I had to bust out the first Scolding of Righteousness of the year yesterday.
If you’ve never been to Romania before, I have to explain a certain concept that drives the mentality concerning consumer goods. Whenever you buy anything electronic here, expensive or not, Romanians universally insist on:
- Having the ability to plug in the device/object somewhere and test it out and see if it works.
- Some kind of contract that functions as a warranty – known in Romanian as the garantie (the guarantee).
When you’re buying an expensive washing machine or computer, it makes perfect sense to test out the unit and get some paperwork to make sure you can get your money back (or another unit) if it turns out to be defective.
The problem in Romania is that even if something (electronic) costs 5 lei, they insist on the same procedure, including the flipping garantie.
Now if a customer wants to go over to the special little desk and fill out a bunch of paperwork so they can get the garantie to safeguard their 5 lei purchase, then all power to them. Unfortunately, some stores are absolute nazis about the garantie – you not only can fill out the paperwork but you absolutely must.
Quite frankly I avoid stores with this policy but when I absolutely “have to” fill out the paperwork, I just put some random Romanian name as it’s the quickest route to getting out of the damn store in under 20 minutes.
Yesterday however I set down my purchase near the register and the surly clerk (who looked to be about 21 years old) scanned it without saying a word. Then what happened is this:
|Me||Nume? Chiar asa vorbiti cu clientii?||Name? That’s really how you talk to customers?|
|Me||Nume? Ce-i aia? O intrebare sau o afirmatie?||Name? What is that? A question or a statement?|
|Clerk||E pentru garantie, blah, blah, blah||It’s for the warranty, blah, blah|
|Me||Stiu. Dar nu vorbiti asa cu oameni. O intrebare ar fi “Care este numele dumnevoastra?” O afirmatie de nume nu e nimic.||I know. But don’t talk like that to people. A question would be “What is your name, sir?” The statement of saying “name” is nothing.|
|Clerk||E obligatoriu sa pun nume pentru garantie, blah, blah!||It’s mandatory to get your name for the warranty, blah, blah!|
|Me||Mersi frumos. Stiu foarte bine. Dar nu-e voie sa vorbeasca asa cu oameni. Nu mai suntem in vremea securitistilor si nici nu sunteti dumnevoastra un ofiter politist. Acum vorbim frumos in tara asta.||Thank you kindly. I know that very well. But there is no need to speak like that to people. We’re not in the days of the secret police anymore and you’re not a police officer. Now we speak nicely in this country.|
|Clerk||E obligatoriu! E obligatoriu pentru garantie!||It’s mandatory! It’s mandatory for the warranty!|
|(pauza scurta)||(brief pause)|
|Me||(zambiind) Nici n-o vreau si nici n-am nevoie de ea.||(smiling) I neither want it nor need it.||шах и мат :D|
|Clerk||E obligatoriu!||It’s mandatory.|
|Me||Garantie e problema dumnevoastra. Am venit cu bani gheata. Facem treaba sau nu?||The warranty is your problem. I came with cash in hand. Are we doing business or not?|
|Clerk||Bine! O sa pun numele Gheorghe!||Fine! I’m putting the name “George” down!|
|Me||(fara sa zambeasca) Asta mi-e ciuda pentru ca numele meu este Bogdan.||(with a straight face) That’s weird, because my name is Bogdan.|
|(Angajatul arunca bonul jos cu forta. Eu zambesc frumos si zic, “La revedere”)||(Clerk angrily throws down the receipt. I smile sweetly and say “Goodbye”)|
Clearly that guy got angry as hell. I think I scared the bejeebers out of him when I went from smiling, sweet customer to suddenly busting out the SOR.
The hilarious part was his supervisor was standing right next to him the whole time, totally unwilling to intervene.
AND NOW YOU KNOW!