Verstehen (mysticblossom) wrote in bad_service,

From Italy!

Hi all.  First time poster here.

This was a minor, yet rather grumble-worthy suck that happened to me while I was on a school trip to Italy.  There were some language barriers involved, but it doesn't make me feel much better about it.

So one day, my group goes for lunch in this cute panini shop.  I get to the front of the line, and choose my ingredients.  When the man building my sandwich hears I want zucchini and mushrooms, he looks extremely perplexed, as if I've asked for anchovies and peanut butter.  So me, being a worrywart, asks if there's actually something wrong with that, like if from his experience it tastes horrible, but he just sighs impatiently and says, in English, "I don't know."  (we didn't have much trouble communicating)

So, not too bad.  But the next day we were in the same part of town, so we went back to the same shop.  One of the guys in my group told me he got a panini with an omelet, mushrooms, and mozzarella the day before, and that sounded really yummy, so I decided I was going to order that.  I get to the front of the line again, and the same guy is waiting to take my order.  I order the ingredients I want in Italian, since they're not that difficult (the only one that sounds different is mushroom, which is funghi).  He puts the mozzarella and mushrooms on, but not the omelet, and puts the panini in the oven.  For a few seconds, I think he's still going to put the omelet on, and when I realize he isn't, I try to explain I wanted the omelet, thinking maybe he didn't hear me.

He holds up one of the omelet and makes a motion to ask, "This?"  And I confirm, yes, that's what I wanted.  He says something I can't really understand, so I'm trying to convey my message, and basically, he manages to get out that they somehow can't do that.  So I assume that he means they physically can't make a sandwich that way, even though my friend had it done that way the day before, which makes me try to make sure that really can't be done, since it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  It didn't occur to me at the time that he meant the omelet couldn't be put on now that the sandwich was in the oven, but I said what I wanted (and pointed to the ingredients) the first time.  He then proceeds to say something really fast in Italian in a rather mocking tone, while holding the omelet up, and laughing and looking right at me.  I don't want to think he was making fun of me, but I really got that impression.

So I pay for my food and sit down, and as I'm eating, my friend sits down at another table, so I go over to him and asked what he got.  He says, "Same as the day before, omelet, mushroom, and mozzarella."

At this point, I don't really know what to say, and I know that somewhere, me and the guy got our wires crossed, but I'm still pretty peeved, because I must have said "omelet" like 20 times by the end of the transaction.  I really think I said it clearly the first time, too.  I know when you go to another country you have to work with the language differences, but I knew enough Italian to order in Italian, so I don't know what happened there.

The rest of Italy was wonderful though.  And the sandwich wasn't bad, it just didn't have the omelet on it, like I wanted.  So, like I said, not terrible.

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