Bilingual Cashier’s Customer Is Talking Smack About Her, Not Realizing She Speaks Mandarin Chinese

This story has been making the rounds in emails and on social media, and we don’t know if it’s true or not, but it illustrates a perfect point. In the U.S., most people don’t speak a second language unless they grew up in a bilingual home. We’re fairly geographically isolated and the world’s business language at this time is English. So we’re typically not motivated to learn other languages. However, some of us are bilingual and it can be interesting when the people around us aren’t aware of that fact. I studied Spanish in school and married into a Spanish-speaking family, so my Spanish is decent. It’s given me a lot of insight into the things people say when they think you can’t understand them. In the story below, I almost feel sorry for the rude lady. Almost. Enjoy this instant karma.

So I’m a white Caucasian female, but I am fluent in Mandarin Chinese and English. Now, looking at me, you wouldn’t know I can speak Mandarin, which is why I find it absolutely hysterical to mess with people. Especially when they come through my line at work speaking Chinese, and I understand every word they’re saying. My coworkers find it especially hysterical.

Okay, so the other day this Chinese couple came through my line, and I asked them (in English) all of the usual questions about bags and if they had their rewards cards, all of that fun stuff.

Anyway, I started ringing up their stuff, and the wife said to her husband, “Tell her not to bruise the bananas,” in Chinese and I didn’t say anything. Then the wife said, “Tell the stupid girl to go faster,” in Mandarin. I smiled at her and pretended like I had no idea what she was saying.

She kept commenting on how my hair was like a boy’s (I have short hair, it’s honestly not even that short) and how her grandfather would have gone faster than I was going, all of this in Chinese.

And then she said, “Make sure she doesn’t forget the water,” in Chinese.

I replied in English, “I won’t forget the water.”

And I watched with enjoyment as a look of sheer terror spread across her face, as she realized I understood everything she had said before. She just stood there with her mouth open and her husband said (in Chinese), “This is why you shouldn’t trash talk employees while they’re standing right in front of you!”

I replied (in English), “He’s right, you know.”

They paid, then the husband apologized and left. After they walked out the door, my manager and coworker and I were laughing so hard.

Even though being a cashier sucks, it sometimes makes my day a little brighter when something like that happens.

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