Spelling it out really doesn’t help me.

I haven’t really put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – recently and this is due to two simple factors:

  1. I have recently started a new job at the company I work for and have therefore been preoccupied with not fucking it up.
  2. I procrastinate more than (note – come back and add example here)

This isn’t to say I haven’t been making notes of life events; I have.  It’s just a case of sitting my arse down and actually writing something.

The irony is, I actually started drafting this post…got sidetracked…and in the meantime posted something else entirely.  Well, now I’ve decided to sit down and at least attempt to finish this entry.

To manage your expectations, this isn’t a big amusing moment in my life, but more of a mini-rant about a gripe that I never realised was a gripe until it began rearing its ugly gripey head.

And this isn’t the only gripe.  To be honest, there are a few small issues here in America that I simply wasn’t prepared for.  For example, America doesn’t seem to have a word for ‘peckish’.

I’m sorry….what?

I used it in a sentence the other day at work and was met with lot of blank faces.

No word for peckish?  Really?

That evening I went home and asked my wife if there was an American word for ‘peckish’ and all she could come up with was ‘a little bit hungry?’.  This astounds me in a nation that is known for being in a constant state of graze.

Saying ‘I could eat’ isn’t quite the same.

Also, another unexpected gripe is the fact that most people I’ve met can’t read the 24hr clock (or ‘Military Time’ as they call it here).  I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve seen them deducting 12 on their fingers and quitely mouthing the words.

“So, 17:00 is…(counting on fingers, under breath) 16:00, 15:00, 14:00, 13:00, 12:00, 11:00, 10:00, 09:00, 08:00, 07:00, 06:00, 5:00.  it’s 5pm, right?”

Amazing.

Admittedly I do remember struggling with this myself, when I was SEVEN.

Anyway, back to the case in point.

I speak to a lot of Americans on a daily basis at work and, more often than not, I need to take their email address.  This isn’t anything out of the unusual, except for the way they read out their email address.  It simply baffles me.

Me – “What’s your email address?”

Them – “D as in Dog, A as in Apple, V as in, erm, Van, E as in Everyday, S as in Sam, M as in, erm, Mary, I as in Insulin, T as in Tommy, H as in Happy”

 

Small pause.

 

Me – Sorry, you said that so quickly, so it was D for Delta, A for Alpha…”

Them – “No, A like Apple”.

Me – “What’s the diff….er, I mean, can you repeat it for me?”

Them – “D as in Dog, A as in Ask, V as in Vanessa, E as in Egg, S as in Sam, M as in Mary, I as in, erm, (Inbred? Idiot? Imbecile?) Illinois, T as in Tree, H as in Hello”

 

(Usually always completely different words from the first attempt).

 

Another pause.

 

Me – “So, ‘DaveSmith’ then?”

Them – “Yes”

Me – “Ok….?”

 

There usually follows an unnecessary pause while the customer assumes I magically know their email domain name.

 

Me – “And the rest of it?”

Them – “What?”

Me – “Davesmith…..at?

 

Longer pause whilst they try and understand that I’m not a fucking mind reader.

 

Them – “@gmail”

You’ll notice the lack of “.com”.  In the US, if they don’t say ‘.org’ or ‘.net’, then it’s an assumed ‘.com’.

This has caused me no end of problems when I give out my email as I still use my ‘.co.uk’ address.  This usually takes some explaining and is met with a blank, open mouthed stare.

Drool optional.

So this is my issue, why don’t the majority of Americans actually say their email as it’s written?  I could understand if it’s something like 15t8f725d54it4@blah.com, but it rarely is.

It’s usually something that can be read out like ‘davesmith’, ‘rockdude’ or something laughably awkward like ‘sexxychick’ or ‘hotmama’.

These last two are particularly interesting when you can hear little kids in the background.

Seriously love, have a different email address when you’re shopping; your poor husband must hate calling on your behalf and being asked for it.

At least I understand why HE prefers to spell it out rather than say it.

I was talking to my wife about this and she said a customer had given her “K for Knife”.  What next;  ‘P for Pneumonia’ or ‘J for Juan’?

Sometimes I try and help them out and they disagree with my suggestion.

Them – “P as in, erm…P as in….”

Me – “P for Peter?”

Them – “No, P as in….erm, Psalm!”

double facepalm

F as in Facepalm

You may have noticed, from the examples I’ve given, there appears to be no grasp of the phonetic alphabet here; at least the official one.

How do I know this?  Because it confuses the shit out of them when I use it.

For the uninitiated, the phonetic alphabet is:

A – Alpha
B – Bravo
C – Charlie
D – Delta
E – Echo
F – Foxtrot
G – Golf
H – Hotel
I – India
J – Juliet
K – Kilo
L – Lima
M – Mike
N – November
O – Oscar
P – Papa
Q – Quebec
R – Romeo
S – Sierra
T – Tango
U – Uniform
V – Victor
W – Whiskey
X – X-ray
Y – Yankee
Z – Zulu

Admittedly, I have spoken to a few people who have used the phonetic alphabet correctly and I’ve openly commended them for it.  It’s a nice refreshing change from the random selection of words I’ve heard.

Mind you, there are a few unofficial phonetics that seem to have become the standard, even thought they’re not.

These are:

B – Boy
M – Mary
N – Nancy
D – Dog

I hear these every time.

And yet, oddly, they don’t use C for Cat.

Hmm.

I have a C word they can use.

types of cat

Can I make it any clearer?

