I was in a major German department store the other day with a friend who was shopping for a bathing suit. I had some time to kill during the try-on phase, so I dithered about.
In my ditherings I noticed a wad of scrap paper in my pockets, so I dumped it into a nearby garbage can.
Clerk: That’s not a garbage can.
Me: But it looks like a garbage can.
Clerk: But it’s not a garbage can.
Me: It sure looks like a garbage can.
Clerk: (getting testy) But it’s NOT a garbage can.
Me: So where’s the garbage can?
Clerk: Right here.
Me: (noticing cushioned lid) It looks like a stool.
Clerk: It’s not a stool.
Me: (smiling) It sure looks like a stool.
Clerk: (not smiling.) Under the lid is where you put the garbage.
Note to major German department store: For the past 150 years since their invention by itinerant farm labourer Elmer Schmedlapp in Akron Ohio, USA, large cylindrical thingies made of galvanised steel have been considered by most of the civilised world to be
Boeing jets garbage cans. Store productivity level would skyrocket if your clerks spent more time stocking shelves and less time telling customers the garbage cans aren’t garbage cans. Or they might simply take longer coffee breaks. Beats me.
All for now,
PS: I was going to submit this to Overheard in the Office, but since it happened to me directly, that would be cheating. That site, like its sister site Overheard in New York, are recent re-discoveries and have become daily summer brain candy.
PPS: For a sample discussion in English about Germans and stores, click here.