We want to have Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Can you make us a reservation?
October 8, 2013 8:22 PM   Subscribe


 
GUEST (from Sweden): We want to attend a black mass.
CONCIERGE: A black mass?
GUEST: Yes. A black mass.
CONCIERGE: St. Patrick’s?
GUEST: No, no. A BLACK mass.
CONCIERGE: (in his head) For Satan?
CONCIERGE: (aloud) I’m not familiar with that.
GUEST: A church for black people!
CONCIERGE: A Gospel service?
GUEST: Ok.


That one got me.
posted by axiom at 9:02 PM on October 8, 2013 [41 favorites]


I live at the Grand Canyon, and many years ago my girlfriend tended bar at a lodge here. In between serving drinks, she acted as a de facto concierge. Questions she received:

- What time do the lights in the canyon come on?
- When is the laser show?
- Where are the presidents carved?
- At what altitude do deer turn into elk?

She worked that job for a month. I've heard the same stories from other people. These are common questions.

One story that I've heard several times since moving here is about an angry call that was placed to the front desk at an upscale lodge. Someone was playing the grand piano and it was keeping a guest awake. It was maybe 9 pm. A worker was dispatched to hush the pianist, but the pianist was Paul McCartney. The front desk called the guest back and explained that they were too busy to leave their post. They politely suggested that the pianist would be receptive to a personal shushing from the offended party.
posted by compartment at 9:03 PM on October 8, 2013 [74 favorites]


I am laughing so fucking hard at the horrible child who called long distance for a zillion dollars. SO FUCKING HARD.

ha ha you suckers with your bad babies
posted by elizardbits at 9:05 PM on October 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


I laughed; but customer-service horror stories like that leave me very depressed about humanity.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:15 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Loved it. Thank you!
posted by jaguar at 9:21 PM on October 8, 2013


I wish I could start to hate SLtumblrs but they keep being awesome.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kind of hope this turns into the thread where we all tell tourist stories, because I worked at Seattle Center, the Seattle waterfront, and Pike Place Market, and let me tell you, I can spin those stories allll day. Now where do I catch the ferry to Mount Rainier? And what time does it rain?
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


GUEST: (points left) We go right?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Donkey Donalds. America runs on it.
posted by Anitanola at 9:27 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


- At what altitude do deer turn into elk?

For some reason that's just the best question ever.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


Huh. Some people staying at hotels in Times Square don't speak fluent, accentless English. Who knew?
posted by gingerest at 9:33 PM on October 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


CONCIERGE: How do you spell that?
GUEST: H, as in… Halliburton?


Probably not my first choice when coming up with an H-word, but I'll give points for unexpectedness.
posted by edeezy at 9:45 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


At what altitude do deer turn into elk?

Depends how high you are.
posted by mannequito at 9:47 PM on October 8, 2013 [47 favorites]


Honestly all this one needed was the subtitle. Once you read "hotel concierges in Times Square", you can pretty much infer the entire contents of the tumblr.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:47 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Donkey Donalds is my new porn star name. I called it first!
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 10:02 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


GUEST ON PHONE: Hi there. We’ll be staying at your hotel in about 5 months and we’re interested in going to Carmine’s. Can you overnight Fed-Ex us a menu?

You laugh, by my mother did something not unlike this just a couple weeks ago. It wasn't overnighting a restaurant menu, but it did involve FedExing a paper copy of something that could have been handled digitally in about five minutes.

My mother is every boneheaded tourist, basically.
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


ME (behind the bar, in front of giant sign that says "We Have Chicken Wings"): What can I get for you?

BAR PATRON: Yeah. Um. You got motherfuckin' chicken wings?

Repeat a million times.
posted by The World Famous at 10:04 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's nice to know that while I've been physically thrown out of and life-time barred* from hotels, I've never acted like these people *I mostly just vomited on things and then cried*

*that hotel in San Fransisco no longer exists so I win.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh wait there was that time in Philadelphia over Thanksgiving when pretty much the entire serving staff was hungover and or lit and a big cloth centerpiece CAUGHT FIRE and no one noticed for a GOOD LONG TIME cause the dining room was literally just me and like a couple on business totally confused on why the city would be shut down and I was was all whatever, give me your pumpkin pie snacks. Anyway it was a huge flame and then they put it down and then YAY desserts.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [44 favorites]


Best comment ever.
posted by The World Famous at 10:12 PM on October 8, 2013


This tumblr mentions crab rangoons and now I'm sad because I want crab rangoons and I'm in East LA and I don't even know if they have crab rangoons on the west coast or what
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can you give me a list of modeling agencies? I want to take my daughter while we’re in town.

Honestly, these seem like pretty crappy concierges to me.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:21 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I will buy you drinks at the next LA meetup if you pick up the phone right now, call the concierge at the Beverly Hilton, and ask them to tell you where to get good crab rangoons in or near East LA.
posted by The World Famous at 10:22 PM on October 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


(And report your findings, obviously.)
posted by The World Famous at 10:25 PM on October 8, 2013


CONCIERGE: How do you spell that?
GUEST: H, as in… Halliburton?

Probably not my first choice when coming up with an H-word, but I'll give points for unexpectedness.
posted by edeezy at 12:45 AM on October 9 [+] [!]


I once had an adorable old lady spell out her name for me, and it included "p as in panda", "s as in sandwich", and "t t as in teeter totter".
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


Grubhub has, surprsingly, only two places that will deliver crab rangoons to me at my office in santa monica.

I'm kind of disappointed that neither is open.
posted by flaterik at 10:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And what time does it rain?

This one works some places, though. There's parts of Central America where it's like "Three in the afternoon until a little after sunset, every day from now until December."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:31 PM on October 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


The World Famous, it's amazing that you mentioned the Beverly Hilton, because apparently crab rangoons were invented at the Trader Vic's in the Beverly Hilton. And they might still be served there?

Now I am filled with equal parts wanting to call and ask for crab rangoons at 10pm and knowing that it would be WRONG to do so.
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


And what time does it rain?

This one works some places, though. There's parts of Central America where it's like "Three in the afternoon until a little after sunset, every day from now until December."
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:31 PM on October 8 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


This works in Miami and other similar tropical places, I suppose
posted by Bwithh at 10:32 PM on October 8, 2013


The Goblin King can give you crab rangoons

you just have to let him rule you.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have open in another tab the menu for Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton. But I'm not going to tell you whether Crab Rangoons are on the menu. BECAUSE I'M NOT THE BLOODY CONCIERGE.

But I might buy you a drink at the next meetup anyway. Because I'm nice.
posted by The World Famous at 10:34 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Call now. Crab rangoons are standing by.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:34 PM on October 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Is there ever actually crab in a crab rangoon or is that just a legend?
posted by Bwithh at 10:35 PM on October 8, 2013


OMG meetup at Trader Vic's at the Beverly Hilton for drinks and (maybe/maybe not) crab rangoons.
posted by The World Famous at 10:35 PM on October 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


This needs to happen and soon.
posted by carsonb at 10:36 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the Beverly Hills Hilton Trader Vic's has crab rangoons, ask do they have crab in them? Or is it like lemonade in England?
posted by Bwithh at 10:37 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


So many of these seem to be saying, “Can you believe these out-of-towners don’t know basic things about our city?!”, and I feel like saying, “That’s the fundamental premise behind your job. If out-of-towners could do the basic things in a new city, there would not be a need for your job”.

It’s like when I hear profs complain about how students don’t possess some of the rudimentary skills required for the workforce and life after college. I can’t help but think, “Dude, you know that that’s why you teach students, right? If they knew all of that stuff already, they wouldn’t need college”.
posted by surenoproblem at 10:37 PM on October 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that vomiting on things is worse than asking stupid questions.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:38 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Come to think of it, being a grad student teaching assistant is kinda like being a concierge for undergrads. But for grade point averages, not crab rangoon mysteries
posted by Bwithh at 10:39 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Or is it like lemonade in England?

Dare I ask?

(Maybe I should call the concierge of whatever five star hotel in London.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:41 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is no actual crab in the lemonade in England.
posted by The World Famous at 10:43 PM on October 8, 2013 [48 favorites]


In all seriousness, as someone who has been in and out of customer service jobs, I get blogs like this.

