, what do these numbers represent? I said, "The numbers right after the dollar sign"? He said, "Yes”. "That's the price of the shirt". "Oh, I see! Thank you"! At least he was friendly.
I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and used to work at a call center. I once had a customer ask me where I was located and then they asked how my English was so good since I was “from New Mexico”. That was my first, but not last experience with people not knowing that New Mexico is not part of Mexico, but is part of the United States.
I worked at REI a few years back—a large outdoor sporting goods co-op, just in case you haven't heard of it—and we sold bear spray which is like pepper spray for bears. A woman came in with her two kids one day and bought a canister because they were going camping. What happened next left me utterly horrified. She got to the front door, then came back to the register as an afterthought, and asked if she was supposed to just spray her kids from head to toe with it.
Technically breaking the rules here, as the customer asked himself the dumbest question, but: Our bakery's donut self-serve case had mirrors in the back of the case to make the shelves look fuller than what they were. A dude came in one night, opened the case door, and bent over to peer into the case. He then proceeded to ask himself to pass himself that chocolate bar in the back. You have to be a special level of stupid to not recognize yourself in a donut mirror.
I was working in the back of an ambulance on a patient who seriously needed nitroglycerin to lower their blood pressure. I told him: "Before I give this medication to you, I need to triple-check that you have not taken any ED meds in the last 72 hours like Viagra or Cialis. If you have and I give you this nitroglycerin, your blood pressure could drop dangerously low".
I then asked him, “Have you taken any of these meds”? The tone in his reply made me suspicious. “Oh no, never”. I asked him again to confirm, to which he replied, “Oh yes, of course, I am”. I ran through the list of potentially harmful side effects again. Again, he said, “No, never”. I was annoyed, but I carried on with it, “OK, hold this pill under your tongue”. Then he asked, “Does generic Viagra count”?
I worked as a waitress for eight years. I had a patron order a salad with oil and vinegar as the dressing. I brought the salad to the table and asked if anyone needed anything else. Everyone was happy and I went on my way. A couple of minutes later, I got that hand signal “Please get over here” style. I come over and ask how everything is going. That's when I heard the dumbest question of my life.
No joke, my patron asked me why the oil and vinegar weren’t mixing. I did my best to explain the reason why oil and vinegar hate each other. But she wasn’t having it. She told me she’s had oil and vinegar dressing mix before at other restaurants. I explained that there was likely a bonding agent in the dressing and it was not just oil and vinegar at those other restaurants.
She just looked at me. I then asked if she wanted a different mixed dressing. She said she would be happy with the dressing she ordered, she just wanted to know why it wasn’t mixing.
I was working at a car battery store, when a customer came in with a receipt for a battery he had bought a couple weeks ago, asking for a refund. I asked him if he had the battery with him, so that we could take the battery back and refund him the money. He said, "No, I don't have it anymore, I put it in a car I just sold".
Confused, I replied, "You want us to refund you for a battery that you don't have anymore"? He responded, just as confused, "Yeah well I don't have the battery anymore, so why should I have to pay for it? You need to refund me". He did not leave the store happy that day. I’m still confused by this interaction to this day.
I work for a major wireless cell carrier in the US. I had the following conversation with a customer one day: They asked, "How do I make a phone call"? Me: "Just press the application labeled phone". Them: "Where”? Me: "On the phone". Them: "Right here? The one that looks like a phone"? Me: "Yes". Them: "Nothing is happening"!
I looked at the customer, confused. Me: "Normally when you want to make a phone call and you don't have any contacts programmed into the phone, dialing a phone number is required". The customer looked disappointed. Them: "If I wanted to waste time dialing numbers, I would have stuck with my landline"! It was so strange.
I was 16 years old when this happened. I work at Chick-fil-a and I’m taking orders as you do, when a guy walks up and asks, “Aren’t you supposed to be in school”? I look down at the clock and see it’s 6 pm. I look at him confused and say, “No, it’s 6 pm”. He asks again, I say the same thing again. Then he yells, “Alright, SCREW YOU”! and leaves.
I used to work in a pet store. One night, a woman came in and said she had ordered a puppy off the internet and he would be arriving in the next few days. She seemed naive, even though she was nice. She had never owned a pet and asked several dumb questions, but one was so stupid, I'll never forget it. She asked, "Do puppies need water"?
I used to sell paint. A woman came in saying she wanted to paint her fence. I gave her advice and explained to her how to prepare the surface. Then, she asked, "Do I need anything to apply the paint"? I told her she needed a roller or a brush. Her response left me in disbelief. "Oh, I can’t just splash the paint on the fence"? She was completely serious.
Here are just a few examples I had to deal with while working at a hardware store customer service desk: If you wish to return an item you must present the item and your receipt. I cannot process a refund if you have neither. No, we do not sell asbestos. No, I cannot order some in for you. When water boils, it does indeed produce "bubbles".
So if the water is bubbling once it reaches temperature, your kettle is working properly. Zip ties are not simply "disposable handcuffs". They can be used for other purposes and it should not be concerning nor surprising that a hardware store sells them.
As a plumber, I went to a call at a house where there was an underground leak around the riser before the water entered the house. The lady said that the leak started after her gardener tightened the packing nut on the hose coming off the riser which had been leaking. I gave her a reasonable price to hunt for this leak and repair it.
Surprise, she doesn't like the price. Then asks me with complete seriousness, "Well, can we just make the hose leak again so it's not leaking underground"? It took every fiber of my being to keep a straight face and say, "Yeah, leaks don't work that way ma'am".
About a decade ago, I used to work doing customer service for a power company in Texas. As you can imagine, a great number of my calls involved late bills and disconnections. And it's not like the company was ruthless. Due to Texas regulations and the general PITA of disconnecting/reconnecting someone, it generally required being three or more months overdue to actually get shut off.
So it was hard for me to work up much sympathy for anyone who was disconnected for delinquency. But the absolute best response I had was the guy who called up screaming at me about his power being off. He was asking why I couldn’t just turn it back on, because he'd just bought a whole load of rare exotic saltwater fish which had to be kept temperature controlled. And, of course, he was totally unwilling to pay anything towards his bill either, because he'd spent his money on the fish.
So yes, I DID say exactly what any reasonable person would be thinking at that point. I feel bad for the fishes though.
I was a bill collector in Colorado in the mid-90s and we collected on student debt, medical debt, and credit cards. So this 22-year-old woman had around $7,000 in credit card debt on a card that was now canceled and in collections. I called her, and she was friendly and insisted she had paid for everything she purchased on her card.
As a dutiful collector I now recognized I had what is called a disputed debt and it was now my job to verify the debt. I sent for documentation from the credit card company and a few weeks later called her back after sending it to her. She still insisted she had paid for it all. She was quite sincere. I then asked her for payment verification and she sent it to me.
