Monday, August 23, 2010

Speaka ze English?

There's been a lot of talk lately about immigrants needing to learn English. I don't really understand all the hubbub myself. When I'm in a foreign country I find it helpful to have my English-speaking-only self accommodated with a few signs and instructions in my language. So, I don't really mind being instructed to "pulse dos para espanol" when I make a phone call.

In fact, lately I've had a couple of encounters that have confirmed my long-held suspicion that it is not foreigners or immigrants who need help with the English language. It's salespeople and other customer service employees. I think we need a special button for them to press because I do not think we are speaking the same language.

I submit as evidence thereof the following two "conversations:"

Saturday, August 21, 2010 in the hair salon at Walmart:


Sales Girl: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I'm looking for shampoo without sulfates.
SG: Without what?
Me: Sulfates. I had this crazy expensive keratin protein treatment put on my hair and was told to use only sulfate-free shampoo.
SG: Oh, well, let's see.

We peruse the shelves before finally finding one on the last set of shelves in the salon.

Me: Oh good, it's buy one get one half-off.
SG: No, it's not.
Me: But there's a sign on the shelf that says, "All Pure Results products, Buy One Get One 50% off"
SG: That's only for the products.
Me: Right, the Pure Results products. That's what this is.
SG: No, shampoo is not a product.
Me: Huh?
SG: It doesn't apply to the shampoo and conditioner.
Me: But it's hanging on the shelf that contains nothing but shampoo and conditioner. And they are both Pure Results.
SG: We can put the sign on any shelf we want. Shampoo and conditioner are not products.
Me: Do you know what "product" means?
SG: Product means things like gel and mousse and such.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 in the Atlanta Airport:

Scene: waiting for the train that carries passengers between terminals and the baggage claim area. Said train normally arrives every 90 seconds, and there is a little digital countdown clock that says how long until the next train. On this particular day, the clock keeps going higher (longer wait) every time it gets under 2 minutes. After standing and watching the countdown clock go up and down for about 4 or 5 minutes, I decide to ask the "attendant" sitting at a little attendant stand nearby if he knew what was going on.

Me: Are the trains not running?
Airport guy: The trains are running.
Me: Do you know how long until the next train gets here because the clock keeps changing?
AG: It'll be here soon.
Me: Don't they normally come every couple of minutes?
AG: It comes every 90 seconds.
Me: But, it's been about five minutes. Do you know what's wrong?
AG: Nothing's wrong with the trains.
Me: Well, do you have any idea when a train might actually come?
AG: The train comes every 90 seconds.

So, I am considering launching some sort of initiative for salesperson language training. Or at least a button I can press when I speak to them so that we are both using the same language.

Maybe "Press two for idiot?"

3 comments:

Lenae said...

Hahahahahaha! Awesome.

"Product means things like gel and mousse and such." Oh! Right, right.

Carol DD in CA said...

I completely understand the need for such a button. So funny!

Ellen said...

you are so funny - hahaha! made my day!so did you eventually get the "products" at the discount price?