The point isn't to point and laugh at the morons who don't know anything. It's to share crazy stories, and to laugh because if you didn't laugh you'd cry.

Besides, come on. Is Pier 83 on the water? Ummmmmm what planet would a person be from and not know that all piers are universally on the water? (I mean aside from Night Vale.)

That said, one of the things about New York that I think is hardest for people from outside the Northeast to grasp is that stuff in New York largely is what it says on the tin. Piers are actually literal piers, not shopping centers/restaurants/nightclubs just called "Pier 17" because it sounds cool. Around the corner means literally turn one corner and maybe one other corner, and then you're there. Tiffany's is a real place that is specifically a jewelry store and does not serve food.

I've always assumed that 99% of (American) tourists in New York are confused by the fact that they're neither in Vegas nor Disney World.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 PM on October 8, 2013 [37 favorites]




One time, when I was volunteering at the US Holocaust Museum, a tourist came to the info desk, pointed to the elevators to the main exhibit, and asked, "Is that where you gas people?"
posted by orrnyereg at 10:51 PM on October 8, 2013 [31 favorites]


Oh man I can totally believe that there is some poor person who has dreamed their whole life about eating breakfast at Tiffany's like they do in That One Classy Movie, all the while blissfully oblivious to the fact that there is no such movie where anyone does any such thing.

And I want to be that person's friend so I can break it to them gently and give them a big hug and then laugh our asses off about it ten years later when they finally stop being embarrassed.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:57 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Some poor person?

There are MANY.

They are legion, the People Who Do Not Understand Metaphors.
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 PM on October 8, 2013


Somebody in New York really ought to open a breakfast-only restaurant called Tiffany's. How the hell is this not a thing? It's probably the fault of the stupid lawyers.
posted by The World Famous at 11:00 PM on October 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


It's just so completely antithetical to what anyone in New York would do.

Well, no, not exactly.

They would have to call it Famous Original Tiffany's.
posted by Sara C. at 11:02 PM on October 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that vomiting on things is worse than asking stupid question


Really, no matter how many pillows you put through the people's own skin and hair dryer cleaner, you should let the law of scalability hit and realize they can just place that mattress and you should just go.
posted by The Whelk at 11:04 PM on October 8, 2013


This was actually quite good, and not really hateful. Mainly the stuff is just absurd, which is nice. Hopefully not a lot of "we want a nice place... none of... that type, you know what I mean?"
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:04 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, Vegas-ey theme restaurants are pretty seriously not a thing in New York. There are a few, but they are mostly megacorporations spreading clones of chain theme restaurants like Bubba Gump's Shrimp Factory.

The only truly "Blah: The Experience" theme restaurant I can think of was Mars: 2112, where the conceit was that you were having dinner on a Martian colony in the future. But it eventually closed, and even in that scenario you have to have a theme restaurant that is extremely different from life in New York. A theme restaurant dedicated to old school/cinematic New York wouldn't really fly in New York. People just wouldn't go, and I doubt tourism would be enough to sustain it for more than a year or so.

That said, I am very surprised this hasn't been done at the Vegas resort take on NYC.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 PM on October 8, 2013


cause when I said I ruined a hotel room, I am talking about down to the foundations. there is a reason that is not a hotel on that current property
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


What, did you like create an Indian Burial Ground underneath it or something?
posted by Sara C. at 11:07 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


THAT IS WHAT WE ARE SAYING IF HELPS THE LOT GET SOLD.
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I work in a restaurant that gets a lot of tourist business. A question I get asked all the time is "What animal is corned beef made from?"

I also once had to explain to a vegetarian customer that even if she ordered her chicken soup without the chunks of chicken, it would still not be vegetarian.

There is something about traveling that makes some people's brains just shrivel up and die.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:09 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Corned cows?
posted by The World Famous at 11:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


People who are worried about corned beef are usually more worried about the beef part of it, not the corned bit.
posted by The Whelk at 11:12 PM on October 8, 2013


No, this is the best one:

CONCIERGE: I’m sorry, but that restaurant is fully committed for the night.
GUEST: Can you call back and say you’re the concierge of a better hotel?

posted by Harald74 at 11:48 PM on October 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


Somebody in New York really ought to open a breakfast-only restaurant called Tiffany's. How the hell is this not a thing? It's probably the fault of the stupid lawyers.

We have a "Breakfast at Tiffanys" in San Francisco, so that we can have breakfast at Breakfast at Tiffanys.
posted by Hicksu at 11:51 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ummmmmm what planet would a person be from and not know that all piers are universally on the water?

What about SPACE PIERS, HUH???

Case dismissed.
posted by The Deej at 11:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The World Famous: "ME (behind the bar, in front of giant sign that says "We Have Chicken Wings"): What can I get for you?

BAR PATRON: Yeah. Um. You got motherfuckin' chicken wings?

Repeat a million times.
"

"For you, we have a special offer. No. No wings. Just for you."
posted by Samizdata at 11:55 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The World Famous: "Best comment ever."

For a over-hyped 12 year old girl...
posted by Samizdata at 11:56 PM on October 8, 2013


Very funny stuff. Reminds me of Overheard in New York and Overhead in the office.
posted by zardoz at 12:02 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes a Pier is not a pier. Just sayin'.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:03 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh crap. I was that person until I read this thread. Can I have my hug now please?
posted by lollusc at 12:05 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't go to burger chains very often but the last time I went to Burger King they weren't serving burgers. Take that, chicken wing dude.
posted by biffa at 12:06 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


LeMonade In The British Isles =Lemon Soda In The Us.
Lemon Squash Is What Brits/Irish Call Usaian lemonade.

I Haven't Been There, But Golden China In S Pasadena Has Crab Rangoon On The Menu.
posted by brujita at 12:37 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jeez.

I resign to stop tapping on the building front door to wake up the concierge when I come home late.

I mean, I see him sleeping In the lobby, but I'll just relax on the doorstep until he wakes up I guess.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:48 AM on October 9, 2013


Of course you can have breakfast at Tiffany's, just like in the movie. Here's what you do:

(1) Put your hair in an upsweep and throw on a Givenchy sheath. Go out to a place like the 21 club with a bunch of swells.

(2) Stay out all night with said swells, but make sure to keep the upsweep, the Givenchy, and yourself looking absolutely flawless at all times.

(3) Take a cab to Tiffany's a little after dawn. The place will be closed. Buy some sort of a pastry from a street vendor. If you have some sort of small, unobtrusive music player that you can deploy, you may wish to play a light, airy Henry Mancini tune right about now. Please note that earphones of any kind are not allowed.

(4) Eat the pastry while looking in the window. If your reflection in the window is anything other than smooth, radiant, and camera-ready, you have done it wrong. You are eating an invalid breakfast, and you might as well go home.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [48 favorites]


Storing up emotions and letting them out later is part of the job for most of us, but people in customer service jobs definitely have more pressure on them in this regard. They get better stories and have no chance to let off steam when on constant public view. In the case of the concierge they can't even have a laugh with a guest even if that guest is totally OK with it as it would be unprofessional. A lot of emotional pressure builds up. Usually letting this out involves lots of alcohol and little sleep.
posted by asok at 2:20 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's totally appropriate for hotel service people to anonymously blow off steam like this. Plus, it's hilarious. Right now I'm travelling through small town Germany and I am so, so grateful to all the hotel staff who put up with my horrible German or even better speak some English and help me out. I like to think my questions aren't quite so inane, but I sure am clueless. If they get some joy laughing at my cluelessness later, well good for them. (Also hotel guests are often monsters.)
posted by Nelson at 2:35 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


At what altitude do deer turn into elk?

