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Things People Said: Anecdotes of Stupidity


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Anecdotes of Stupidity
Overheard this on a London bus:

First Woman: "I don't know what to get Fred for his birthday."
Second Woman: "Why don't you get him a book?"
First Woman: (after a moment's thought) "Nah, he's already got a book."

At the fish hatchery where I work, we have a small display that describes the now-extinct Michigan Grayling (a
kind of fish). This summer, I had the following conversation with a tourist:

Tourist: "Is the Grayling still extinct?"

Me: "Yes sir, it doesn't exist anymore."
Tourist: "Any thoughts of bringing it back?"
Me: "No, I don't think that's possible."
Tourist: "Why not?"
Me: "Because it's extinct."
Tourist: "Still?"
Me: "Yes."

Frustrated, he left.

I was checking out at the local Foodland with just a few items, and the lady behind me put her things on the belt
close to mine. I picked up one of those dividers that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our
things so they wouldn't get mixed. After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the divider and looked
all over it for the bar code so she could scan it. Not finding the bar code she said to me, "Do you know how much
this is?"

I said, "I've changed my mind; I don't think I'll buy that today."

She said, "OK," and I paid her for the things and left. She had no clue about what had just happened.

Overheard at a movie theater snack bar:

Customer: "I'll have a large popcorn."

Clerk: "Sorry, our popper is broken. How about a hotdog?"
Customer: "Ok, I'll have a hot dog."
Clerk: "We're out of hot dogs."

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This happened a couple of years ago in a local electronics store.

Me: "I am looking to buy a large screen TV, but I have heard that they scratch easily."
Salesman: "Not at all true! Let me show you."

The salesman took a quarter out of his pocket and make a huge scratch in one of the display models.

Salesman: "As you can see, there is no scratch."

Me: "What are you talking about?? Look at that huge scratch right there!"
Salesman: "There's nothing there. Here, let me show you again."

He proceeded to deface two more TVs.

My girlfriend and I visited together with her friend in an old churchyard from the 1700s. Among the tombstones
was one dated around 1725 that had fresh flowers by it.

Our Friend: "I wonder who has been here with the flowers?"
My Girlfriend: (joking) "I guess the widow has been here."
Our Friend: "Yes, I guess you're right. Who else could it have been?"

My doctor's office gives each patient a card with the date of the next appointment. One lady came in with her
card on August 23rd, and here's what happened:

Lady: "My card says to be here on the 28th at 10am, and I'm here!"
Receptionist: "But, ma'am, today is the 23rd."
Lady: "No it isn't, my card says the 28th!"
Receptionist: "I know your card says the 28th, but that's next Monday."
Lady: "No, my card says to be here on the 28th, and I'm here!"

This went on for several minutes.

The following call came in at 7:30 this morning:

Me: "Hello?"
Some Woman: "Mannie?"
Me: "Ma'am, what number are you trying to reach?"
Some Woman: "Mannie, y'all get up now, cause y'all are goin' to Sunday School, okay, sweetie?"
Me: "Ma'am, I am not your sweetie. You have a wrong number!"
Some Woman: "Okay, sweetie, see you soon!" (click)

I work as a cashier at a grocery store that was celebrating its grand re-opening. To draw customers, we were
mailing out coupons for various free items, such as eggs, soda, chips, etc. The coupon for the chips was very
specific: it had to be a 13 1/4 bag of Lays Potato Chips.

One lady was a bit confused. Upon handing me her bag of chips and the corresponding coupon, she said, "The
coupon says thirteen and one fourth, but I guess this is close enough, right?" I checked. The net weight of the bag
was given as 13.25 ounces. I looked up, certain she was joking.

She wasn't.

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This stupidity was a story my friend told me about his girlfriend at the time. When he told me the story, I didn't
believe him, so I asked his girlfriend (who thought the South Pole was hot because it was in the South), and she
confirmed the story.

He and his girlfriend were necking in his car when there was a power failure. All the street lights when out, and all
the houses around were dark. She said, "Oh no, you won't be able to start your car!" He told her it would start just
fine, and then she said, "But your headlights won't work! You won't be able to see where you're going!"