What I received was all the receipts she had from the credit card purchases. She was convinced that paying for the items with the credit card was the end of the transaction. I could not convince her. She insisted she knew better and I was scamming her. "I already paid for those boots, I sent you the proof stupid, can't you read"! To her, a credit card was a get free stuff card. She was a university graduate with a professional job.
I worked in a mall, and one day some guy walked into my store. He asked if I knew where the dolphin with a toothbrush was. He just kept saying "dolphin with a toothbrush" and we thought he was mad. When I left my shift that day, I noticed the dentist around the corner did in fact have a dolphin with a toothbrush on the sign. I'll never forget that interaction though.
Not necessarily a dumb question per se, but by far the most memorable dumb customer encounter. Years ago, I worked for an Audi dealership as a greeter/shuttle driver, and one blissfully quiet afternoon, a middle-aged woman in a beige A6 pulled into the driveway. Here's how the ridiculous, absurd exchange went down:
Me: Good afternoon. How can I help you today? Her: This light came on! (She points to the check engine light with concern in her voice) Me: Yes. That's the check engine light... Her (interrupting me): No! It's this one!!! (the CEL was the only light on at this point in time) Me: Yes. That's the check engine light.
Her: Well what does it mean? Me: There are literally thousands of different things that can turn that light on but if you go into the office there, one of our service advisors can plug in a little computer and they'll tell you what's wrong. Her: (scoffs condescendingly) So you don't know what it means... Me: Ma'am I think they can help you better than I.
I used to work at a call center for a large bank. A customer phoned in while he was in one of the branches and said the queue was too long, so he wanted me to help him. I asked what his query was and his response caught me off-guard. He said the ATM was broken and he had to withdraw cash. I asked him how I could possibly help him withdraw some money from the bank over the phone, and he said, "Why can't you just fax it to me"?
I worked at a restaurant, and one day after I delivered drinks to a table this guy asked me, "Can you aerate that for me"? There was just one problem. He wasn’t drinking wine. He wanted me to stir his apple juice. Technically his word choice was applicable, I guess, but really, dude? He had a straw ready in his hand and he could have aerated that juice himself.
I admit it took me two seconds of staring at his serious face before I reached for a straw, unwrapped it, and stirred his drink. I did it all without breaking eye contact with him, and he was satisfied. Also I think about him now every time I stir or shake my chocolate milk to make it frothy.
I used to work in IT and one of my jobs was to support some of the security software we offered to customers. We had a package for secure data transfers and people often had to call up to be taught how to use it. I was helping a woman use the software over the phone and I had a remote assistance connection to her PC so I could see her screen.
Me: "Okay, so find your name in the list of users". Her: "I've found it! What do I do now"? Me: "Right click your name, and then choose log in from the menu". Her: "Is it my right, or yours"?
Working at a museum where the main attraction is the dinosaur exhibit, we sell a lot of cheap products aimed at children. And we sell a lot of them, especially "Dino Eggs". A grandfather (I presume) and his granddaughter (once again, I presume, and hope) came into the shop, which is always busy, always cramped. And he picked up a Dino Egg for her.
He handed it over, and paid quickly. "No bag, no need". It was a lovely, simple transaction. But just as the till drawer had closed and I was pulling out his receipt to hand him, I saw him in the corner of my eye—and when I realized what he was doing, I was horrified. He tore open the packaging of this "egg", smashed open the lovely plastic shell took take a big shard to his mouth.
He began to chew, turned slowly to me, and only then did he think to ask, "Is this edible"? "No," I gasped, "No, sir. That—that's not edible. You really shouldn't eat that". The little granddaughter's face sank further watching her grandpa spat out bits of plastic into her broken dinosaur egg. It was a fake dino egg designed to be immersed in water so that the rubbery dino toy on the inside can "grow and hatch".
I gave him another. Well, I gave it to his granddaughter. Best to keep it away from him, he was clearly ravenous.
A woman came to the checkout and handed me a bag of mozzarella. She asked me what the ingredients were and if there were any chemicals in it. I turned the bag around and started to read the ingredients out to her. She grabbed the bag out of my hand, and angrily said, "I could have done that myself " and stormed off.
This reminds me of a guy who reserved a room for 2 weeks. He had the do not disturb sign on the door the whole stay (this is actually pretty common for longer stays). A couple weeks later, I get a call from the guest absolutely furious that we charged him for a 2-week stay when he only stayed at our hotel for two days.
I ask him who he spoke to at check out, thinking maybe one of our employees made a mistake and just didn't properly check him out. The truth was even more hilarious. Long story short, he didn't notify anyone that he was checking out, he just left. I had to explain to him that if you have a room reserved for a length of time and leave earlier than you had registered for, then you actually have to let the staff know.
Even if the do not disturb sign hadn't been on the door the whole time, we are still not just going to guess that a guest checked out and rent their room to another person. He tried filing a chargeback for the remainder of the stay, but did not get his money refunded. As this was midsummer, we were turning people away daily due to being sold out, and that room sat empty because he expected us to psychically know that he left.
I worked at a hat store, and a guy asked if he could shrink his hat by microwaving it. I said no. He came back two days later to return his hat...after microwaving it. Problem was, there was a hole in the front of it because Brewers hats are made with metallic threading. Yep, this dude microwaved his Brewers hat and blew a hole in it.
I worked at a Subway. We were out of lettuce, which was a problem for this one guy whose entire enjoyment of his sandwich revolved around lettuce. I told him we didn't have any, so he asked if I could go in the back and cut more up. I told him we don't cut it up and that it comes already shredded and packaged and reiterated that we had no lettuce anywhere in the store.
That's when his face turned red. He gave me an annoyed blank look and asked, "How can you open your store if you don't have all your product"? He couldn’t understand that we ran out of items because people like him came to eat the food and that we weren’t about to close the store over a missing topping.
I used to work at a fine jewelry kiosk in a mall. Our jewelry included gold bracelets and necklaces bonded to sterling silver, sterling silver rings with cubic zirconia gems, gold engagement rings with diamond chips clustered together rather than one large diamond, etc. I had a lot of regulars, and this one particular woman would come in often.
Every time for every item that she was interested in, she would ask the same blood-boiling question: “Is this real”? I explained what “bonded” meant and how we didn’t sell diamond rings for $25, but that the rings were indeed certified sterling silver with synthetic gems. I gave her information like this repeatedly, day after day, and she would follow up every explanation with, “Okay, but...is it real”?
I used to work at a grocery store deli. We had one customer who left me totally speechless. She asked me: “The eight-piece chicken...how many pieces are in it"? I said, "How many pieces are in the eight-piece chicken? Um. There are eight pieces in the eight-piece chicken". She was very polite and replied, "OK, I'll have that, please"! So, I packaged it up, and she went away happy.
I work as a hostess at a fancy restaurant. We open our patio (which is visible from the front entrance) around lunch. There is an upsettingly large number of people who come in from outside and ask, "Is it hot out"? I usually just answer that I’m not sure and would have to step outside to check. So, I exit through the door they just came in, stand outside for a moment, and come back to tell them the weather.