In these here parts, stranger, they turn into moose. It's the longitudes, they say.
posted by Segundus at 2:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


The toddler long-distance call one is great, because the parent has the exact same reaction I can imagine myself having. Just "oh christ".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:09 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a theater projectionist, I once had some idiot complain when a power outage stopped my projectors: I swear to you, the woman couldn't see why no electricity mattered --- "I don't see why that would make a difference, the lights were already off!"
posted by easily confused at 3:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


That one with the crying assistant calling from Singapore isn't funny. Her livelihood/continued employment depends on things like making sure a car is available for her boss happens seamlessly and without issue. If she can't confirm that "Yes, sir, a car will be waiting." when asked, she very likely will find herself unemployed. As I read that one, all I could think was "This is a person in deep fear for her job."
posted by Thorzdad at 4:19 AM on October 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


GUEST: But that’s not the address! What address is it?
CONCIERGE: 65 E. 54th St.
GUEST: WHAT? The address is 65 E. 54th? That doesn’t even make sense.


This story is amazing. I can't even begin to explain the guest's behavior, without invoking some sort of cognitive disability, or without contemplating the possibility that this person has literally never heard an address before in their life.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:20 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw this elsewhere and sent it to a friend who works in travel. He was elated.

In gratitude, another story from a different customer-service field - his girlfriend once worked at New York's Drama Bookshop, which gets its own questions from often-puzzled theater folk. Such as the guy who came in one day, seeking a copy of the play 'Tis a Pity She's A Whore - he apparently walked up to the counter and asked, "Do you have Shame She A Ho?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:32 AM on October 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


For more along this line, I recently read an amusing book entitled "Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and so-called Hospitality" by Jacob Tomsky, much of which takes place at a hotel in New York.
posted by Fnarf at 4:32 AM on October 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


"What animal is corned beef made from?"

Cornish hen nuggets.



That one with the crying assistant calling from Singapore isn't funny.

Especially not funny because it was the concierge who screwed up the transaction. Is he bragging that he made her weep uncontrollably, or just what is the point of sharing that story?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:32 AM on October 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


I was going to recommend the same book, Fnarf. It's seems like there are a lot of books who try to capture the Kitchen Confidential lightning in a bottle for their particular industry, but he did a fine job. The bit about Brian Wilson was the show stopper.
posted by dr_dank at 4:39 AM on October 9, 2013


I have never seen a Pier 1 Imports anywhere near the water, so it's a valid question.

Cave tour guides get a lot of dumb questions, too. "How many undiscovered caves are there?" "What percentage of the cave is underground?" "How long is the unexplored section?" (in San Antonio) "Does it really connect to Carlesbad Caverns?"
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:40 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This story is amazing. I can't even begin to explain the guest's behavior, without invoking some sort of cognitive disability, or without contemplating the possibility that this person has literally never heard an address before in their life.

"65 E 54th" is unlike any address in England. It sounds more like eastings and northings.
posted by Thing at 4:52 AM on October 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


My favorite was:

GUEST: We hear everything in America is shut down.
CONCIERGE: No, sir, just federal government facilities, like the Statue of liberty.
GUEST: What about, ehhh. Duane Reade?

Just because if you know enough to know New York = Duane Reade, uh....
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:56 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just called the Beverly Hilton. I was told the concierge wouldn't be in for 'like, another few hours.'

Which makes sense because it's 5 am in LA.

I'll try again later.
posted by bilabial at 4:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm mostly glad that I can't afford to stay at hotels that have concierges.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:06 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"65 E 54th" is unlike any address in England. It sounds more like eastings and northings

There was a time in Austin (sadly past) when you could instruct someone to "Drive north on South First, then turn east on West First."
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:13 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


GUEST: We hear everything in America is shut down.
CONCIERGE: No, sir, just federal government facilities, like the Statue of liberty.
GUEST: What about, ehhh. Duane Reade?



All Duane Reeds are open all the time, except for the one you happen to be closest to when you need something.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am laughing so fucking hard at the horrible child who called long distance for a zillion dollars. SO FUCKING HARD.

Heh. My toddler cost tens of thousands in NICU bills, and totaled a brand new laptop with water. That kid's an amateur.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:31 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


"65 E 54th" is unlike any address in England. It sounds more like eastings and northings.

Right, but even if the address style is unfamiliar to the guest, it is crystal clear from (the admittedly biased reporting of) the conversation that this is, indeed, an address. Why else would the concierge provide that? There's no sane reason to doubt 65 East 54th St. is a perfectly valid NYC address. The guest was also given the cross streets. Aside from marking a map, there is literally no other reasonable way to identify this building's location.

If the concierge had wanted to be the most eminently understandable human being on the planet, then they could have even further clarified by saying that 65 is the house number, and that East 54th is the street. But, I don't know that this guest would have even understood that.

I mean, I know that this is a Tumblr of stupid guest stories, but this one is especially bizarre. With most of the other stories, I can at least understand why the guests are frustrated, even when they're wrong.

For example, even though it's just funny foolishness, I can understand the guy who had wanted to take his kid to Niagara Falls and Cooperstown. Upstate New York is both large and relatively obscure*, so he wasn't aware those places are actually several hours away. Since this person (or his kid) had had their heart set on these places, he didn't think about where else to take his kid. He might also be prejudiced against the idea of his kid having a good time in a Big City, as opposed to seeing famous outdoor landmarks, because he thinks that the NYC is just a concrete jungle with some boring museums in it. That person is laughably wrong on a number of levels, and he should have been more prepared, but I can at least throw down a rescue ladder of empathy.




*Doubly so if you're not from North America. New York State is larger than England. Most of it is rural and forested. However, there's no real reason to know or care about this unless you're from around here, because NYC is the only part of NY with overseas significance. That said, this person wanted to see Cooperstown, which means that he's probably not from overseas.

Sidenote: my hometown in Upstate New York has a sister town in Germany. We had exchange students. The incoming German exchange students would be warned in advance that they'd be in the country part of New York, and not the city part. There would be a lot of, "ha ha, you New Yorkers think you have a forest because you have some trees, you don't know what a real forest looks like". Well, then they would show up, and be like, "...oh." Because, yeah, no, we really do have real forests. We weren't kidding about that. We have about as much forest as Germany, except in half the area.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:38 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


I once had an adorable old lady spell out her name for me, and it included "p as in panda", "s as in sandwich", and "t t as in teeter totter".

A friend works with a Russian woman (who's lived in the UK for 20 years) who insists on spelling out her name with "G for Gnome"...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:39 AM on October 9, 2013 [20 favorites]


Seriously though, Vegas-ey theme restaurants are pretty seriously not a thing in New York.

Did you miss the part where they mentioned Carmine's?
posted by escabeche at 5:39 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, we learned the hard way with our infant son that the first order of business was disconnecting the hotel room telephone. (And then we had to learn that some rooms also have a phone in the bathroom.)
posted by whuppy at 5:41 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like the one where the concierge drips contempt all over some bigwig's assistant, who is no doubt freaking out about getting fired because her boss doesn't care WHY his car reservation hasn't been confirmed, only THAT his car reservation hasn't been confirmed, and it's her ass if it's not, and then the concierge is annoyed at her for bugging him when the reason she's bugging him is that he apparently does not know how to use e-mail and saved the reservation to drafts instead of sending it to her. Oh, no, wait, actually, I didn't like that one!
posted by escabeche at 5:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


>I once had an adorable old lady spell out her name for me, and it included "p as in panda", "s as in sandwich", and "t t as in teeter totter".

A friend works with a Russian woman (who's lived in the UK for 20 years) who insists on spelling out her name with "G for Gnome"...


I recently tried to spell my name over the phone with 's for Sam', which resulted in the person I was speaking to continuing to think my name had an 'f' in it, but also contained 's-a-m' somewhere. I was telling my mother this (as I had come up with the 'X for Y's based on what she used when I was a kid) and she said "Why do you think I changed my name when I got divorced?"
posted by hoyland at 5:45 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm glad this has derailed into crab rangoons because I am deeply, deeply suspicious of any internet site that uses the phrase 'entirely true stories...'
posted by MtDewd at 5:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guernsey Halleck: "Donkey Donalds is my new porn star name. I called it first!"

Very well. I shall be known as Peter Rawhide.
posted by exogenous at 6:02 AM on October 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


These are wonderful and remind me (in a happy way) of when I worked at Whole Foods and had to answer damn fool questions from customers*, the kinds of questions that make you wonder how these people manage to dress themselves in the morning. Ah, the simple joy of bonding with other people in customer-facing employment!