Near here (Hastings, MI) is a restored water powered grain mill. It has been turned into a public attraction and
several historic buildings have been moved to the grounds.

The guide, telling about a two story house, explained that the upper story was added several years after the lower
part. One family insisted on knowing where the builders found an upper story that fit. The guide explained that
"they just built it," but the family still insisted on knowing where the builders found an upper story that fit.
Finally, in exasperation, the guide said, "They bought it at Sears."

The family went away happy, apparently not aware that the house had been built long before Sears had ever been

I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed that I had never signed my name on
the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was
signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature on the credit card with
the signature I just signed on the receipt. So I signed the credit card in front of her.

She carefully compared that signature to the one I signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched.

I was working in a photo store, which specializes in restoring old photographs, when a lady brought in a old
picture of a man sitting behind a cow, milking it.

Her: "Can you fix this picture for me?"

Me: "Sure. What would you like us to do?"
Her: "Can you move the cow?"
Me: "Move the cow?"
Her: "I want to know what my great-grandfather looked like. That's him."

She pointed to the feet sticking out under the cow.

Me: "I don't think we can do that."

Her: "Just move the cow over, and we'll be able to see his face."
Me: "I'm sorry. We don't have the technology to do that."
Her: (getting huffy) "Well, I guess I'll just take this somewhere else."

I am a very frequent taxi user, especially for the trip from Melbourne's airport to the city center. The trip started
in the usual fashion; I gave the taxi driver the destination, got grunts in return, and we edged out onto the
motorway and accelerated to about 115 kmph. Then the driver braked down to about 90. He then eased back up
to 110. Braked to 90 again. After four or five repetitions I asked if there was a problem with the car.

Driver: "Eh?"
Me: "Is there something wrong with the car? You're braking all the time."
Driver: "Eh?"
Me: "You know, every time you get above 110 you brake"

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Driver: "Oh, that. Don't wanna speed, they take ma license, you know?"
Me: "Sure, but why brake?"
Driver: "Eh?"
Me: "Why brake? Why not just not accelerate?"
Driver: "Doan wanna speed, y'know?"

I pondered this for another couple of brake-accelerate repetitions, then spoke up again.

Me: "Hey. Let's just try something, all right?"

Driver: "Eh?"
Me: "When you get to 110, just take your foot of the accelerator. Don't brake."
Driver: "Accelerator?"
Me: "Take your foot off the pedal."
Driver: "Ah."

We reach 110. The driver backs of the pedal. The car slows, magically.

Driver: "HEY MAN! That's great! I'm gonna use that from now on!"

At the end of the ride I showed the driver how to accept credit card payments on his system and wished him
better luck with his second fare.

With his car up on a lift in the garage where my father worked, the owner of a 1970s Cadillac (with the extra
wheel well fenders that covered a fair portion of the tires) asked that all four wheels be rotated such that the
valve stems were "pointing up" (and therefore not obstructed by the fender extensions). This was to ensure that
the next time he pulled into a service station to put air into the tires, all four valve stems would be accessible
without needing to move the car several times to get access.

In my high school civics class the air conditioner didn't have the vents to direct which way the air would blow for
most of the first semester, so everyone who sat in the back of the class would freeze, while the people sitting in
the front were always hot. One day, somebody in the back decided to take a stand against the teacher and declare
the class to be cold. He stood up and said, "Mrs. Barnes, it's cold in here. We need to turn the air off."

Since this was a class that always had to argue, someone else said "Turn it off?"

The first person, being the exceptionally bright student that he is, retorted, "Yeah, off. O - F."

Then one of our other geniuses decided to pipe up and said, "I would have laughed so hard if you had spelled that

In my high school biology class, one day, we were watching a video about wildcats in Africa. At one point, a
flood had receeded, and the cats were hunting for fish stranded in small pools of water. A girl in the back piped

Her: "What's it doing?"

Teacher: "It's looking for fish."
Her: "Why?"
Teacher: "So it can eat the fish."
Her: "Oh." (pause) "I thought cats ate cat food."