I work at a small outdoor restaurant that sells wings and fries. Nothing else, just those two things (as far as food goes). About a week ago, a man walked up to my counter, took a menu, proceeded to read the entire thing in front of me, and then put down his menu to ask, "Can I get a cheeseburger combo"?
After taking a minute to wipe the baffled expression off of my face and telling him no, we only sold wings and fries, he said, "What about a hot dog? Let me get a hot dog"! My mind was blown after that conversation.
Back when I did tech support, I received a call from a customer with a peculiar keyboard problem. It seemed that he was having trouble with the shift key. When he typed a letter with the shift key pressed it gave him the upper case letter, but when he typed a number, it didn't do that. Didn't do what? Type the upper case number. I had to break it to him gently.
A customer walked into our tiny bike shop jammed packed full of bikes. Bikes are hanging in the window, off the ceiling on the walls, all over the floor. There is not a square foot of space in the shop that is not occupied by a bike or various parts of one. This still led to the cringiest interaction of my life.
Him: "This is the bike shop right"? Me: “Yes”. Him: "Do you guys sell bikes or fix them"? Me: “Both”. Him: "If I brought my canoe in could you fix it"? Me: “Is canoe the name of your bike or is it a boat"? Him: "It's just a canoe for the lake. Do you guys fix them"? Me: “What? No, we're a bike shop”. Him: "Oh".
I work in IT. I got a ticket from a lady saying her screen is blank. I call, because I saw her in orientation and to be honest, she seemed to have never used a computer before (despite being 19 years old, and her title as a receptionist). Me: "Ma'am is your computer on"? Her: "I don't know, how would I check"?
Coworker next to her grunts and turns on the computer for her. Her: "Oh! Ok it's on, now do I have to type out my username AND password to log on"? No words could properly describe how I felt in that moment.
I used to work in a phone shop. I had someone come in asking why their phone wasn't working properly. It was visibly scorched and melty. I asked why it looked that way. They said it came up with an error message, saying it had been too cold. This was not an error message I had heard of before, but I know phones can bring up errors for being too hot, so who knows.
But that wasn't the real issue. It's what he did with the phone that shocked me. He had put it under the grill to heat it up. The grill. Their first point of call was to cook it. I told them that's why their phone wasn't working, and no, it was not covered under the guarantee.
I used to work in IKEA in the section that sold wardrobes. Big behemoths of things. Normally around 6-foot long and 60kg in boxes. Customers would regularly ask me if it would fit in their car. After being polite the first few times, asking them about the size of their car and guessing, I then just started asking them what color their car was. The amount of people who'd answer unphased was amazing.
I worked at an independent pet store. We mainly sold dog supplies, but there was a small section of cat toys, catnip, etc. A newer, pretty gimmicky item we brought in was a line of catnip that was packaged to look like an illicit plant. It had “prescription” bottles and pre-rolls”. People usually knew these were catnip products.
However, on many occasions, I had many people ask the same hilarious question: "How does the cat take tokes on it"? Or, even better yet, "How can they even hold the lighter? They've got paws"? I never do quite know how to reply besides muddled laughter.
I worked at Wendy's through high school and part of college. One day, a man in his 50s, wearing a bright magenta suit, walked in and ordered a burger. I asked him, "Do you want a combo or just the sandwich"? He asked me, "What is a combo"? I explained to him that it was a sandwich with fries and a drink, but somehow he didn't understand. He looked at me blankly, I started to get annoyed.
He said, "I want fries and a drink, but what is the combo"? We went back and forth on this for almost FIVE MINUTES. I don't even remember if he ever figured out what a combo was or if he ended up getting it. However, I remember seeing him two weeks later in a different city at my other job training political canvassers. He was wearing the same magenta suit.
I was in such shock that I just stared at him, saying nothing, thinking, "It's the combo guy".
This happened last week. A woman, maybe in her 70s or late 60s, was sitting on a Rascal scooter rolled up to the closed door on the corner of the garden center. She sat there for about two minutes, staring at the door and getting passed by about a dozen customers making for the actual entrance. Eventually, she looked at me, a bit miffed, and asked when the garden center was going to open.
I said it is open. The door is twenty feet to your left. She then sat there for another two minutes negotiating how she would maneuver her Rascal into the store as a dozen more people walked in and out of the obviously open doors. Mind you, there were about two hundred carts full of plants arranged in a corral that highlighted the pathway to the entrance, people were briskly walking by with carts full of plants, and never has anyone else that I've encountered been confused as to where the entrance was. This was one simply special senior.
I work at an Italian place right now. We call our Italian menu items by Italian names with English descriptions. I get a lot of questions, but I don't mind a hair because I get paid to talk about food. Not too long ago though, it sort of went slapstick. It's not that they asked a dumb question, but they kept asking it".
Pollo e penne"? "Oh, that's chicken and pasta with-" "Does it have meat in it"? "The chicken pasta? Yes, pollo is Italian for chicken". "Can I get the chicken but not the pollo"? "Pollo is just Italian for chicken, if you want chicken it's really good". "No, I like chicken but I don't want pollo". I kind of lost it for a split second.
When I was waiting tables a few years ago this couple ordered two orders of fettuccine penne. Dumbfounded, I asked if they wanted fettuccine alfredo or penne alfredo. They responded "No no no, we want fettuccine penne". I tried to explain to them that they were ordering two different types of pasta, while asking what sauce they wanted. They had no clue what I was saying.
I ended up just giving them penne alfredo and when I went to check up on them they thanked me for getting the order right, exclaiming that the "fettuccine was off the charts".
The customer I was serving ordered a burger. Him: "Hey, do you guys have those burger buns like they sell at the grocery store across the street? You know the ones with the swan on the bag"? "No sir, we get our buns shipped to us from our supplier, they're a different brand". That’s when he asked a question so dumb, I’ve never forgotten it.
"Do you think you could run across the street and buy a bun for me? I really want that one for my burger". He genuinely expected the restaurant to pay for it, too. And he didn't even know the name of the brand of buns, not like that matters, but still.
I worked at a convenience store while in college. This married couple comes in and they go get drinks. The lady asks me if the bottled water is fat-free. I smile and just say yes, and that the brand is also calorie-free. She smiled and said thanks. Her husband gets out his wallet, shakes his head, and pays. At least two of us were embarrassed for her.
My wife and I live and work for the City of Virginia Beach. We both work in buildings on either side of the one where the recent mass shooting took place. That fateful day, my wife said that when the officers surrounded her building and wouldn't let anyone in or out, there was a customer who—despite being told that there was an active situation—was upset that no one was helping her, and kept asking everyone why she wasn't allowed to pay her utility bill.
During an internship in a bookstore, I was asked where we kept the “alternative science books”. The guy was talking about flat Earth stuff, he was really serious about it, too.