* Like the one from the guy who asked me where the Granny Smith apples were and I showed him but he didn't believe me because the sign said "Coconuts."
posted by rtha at 6:07 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the one where the concierge drips contempt all over some bigwig's assistant, who is no doubt freaking out about getting fired because her boss doesn't care WHY his car reservation hasn't been confirmed, only THAT his car reservation hasn't been confirmed, and it's her ass if it's not, and then the concierge is annoyed at her for bugging him when the reason she's bugging him is that he apparently does not know how to use e-mail and saved the reservation to drafts instead of sending it to her. Oh, no, wait, actually, I didn't like that one!


Yeah, on this and other blogs like the customer is always right, there are a certain percentage of stories where I end up feeling a lot more sorry for the customer than the smug all knowing concierge. Some of these stories the customers sound like loons, but in some theres a lack of empathy. The service provider assumes that those they are providing service to will have the same knowledge that they have. We all have to go to a hotel for the first time at some point in our lives.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:10 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


This story is amazing. I can't even begin to explain the guest's behavior, without invoking some sort of cognitive disability, or without contemplating the possibility that this person has literally never heard an address before in their life.

I bet he's from a place where all the streets are words, not numbers. The "54" probably threw him off, because his mind is telling him the 54 is a street number, not a name.
posted by zardoz at 6:12 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


rtha: "the guy who asked me where the Granny Smith apples were and I showed him but he didn't believe me because the sign said "Coconuts.""

More importantly, could you identify a portabello mushroom?
posted by exogenous at 6:12 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


GUEST: We want to have Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Can you make us a reservation?
CONCIERGE: They don’t actually serve breakfast.
(Guest rolls eyes)
GUEST: Well, brunch then


Yeah, thats awesome.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I researched having breakfast at Tiffany's at one point, because I remember being disappointed it wasn't a real thing. I would be all over that!

"Here's your $30 pancakes, and here's your 4 carat princess-cut diamond ring to wear while you eat them."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:19 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I bet he's from a place where all the streets are words, not numbers. The "54" probably threw him off, because his mind is telling him the 54 is a street number, not a name.

Yeah. Numbered streets sound very weird if you come from somewhere that doesn't have them. Plus, for most of that exchange, the concierge doesn't refer to it as 54th street - it's "54th between Madison and Park", "65 E. 54th", "54th between Park and Madison". If numbered streets are new to you, and the idea of giving an address as between cross-streets is also new to you, then all that is going to sound very weird.

Of course, all of that raises the question of how the guest got to the hotel in the first place...
posted by Catseye at 6:22 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't read all of them yet, but the one where the dad says to the toddler "speak English!!!" I've totally done to my daughter. She knows how to talk with words so we can understand her, but sometimes she'll just babble and make up sounds. It's quite frustrating, sometimes, so I'll say something like "use words", but I can kind of understand how someone would say that and not have it be lol 'Murrica.
posted by zorrine at 6:25 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Of course, all of that raises the question of how the guest got to the hotel in the first place...

*to taxi driver* [Name of hotel], please.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:26 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, I found a short list of more Drama Bookshop requests!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recently tried to spell my name over the phone with 's for Sam', which resulted in the person I was speaking to continuing to think my name had an 'f' in it, but also contained 's-a-m' somewhere.

I think I've told it before, but my then 86-year-old granny was on the phone, trying to spell her name for someone who just couldn't get it, and after a couple stabs at "No, V as in Victor," she lost her temper and yelled "V! as in Vagina!" They understood that right away.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:27 AM on October 9, 2013 [31 favorites]


When I worked in the service industry, one of the most common questions I got from customers or just tourists wandering by was "Hey, where's Bourbon Street?"

I worked on Bourbon Street.

It is not a subtle, easy-to-miss place.

By the way, that's my former place of employment on the far right there. And that picture depicts a pretty normal Friday or Saturday night.
posted by Scientist at 6:29 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Two (sadly) common questions I get on game drives (safaris):

When do the springbok lay their eggs?
Is it okay if I throw rocks at that rhino to get a better photo?
posted by mrfuga0 at 6:35 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


All right, EmpressCallipygos, I've got to lay down my favorite: OTHELLO THE KING by Socrates.
posted by Jeanne at 6:44 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A friend works with a Russian woman (who's lived in the UK for 20 years) who insists on spelling out her name with "G for Gnome"...

"The P is silent, like in swimming."

(I am at least the fourth generation of my family to use this joke, and none of us have ever actually had a P in our name.)
posted by Etrigan at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Things people actually said to me when I was a waiter:

"Your chef forgot to cook this carpaccio. It's completely raw!"

(after I asked a man how he was enjoying the ravioli he'd ordered)
"I don't like ravioli."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:50 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]



CONCIERGE: How do you spell that?
GUEST: H, as in… Halliburton?

Probably not my first choice when coming up with an H-word, but I'll give points for unexpectedness.


I worked in an art-house cinema 25 years ago and one weekend we were showing the Danish movie Babbette's Feast. Someone called to ask what was playing and my coworker answered; I heard only his side of the conversation, but it was a Bob-Newhart-level masterpiece of one-sided telephony: "Babbette's Feast at 7:00... no, BABBETTE'S Feast... No, ma'am, BABBETTE... BABBETTE... B-A-.... no, 'B!' It starts with a 'B'... 'B' as in, er, 'B' as in 'Babbette.'"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:08 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


A friend used to sell the audio tours at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and offered this story:

Customer: Where's the zero gravity room?
Friend: We don't have one.
Customer: Are you sure?
Friend: Yeah. That's actually impossible on Earth.
Customer: I was told you have a zero gravity room.
Friend: The person who told you that was lying to you.
Customer: Are you sure?
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:09 AM on October 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh man I can totally believe that there is some poor person who has dreamed their whole life about eating breakfast at Tiffany's like they do in That One Classy Movie

Yes, I think I remember that film.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:16 AM on October 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


GUEST: We wanna do 2 things today: Eiffel Tower, and 9/11.

I once entertained the nice lady at the front of the Art Institute of Chicago by asking her where the Seagram's Building was. She was nice enough to give me the correct address and append New York City to it, just so I wouldn't look completely foolish. Like maybe I was asking to settle a bet or something, instead of being completely on the wrong end of the continent. My girlfriend at the time thought this was hilarious and was not so gracious to me about the misunderstanding.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


My husband used to work at a touristy place in the Great Smoky Mountains.

phone rings, greetings exchanged
Caller: "I hear you've had some big storms there. I have a reservation next weekend and wanted to know if there will be smoke in the Smoky Mountains or if it's all blown away."
pause
Mr. Ant: "We're working hard to restore smoke to pre-storm levels and expect to be back to normal late this week, in time for your visit."
Caller: "Thank you."
posted by workerant at 7:23 AM on October 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


I once was trying to clarify a part number to a company I wanted a quote from.

J as in John
A as in apple
I as in Uhhh.... I.

Salesman: sorry what was that last one?

Ummmm. I as in... Shit. I?

Salesman: Sorry one more time.

Ummm.

Cubicle mate: Irene! Fuck!

Irene. I as in Irene.
posted by Quack at 7:26 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


What animal is corned beef made from?

Buffalo. The parts they don't use for wings.
posted by Segundus at 7:27 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have definitely DEFINITELY asked some stupid questions of valets before, particularly outside of America. When you travel for even a short while your brain dies and you become an idiot. It's ok to make fun of us. I love this blog.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


The point isn't to point and laugh at the morons who don't know anything.

Yeah, that's...your approach to it, I guess.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:30 AM on October 9, 2013


Also this Doctors one is definitely drug dealers right?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:33 AM on October 9, 2013


Either that or a robbery-murder you can order in.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I once entertained the nice lady at the front of the Art Institute of Chicago by asking her where the Seagram's Building was. She was nice enough to give me the correct address and append New York City to it, just so I wouldn't look completely foolish. Like maybe I was asking to settle a bet or something, instead of being completely on the wrong end of the continent.

