Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Three Classic Conversations in 24 Hours

If you're very unlucky you get to have one of these encounters in a lifetime. I've just had three of them in 24 hours. Certain names and places have been concealed to protect me from reprisals. Welcome to my life:

With a grocery checkout clerk, while waiting for a price check:

CHECKOUT CLERK: So, what do you do for a living?
ME: I'm a writer.
CHECKOUT CLERK: What do you write? Books?
ME: TV, films.
ME: That's great!
CHECKOUT CLERK: I can help you, you know.
ME: That's okay.
CHECKOUT CLERK: I know everybody in town. I have contacts everywhere.
ME: Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'm okay.
CHECKOUT CLERK: Still, it's good to have an agent.
ME: Thanks anyway. I'm good.
CHECKOUT CLERK: Do you? Have an agent?
ME: Yeah.
CHECKOUT CLERK: "C-A-A"? "C-A-A"? What does that mean?!
ME: Er... Creative Artists?
CHECKOUT CLERK: I'm not familiar with them.

Phone call with Bureaucratic Clerk:

ME: Hi, it says [unidentified obligation] shouldn't happen twice in twelve months? I just got my second [unidentified obligation] in twelve months.
BUREAUCRAT: Says here the last time was in April?
ME: Yes.
BUREAUCRAT: That's more than twelve months ago.
ME: No, it's not.
BUREAUCRAT: Sir, yes, it is.
ME: No, it's not. April was only 10 months ago.
BUREAUCRAT: No, it's-- Oh, right.

At a coffee shop:

CLERK: That will be $5.65.
(I pay)
CLERK: I said $5.65.
ME: Uh huh.
CLERK Five sixty-five.
ME: Uh-huh.
CLERK: This is five.
ME: That's a ten.
CLERK: No it's not.
ME: Yes it is.
CLERK: It's a five.
ME: It's a ten. Look at it.
CLERK: I don't have to look at it to know it's a five.
ME: I think you do. Because it's a ten.
CLERK: No, it's not.
ME: Are you fucking kidding me? Just look down at your fucking hand and you'll see. It's a ten.
CLERK: (rolls his eyes, then looks) Oh, wow, I'm so sorry. I feel awful!

Is it any wonder I long ago swore off leaving the house unless absolutely necessary?


Max Koch said...

My favorite entry of yours yet since I started visiting your blog.

Ellen said...

What was in the air today?
Today a bus driver almost passed by my daughter (who takes the same bus at the same time, same stop 3 times a week). The driver had the nerve to ask, do you have to take this bus?

peeky said...

CLERK: I don't have to look at it to know it's a five.

Delicious. The customer is always wrong nowadays, have you noticed?

Sydelle Pearl said...

"Oh, wow, I'm so sorry. I feel awful!"?????????????
Okay, that's a first.

Michael Markowitz said...

Thank you, Max!

Michael Markowitz said...

Ellen, how could the bus driver say something like that?? That's outrageous!!

And Peeky, you are so right. If brick-and-mortar stores want to know why their sales are plummeting compared to online sales, that's why.

John Cleese has said often that he once attended a BBC meeting where a network executive complained that if not for the programming and the viewers his job would be so much simpler. From that man, Basil Fawlty was born.

Michael Markowitz said...

Sydelle, that's what makes it incredibly hilarious to me. How he went from unbelievably bellicose to insanely contrite like the flick of a switch. And you know he'll still be a prick to the next person.

peeky said...

also, michael, if you decide to put your whole life on hold in order to vent about it (and who doesn't, from time to time?) you could write a letter to the upper management of these companies when their employees are rude. sometimes you get free stuff!

Michael Markowitz said...

I know, peeky, but I'm always afraid of becoming Grandpa Simpson, writing to Modern Bride magazine because they don't have enough elderly people in it.

I do ALWAYS write when I have good service. Dashed off three emails today re; Enterprise car rental and two different Starbucks.

Ellen said...

It was quite something, Mike.
The bus driver actually asked my daughter if she knew the schedule of the bus before that one (which doesn't even go the same route).
It seemed like she has a momentum going and having to stop for my daughter was an inconvenience!
I actually looked out of the window this morning and watched and the driver finally stopped AT the stop.

Michael Markowitz said...

There was something of a brouhaha in L.A. about ten or twenty years ago, I can't remember... Someone came up with the bright idea of sticking a sign on the back of the buses that said "Sorry, But If I Don't Cut In Front I'll Fall Behind!"

The sound of a collective "fuck you" rose up and those signs and whoever dreamed them up were both on the trash heap within a week.