Monday, March 03, 2014

Language Troubles Again

Every now and then at work we have Russian customers/tourists. I assume they have their own business there because many of them buy so much stuff (good for my workplace, hey! :-D). However, it can also be challenging to communicate with them, especially if they're the older types because they don't speak any English. Sometimes some of them speak a little Finnish, but sometimes not. 

The other week I had these encounters.

I've finished serving a woman who bought tons of stuff. I remember that she bought 15 big packs of chocolate powder (to make chocolate drink). She started packing her stuff because she wanted to get tax refund, so my other coworker was dealing with that while I stayed behind the till. Once she had finished packing, my coworker asked me if I could refund some money to her. It was as if I had counted the chocolate powder packs wrongly. The customer had packed everything up in many bags except for 10 packs of chocolate powder. 

We tried to communicate in English, but to no avail. My coworker was confused and so was I, because I felt that I had counted them right. Mind you, all the bags were tied up, so it would have been too hard to open all of them up just to count the chocolate powder packs. Yet the customer kept on pointing towards the 10 packs of chocolate powder that she had left on next table. My coworker again asked me if I had counted the chocolate powder packs wrongly, but I said I remembered there were 15 of them and the customer must have put 5 of them in one of the bags.

Then it hit me!!!! She wanted to return the 10 packs of chocolate powder packs because she probably thought 5 would have been enough. So I said to her with big gestures, "So you don't want these 10 packs?" 

Then she replied, "Yes, yesss, don't wanttt..." (pointing to the 10 packs on the table).

HALLELUJAH!!!! Finally we were progressing. My coworker wasn't able to start processing the tax refund if this matter wasn't sorted, so I returned some money to her and then it was all settled. Phew!

Anyway, that same day not long after the above incident, a Russian man came over to my friend who was behind the till. He had a tub of yoghurt in his hand and he asked my friend something in broken English. My friend didn't understand what he wanted, so I decided to follow him.

He pointed to the tub of yoghurt and asked, "Three?"

I thought he wanted to buy three tubs of yoghurt, but there was none left on the shelf, so I told him I'd come with him.

When I reached the spot, I realized that there were still plenty of yoghurt left. Then he asked again, "Three? Banana, vanilla?"

I thought he wanted me to read out loud the different kinds of flavors that was available in English, so I started naming them out loud.

He shook his head and said, "No, no, three...banana, vanilla...Do you have at the back?"

After we did this a few times, I finally realized what he wanted. He wanted three kinds of flavors in each tub of yohgurt, so I told him, " want three flavors for each of them. No, no, unfortunately we don't have it. These are the only options available."

He asked again, "You don't have at the back?" (he meant in the warehouse)

I replied, "No, no. Just these." 

Then the woman who was with him said something in Russian that I assumed meant, "It's OK. Just take some. These are fine, too."

It felt GOOD to finally be able to decipher what he wanted he he he he... 

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