I work in the Toy Department at a Walmart, and one day I was asked to do a price check. The cashier explained

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to me that a customer wanted to buy some puzzles, priced at 4 for $5.00, but they were ringing up at $1.25 a
piece. Apparently neither the customer nor the cashier ever made it through sixth grade math.

I used to work in an art supply store. We sold artists' canvas by the yard, and you could get it in either of two
widths: 36 inches or 48 inches.

Customer: "Can you please cut some canvas for me?"

Me: "Certainly, what width?"

Customer: (confused and slightly annoyed) "Scissors?"

I was pulling into a gas station one day when I saw a woman drive off with the nozzle still in her gas tank. She
jerked the nozzle right off the hose. Realizing what she had done, she pulled back in, took the nozzle out of the
tank, and put it back on the pump. Then she went inside to straighten things out with the management.

While she was inside, a young man pulled up to the pump. He took the nozzle, with no hose attached, into his
tank. He couldn't seem to figure out why he wasn't getting any gas. He even took the nozzle out and repositioned
it in the tank a couple times. I thought about pointing out the obvious problem to him but then decided that he'd
be embarrassed enough when he figured it out on his own.

About a year and a half ago I went with a couple of buddies to a hardware store to get some paint for my living
room. Since we were buying paint we started talking about various facets of house painting, home renovation, etc.
I brought up the fact that I wanted to paint my bedroom camouflage when I was little, but my parents wouldn't let
me. The clerk looked at us with a straight face and said, "How would you go about mixing camouflage paint
anyway?" I had to walk out of the store very quickly so I wouldn't laugh in the clerk's face.

In Canada, we have recently begun receiving and using new $10 bills that are harder for counterfeiters to
reproduce. I overheard this conversation, between two ladies, on a bus:

Lady #1: "You know the new $10 bills? Do you know how much it costs the government to print them?"
Lady #2: "I don't know. Twenty bucks each?"
Lady #1: "Well, that's what I thought too, but I saw on the news yesterday that they only cost four cents!"
Lady #2: "WHAT?? Four cents! And we pay ten bucks for them? What a rip off!"

I was at the airport, checking in at the gate, when the airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your
baggage without your knowledge?"

I said, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?"

He smiled and nodded knowingly, "That's why we ask."

The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it is safe to cross the street. I was crossing with a dense co-worker of
mine; she asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals to blind people when the light is red.

She responded, appalled, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?"

At a goodbye lunch for an old and dear co-worker who is leaving the company due to "rightsizing," our manager

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spoke up and said, "This is fun. We should have lunch like this more often." Not another word was spoken. We
just looked at each other like deer staring into the headlights of an approaching truck.

Once I was on a school trip to England. We flew there in a Boeing 747. Shortly after take-off, the flight attendant
had distributed candy. One girl didn't know what to do with the wrapper, so she started trying to open the
window. Others nearby started snickering, but she shouted, "Shut up and help me open this bloody window!"

Twelve years ago, while stationed in Germany, I walked into the post exchange at Leighton Barracks in
Wurzburg to purchase some velcro. I told the woman in the fabrics section that I needed two yards of the stuff.
She frowned and informed me, "We only sell it it feet." At first I thought she was being humorous, but when I
realized she was serious I said, "Ok, then, give me six feet." For a moment I was afraid she was going to cut it into
twelve-inch segments, but instead she hauled out a length and began measuring it against the yardstick attached to
the table. She paused, looked, thought, then measured out two yards, cut it and rang it up without another word.

While I was watching a football game on TV with my friend and his wife once, a player was knocked out of
bounds with considerable force. He plowed right into a technician holding one of those satellite dish-shaped
microphones who did not even have time to attempt to avoid the collision. During the replay which showed the
technician getting knocked over backwards and doing about three summersaults, his wife replied sarcastically,
"Right, like that little shield was going to protect him!"

I work for a cable company. About two years ago a storm caused terrific damage to a neighborhood about three
blocks from our office. A customer called to complain that his cable was off. I asked his address. When he gave it
to me, I recognized it immediately. I had done a damage survey less than an hour before.