I had an interesting telephone conversation with a lady customer that went like this:

 

Customer – “Hi.  I need a new shipping label. The one you sent before couldn’t be scanned by UPS.”

 

Me – “Really?  I’m sorry to hear that.”

 

Customer – “We need another one to print off.”

 

Me – “Actually, you can just reprint the same label.”

 

Customer – “No, we’ve already printed that one, and it was no good.  It was all distorted.”

 

Me – “Distorted?  in what way?”

 

Customer – “Well, you know how it looks when a typewriter ribbon is old?  That’s how it looked”

 

It’s worth noting here that she used the words ‘typewriter’ and ‘ribbon’.

I had a feeling this conversation was not going to get easier.

 

Me – “Oh, I see, so the ink was faded?”

 

Customer  – “Yes and UPS said they couldn’t scan it properly, so could you send me another label that’s not so faded please?”

 

I felt myself drowning.

 

Me  – “Actually, if the ink was faded it’s likely to be your printer.”

 

Customer  – “No, it’s not our printer, it’s the label.”

 

Me – “I’m happy to resend you the label, but you will encounter the same problem as it’s a digital image.  I suspect it will still come out all faded and distorted.”

 

Customer – “No, it won’t this time.”

 

Me – “How do you know?”

 

Customer – “This time I want you to email it to my husband’s computer as it’s clearer on his screen than on mine, so it will print better.”

 

picard palm

Can I do any better? Surely there’s something I can do?

Here’s a little story…

man with menu

A man walks into a busy restaurant on a Friday night and requests a table for himself and his wife who isn’t with him.  He is shown to a table and handed a couple of menus.  Before the waitress can ask what he’d like to drink, he asks “Is there anything you can do with these prices?”

The waitress looks at him a little confused; “I’m sorry sir?”

He points to the menu in his hand, “These prices, they’re a bit more than I wanted to pay. Can you do anything with them?”

“But these are the prices of our food sir”, the waitress replies, a little taken aback.

“It’s just that I didn’t want to pay more than £20 per person and I’ve seen cheaper prices at other restaurants.  Can you do anything?”

“What do you mean sir?”

“I just want to know what your best possible price is”, persists the man.

rude diner

“I’m sorry sir, but we can’t reduce the prices; these are our prices.”

The man pauses for a moment before continuing, “Ok, it’s just that I’ve had the price of £20 per person at another restaurant and if you can beat their price then my wife and I will eat here.”

The waitress, who relies heavily on tips, starts to get anxious because she has a lot of other tables to wait on and a very long queue of customers outside waiting to get in. 

Restaurant queue

“What other restaurants have you had these prices with sir?” she asks, not that it matters.

“I’d rather not say” says the man, defensively.

“We would need to see a copy of their menus to make sure the dishes they’re offering are like for like.”

“They are” the man insists, “but I’d rather eat with you, so if there’s anything you can do on the price we’d seriously look at eating here”.

The waitress thinks about it for a second. “If you don’t have dessert after your meal it will reduce the price to £19 per person, how about that?” she asks.

The man thinks about it for a minute before he replies “No, we want to have dessert at the end of our meal.  What if my wife and I choose not to have one of the sides, like chips or coleslaw; will that bring the price down any further?”

“I’m afraid not sir, they come as part of the meal”, replies the waitress, “but let me speak to my manager and see what we can do. Are you ok to wait for a couple of minutes?”

waitress despair

The man nods and she promptly disappears into the kitchen.

After a few minutes she returns, “I can offer to discount your meal by 10% if you eat with us right now”, she says triumphantly.

The man pauses again, “Ok, let me think about it.  If I take your name I’ll go and speak to my wife and we’ll come back to you later on.”

The waitress, not wanting to lose a tipping customer, says “We are very busy tonight and this is the last table we have free.  I can’t guarantee this table will be available later when you come back. Why don’t you give her a call now?”

“I can’t”, says the man, “she’s driving”. 

“Ok”, replies the waitress “Tell you what; I’ll hold the table for you”

The waitress suddenly seems oblivious to the ever growing queue of hungry tipping diners eager to get a table.

The man smiles, “Thanks, I really appreciate that.  If we decide to eat here we’ll come back later”

“Great” replies the waitress, “My name is Darcy.  I look forward to seeing you later”

The man leaves the restaurant unfed.

kick out door

This seems a bit unlikely, right?

Yet somehow it seems to be completely acceptable to do this when buying other things like cars, houses and heroin…HOLIDAYS, I meant holidays.

I work in travel and believe me; customers try this on all the time.

What they’re essentially saying to the sales agent is “I don’t believe you.  I think you’re trying to rob me with overly inflated prices. You sound nice but we all know, deep down, you’re a thieving bastard; give me more free shit now!”

We wouldn’t do this when buying clothing, or getting a haircut, or at the supermarket checkout, or with a pimp.

I would love the waitress to say something like: “If you’ve had such a great price elsewhere, then please feel free to fuck completely off to some shitpit and do that. Clearly there’s something about the other restaurant that’s stopping you because you’re sat here, in front of me, giving me shit about our prices.

“So no, you can’t have a discount. This is the price of our food; deal with it.

“Look at the queue at the door.

“Check out the lack of empty tables.

“If you want to eat here and find out what good food is really all about, pay the price we’ve printed on the menu and shut the fuck up.

“Now, what would you like to drink, sir?”

water splash waitress

It doesn’t work in the travel industry.

Unfortunately.