“You are Greek?”
29 June, 2011
Think the father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and re-read the title. I find that people of a Mediterranean background are always trying to claim me for their country. It has been happening for years. My hair is naturally a very dark brown and I have dark hazel eyes - so I must be Italian. Or Greek. Or Macedonian. Or Cypriat. Right?
What amazes me is that complete strangers, always of a Mediterranean origin themselves, feel compelled to ask (or tell!) me my nationality. During highschool I was happily sitting on the train reading when a woman asked me if I am Macedonian. Earlier this year I was waiting for the bus near my home with an older couple who were looking in my direction. They were clearly talking about me in their language. The gentleman said:
"You are Greek?"
"Oh...Ah! You are Italian!"
"Nope. My father is German."
Today it happened again. I work on a checkout at the local supermarket, so I encounter all kinds of odd-bods. I was serving a man with a strong accent. The conversation began much the same way - they always do...
"You are Greek?"
"No. Actually, my father is German"
Hmmm... Yes. Exactly like Hitler... What I should have said is that "Actually, Hitler was Austrian", told him to move along and "Have a nice day, Strange Man".
This whole experience got me to thinking about other strange, scary and rude things customers have said to me. I am reminded of a blog written by a lady in the UK which is a collection of strange things customers have said to her. It's very funny. If you have ever worked in retail or have had to deal with the public you will get a kick out of it.
For my part, here are some of the more memorable customers/conversations I've encountered during my (nearly) three years as a check-out chick.
"Wow. You're really not tall enough for this job are you?"
One man showed me his ruptured ulcer. He lifted up his shirt and showed me the bulge underneath his skin.
One woman was very uncomfortable with the sexual nature of the card machine. "It tells me to 'insert' the card 'into the slot'. Hmmm... What if I say 'in the bottom'? Oh, no! That sounds worse!"
People often use my name to try to sound more personal as I serve them. It often just comes off creepy - especially if they half whisper my name as they do so.
"Hello, Elizabeth". and
"Ah, Elizabeth. I have a daughter named Elizabeth. She's good-looking too."
Customers that want a discount on non-discounted items...
Customer: "Can you discount this cake?"
Me: "No. It doesn't have a mark-down sticker."
Customer: "But it expires tomorrow! I want a discount!"
Me: "I'm sorry, I don't have the authority to do that."
...or can't cope with the two-for-one type of deal:
"These are 2 for $2 but there was only one of the shelf. Can I have the discount?"
(Incidentally, the difference would have been 20c).
These conversations usually end with the customer thrusting the offending items at me and claiming huffily that they "didn't want it anyway". The more difficult ones want to see the manager.
I could go on and on, but I won't. The majority of customers are fairly normal but every now and then I find a real gem -- or rather they find me. I don't know how, but they do.
Until next time...
Posted by Lizz at 7:46 PM