A full-grown woman asked me how big our pizzas were. I stuck out my fingers, eyeballed about a foot, and said, “Around this big”. She paused for a moment and finally said, “Oh, length-wise”? I thought perhaps she didn’t know that our pizzas were round, so I told her that our pizzas were circular; therefore, any point across was length-wise.
I went back to tell the other co-worker what I had just experienced. Right after I told her the punchline, “..any point across is length-wise,” she stared at me with this confused look on her face. Her response had me baffled. She smiled and finally said, “Okay, not all of us are Mr. Engineer over here”! I just walked away. I didn’t know how to handle it. I didn’t think I was a genius for knowing about the geometry of a circle.
When you get hired at Disneyland, other Cast Members warn you that people will ask you, "When is the three o'clock parade"? You assume they are joking and exaggerating, but then it actually happens, and you have to tell the guest that it is at three o'clock without a trace of sarcasm or exasperation.
Part of the Disney brand is service with a smile and genuine caring, so questions like these get answered earnestly and happily and with respect, but sometimes I do impress myself with my learned ability to maintain a cheery and helpful disposition at all times.
I worked at the Space Needle in Seattle. The guys who worked the lift had some of the dumbest humans in their presence. Part of the lift operator’s job was to point out important things in the city and surrounding landscape. I will be Lift Operator (LO) in this conversation, and the tourists will be Neanderthal Dave (ND).
LO: “And over there is the Olympic Peninsula, home to the Olympic Mountain Range”. ND: “Is that Russia”? LO: “Pardon”? ND: “Is the peninsula Russia”? LO: “N-no. No it is not”. ND: “Are you sure”? LO: “I am absolutely positive Russia does not have land mass in the United States. Now then, over there, you will see one of our more famous mountains, Mount—” ND: “Mount Everest”?! LO: “What? No. Mount Rainier”. ND: “Then where is Mount Everest”? LO: “About seven thousand miles away”. Honestly, I have no idea how I didn’t mock these people.
This happened about three years ago, and I still can't wrap my head around it. I work at a restaurant and we deal with annoying complaints from customers all the time. But this one is my favorite. I had a customer come up to me and ask me why her husband's meal smelled like fish. I asked her what her husband ordered, to which she replied that he ordered a fisherman's platter, which as you may have guessed has fish as part of the meal on the plate.
For a few seconds, I didn't respond thinking this has to be a joke. But she was serious. When I said I can get the manager to handle her complaint, she said it's not a complaint as everything was okay with their meals. She added that her husband loves fish but she can't handle the smell. All I could say to her was that I would inform management about the issue.
I had a customer take up 10 minutes of my time saying that I didn't know how to do my job, because I couldn't find the "nutritional facts" placard on a carton of smokes. Why, you who walk around with your head full of brains, do you ask? She needed, NEEDED, to know if these Timeless Times piece of junk smokes contained corn syrup in them. Because, don’t you know, that corn syrup is bad for her.
I sell stamps from my register at work. This was just a few days ago, actually. I had a lady come up and ask to buy some postal stamps. I asked her, “How many stamps would you like? We sell them in books of 2, 10, and 20”. Her: “...What? What does that mean”? Me: “It’s just the number of stamps in the book. Do you want 2, 10, or 20 stamps”?
Her: (suddenly getting angry) “I don’t know what that means. What is a stamp? I don’t know what a stamp is”. Me: “...What”? I eventually sold 20 stamps to her while she was vaguely hostile and suspicious about the entire concept of stamps and stamp quantities. I don’t know how to explain this to you, lady, you’re the one who came to me for stamps.
My best guess is that either she wanted to know what the stamps were worth, postage-wise, but couldn’t figure out how to string that sentence together so she got mad instead, or she actually had some kind of medical issue that made her confused. I’ve noticed through many years of customer service that sometimes people just have a brain slip, panic, and then they cover up for it by getting mad at someone else.
I work in a security monitoring call center. A coworker called a customer to inform them of an air conditioning loss for their security system. We usually just say, "Hey, your power is out" or something to that effect, but more professional-sounding obviously, because most of our customers don't know what AC means and they get very confused.
Well, this coworker said "AC loss" on the customer's voicemail for some ungodly reason despite knowing better. The customer returned the call a few hours later. I picked up. Me: Can I help you? Her, panicking, sounding on the verge of tears: Oh, I hope so! I got a call that there's an AC loss at my house! Me: Ok, I can -
Her: I'm out of town and I was having trouble with my air conditioner before I left... Me, seeing where this is going: Well, "AC loss" just means-- Her: DOES THIS MEAN THERE'S NO AIR IN MY HOUSE?!
My first day working at Geek Squad, I got a phone call from a woman who was at the airport working on her laptop and it shut off and wouldn't turn back on. I talked to her for a couple of minutes giving her suggestions, and when I mentioned plugging it in to let it charge, she goes, "It's supposed to be wireless. Why do I have to plug it in"?
I couldn't even answer her for a good 10 seconds. I legitimately thought it was one of my new co-workers messing with me. Now, granted this was 2004 and people weren't as familiar with things like WIFI like they are today. But that still stands as one of the dumbest things I've ever been asked.
I used to work at a steakhouse that had curly fries (those weird round fries, I don’t know how they make them). All the steaks on the menu came with them, and there were photos of them on the menu. We'd also ask if they wanted fries or mashed potatoes when we took the order. Yet somehow, this occurrence would still happen almost weekly:
Customer: “Excuse me! Where's my calamari”? Me (checks order): “Oh I'm sorry, you didn't order any. Do you want me to add some to your order”? Customer: “No, there was some in the photo. It's there in the picture”! Me: “You mean... the fries...like the curly fries that are on your plate…” A close second was customers who would say "I don't really want curly fries. Do you have like, just, normal fries”?
I work at a Wholefoods Market and once had a customer come up with vine tomatoes. I rang her up and she was displeased. Customer: "Those should be cheaper. $1.49 each". Me: "Well I can have my bagger check". The bagger went to check. Bagger: "Yeah those aren't $1.49. it's the basil that's $1.49. it's next to it". Customer: "Yeah! That's basil"! Me: "Uh...no that's a tomato". Customer: "Really? What's the difference"?
This is one of my favorites that I will never forget. I used to work in a ticket booth at Disneyland. It was an on and off rainy day, nothing terrible to ruin a day but still rain nonetheless. This lady came up to my window and asked, "Is it raining inside the park"? I leaned forward inside my booth to get a better look outside.
I said, "I believe so ma'am" in the most sarcastic voice. Somehow, it didn’t end there. "Well when will it clear up"? She immediately replies. And I just stared at her trying to comprehend the conversation I was having. You have no idea how much I just wanted to say something like, "No it's not raining inside the park, it's protected by an invisible shield made by Disney magic".