I've told the story before about the couple who stopped me on a street in New York's Lower East Side and asked me for directions to Cannery Row. I was too dumbfounded to respond, and they took my silence for ignorance, sneered at how un-hip I was and walked away.

Odds are they either wandered around totally lost for a good long while, or met someone who was quicker to tell them they were idiots in a way that only a New Yorker can, so I'm comfortable with that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seems a bit obnoxious, given that concierges in tourist-class hotels are about as value-added these days as toll-collectors since EzPass came in. In my experience they can't make any recommendations or get you any reservations or tickets that you can't get better, faster, and cheaper on your smartphone, and that's neglecting the cases where they are incentivized to steer you in a particular direction.

Concierges at 5-star hotels, though -- still miracle workers. I worked with a guy who, when he needed something that was absolutely un-gettable through ordinary channels, would have someone take a room in the St. Regis or Four Seasons solely to access the concierge's magic.
posted by MattD at 7:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Re doctors, hotels in New York definitely have go-to house-call doctors. You can't just pick up the phone and find a doctor and a (US) uninsured foreigner showing up a hospital emergency room in Manhattan could easily face an ordeal of hours and thousands of dollars to get a simple scrip replaced.
posted by MattD at 7:51 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm old enough that I remember fancy department stores having restaurants, or at least lunch counters. I've never been to Tiffany's and, having never seen the movie, it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine the store having a small cafe. I think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to think, given that the name of the movie implies, you know, EATING BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, as opposed to munching something on the sidewalk OUTSIDE OF TIFFANY'S. But, given that the movie was supposed to be awesome and wasn't, I guess the misleading title sort of fits.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:59 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Bergdorf's still has a restaurant and does a nice afternoon tea.
posted by elizardbits at 8:01 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Odds are they either wandered around totally lost for a good long while, or met someone who was quicker to tell them they were idiots in a way that only a New Yorker can, so I'm comfortable with that.

It would be super hilarious if there was a nearby bar called Cannery Row, though.
posted by elizardbits at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2013


It would be super hilarious if there was a nearby bar called Cannery Row, though.

Nope. And they definitely were talking about a neighborhood ("You haven't heard of Cannery Row? This whole post-industrial district with shops and bars and things?").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:04 AM on October 9, 2013


There is something about traveling that makes some people's brains just shrivel up and die.

I did one of these once.

My high school band took a field trip to the Worlds Fair and we were all supposed to meet at what was literally the world's largest flagpole at four o'clock to get on the bus home. I got on the monorail going the wrong way or something and got totally lost and disoriented and at 3:58pm my panic at the thought of being left behind in Vancouver finally overcame my crippling fear of talking to strangers so I ran to a fair employee and asked "Please! Help me! Where is the giant flagpole?!" and without missing a beat he pointed and said sarcastically "Well, do you see that giant flag over there?"

YES I STILL HAVE A CRIPPLING FEAR OF TALKING TO STRANGERS WHY DO YOU ASK
posted by ook at 8:06 AM on October 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


GUEST: We wanna do 2 things today: Eiffel Tower, and 9/11.

I wish somebody had called that second one in :(
posted by codswallop at 8:07 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


The husband is an exec with a high end limousine service in L.A. Once in a while he'll come home with a great story, but overall, I get the impression that people who come to L.A. on business are just assholes.

I think people coming to L.A. think that being an asshole will make them seem like they belong here. I'm not sure what makes them think that except that they've watched too many movies. Being an asshole doesn't actually make one impressive, it really just makes one an asshole.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:14 AM on October 9, 2013


I recall an overheard telephone conversation at a temp job:

Office worker: H for hotel. E for echo. L for lima.
Person on phone: Alpha lima?
Office worker: No, L for lima.
Person on phone: Alpha lima?
Office worker: L. For "LIMA".
Person on phone: ......Alpha lima?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:14 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]




Oh crap. I was that person until I read this thread. Can I have my hug now please?

Oh, totally. And be sure to schedule some gentle self-deprecating laughter for like ten years from now.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:16 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite story along these lines comes from my days working the information desk in a bookstore.

CUSTOMER: Excuse me. Where would I find books by Holden Caulfield?
ME: Books by Holden Caulfield?
CUSTOMER: Yes. I'm always seeing him quoted by other writers and I want to read something he wrote.
ME: Actually, Holden Caulfield is the main character in Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. He gets quoted a lot.
CUSTOMER: Well, there's also an author named Holden Caulfield. He gets quoted all the time.
ME: Well, he does, but he's just a character. Have you read Catcher in the Rye?
CUSTOMER: Of course!
ME: I think all you're seeing are quotations from that book. People quoting Salinger.
CUSTOMER: No, I'm pretty sure they're quoting Holden Caulfield. So you're saying you don't have any of his books.
ME: Let me check Books in Print. [Type type type.] Nope, there's nothing even available by an author with that name.
CUSTOMER: [Sighs.] I'll have to find it somewhere else. [Turning and walking away.]
ME: [Yelling.] Good luck!
posted by Mothlight at 8:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


The point isn't to point and laugh at the morons who don't know anything.

Srsly, like the one about the guy who mispronounces "Koch"--it's not like this guy and these guys even pronounce it the same, so how would you know?
posted by psoas at 8:18 AM on October 9, 2013


Seriously though, Vegas-ey theme restaurants are pretty seriously not a thing in New York. There are a few, but they are mostly megacorporations spreading clones of chain theme restaurants like Bubba Gump's Shrimp Factory.

When I lived in New York a friend came to visit and dragged me to the Jekyll and Hyde Club. It was not one of the better dining experiences in my life.

Oh hey. Top ten Gothic and eccentric theme restaurants in New York.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:20 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I worked in an outdoor living history museum for three summers. Said museum had a working farm and horse-drawn carriages moving through the village all day. So I was dumbfounded when a guest asked "Now is that doo-doo in the streets real or do y'all just put it there?"

After three years of museum work I had grown so accustomed to weird questions that I took it in stride. "Oh that's all real" I said before my brain rebelled.

Wait what?? Can you not see the horses sans diaper??? Can I go back and trick you into picking it up?? You're a 40 year-old woman who calls it doo-doo?? Is this a prank?!

Deal with enough people and you encounter strange corners of human curiosity.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:22 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hotels in Times Square need to make this video mandatory watching.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:28 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am fine with people thinking they can have breakfast at Tiffany's because they don't know any better. I actually think it's neat in ways I can't quite put my finger on.

The fact that I've been singing that song (not "Moon River") all day is less forgivable.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I seriously think some flavor of standardized phonetic alphabet should be taught in grade school. I use NATO all the time at work, and it's a wonder of good communication when I can just say Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and be understood, rather than having to go through that asinine "W as in Whiskey, T as in Tango, F as in Foxtrot" rigmarole. Or worse, come up with words on the fly, which are practically always the stupidest words possible. "L as in Log."

That said, "G for Gnome" is genius. I also like "M as in Mnemonic."
posted by asperity at 8:31 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to sit next to a Japanese lady who was fluent in Spanish, and once overheard her saying to someone (in Spanish) "C as in 'gato'..." and I was all "HEY I KNOW WHAT JUST HAPPENED!!"
posted by ersatzkat at 8:32 AM on October 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Such as the guy who came in one day, seeking a copy of the play 'Tis a Pity She's A Whore - he apparently walked up to the counter and asked, "Do you have Shame She A Ho?"

I worked at Blockbuster twenty years ago, and we had our fair share of the standard "The movie starring that guy who is in the other movie" questions, but I will forever remember the request for the movie "Monkeys in the Dust." No, they didn't know what it was about, or who was in it, all they "knew" was that it had been in theaters earlier that year and it was funny and full of monkeys!

It took a full ten minutes of serious head-scratching, question-and-answer, lateral-thinking struggles involving the whole front staff and the wannabe-movie-renter to get from "It's a funny new movie called Monkeys in the Dust" to "it's a biopic of Dian Fossey from six years ago called Gorillas in the Mist."

