Language Barrier

The only person who can really talk to a woman is another woman. I have the perfect example.

Recently, I started working at a large national department store in the parts and service department for appliances and lawn and garden equipment. It is honestly a great job, with great pay, and I am quickly learning my way around. As far as the parts go, I am far from novice, nevermind expert.

Yesterday afternoon, a nice woman comes in and says to my manager, R, “I need some parts for my fridge, and my stove.” No problem because, well, that’s what we do here. She begins to describe the part she needs for her refrigerator.

“It’s a…. thing. You know, the thing that goes on the door?”

She starts making various hand gestures, and my boss is standing there, looking at this lady like she has 3 heads. The woman is becoming slightly frustrated, mostly with herself for not being able to communicate what she needs.

“I KNOW you sell this part. It goes IN the fridge!”

At this point, I overhear her and R speaking, so I ask her, “is it the thingy that goes on the door? Not the shelf but the… the… the thingy. To hold your stuff onto the shelf?”

“YES! Exactly, I need that thingy!”

R quickly looks over at me and says “YOU knew what the heck she was talking about?”

“Sure do,” I reply, as I swiftly head over to the computer to look up her part number and get the information for her. Seconds later, I tell her the part number, and that although we don’t have it in stock, we can order it and have it shipped directly to her.

“Great! I also need the… the… the curly thingy on top of my stove.” she says.

R thinks he’s got this one and shouts “Knobs! We have knobs!”

Whomp, whomp, whomp.

“No, not the knobs. I KNOW what a knob is! It’s the… curly thing, that you cook with! The cooking curly thingy!”

Cue more exaggerated hand movements, including an odd swirly one.

“Huh?” R, asks, clearly lost.

Now, I know exactly what she’s talking about. She needs the range coil for her electric stove. I get the model number of her stove (which, most men don’t even come in with!) and repeat the process of getting her the part. Done. Within a few minutes, I’ve made the sale, got her information and am having both parts shipped to her. She leaves with a big old smiling face, albeit her wallet is a good $80 lighter. A few moments later she comes back in and says, “I just wanted to tell you guys that my husband laughed at me when I said I was going to get these parts today… by myself… without calling him once. He said that you’d never be able to understand what the hell I was talking about. Thanks for giving me the chance to rub it in his face!” I smile and tell her the pleasure was mine. “Oh”, she continues, “he also went to another place twice, and couldn’t figure out what parts he needed!”

So, with a big grin plastered on her face, she went back to her car. I stood there, feeling good about myself because I handled the entire transaction without calling for R’s help. When I look over to R, he’s standing there, looking like his brain just exploded. All he could utter was “door thingy? CURLY cooking thingy?”

He just doesn’t speak “woman”.


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April 2011
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