I sell precast concrete structures (manholes, septic tanks, etc.) and sometimes we get calls from folks all over the US looking for stuff while we only deliver in New England; anywhere else, and shipping is your problem. Normally when I explain this to those people they accept and look elsewhere. But when they don't accept, it gets hairy...
One time, this person wanted me to quote a single catch basin for a job in California. Telling them we're in New England didn't even phase them, and they were persistent until I fully laid out the scope of shipping 6,000lbs of concrete across the continental US when they could easily find the same product several towns over.
I work in IT, and one day I received a ticket from a very angry customer about a link on our website that was broken. When I asked what the link was, or where it was trying to go (because our site has thousands of pages), they were incensed that I dared to ask them questions and wouldn't just fix it immediately.
Sure, dude, I'll get right on checking the hundreds of thousands of links on our site and hope I find the one you clicked on in the next 3 minutes because you refuse to give me more information. They complained to my manager.
This is the absolute dumbest thing I've ever heard from a customer. Before the age of GPS, I worked at a convenience store that was in the first gas station once you reached an island. This was at the end of I40, so it wasn't too uncommon for people to miss a turn onto the 17, realize they'd just crossed a bridge onto an island, and stop for directions.
The first lady came in and asked directions to Island B. I told her to go back across the bridge. Her: "What bridge"? Me: "The one you came across to get here". Her:"I didn't cross a bridge". Me: "Uh, okay, so you came across by ferry"? Her: "No. I didn't come on a ferry, and I didn't cross a bridge, and I'm NOT on an Island"!
...We sent her 10 miles to the end of the island to make her take the ferry that wouldn't start running for another 2 hours. It was the only answer she'd accept. In another instance, a poor guy came in looking for 95 South. I told him how to get to it. He raised an eyebrow...and I asked him where he'd come from.
He answered with a town an hour on the OTHER side of 95. He'd missed his turn by 2 hours. Then he had to go tell his girlfriend in the car. You could hear her screaming through the car and store windows.
I worked at a McDonald’s in Quebec near the American border. An American man asked me for our prices in English. He expressly said that he didn’t want the food names in English, he wanted our prices in English. I was confused and assumed he meant he wanted a conversion to American dollars and so I told him we don’t do conversions.
He got mad and said he had Canadian money, he just wanted to know the price of the menu item but he can’t read French. The hilarious truth dawned on me. I just said, “Sir, are you asking me for English numbers”? He just called me stupid and walked out. I’d also like to point out that our prices were written as big numbers for the dollars with little numbers for the cents next to it.
I work in soundproofing, and I had a lady call me up one day and asked me to help her block radio waves from entering her bedroom. I politely explained that sound and electro-magnetic waves are two totally different things and that we don't carry products that block EM. It wasn't the first time that's happened, and hey, not everybody's a physicist, no biggie.
She replied, "You have to help me! I'm your customer"! As politely as I could I explained that, no, actually, you're somebody else's customer, I don't sell those products. "I don't understand why you aren't helping me"! So...After a bit of mental calculus, I reasoned that it would take less time to talk this lady off the edge than to explain to my manager why I hung up on her".
Ok, can you explain to me WHY you need to block radio waves from entering your bedroom"? "Well! To save my LIFE obviously"! Oh. Oh. Houston we have a problem. I looked at the caller ID, yep, Florida area code. We’ve definitely got a wacko here. So, I came up with a plan. To make a long story short then, I proceeded to help her to build a DIY faraday cage over her bed to block the satellites from controlling her brain.
I'm not proud of this. I'm sure a mental health provider person will admonish me for going along with the delusion. But at the end of the day, she was thrilled that somebody helped her, she is probably sleeping very soundly now, and I got to have an entertaining 45 minutes or so on the phone rather than the alternative.
I work at a family restaurant. One day, one customer ordered the buffalo chicken sandwich. I brought it to him, and we had this baffling exchange. Customer: “Um, excuse me, but this looks like chicken”. Me: “Yes sir, it's chicken”. Customer: “But I ordered the buffalo chicken sandwich”!
Me: “Yes sir, this is the buffalo chicken sandwich”. Customer: “But it's chicken! I ordered buffalo! That's false advertising and I would like a refund”. I got the manager who brought the customer a menu to show him how it explicitly states "Buffalo Chicken Sandwich" and the description which clearly describes chicken tossed in buffalo sauce.
I worked at a Japanese casual fast food restaurant and we had this thing called a Volcano roll. It cost $7.25. A California roll there cost $3.75. The Volcano roll was a Cali roll cut into the shape of a triangle and topped with spicy mayo that has been heated up with about $.10 worth of fish, literally just a few bits.
You are much better off ordering a Cali roll and paying $.50 extra for spicy mayo on the side and asking us to heat it up. One day this guy and his girlfriend came up to the counter and he confidently began ordering several of our rolls including the Volcano roll. Since it takes a bit longer for that roll to be done, I took out the salmon and tuna rolls he had ordered.
He barely acknowledged me and continued talking to his girlfriend. After the volcano sauce was cooked, and poured on top, I brought it over and his girlfriend said, "Wow it really does look like a volcano"! I smiled and went back behind the counter. The next thing I know, I heard a voice say, "Hey! Hey! Look bro, I know you're going to hate me, but the last time I got a Volcano roll it was for pick up and the sauce was on the side. I didn't know you were going to put it on. Could I get another one without the sauce, cause I don't like it"?
I tried not to laugh and said sure. I went back and the sushi chef asked what was wrong. I told him that he didn't like the sauce and wanted one without it. He laughed and said alright, so he took a Cali roll, cut it up, and put it on the plate. I brought it back to the guy and he was super pumped. Basically this guy ended up paying $7.25 for a roll that would have cost him $3.75 and me and the sushi chef got to split a free Volcano roll.
I work at a healthy pet food store and one of the foods we carry for cats has a cougar on the can to reflect your kitty's true, savage nature. This known to be airheaded customer stormed in with her messy granola bar in hand: "I have a bone to pick here. I bought this can and didn't see the puma on the label until I got home”.
“HOW COULD ANY COMPANY DO SUCH A THING?!?! THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!! FORCING A CAT TO EAT ANOTHER CAT IS SICK AND I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU SELL SUCH A DISGRACEFUL PRODUCT. CAT CANNIBALISM IS NOT OKAY", she spat, complete with granola bar crumbs falling from her mouth and hand. I short circuited a little so I just turned around and walked to the back room and left that lady to my coworker.
I work at Kmart and on this day I was working on the registers. Now usually we are pretty good at price matching certain items from other stores but this lady came up to my register and asked for a price match. This was all fine and good but then she mentioned she wanted to match it to a Kmart in New Zealand. Who, by the way, uses a completely different currency to Australia (where I am). Yeah she tried to argue the fact that I should so I just got a manager and left it at that.