And, of course, we only stocked two copies, and they were both checked out.
posted by tzikeh at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I recently tried to spell my name over the phone with 's for Sam', which resulted in the person I was speaking to continuing to think my name had an 'f' in it, but also contained 's-a-m' somewhere.

I use the NATO phonetic alphabet all the time for giving my name or email address over the phone. As a result, when I make a dinner reservation I sound like I'm calling in an artillery fire mission.
posted by atrazine at 8:34 AM on October 9, 2013 [24 favorites]


When I lived in New York a friend came to visit and dragged me to the Jekyll and Hyde Club. It was not one of the better dining experiences in my life.

When I was a teenager, I went on an ill-advised date with a friend of a friend. While speaking with her, I asked where she wanted to go and she said "the last time I went on a date I went to Mars 2112" and I was just like "nope, how about the movies?"

Needless to say, that date went poorly and also I got a ticket for sleeping on a subway bench so the whole day was something of a wash.
posted by griphus at 8:35 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Do you have Shame She A Ho?"

This needs to exist. An urban American take on the original.
posted by dnash at 8:38 AM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I use the NATO phonetic alphabet all the time for giving my name or email address over the phone. As a result, when I make a dinner reservation I sound like I'm calling in an artillery fire mission.

I recently spelled out my name for a USAA representative:
"Etrigan, that's E as in Edward, T as in Thomas, R as in, um, Raymond, I as in... Irving, G as in George, A as in Andrew, N as in Nancy."
She immediately said, "Okay, that's 'Etrigan,' Echo Tango Romeo India Golf Alpha November."
"I kinda forgot who I was dealing with there, didn't I."
"We learn it in training, sir."
posted by Etrigan at 8:39 AM on October 9, 2013 [37 favorites]


I don't think anyone even uses the word "victor" anymore except for Michigan football fans and people whose last name has a V in it. As a kid I learned how to recite the phrase "Veeyazin Vick Turr" as a magical incantation to get people to spell shit right and it definitely took me a while before I had any idea that it consisted of words.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:39 AM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


R as in, um, Raymond

I'm seriously considering learning the NATO phonetic alphabet just because every single fucking time I have to do this at work I get stuck on "K". At least for "u" I have "umbrella" now but it's always "K as in, uh, er, uh... K."

Also HSBC phone support has their reps learn it as I found out.
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not going to link to it, but there's an Ask Mefi question from someone who wanted to take a helicopter tour of DC.
posted by evoque at 8:42 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I work with someone named Victor, he probably uses it pretty often.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"It's a funny new movie called Monkeys in the Dust" to "it's a biopic of Dian Fossey from six years ago called Gorillas in the Mist."

Well sure that's the first one, but the whole series is great. You've gotta watch Snow falling on Lemurs sometime.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I was once very impressed with myself when someone spelled my name correctly on paper, then confirmed it with me saying "G I L L" instead of "J I L L" and I correctly guessed that his first language (which used our alphabet) was French.

It's really hard to use a phonetic alphabet when the two people have different first languages.

(I now wish I had a V somewhere in my name.)
posted by jeather at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Me: "...T as in... Tea."

Crap.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think a concierge at a decent hotel should be able to set up an actual Breakfast at Tiffany's if that's your request. It will probably take time and money, but, hell, with enough advanced warning, I can take you to see an actual human scalp that was actually scalped off an actual human in Omaha.

I mean, they shut down stores all the time so that rich people can shop at them. Tiffany's is already closed at breakfast. All you need is one manager who is willing to come in early and a buttload of money to make it worthwhile. That seems like the sort of thing any halfway competent concierge can set up with a few phone calls.

If the money isn't there, however, as mentioned above, there is always the pastry outside the window thing.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:51 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's really hard to use a phonetic alphabet when the two people have different first languages.

That's the entire point of having a standardized one: "The final choice of code words for the letters of the alphabet and for the digits was made after hundreds of thousands of comprehension tests involving 31 nationalities."
posted by asperity at 8:53 AM on October 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I was just thinking that if there isn't somebody selling picnic baskets for breakfasts near Tiffany's, there is an untapped market just not getting served by small business entrepreneurs. (THANKS OBAMA)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:53 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Having to do the "LETTER as in WORD" thing is hilariously awkward in a second language, oh my god. It's not so much finding a word that starts with the letter you want to use, it's remembering what the name of the letter is in another language. I remember being on the phone with a very patient lady in Barcelona saying with increasing hysteria "JAY AS IN JUANITO" and she would reply "JHOTA?" and I was like "JAY JAY JAY" and eventually she just could not stop laughing. Also I am pretty sure I heard her bang her head against the desk repeatedly.
posted by elizardbits at 8:54 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"G as in gnome."

Personal favorites... "C as in 'czar.' T as in 'tsar.'" Or when double letters come... "P as in 'Phillip.' P as in 'psychiatrist.'"

Usually I do themes, like all animals or all flowers.
posted by carmicha at 8:54 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


...pneumatic, ptarmigan, pfaltzgraff....
posted by Chrysostom at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2013


"It's Etrigan. That's E as in Etrigan, T as in Trigan, R as in Rigan, I as in Igan, G as in Gan, A as in An, N as in Not-helping."
posted by Etrigan at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


Comedian Jonathan Katz used to have a really irritating habit of spelling out his name like this>

That's Jonathan: J as in Jonathan, O as in Onathan, N as in Nathan, A as is Athan, T as in Than ...
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


My favorite Paris story:

I'm walking through le Marais sometime around mid-morning, having spent close to a month in Paris conducting research. Apparently, I'm walking in a way that makes it appear that I am a) familiar with Paris and its environs, and b) Anglophone, because an obviously American tourist (shorts, fanny packs, cameras, American sports logos) couple approaches me and asks me if I speak English. I reply that I do, and they ask me if I know where the Bastille is.

"Place de la Bastille is just over there," I tell them, gesturing to the east, "but the Bastille itself was knocked down in 1789."

"Oh." one of them replies disappointedly, "Well, do you know where the opera house is?"

"Which one? There are several- one of them is in Place de la Bastille, just over there."

"Is that the old one?"

"No, that one was built in the '80s. You're probably thinking of the Palais Garnier- that's over in the 9th."

"Is that the one with the tunnels underneath?"

"This is Paris. Everything has tunnels underneath."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whoah. Timing.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


CONCIERGE: How do you spell that?
GUEST: H, as in… Halliburton?


This explains 80% of the other posts listed.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Not going to edit to reflect that I will fully accept that I stole that from Jonathan Katz.)
posted by Etrigan at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Results of my attempt to find the best crab rangoons in East LA.

"I'm sorry, the what?"
I repeat my query.
"I've never been asked that question. Yo know, East LA is 45 minutes from here. I can go on the internet and research and call you back."

AND THEN he wanted to know what name my reservation was under.

Il be dying of shame over here. But also laughing.

Really huge belly laughs. Apparently Internet instigated prank calling is good for the soul.
posted by bilabial at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Normally I go with the NATO phonetic alphabet but sometimes that's tough because not everyone is used to it and knows those words; for example, "R as in Romeo" doesn't necessarily have meaning for a lot of people because it's not a common word.

That said, from now on I plan to say "G as in GWAR".

I am so very, VERY glad that has become a thing. It makes me so happy.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:59 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the Yellowstone National Park employee version of this is

Guest: "Where do they put the animals at night?"
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I am stressed a non-stop stream of obscenity as at the forefront of my conscious mind and I have to restrain myself from using the most offensive words I can find for phonetic spelling.

"Frederick. F as in fu...dge. R as in rect...angle. E as in egg. D as in di...vine."
posted by griphus at 9:04 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was confirming a tracking number with FedEx the other day when the representative went "S as in Sam, G as in Grrr". That one really threw me.
posted by Runes at 9:05 AM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm the only one who keeps a cheatsheet of the NATO phonetic alphabet by his desk.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:12 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think what's hilarious about the Breakfast at Tiffany's story isn't that the people don't know it isn't a restaurant. It's that they want to have a special experience in honor of a movie they clearly have not seen. That's tourists in a nutshell right there.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:13 AM on October 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


They're probably just really big Deep Blue Something fans.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's the entire point of having a standardized one

All I can say is that when I speak to francophones here, they all use common French first names and not Alpha Bravo Charlie.
posted by jeather at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2013


DirtyOldTown: "I think what's hilarious about the Breakfast at Tiffany's story isn't that the people don't know it isn't a restaurant. It's that they want to have a special experience in honor of a movie they clearly have not seen. That's tourists in a nutshell right there."

entropicamericana: "They're probably just really big Deep Blue Something fans."

