Today was a great example.
I had this rather nice family come into my store. Very pleasant people. Mom was trying to get her two daughters supplied for dance class. She was asking some very detailed and pointed questions with the clear intent to get her kids into the right product for them. Kudos, Mom. Dad was kind off in oblivion, with a Just-Get-This-Over-With stare and comments. The two kids were overloaded with sugar. It's just not fair to have that kind of energy around someone who is still half asleep...
Anyhow, this family was trying on shoes. One daughter would try on the tap shoes, and the other would run around the store like she was at in the running for the Kentucky Derby, (and winning by 3 furlongs...). Then they would trade off. Dad was muttering for them to slow down and behave, but his heart clearly wasn't in it.
Now the problem is where they were before they came to my store. The previous store sold them two light-up jump ropes. All was good till Mom decided to let the girls play with them inside my store!
You see the problem with this?
Suddenly my quaint little shoe store became Gold's Gym for the superjuvenile set. Displays are going flying, people complaining, girls slugging each other with lit up ropes like some sort of sick 80's fetish... It just was not a pretty site.
And Mom is sitting in the aisle wondering why people are going apeshit!
I have three employees that speak Farsi (a Persian language). Farsi supposedly is one of the toughest languages to learn, but that isn't stopping my girls from trying to teach me. So far, I have mastered one word ("Hello"), and I am slowly picking up a couple of others.
I really think the girls are doing this to me so they can make fun of the way I talk. It's giving them quite a laugh.
Now it's really a good thing for me to learn this, since my store has a high percentage of Persian speaking customers. (I am also learning Spanish for the other dominant language in my area, with a bit more success!)
Naturally, if I am involved, something is going to go horribly wrong, with some sort of hideous result. Today, it happened.
I was working alone in the store when two Persian ladies came in. One was about my age, and the other was born sometime about the time the dinosaurs got wiped out (I mean, she was a walking fossil, completely hunched over and barely moving!). I said hello to them as they entered, as per our policy (and just trying to be nice... I know, I know... it's not me). The younger lady said hello in unaccented English. The biddy turned to me and with all her effort, barely squawks out "salam" (IE hello). I turned to her and replied "salam". Her eyes got HUGE (think dinner plates the size of Texas) and just kept craning her neck at me as she walked past.
I think she wet herself.
It was all I could do to not laugh at her response.
The younger lady told me as she left that the biddy was shocked that anyone like me (IE straight white boy) would even try to speak her language. She truly did not know how to react!
Who says old people aren't fun?