I was working at a convenience store/gas station in high school. A guy walks in on a Sunday morning and asks if we sell newspapers. Me: "We have a box out front. You walked right past it".Customer: "Are there any in it"?Me: "I don't know, you'll have to check".Customer: looks at the box "I can't tell, there's one in the way". Me: "Then there is at least one in there".
I work at a hotel. Here’s a couple good ones I've had:
Patron: "Why wasn't my room cleaned today"?
Me: "You had a do not disturb sign on your door. We put a card under the door explaining how to request late service".
Patron: "I meant don't disturb me, not don't clean it"!
I've also had:
Patron: "Thanks for cleaning my room! But you didn't take your tip"!
Me: "My pleasure sir! Thank you for taking care of the room. But I didn't see a tip".
Patron: "I left it on the bathroom counter under the soap dish".
I did see the money while cleaning, but I'm not just going to take $5 off the counter in the bathroom. 99.999% of the time that's not a tip and you've just stolen. I appreciate the tip. Tipping your housekeepers is appreciated but not required. I don't vary my service on the tip. But who leaves it in the bathroom? For me to take it, it has to be on the bed, with a note.
Finally, my favorite:
Patron: "I got locked out of my room, it's [expensive suite]. Can you let me in?
Me: "Sure thing Ma'am. Do you have any ID"?
M: "Okay, we can still make this work. How about anything at all official with your name on it? Airport luggage tag, bank card, some email showing a tour booking, anything"?
M: "I'm trying to work with you here. Can I even just get the guest name, check in date, check out date, and roughly what time of day you checked in"?
P: "It’s in my husband's name, why can't you just let me in, I paid for it"!
M: "Sorry Ma'am, I can't do that without being sure it's yours. Surely you'd understand me not wanting to let people into your stuff freely"?
P: "FINE! I'll just go down to security like a good little girl, because that's what you think I am! The service here is unbelievable! Your manager will hear about this"!
She was pushing 60-years-old. Don't pull that "good little girl" nonsense on me.
Years ago I was taking the order for a lunch soup and salad combo. The exchange with this middle aged woman went as follows: Her: “Does the house salad have tomatoes, because I'm deathly allergic to tomatoes”. Me: “It does but we can make it without tomatoes no problem”. Her: “Make sure there are absolutely no tomatoes on that”. Me: “Will do. What kind of dressing”? Her: “Balsamic”. Me: “And for the soup”? Her: “I'll have the tomato basil”. Me:...I just walked away and rang in the order. To this day I can't think of a good response to that.
Here's a dumb encounter that happened just yesterday. When sending confidential documentation, we would encrypt it and put a password on it. It's common practice to send the document and the password in two separate emails. I got a message from this guy saying he couldn't open the document I sent him. Me: "Did you use the password"?
Client: "Yes. It said there was an error". Me: "What password did you use"? Client: "I just hit OK and it said that I had the wrong password". Me: "Wait.. so did you type anything in"? Client: "Well no". Me: "Could you use the password that we provided you"? Client: "I didn't think it would work so I deleted the email". I was dumbfounded.
A woman was trying to get fabrics to cover tables, but didn't have measurements of the tables. After I explained the lack of size standards (tables come in all sorts of sizes guys, and a variety of shapes too) she immediately said the first table was standard size. So we’re off to a great start. Finally figured out how much she needed of the first one and cut it for her, then moved onto the second.
I rolled some off the bolt and went to straighten it out only for her to grab the fabric and start moving it. She opened it and asked the width, which I read right off the bolt and she paused. She thought about this. “That’s just not big enough”. But she had even more stupidity in store. She thought again. “If I cut it, will that make it bigger”? It took literally all my willpower to tell her that “unfortunately no, making it smaller will not make it bigger” with a professional tone.
Not the question itself that was dumb but the reason why he asked. I was volunteering as cashier at a used book store for the library—not my regular job but I do it often. In came this older fella who bought a big stack of books for like ten bucks. He was really nice and chatty though he didn’t seem completely aware mentally.
Not a big deal, I just had to explain sales tax and the book pricing a couple times before he seemed to get it. He paid by credit card and I explained to him how to sign the touchscreen for the payment to go through. This is where he asked for my name. I told him. He took the iPad and said he really appreciated my service, and happily told me he was going to sign my name for the card so “they” would know to send the money to me.
Before I can say “no wait”, he’s submitted the signature. I couldn’t see his receipt but he kept telling me I was great and to keep the change so I can assume he was being legit. I honestly wouldn’t call it dumb; just bizarre. It made me wonder if he had been signing cashier names the entire time he’s had a credit card. Thank goodness the card companies never check those things.
I thought it was the dumbest thing, but it turned out not to be. I was working at a department store when this guy comes up to me and shows me two of the exact same sweaters. He's like, "Which one is burgundy"? They were both burgundy because they are the exact same sweater. I'm like... what is this dude on? Or I thought I was being pranked or something. But I soon learned the truth.
He sees me hesitating and he's like, "Like...which one is more wine-red"? So finally, I just point at one and he's like, "Oh, thank you so much. I'm colorblind and I can't really distinguish this range of color".
Many years ago, I worked at Home Depot. One time I had a customer come up and ask me how to access the parking lot that's on the roof. I told him that we didn't have a parking lot on the roof. He didn't believe me, got super ticked off, and stormed out of the store to look for the access to the rooftop parking lot.
Another time, I had a customer looking for a replacement cartridge for a faucet that he didn't have with him. If you don't know, there's literally hundreds of different types of cartridges. Anyway, I asked him what make and model of faucet he had, and he responded with: "You're the one that works in the plumbing department. YOU TELL ME".
I told him that there's absolutely no way I could know what type of faucet he had in his home. The guy labelled me as ignorant and then stormed off. Another time I had a customer come up and ask me where the cat food was.
“I’d like the sirloin, medium rare with no pink”. Literally my first week on the floor waiting tables. Also, “Do you charge for drinks from the bar? Why didn’t you tell us”? My favorite is when a guy asked what we charge per 2 oz shot compared to the cost of the bottle and then said we were ripping him off. I really wanted to condescendingly explain capitalism to him, but I didn’t have time.
I used to work in computer sales and repairs. I had a customer come up who was maybe 23 years old saying she couldn't get her laptop to open something. So I took it and opened it, and casually asked, "What is it you can't get open"? She looked at me shocked as I open the laptop screen and yelled, "I HAVE BEEN TRYING FOR HOURS TO GET IT TO OPEN HOW'D YOU DO THAT”??
I looked at her not knowing how to respond and closed it and opened it again. She took it and walked out saying thank you. I took a long look at my computer I was working on and decided that this was the moment that made me quit that job.
One time while I was working at a restaurant, there was a lady who assumed everything on the menu was some kind of omelet. "I'll take the skirt steak omelet". "That's actually just a skirt steak. Perhaps I could substitute the French fries for eggs for you"? "Oh it's not an omelet? How about this Greek salad omelet"? "Ma'am, that's just a Greek salad.