They think they remember the film. As they recall, they both kind of liked it. So that's one thing they've got.

(Yes, I know this is, at least, the second occurrence of this joke in the thread. That song cannot be stopped once it gets going.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:20 AM on October 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Runes: "I was confirming a tracking number with FedEx the other day when the representative went "S as in Sam, G as in Grrr". That one really threw me."

If LiarTown USA had audio bits, then insane phonetic spellings like this would totally be one of their repeating segments.

compartment: "- At what altitude do deer turn into elk?"

I want to live in the delightfully wacky world that this person inhabits. I imagine that the borders of their understanding of the universe are consumed entirely in a heaving orgy of implausibility.
posted by invitapriore at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


All I can say is that when I speak to francophones here, they all use common French first names and not Alpha Bravo Charlie.

Same with anglophones. That's why I think we should all learn something standardized -- I do not limit this suggestion to English speakers. Speakers of all languages should have the opportunity not to sound like an idiot saying whatever the local equivalent of "S as in Sam" is!
posted by asperity at 9:25 AM on October 9, 2013


Okay, but even the "standard" word for Q has different pronunciations based on where you live... and the pronunciation for U is listed two different ways. So much for standardization.

Even better, the image on the previously linked wiki page lists the number 4 as a two syllable word. (Fow-er? Really? I live in the south, and even -I- know that's a one syllable word right there)
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:35 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


There Was AN Event Celebrating Either The Movie Or Capote Held At Tiffanys A Few Years ago.

My Middle Name Starts With S; I Say S Like Snake.
posted by brujita at 9:35 AM on October 9, 2013


I'm old enough that I remember fancy department stores having restaurants, or at least lunch counters. I've never been to Tiffany's and, having never seen the movie, it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine the store having a small cafe.

I'll cop to it: I actually thought this was the case for years. I've never seen the movie or read the book, and I don't know when I realized that there is no lunch counter at Tiffany's, and that the book/movie title is not literal - I was probably about 18 or 19, I'd guess. And I'm from New York.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:36 AM on October 9, 2013


I guess I'm the only one who keeps a cheatsheet of the NATO phonetic alphabet by his desk.

Nope, back when I had a desk at a university it was always on it. Super handy for all the phone conversations involving oddly-spelled student names. People would always ask if I was military... until they met the big, sloppy, long-haired, bearded artist behind the voice. I can still remember most of it, and the combination of my radio voice plus NATO phonetics occasionally impresses bank tellers, insurance agents and other phone people I will never meet in person.

Fow-er? Really? I live in the south, and even -I- know that's a one syllable word right there

Actually that's to keep it from being confused with Two. By drawing it out and not just saying Fō, it makes it clearer to the listener over what may be a noisy connection.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:39 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I use the NATO phonetic alphabet all the time for giving my name or email address over the phone.

I've been continually surprised by how this confuses people sometimes. I've started telling people "Okay, I'm on a noisy cell phone, so I'll give that to you in a phonetic alphabet. Bravo alpha tango tango..." and they just say "Your name is Bravoalphatangotango?" and I weep.

Not USAA though. The last time I used USAA for a car loan, I read them the car's VIN with the phonetic alphabet and they repeated it back to me with the fives and nines corrected to fifes and niners.

It's easy enough to just remember, folks!

Alpha
Bravo
Charlie
Delta
Echo
Foxtrot
Golf
Hotel
India
Juliet
Kilo
Lima
Mike
November
Oscar
Papa
Quebec
Romeo
Sierra
Tango
Uniform
Victor
Whiskey
X-ray
Yankee
Zulu
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


My last name is Wiseman, which for some reason lots of people have trouble spelling, but instead of going the phonetic alphabet route I take a short cut and say "Wiseman, like *wise* *man*" and it usually works. Except for the person who was like "ok, Y-S...?"
posted by jjwiseman at 9:45 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use the NATO phonetic alphabet often as a pilot and despite some slight variations in pronunciation (like which syllable to accent in PAPA), it works quite well. The whole point of it is to be understood by different nationalities.
posted by exogenous at 9:46 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Many years ago I made out with the guy who made this.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Now I wish Dollhouse had run another season or two, so we could have learned about the poor dolls named Hotel and Uniform.
posted by bibliowench at 9:51 AM on October 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


I will admit I've used "T as in a drink with jam and bread" but you have to be willing to sing it.
posted by RobotHero at 9:52 AM on October 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


- At what altitude do deer turn into elk?

I don't remember exactly, but I know it's a few thousand meters below the so-called yak layer interface.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:56 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Okay, but even the "standard" word for Q has different pronunciations based on where you live... and the pronunciation for U is listed two different ways. So much for standardization.

They're English words, but they're not necessarily pronounced as such. Regardless of how you're pronouncing uniform, you're not likely to confuse it for another word representing another letter, and that's the goal here.

There are valid complaints about the specifics of the NATO alphabet (too anglocentric, too militaristic), but as far as I know it's better tested and more widely used than any alternative intended for international use.
posted by asperity at 9:58 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


YAK LAYER INTERFACE? I BARELY KNOW 'ER!
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Are these even real concierges? I ask because the one time I listened to the LA tourism marketing board and took a table at a concierge event in order to plug our bus tours, every person who took a flier admitted, when pressed, that they were a concierge's roommate who was there for the free crab rangoons.

It's cute they won't take kickbacks for referring sketchy doctors and call girls, though.
posted by Scram at 10:14 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(3) Take a cab to Tiffany's a little after dawn. The place will be closed. Buy some sort of a pastry from a street vendor. If you have some sort of small, unobtrusive music player that you can deploy, you may wish to play a light, airy Henry Mancini tune right about now. Please note that earphones of any kind are not allowed.


I'm surprised this isn't happening all the time already, in a provokes-local-ordinance kind of way.
posted by Bwithh at 10:16 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


You guys, this is the best thread.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:20 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are these even real concierges?

Does it matter? Most people can't tell the difference between real concierges and imitation concierges anyway, and imitation concierges are a lot less expensive and have a smaller carbon footprint.
posted by The World Famous at 10:25 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I HAVE NO TIME FOR THE THEATER
posted by lazaruslong at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I memorized the NATO phonetic alphabet because my super-WASPy family used to rent a house on Nantucket for a couple of months every summer and the placemats had the signal flags and names on them so I'd just stare at them during breakfast for years.

Yes, I recognize that this is ridiculous even for New England.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:31 AM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


You guys, this is the best thread.

It gets even better when you accidentally skim "concierges" as "octopuses" like I just did.
posted by Etrigan at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was taking a private White House tour when I noticed that the paintings hanging outside the Oval Office were landscapes by George Catlin. I am familiar with George Catlin's work, but in portraiture, not as a landscape painter.

So I turned to the Senior White House Official I was with and said, "hey, are these real?" before realizing that it is highly unlikely that the White House decorates using Art.com and that I wasn't going to turn around and see "Le Chat Noir" hanging in the Roosevelt Room.
posted by hmo at 10:52 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


"It's that they want to have a special experience in honor of a movie they clearly have not seen. That's tourists in a nutshell right there."

Yup, and to prove that booksellers are consumed by anger and bitterness, I work in a bookshop in Notting Hill. It is not the bookshop in the film, it does not resemble the shop from the film (except that it is also a bookshop), the shop from the film was an empty storefront that the filmmakers took over on a different street, it is not even the shop that the shop in the film was based on. And yet every day I have to answer the question: "Is this the famous library?"
posted by featherboa at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The truth is concierges only tell you what not to do. At any decent hotel you can distinguish yourself from the unworldly rabble by asking to see the procierge.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:04 AM on October 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


According to Google Maps there's a Starbucks in Trump Tower, next door to Tiffany & Co. in Manhattan. So I guess that's about the closest you can get.
posted by dnash at 11:32 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I worked at a Museum of Anthropology, someone called the reception asked whether we had lots of different kinds of bugs... or just ants.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:34 AM on October 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Radio hams have to learn the standard phonetic alphabet - noisy radio links with furriners, y'know. But I'll never understand why so many of my fellow amateurs then use country names - Germany Six America France Turkey - when half the bloody time you're talking about countries anyway and G prefix stands for Great Britain, not Germany. Mad as a badger in a bikini, the lot of 'em.

