Wednesday, April 29, 2009


As many of my good friends know, I am sometimes hard of hearing. Well, it's more like I'm hard of synthesizing (and sometimes it is also to my advantage to pretend to be hard of hearing... though I did fail the hearing test in high school--that's what you get when you sit in front of the trombone section). I can mostly hear just fine, but what I hear is a bunch of tones and sounds that take a while to come together in my brain as a cohesive sentence or phrase with meaning. That's why I prefer movies with the captions on--I lose about half the dialogue otherwise.

I don't know if any of that is directly relevant to this story, either. Oh well.

I was at Whole Foods the other day and at the checkstand I busted out my re-usable Disneyland tote (I really dislike the word "tote", just in case anyone was wondering) to start loading my groceries in. When the cashier had finished ringing all my items she said--or at least, these are the words I heard-- "Bag, credit, or donate?"

I paused a moment to let the words reassemble themselves in my head, but they made no sense.

"What?" I asked.

"Ten cents off or donate," she said.

I still had no clue what she was talking about. There was a guy waiting in line behind me. I considered saying, "I'm sorry, I don't know what you're asking," but for some reason I didn't. Instead, I echoed her to see if I'd heard right:

"Ten cents off?"

What I really wanted to say was, "What the heck are you talking about?" but she took my echo to mean, "I pick the 'ten cents off' option." With a decisive jab, she pressed a key and brought the transaction to a close.

As I left, it dawned on me that what she probably meant to say was, "Since you brought in your own reusable grocery bag, we would like to offer you the option of either saving ten cents on today's purchase, or donating ten cents to a worthy charity. Which would you prefer?"

Why don't people just speak plain English?


elegyrl said...

Because it's way more fun to be confusing! :)

ol' Bob said...

On the other hand, the checker understood you. Generally I have to repeat things a time or two in order to be understood.

Communication is a rare skill.