The egg dishes are on this side of the menu, and the ones that are omelets say 'omelet' in the description". Eventually, she picked an omelet that she ended up really liking, but another guy at her table sent back his Croque monsieur BECAUSE HE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE AN OMELET. I don't know what made them think we were an omelet restaurant or something.
Worked at Best Buy and this was the dumbest interaction I ever had. Dude: “where are your heavy duty TVs at”? Me: “Is it going in a business”? (Thinking he means it'll be on at all times, like at a bar). Dude: “No, it's going in my living room”. Me: “.What are you planning to use it for”? Dude: “For watching! What else”?? Me: “Sorry, I'm just confused why it needs to be 'heavy duty' then”. Dude: “Well I dunno, you tell me!! You all are the ones advertising these HDTVs”!
I work at an electronics store: This was the weirdest conversation…“Hi, where are the large non-smart TVs”? “Well, most companies don’t make large TVs without smart features”. “It can’t have Wi-Fi”. “Well it’s not really a cost factor, you can get a large TV and not use the features”. “No it still transmits signals, I’m allergic to Wi-Fi”.
“You’re kidding right”? “No I’m serious I’ll get deathly ill just being around anything wireless”. “Do you use a cellphone”? “Yes”. “Laptop”? “Yes”. “Are you feeling alright right now”? “Yes”. “Ma’am, I don’t think you’re allergic to Wi-Fi, everything in this store is connected to Wi-Fi, hundreds of people have cell phones and you seem just fine”. “So you don’t want my money, this is why [xx] is going out of business”.
I used to be a manager at GameStop while going to college. A guy called up and told me the preowned Wii U that he bought for his son stopped working. His son dropped it. I told him that we could give him another one but since he didn’t buy the insurance, it only applied if the thing “just stopped working”. So I said to him, “Well maybe it stopped working before your son dropped it, and you can come in and I’ll give you another one”. I was trying to help—and it blew up in my face.
I was just trying to get this guy a free Wii U cause stuff happens and I don’t care. The guy proceeded to argue with me that it stopped working after the drop. “No, I saw my son drop it and then it stopped working. I'm positive”. So I said again, “oh alright well maybe it wasn’t because of the drop. It probably just stopped working.
I can’t exchange it if it broke because he dropped it, so I’m sure it was just defective. Bring it in and I’ll swap it out”. And again the guy is like, “Nah, it definitely stopped working because he dropped it”. Dude came in an hour later and bought another one full price. The DM was in the store with me at the time so I couldn’t say it outright but was shocked that this dude didn’t get what I was trying to do for him. I basically spelt it out.
While showing Apollo 13 to my astronomy class, I had a student ask me the dumbest question I have heard as a teacher. During the “Houston, we have a problem” scene, this student raised their hand in the back of the room. The friend next to them told them to put their hand down, and said that it was “a stupid question”.
I went back and asked them what their question was, and this was their answer: “Are all of the guys there named Houston”? Think of this: 1. How many guys have you ever met named Houston? 2. What are the odds that there are 30 guys named Houston, all in the same room? I have taught for nearly ten years now, and that one is still the winner.
I teach karate and one day a lady came in who was looking to do a birthday party at her own home but wanted to buy some black belts from us for her kid and their friends. Now, I would have no problem selling her belts for home use, it doesn’t mean anything to me, except we don’t stock any of that stuff outside of when we need them for tests and promotions and stuff.
So I kindly declined and explained to her that she could go online and find it on xyz website if she wanted them, but that most schools won’t sell them because of the hard work and dedication required, etc. So she pointed at my belt, which is grimy and gross and ripped apart with all of the work in it and said, “Well eh what about yours? Can I just buy that one”? ...Yea sure lady, let me just give you the thing I’ve been using every day for the last ten years…
I used to work in a restaurant that was quite popular with the organic/healthy lifestyle crowd. This particular lady asked me if we tested our water for ionizing radiation, and made it clear that if we didn't she would leave. Out of sinister curiosity, I told her "Of course we do, in fact I'll test it right in front of you, just let me get my Geiger counter from the back".
I downloaded a mock Geiger counter app and tested a glass of tap water in front of her. She completely bought it and proceeded to order a fruit salad and a water bottle. To be fair my phone case at the time made it look a bit blocky, so there's that. I told the manager, and we had a good laugh. I still can't believe I got away with it.
I've worked part time at a video game store for the last two years. This story took place last summer. A soccer mom came in with her demon spawn and gave me a hard time for not having “That Sonic Game” available. Me: “Hello, welcome to insert generic video gaming store name here”. Lady: “Yeah hi, I want to buy the Sonic game”.
Me: “I'm sorry ma'am, I'm not sure I understand you. Which Sonic game are you talking about”? Lady: “The one where you go fast! My child wants it and you will not disappoint him”. Me: “Ma'am, we have Sonic Forces available to pre-order, but it hasn't been released yet. If that's the game you're talking about, you can pre-order it now and receive it at release”.
Lady: “My son wants it now. Look, I'll slip you a tenner if you get it for me, nobody has to know”. Me: “I'm sorry ma'am, but we don't have any copies of the game. And even if we did, I would not be allowed to break the street date for the game. Once again, if your child wants the game, you can pre-order it now and you'll receive it on the day the game is scheduled for release”. She then asked to speak to my manager (go figure lol) and kept trying to get him to break the street date for a game we didn't even have copies of.
I used to be a receptionist at a local branch of UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) and people would call in at least once a week with a variant of this. Caller: “Hi, how can I volunteer with UNICEF in Africa”? Me: “Well, you need to contact UNICEF International in New York City. We don’t actually send volunteers in the field from this office”. Caller: “Oh well, I need to go next week (or some other unreasonable time limit). How do I do that”?
Me: “I’m pretty sure that the application will take more than a week. They will need to make sure you have the qualifications they are currently looking for”. Caller: “Qualifications”? Me: “Yes, mostly they need professionals in the medical field or teachers with experience working with nonprofit organizations or even sometimes translators or international lawyers, although those two don’t usually get sent out of the country they are based in”. Caller: “I am unemployed and don’t really have any experience in any field, so they can’t just send me to Africa next week? Because I can go now…”, or something similar. Me: “No”.
Many years ago while I was managing a pet store, a customer came in with an empty bottle of oral skin and coat supplement. He wanted a refund because it made his dog's coat really greasy. So, as I start working on his refund, I ask a few questions, trying to find out why the product failed. I ask the standard questions, did you use too much, how often. Stuff like that.
As we are conversing, I realized what his dumb mistake was. It started to click that he didn't use this on his dog’s food, he used it like a shampoo and rubbed it on his coat. So, I nicely explain that it is oral skin and coat supplement and it's intended to be put on the dog's food. He was embarrassed and apologized and started to leave, refusing the refund.
I gave him a new bottle in exchange for the now empty one and told him to give it another shot. The guy was really nice and understanding about it, but come on. The instructions tell you how much to put ON THE FOOD, and it's called oral skin and coat.