Me: "Sir, isn't this the big yellow two story house on the corner that's divided into apartments?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "Well, sir, a tree is lying on your roof isn't it?"
Him: "Yes."
Me: "Sir, that tree tore down the power, phone, and cable lines. We'll have to wait until your landlord has
the tree removed to fix the cable."
Him: "Listen, I want my service fixed now. I don't care about the tree."

Yeah, that makes sense. Let it rain in the house but don't miss must-see-TV!

Me: "Well, sir, even if the tree was gone, we have to wait for the power company to remove the power
Him: "I don't care about that. I want you to fix my cable now!"
Me: "Sir, even if the cable was working, without power you couldn't turn on the TV."

It was about this time I wondered how he was calling me -- remember, the phone line was down too. He answered
the question for me.

Him: "Listen buddy, I've got a generator and a cell phone. I've got to see the game. I don't care how big the
hole is in the screen of the set. I can work around that."

A family was plagued by a "techno-terrorist" who terrorized the family in many ways. The family would be on the
phone talking to a relative or friend, and the hacker would break into the conversation and say some pretty rude
things. He also managed to turn the lights on and off in the house. Everyone was baffled, and the police were
eventually called in, along with Bell Canada, and the electric company. Bell and the electric company both

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insisted that such a thing could not be done, but everyone was convinced of the hacker's ability to control the
phones and electricity in the house. The electric company rewired the house three times, all to no avail. Everyone
was completely baffled as to how someone could do this. Modern technology was to blame, of course.

After about three weeks of terror, the son confessed. It turned out that he gained control of the electricity by
going to the main power feed and turning it off, and he gained control of the phones by picking up another
extension in the house. Needless to say, the family was stuck with the bill for rewiring the electricity and the
phones, and they were fined by the police to boot.

While on a ski trip in Wyoming, I encountered a husband and wife on the slopes who asked me if I would take a
picture of them. I said I would be happy to, and I did. Then I asked if they wouldn't mind taking a picture of me.

"Oh...sorry," the man answered, "but we only have two pictures left, and we wanted to take some pictures of the

When I brought my mother-in-law home one afternoon, she discovered that she didn't have her key to her second
story apartment. I went to the garage, took out the ladder, and climbed up, finding that all the windows were
locked. As I stood there on the ladder, deciding whether to break the window or not, she looked up at me and
said, "Too bad Mrs. Jones (the owner of the building) isn't here. She has a key to my apartment, and she could go
up and open the window for you!"

A friend of mine was showing me a little fold-away phone number list that he kept in his wallet. The way it
worked was that the piece of paper with the telephone list is glued to two magnets the size and shape of a credit
card. The paper folded up accordion-style and was secured by the two magnets sticking together.

Me: "Wow! This magnetic telephone list is cool!"

Friend: "What? That's not magnetic."
Me: "Umm...yeah, it is. See, these two things on the end are magnets, and they stick together."
Friend: "Oh, so that's why my credit cards won't work anymore!"
Me: "So, how did you think it stuck together if you didn't think they were magnets?"
Friend: "I thought it was just paper suction."

I set a VCR up for my father and asked if there was anything he'd like taped soon so I could show him the
on-screen programming. There was, and I did, and I said, "Then you just put a blank tape in and shut the VCR off,
and it will come on and tape your program at the right time."

Sound instructions. Except my father had heard that you shouldn't leave a blank tape in the VCR, so he took out
the tape and shut the power off.

Without the tape in the VCR, the timer icon blinked in warning. So he unplugged the VCR.

At a nursing home where I worked several years ago, a nurse on frequent evening duty had bought a VCR in
order to tape some of the shows she missed while at work. However, she had some trouble programming it -- not
once had it taped anything -- so she asked if I could help her. She would bring the remote and the instruction
manual with her the next evening.

On a break the following evening I walked her through programming her VCR, and she repeatedly said that she
had done exactly like I showed her, but it still hadn't taped anything. I was a bit mystified, so I handed her the
remote and asked her to show me how she programmed it. She looked in the evening's TV listing, found a show
she wanted to tape, and pressed all the right buttons on the remote, just as she was supposed to do, if she wanted

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to set the VCR correctly. And then she asked me: "So when I get home, it will have taped the show, right?"

