1. De-Engineering Stereotypes
(I am an engineer working the tech support line. I should also add that I’m the only female engineer in a department of all male engineers. I answer a support call:)
Me: “Thank you for calling the engineering support line. How can I help you?”
Customer: “I need to talk to an engineer.”
Me: “Sure, what’s your question?”
Customer: “Well, I’d like to tell it to an engineer.”
Me: “No problem, what can I help you with?”
Customer: “No, you don’t understand. I want to speak directly to the engineer.”
Me: “Sir, I’m an engineer.”
Customer: “You are?!”
Me: “Yes.”
Customer: “But… you’re a girl!”
Me: *in a Valley Girl voice* “‘Ohmygosh, I know! Isn’t that amazing?”

2. It Takes One To Cash One
(I am a cashier at a grocery store. The scanner has been acting up all day and not reading many barcodes, forcing me to type in the numbers manually. I’ve heard many, many customers joke that the un-scanned item must be free. I’ve stopped mentioning to the customer when an item doesn’t scan in an effort to reduce the frequency of the joke, but some customers still notice and make the joke anyway. It’s starting to wear on me, but I put on what I think is a polite smile and laugh every time. A customer comes through and has an item that won’t scan. I swipe it a couple times, then start to type the code.)
Customer: “Uh oh, it won’t scan?”
Me: “No, I’ve been having trouble with this scanner all day.”
Customer: “You know what that means, right?”
(He looks at me with a completely straight face. I resign myself for another polite chuckle.)
Customer: “That means that I must get it…”
(He pauses, as if waiting for me to fill in the blank. I smile outwardly and scream internally.)
Me: “…for free?”
Customer: “No. For regular retail price, because technical difficulties don’t entitle me to a discount.”
(I look up at him, shocked. He just stares back with a completely blank face. Suddenly we both burst out laughing.)
Customer: “I used to be a cashier; I know what you’re going through.”
Me: “Thanks! You just made my day.”

3. Trying To Lend Color To The Argument
(A customer comes to the counter with two sheets of black and white images she has printed from her computer.)
Customer: “Can you scan these and get someone to put all the pictures together so they go with the writing I have?”
Me: “Sure we can. Do you have these pages saved digitally?”
Customer: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Do you have them saved on a computer somewhere? Or on a USB drive?”
Customer: “Yeah, on my computer at home.”
Me: “Did you want to save them to a USB drive first and use the digital files? It would be a much better quality.”
Customer: “I don’t know what a USB drive is.”
Me: “It’s just a way of saving files so that you can transfer them to a different computer.”
Customer: “No. Just use my print out.”
Me: “Okay.”
Customer: “But can you scan them in colour?”
Me: “No.”
Customer: “Why not?”
Me: “Because those are black and white.”
Customer: “So?”
Me: “We can’t scan them in colour if there is no colour to scan.”
Customer: “But they were in colour on my computer. So there’s colour in them.”
Me: “Yes, there was colour on your computer, but you printed them in black and white. So when we scan the black and white print out, it’s going to be in black and white.”
Customer: “But I want them in colour! I don’t understand why you can’t just change your scanner to the colour setting.”
Me: “I could change it to the colour setting, but there is no colour on this page to scan. It’s all in greyscale, so it’s only going to scan it in greyscale.”
Customer: “Why?”
Me: “Because a scanner just scans what it sees. It can’t pick up something that isn’t there.”
Customer: “But you have colour scanners!”
Me: “Yes, that is used to scan colour pictures.”
Customer: “I don’t understand why you can’t just scan it in colour!”
Me: “Because it’s not a colour picture.”
Customer: “Yes, it is! It was in colour before I printed it!”

4. Not The Right Mix Of Morals
(My shift consists of myself (biracial) and two other girls: one black, one white. An officer comes in with a colleague in tow and is ranting about something. I walk up to the counter and hear this.)
Officer: “…and then they told me I should consider myself lucky I wasn’t being reported. I’m telling you, all these d*** black people need to go find jobs, and furthermore…” *continues ranting*
(The officer’s colleague is aware that I am biracial, and is desperately trying to get him to look at me and shut up. When the officer finally turns to me, he realizes what has happened and grows very pale.)
Me: *sweetly* “I’m bi-racial, so I have a 50-50 chance of getting whatever you’re here for correct. Or, would you like me to get out a white girl to assist you?”
(The officer all but runs out of the office, leaving the other officer to apologize profusely before following him. Not surprisingly, his termination was announced a few weeks later, and quite a few complaints of racism were listed among the reasons.)