One of my very first jobs was a stocking associate for PetSmart. I had a customer one time ask me if we have any Blue Buffalo brand dog food that has no “pro van” in it, as she didn’t want to change up her dog’s diet because it hurts his stomach. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, so I offered to help her find the proper food.
When we get to the aisle, she points out Blue Buffalo and says, “It seems like they changed the recipe because they all have pro van in it”! When I read the bag, my jaw dropped. It actually just said “proven best recipe”. This idiot honestly thought the word "proven" was an ingredient. I explain that the recipe is the same and they just used new packaging, and it seemed to go in one ear and out the other, as she said she would go to another store to see if they carry the proper brand.
I was working at Walmart in the pet department. We had a small selection of live fish, but with no live plants or anything fancy. A customer called me over to ask if we had a certain kind of fish. I said nope, sorry but we don't have any at the moment. They asked if I could go check the back. They were insistent that I go check just to be sure.
I explained that we have no extra fish tanks back there and there's no way a fish can survive outside of water. I think they just gave up and assumed I was a lazy employee that just didn't want to go check the back room for them. I'll happily go check the back room for stuff because our inventory system was sometimes inaccurate, but I won't go check on an imaginary extra fish tank that doesn't exist.
A very grumpy high-society woman came to the store saying her brand new 3,000-dollar Microsoft surface bought by her husband was defective because she could not get internet when she was on the move. I quickly realized she was talking about Wi-Fi, so I tried explaining to her how Wi-Fi actually works. Boy, was that a mistake!
I told her that she could not use her Wi-Fi outside her house, but that she could share her smartphone internet connection. She would have none of it. She said I was lying to her and making fun of her. She even asked to speak to my manager, who then proceeded to tell her the exact same thing, almost to the word. She left screaming.
This conversation ended with a customer throwing a large bag of Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion potato chips at my head. It was a woman who came into the store looking to buy a box of chocolates. But there was one huge problem. She didn’t have any money. So this customer proposed that she take the chocolates now and come back later to pay when she had money.
“Do you expect me to go all the way home and bring back the money”? she asked. I said, “Yes, because other than that it’s called shoplifting and we will call security”. “But I need these,” she pleaded. I just said no. That’s when the chips started flying.
I worked at an Italian restaurant, and this guy ordered a salad. It seemed straightforward enough, but I was so, so wrong. When I asked what dressing he wanted, he kept going back to the pasta sauces and asking, “Sugo, that would be good on it, wouldn’t it! I’ll get that”. I tried to explain, “Sir, those are for pasta. You got the Mediterranean salad”. He responded, “You’re right; maybe carbonara,” another pasta sauce.
I couldn’t get what he wasn’t understanding. He seemed like a normal smart dude, but he couldn’t comprehend the difference between the dressings and sauces.
My sister was shopping one day with her toddler daughter, who was sitting in the shopping cart. My niece has beautiful blue eyes and many people remark on them. My sister is brown-eyed and my brother-in-law is blue-eyed, but it's a different shade than my niece. Anyway, she's at the store and this lady stops and goes, "Oh, your daughter is so cute. She has such pretty blue eyes. They're obviously not from you".
My sister replies, "No, we're really not sure where they came from. My husband has blue eyes but very different than my daughter's. She's just lucky, I guess”. The lady looks at my sister, in complete seriousness, and goes, "Well, are you sure your husband is her father"?
I worked at a fried chicken place. A lady called and said that her daughter was going to order. Her daughter sounded about five years old and ordered 500 pieces of chicken. I said okay, laughing. The mom got on and asked how long. I told her that her daughter just ordered $1,000 in food, and I asked her, “Does she really want that”?
The lady went nuts screaming at me, asking if I think her daughter is dumb. Me: "So you want 500 pieces of chicken”? Her: "My girl wants what she wants, make it and stop making fun of her". Me: “It is going to be at least an hour and $1,000 dollars". She said something about not making fun of her and her daughter and asked why I thought I was better than them.
She told me to place the order. She showed up ten minutes later, looking for her chicken. I explained to the manager about the call, and she freaked out when the cashier told her it was over $1,000. The lady refused to tell us how much chicken she really wanted while the little girl stood there screaming she wanted 500 chickens.
I'm a Sommelier, also known as that jerk who tries to sell you wine in a restaurant. Several months ago, a table full of middle-aged women wanted to know what our sweetest vintage by the glass was. The alpha whiner of the group had her heart set on asserting herself and putting on a show for her crew. Keep in mind, I was new to the job and wasn't really keen on the idea that "the customer is always right" just yet.
Our interaction went as follows. Her: "What's your sweetest wine?" Me: “Our sweetest by-the-glass vintage? That would be our (insert brand name here) Riesling from Mosel, Germany. Low alcohol content level, with lots of residual sugar that's balanced by a strong acidic backbone". Her: "Riesling's not sweet". Me: "Not all Riesling, correct. But this one definitely is". I had no idea what I was getting into.
Her: "No, I spent six months in Germany once and didn't have a sweet Riesling the entire time". Me: "That may be the case, but Mosel is world-renowned for their sweeter style, and the other benefits I mentioned, ma’am". Her: "You know what, I don't think you know what you're talking about because I actually lived there. Have you"?
Me: "No mam, I have not". Her: "Exactly. You know what, I see that you have a Gewurztraminer by the glass. I KNOW that's a sweet one, so I 'll just have that”. Me: "The Riesling is far sweeter, ma’am. The Gewurztraminer is barely off-dry. It's more dry than it is sweet". Her: "I know what I'm talking about, just get me the wine please".
Me: "Absolutely". At this point, I'm ready. I'm going to prove this woman wrong in the best way possible. I go up to the bartender and tell him to pour me a Riesling instead of the Gewurztraminer. I hand deliver the glass of it to the table and announce: "Your Gewurztraminer, ma’am". I walk away and watch from a distance with a Grinch-like eating grin.
She falls into my trap and takes the first sip. I return to the table. Me: "How is it?" Her: "It's delicious. Very sweet. Much sweeter than Riesling. Just like I knew it would be". Me: "Glad you like it, but I did just talk to the bartender and, as it turns out, he accidentally poured you the Riesling". She instantly turns beet red. Her: "So this isn't Gewurztraminer?"
Me: "No ma’am, my apologies. Would you like a glass of that instead of the one you currently have?" The grin on my face has at this point been upgraded to a full-blown maniac smile and a twinkling of the eye. She responds tersely, with bitterness oozing from her mouth. Her: "No, this will be fine". Me: "Lovely, enjoy the rest of your evening".
The moral of the story? I don't know everything about the drinks I sell. That much is true. In fact, I hardly know anything in the grand scheme of it all. Especially compared to some real experts out there. But when I do talk about the products I work with, you can guarantee I'll know what the heck I'm saying is correct.
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