Her home was about 15 miles from the nursing home. I politely explained her that it was probably outside the
remote control's range, and if she programmed her VCR before leaving for work, it might help. It did.

The mother of a friend went to New York City for the first time and was approached by a homeless man soliciting
the sale of a bottle of exclusive moisturizer, normally retailed at $80, for only $5. She reached for her purse
enthusiastically and said, "Sir, will there be tax on that?" When the man recovered from laughing, he made the
sale -- tax free.

Several years ago when we were still in high school, my friend, her sister, and I were watching the Olympics. Her
sister asked us why rodeos weren't an Olympic sport. We said,"Because the U.S. is probably the only country
where rodeos take place." She was very quick to argue, "Nuh uh, Oklahoma has rodeos too."

It's amazing how stupid people can be on the telephone. I used to work for a major northwestern bank in the
collections department, and we would frequently get calls like this:

Caller: "Could I speak to [somebody's name]?"

Me: "I'm sorry, but that person is [on vacation, out of the office, otherwise unavailable]. Would you like
to leave a message?"
Caller: (annoyed) "I'm calling long distance!"

As if calling long distance will magically make the individual magically appear in the office!

Caller: "Can I speak to Mr. [name], please?"

Me: "I'm sorry, Mr. [name] is on vacation."
Caller: "I'll hold."

When my friend got her driver's license, her sister looked at it and, quite perplexed asked, "'Donor'? What did you
doan?" My friend corrected her, "I donated my organs in the event that I die." Her confused response: "Don't you
need them?"

I work for a cable company, and this is without a doubt the stupidest question a customer has ever called in with.
It was during a blizzard, which had knocked out power in the many areas.

Customer: "Hi, my cable is out."

Me: "Ok, do you have power?"
Customer: "No, but my cable is out."
Me: "Well sir, if your power is out you wouldn't get cable."
Customer: "Why the hell not? What does my power have to do with cable?"
Me: "Well sir, without power you--"
Customer: "Look, just get my cable working. Send someone out."

Then he hung up, without so much as giving his name or address.

Once I found myself in the dubious position of Customer Assistant at a university computer center. We had three
computers that were used for students to sign up for email accounts. Signs were on all the walls, in and out of the
computer lab, that read "Email Account Setup This Way" and pointed toward these three computers. Still, every

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day, two or three people would ask us where to sign up for an email account.

Frustrated, I created a seven step sign in large letters, detailing the exact procedure to follow in order to get to
these computers:

How to Sign Up for an Email Account

1. Look at the other end of the room from where you are standing.
2. Notice the computers labeled "Email Account Setup."
3. Go to one of them.
4. Sit down at it.
5. Fill out the form you see in the Netscape browser with your relevant information.
6. Hit "Submit."
7. Remember your username and password.

One day, soon after putting this sign up, an older man came in with his daughter. He walked up, started to speak,
and then noticed the sign. He read it, looked over his shoulder, turned back, read some more, looked over his
shoulder again, conversed quietly with his daughter, read a bit more, then walked up to the window and asked,
"Where do we sign up for an email account?"

Phone Sales Representative: "Ok, now I need the billing address of the card."
Customer: "But I want it shipped to my daughter at school."
Phone Sales Representative: "That's not a problem; I can ship anywhere you like, but I do need the
correct billing address."
Customer: "Ok."

I pause, expecting him to supply me with the address.

Phone Sales Representative: "Sir, the billing address please?"

Customer: "Oh, were you waiting for me? I'm sorry. I send the payments to a PO Box in Maryland, I think.
Do you really need that address?"
Phone Sales Representative: "No, sir, not where you send the payments, but where you receive the
Customer: "A statement?" (rustle, rustle) "Yeah, here's one. It's PO Box 2386, Towson, MD."
Phone Sales Representative: "Sir, is that Towson address you just gave me where you send your payments
or where you receive your statements?"
Customer. "Oh, the statements come here."
Phone Sales Representative: "And what is that address?"
Customer: "But I want it shipped to--"
Phone Sales Representative: "--your daughter at school. Right. But I still need a valid billing address."
Customer: "Young lady, if you would just tell me what you need from me, I would be happy to supply it."
Phone Sales Representative: "Where do your credit card statements come?"
Customer: "I told you. They come from Towson, MD."
Phone Sales Representative: "Not where they come from, where you receive them."
Customer: "In the mail, of course! You're not very smart, are you?"
Phone Sales Representative: "Sir, when you receive your statement from the credit card company and
open it up to look at it, where are you standing?"
Customer: "In my kitchen."
Phone Sales Representative: "Your kitchen at home?"
Customer: "Of course!"
Phone Sales Representative: "Great! And what is your home address then?"
Customer: (finally supplies the address) "If you just wanted my home address, why on earth didn't you
just ask for it?"