5. Catcher In The Sky
Customer: “How much is this bird?”
Me: “Sir, how did you get the bird out of the cage? The cage was locked.”
Customer: “Oh, I got this one from the birds you have outside by the door.”
Me: “Those aren’t our birds.”
Customer: “What?”
Me: “Sir, you picked up a wild bird. But congratulations, because I can’t imagine it was a simple task.”

6. Mixing In Danger Costs Extra
Customer: “Hi, I’d like vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups mixed in, please.”
Me: “OK, is that all for you?”
Customer: “Yes, and just so you know, I’m allergic to peanuts. Can you make sure it’s nut-free?”
Me: “Uh…you just ordered PEANUT butter cups for your ice cream…
Customer: “I thought you guys could do allergy safe ice cream. The sign says you can make sure my food is allergy safe!”
Me: “Well, yes…but you need to order food without peanuts in it first…”

7. How About A Side Of Hypocrisy
Me: *preparing a gyro wrap for a customer* “Would you like cheese on it?”
Customer: “Oh my God, no! I’m a VEGAN! Don’t you know what they do to cows in those horrible farms? They force them to get pregnant all the time, and then they take away their babies and kill them so we humans can steal their milk! Dairy products are cruelty! ”
Me: “Okay, okay. No cheese. Moving along. What sauces would you like on that?”
Customer: “Tzatziki sauce, please.”
(Note: the particular brand of tzatziki we purchased included both yogurt and sour cream.)
Me: “Ah, I’m afraid that’s a dairy prod–”
Customer: “I DON’T CARE! PUT IT ON!”

8. Cause For Pregnant Pause
(I’m a pharmacist, and one day at work, a young woman comes up to the counter to pick up a script. I notice she is wearing one of those insertable birth control rings around her wrist.)
Me: “Ma’am, you know that’s not how those work, right?”
Customer: “Huh?”
Me: “Your birth control ring. Those are meant to be worn… you know… internally.”
Customer: “Oh, shoot, really? I… I didn’t know that. Excuse me.”
(She walks away and returns with a pregnancy test, clearly worried and very embarrassed.)
Customer: “I guess I’ll be needing this, too.”

9. He Has Beef With The Cheese
Me: “Hi, what can I get for you today?”
Customer: “Yeah, I’d like a cheeseburger with no cheese, and some fries.”
Me: “Okay, so you’d like a hamburger combo with fries. That’ll be $7.4—”
Customer: “No, no, I don’t want a hamburger. I want a cheeseburger with no cheese.”
Me: “So… a hamburger.”
Customer: “NO! I don’t want a hamburger. I want a cheeseburger minus cheese!”
(Note: cheeseburgers, whether I enter in “no cheese” or not, are always a dollar more than hamburgers.)
Me: “So, you want to pay a dollar extra for a cheeseburger, but you want no cheese?”
Customer: “YES! Is that so hard?”
Me: “No, sir. So, a cheeseburger with no cheese, and fries. Your total is $8.54.”
Customer: *satisfied, hands me a $10* “Much better!”

10. With Thought, Care And Testosterone
Female Conference Attendee: “Where’s the cook? This food is amazing, and I want to give my regards to the cook.”
Me: “That’s great to hear – if you wait a moment, I’ll get him out of the back.”
(I return with the cook.)
Me: “This is ****, and he is our head cook.”
Attendee: *looking behind the head cook* “No, seriously – where’s the cook? I need to talk with her.”
Cook: “Ma’am, I am the cook. How can I help you?”
Attendee: *looking askance* “You are NOT the cook. You cannot BE the cook. The food here is so wonderful, so full of love – it MUST be cooked by a woman.”
Cook: “All right, you caught us. The real cook has her day off today. We’ll thank her when she gets back tomorrow.”
Attendee: “Yes, you will.” *muttering as she walks away* “Men who cook…sheesh.”

More info: Not Always Right