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Phone Sales Representative: "Will you be paying by credit card?"

Customer: "Yes."
Phone Sales Representative: "Ok, I need your credit card number and your name as it appears on the
card, please."
Customer: "WHAT?!? I'm not giving my credit card to you over the phone! Then your company will have
access to it!"

He hung up. Saved me the trouble, actually.

Some time ago I worked for an independent TV station in Northern Ontario. The transmitter was off the air, and it
was my job to go to the transmitter site to restore service. Before I left the station manager asked me why there
was no sound or picture. I explained the transmitter was off, and I was on my way to fix the problem. He then
instructed me to ask master control to run an announcement that we were off the air and would be back on as
soon as possible.

Just when I was beginning to have faith that the world of politics was becoming standard knowledge for nearly all
Americans, this happened to me.

I was in the hallway where a girl was talking to her friend. In a nutshell, she was convinced that the name of a
person running for President of the United States was "Bush Cheney."

I just about lost it, but then she topped herself. She said that the prime opponent was someone named "Kerry
Edwards," adding that she thought he was a guy but could be wrong, "because Kerry sounds like a girl's name."

While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained,
he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning.

"Does the sun rise in the north?" she asked.

When another person jumped in and explained that the sun rises in the east (and has for some time), she shook
her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff."

I used to work in technical support for a 24x7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what
hours the call center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

"Is that Eastern or Pacific time?" he asked.

So my colleague and I were eating our lunch in our cafeteria when we overheard one of the administrative
assistants talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the shore. She drove down in a convertible
but didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving.

I was in an advanced high school physics class, and the teacher was talking about a new military weapon that
used sonic waves on the battlefield to burst enemy soldiers' chests. One person in the class spoke up and said,
"Well that's stupid! Why don't they just wear headphones?"

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car. It's designed to cut through a seatbelt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in
the passenger side door's map pocket.

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My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we
bought two cases. The cashier multiplied two times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.

I was hanging out with a friend of mine when we saw a woman walk by us with a nose ring attached to an earring
by a chain. My friend said, "Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her head?"

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area. So I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman
there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because they were trained
professionals, and I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, "Has your plane arrived yet?"

I worked for a lighting control manufacturer, and our toll-free number was only one digit off from one of GE's.
This resulted in a number of misdirected calls, but the most memorable was this one.

Me: "Thank you for calling (company name). How may we help you today?"
Customer: "I just bought this doorbell chime and can't seem to get it to work."
Me: "Sir, we don't make doorbell chimes."
Customer: "I just got it today, and this is the number on the side of the box."
Me: "Who manufactured the doorbell chime?"
Customer: "You did."
Me: "Sir, we are a lighting controls and building automation manufacturer. We don't make doorbell
Customer: "Well, it has your company's name on the side of the box."
Me: "And what name would that be sir?"
Customer: "Don't you know your own company's name!? GE!"
Me: "Ah, that's the problem, sir. We are not GE. We are (company name)."
Customer: "So? Can you help me or not?"
Me: "Sir, we don't make doorbell chimes, so I have no idea how to help you."
Customer: "Well you made it didn't you?"
Me: "No, sir, we didn't. It's best you check the number on the box again."
Customer: "But it's your number, and if you need it I can fax you the instructions."
Me: "Sir, the instructions won't help us as we did not make the doorbell chime."
Customer: "Well that's rude."
Me: "Sir, it's a doorbell chime. If you need help installing it then please call GE."
Customer: "This isn't GE?"
Me: "No, sir, this is (company name)."
Customer: "But doesn't GE own your company?"
Me: "No, sir."
Customer: "Funny. I thought GE owned everything."

I finally got him to read the number on the box and pointed out that he was off by one digit. He thanked me and
hung up. Ten minutes later, he called again and (lucky me) got me again.

Customer: "I want to let you guys know that some of your techs are very rude on the phone."
Me: "I am sorry, sir. Do you know who you were talking to?"
Customer: "I'm not sure. He was with one of your subsidiaries. (Company name), I think."
Me: "Sir, this is (company name)."
Customer: "This isn't GE?"
Me: "No, sir, this is not GE."
Customer: "Can you help me with this doorbell chime?"

11 of 13 8/3/2009 10:08 AM
Things People Said: Anecdotes of Stupidity


In my high school geometry class we were using protractors. This bimbo girl (imagine valley girl like speech) was
holding her transparent plastic protractor saying:

Her: "Those stupid Japanese people put the numbers on backwards!"

She was holding it upside down. I thought she was kidding. She wasn't.

I work at a Target store in a large city, where I work in customer service and sometimes as a cashier. Like most
other retail stores, we have credit card machines (called PIN pads at our store) at each of our registers, so that
people can pay with their credit cards as employees are ringing up merchandise. The PIN pad clearly states on the
screen, "Please select card type." Beneath this are two buttons clearly marked "Credit" and "Debit." If you do not
press one of these two buttons first, nothing will happen when you slide your card. The instructions on the PIN
pad seem simple enough to me, but I am constantly amazed at the number of people who just cannot seem to
comprehend the process. What follows is an exchange between a particularly rude customer and me.

The woman walked up to the counter with credit card in hand. I finished ringing up her purchases (she had
already been rude by this time), and she marched up to the credit card machine, stared at the screen for several
moments (mind you, this screen was instructing her to select her card type first) and proceeded to swipe her card.
Several times in a row. Upside down AND backwards.

Me: "Ma'am, will (swipe) you be (swipe) paying with (swipe) credit or debit today?"
Customer: (swiping furiously) "Your machine isn't working."
Me: "Please turn your card around. No, that way, yes, and now--"
Customer: (swipe) "See, it's still not working."
Me: "That's because you have to press the credit button or the debit button first, then swipe your card."
Customer: (swipe)
Me: "Press credit or debit first."
Customer: (swipe)
Me: "Credit or debit?"
Customer: "Oh, well nobody told me that."

So she pressed the debit button and swiped her card. The machine instructed her to key in her PIN number, since
the card was a checkcard being used as debit instead of credit. I noticed that the customer was standing there
looking confusedly at the screen again, so I asked her to key in her PIN number for her debit card.

Customer: "What's a PIN number?"

Me: "Your personal identification number for your checkcard. Usually four digits."
Customer: "I don't have a PIN number."
Me: "Ma'am that is a checkcard, which means it should have a PIN number."
Customer: "Well, then, I don't know it."
Me: "Then I can just run this card through as a credit card, and you won't have to enter a PIN number."
Customer: "Oh, no, no, no! Don't do that! I don't want to pay with credit. I want this to come out of my
checking account."
Me: "It will come out of your checking account. This card isn't like a credit card -- it's the same thing as
using debit, just without the PIN number."
Customer: "I'm not going to let you do that. Then I will have to pay interest."

I decided not to argue and asked her if she had any other card she'd like to use. She said she didn't. I asked her if
she'd like to write a check. No. I asked her if she wanted to use cash, and she said she didn't have any with her.

12 of 13 8/3/2009 10:08 AM
Things People Said: Anecdotes of Stupidity

Customer: "I want to use this card. I don't have a PIN number. Just make something up."
Me: "That won't work."

Luckily, the woman's husband came walking up, wondering what was taking us so long. She explained the
situation to him.

Husband: "Well, you have your PIN number written down in your wallet, where you keep all your credit
Customer: "Oh, I thought that was for my car keys."

I won't even venture a guess as to what she was talking about.

Back to the Things People Said main page.

13 of 13 8/3/2009 10:08 AM