But there are plenty of alternative phonetic alphabets. I particularly like the cockney one - A for 'orses, B for mutton, C for miles, D fer kate, E for brick, F for lump, G for get it, H for consent. I for novello, J for oranges, K for restaurant, L for leather, M for cream, N for lope, O for the wings of a dove, P for relief, Q for the loos, R for mo, S for you, you can feck off, T for gums, U for me, V for Espana, W for a tenner, X for breakfast, Y for mistress, Z for wind.
posted by Devonian at 11:34 AM on October 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


My last name is both very simple (to me) and yet horrifyingly difficult to spell (judging by the variations I get on it) and so I very, very patiently spell it with the phonetic alphabet each time. Unless I'm mad because I'm dealing with someone who is moronically obtuse, then I spit the letters at them like machine gun fire. And if they ask me to do it again, I do it again just as fast. and I feel great pleasure as they struggle.

i am not a very nice person.
posted by KathrynT at 11:38 AM on October 9, 2013


Etrigan: "It gets even better when you accidentally skim "concierges" as "octopuses" like I just did."

So, what is the correct plural of "concierge"?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:40 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are these even real concierges?

Yes.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:43 AM on October 9, 2013


Concipodes
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:48 AM on October 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: "I am fine with people thinking they can have breakfast at Tiffany's because they don't know any better. I actually think it's neat in ways I can't quite put my finger on.

The fact that I've been singing that song (not "Moon River") all day is less forgivable.
"

It's kind of sweet and innocent. Rare nowadays.
posted by Samizdata at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2013


griphus: "R as in, um, Raymond

I'm seriously considering learning the NATO phonetic alphabet just because every single fucking time I have to do this at work I get stuck on "K". At least for "u" I have "umbrella" now but it's always "K as in, uh, er, uh... K."

Also HSBC phone support has their reps learn it as I found out.
"

Do it. 'S not hard and ever so handy.

And K is Kilo. R is Romeo.
posted by Samizdata at 11:51 AM on October 9, 2013


That one with the crying assistant calling from Singapore isn't funny. Her livelihood/continued employment depends on things like making sure a car is available for her boss happens seamlessly and without issue. If she can't confirm that "Yes, sir, a car will be waiting." when asked, she very likely will find herself unemployed. As I read that one, all I could think was "This is a person in deep fear for her job."

Especially not funny because it was the concierge who screwed up the transaction. Is he bragging that he made her weep uncontrollably, or just what is the point of sharing that story?

I think the point was that he was actually calling himself an asshole there. At least that’s what the title says.
posted by bongo_x at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


MCMikeNamara: "DirtyOldTown: "I think what's hilarious about the Breakfast at Tiffany's story isn't that the people don't know it isn't a restaurant. It's that they want to have a special experience in honor of a movie they clearly have not seen. That's tourists in a nutshell right there."

entropicamericana: "They're probably just really big Deep Blue Something fans."

They think they remember the film. As they recall, they both kind of liked it. So that's one thing they've got.

(Yes, I know this is, at least, the second occurrence of this joke in the thread. That song cannot be stopped once it gets going.)
"

Yes. The joke CAN be stopped. I know where all of you live.
posted by Samizdata at 11:59 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


But I hate when things are over when so much is left undone.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:07 PM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Concipodes

But make sure to pronounce it like "con-CHIP-puh-deez" or you'll have a half-dozen pissed off former Classics majors snipping at each other in your living room until four in the morning.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:10 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dammit, MCMikeNamara, I was going to post that when the thread was about to close.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:40 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite:

GUEST: Ehh, Kings of Leon?
CONCIERGE: I’m not sure that they’re performing here anytime soon, let me take a look.
GUEST: (as I’m typing) Ehh, what?
CONCIERGE: I’m sorry, they aren’t in town for a while.
GUEST: No? But you have ehh sign!
(he points to a poster for “The Lion King”)
GUEST: Kings of Leon!!!!!
posted by littlesq at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: "But I hate when things are over when so much is left undone."

THAT'S IT BUCKO! BETTER MAKE SURE ALL YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS ARE LOCKED!

Wow. These all caps posts are kinda fun!

THE PATH OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAN IS BESET ON ALL SIDES BY THE INEQUITIES OF THE SELFISH AND THE TYRANNY OF EVIL MEN. BLESSED IS HE WHO, IN THE NAME OF CHARITY AND GOOD WILL, SHEPHERDS THE WEAK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF DARKNESS, FOR HE IS TRULY HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER AND THE FINDER OF LOST CHILDREN. AND I WILL STRIKE DOWN UPON THEE WITH GREAT VENGEANCE AND FURIOUS ANGER THOSE WHO ATTEMPT TO POISON AND DESTROY MY BROTHERS. AND YOU WILL KNOW MY NAME IS THE LORD WHEN I LAY MY VENGEANCE UPON THEE!
posted by Samizdata at 1:25 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was really worried you hated the song too much to get that joke. YAY!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:36 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, on this and other blogs like the customer is always right, there are a certain percentage of stories where I end up feeling a lot more sorry for the customer than the smug all knowing concierge.
Yeah I follow Not Always Right unfiltered and the corollary Not Always Working unfiltered tumblrs (the first for dumb customer stories and the second for dumb employee stories). There are lots of times where the post seems to be on the wrong blog. I understand that they are "unfiltered" as in not good enough for the real blog, but they really need to edit some of the stories for clarity or length. OMG you don't need 10 paragraphs to explain what happened. One poster kept referring to her boyfriend and herself as Muslin when she meant Muslim and it was pretty important to the story. Also, posts are often written in dialogue form but then put actions instead (like Me: waits for them to give me change). I hate it. I still read the posts if they aren't too long.
posted by soelo at 1:40 PM on October 9, 2013


I've told the story before about the couple who stopped me on a street in New York's Lower East Side and asked me for directions to Cannery Row. I was too dumbfounded to respond, and they took my silence for ignorance, sneered at how un-hip I was and walked away.

Odds are they either wandered around totally lost for a good long while, or met someone who was quicker to tell them they were idiots in a way that only a New Yorker can, so I'm comfortable with that.


Their sneering's not great and obviously they're confused, but the first thing that popped into my head when reading this was that they were probably mixing it up with the Bowery (Skid Row), which is also a gentrified post-industrial area with shops and bars and things. I can see remembering the "Row" part of "Skid Row" and getting the "-ery" part messed up with the other "-ery Row" place. Obviously no one calls it "Bowery Row", but I can see how that mistake could happen.
posted by Errant at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2013


brujita: "My Middle Name Starts With S; I Say S Like Snake."

As in Plissken, to make this even more New York related?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:48 PM on October 9, 2013


We clearly need a Mefi phonetic alphabet...

Ate
Bee
Cue
Djinn
Effervess
Faze
Gnome
Heist
Iced
Jalapeno
Knight
Llandudno
Mnomic
Noel
Oestrogen
Phial
Qatar
Retch
Seizer
Tzar
Usurp
V?
Wrack
Xenophobe
You
Zeal

Any suggestions for V?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think a concierge at a decent hotel should be able to set up an actual Breakfast at Tiffany's if that's your request. It will probably take time and money, but, hell, with enough advanced warning, I can take you to see an actual human scalp that was actually scalped off an actual human in Omaha.

"You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon. With nail polish. These fucking amateurs..."
posted by Errant at 1:53 PM on October 9, 2013


vronsky.
posted by Errant at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


C should absolutely be CAMERAS
posted by elizardbits at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2013


If B isn't BEANS, I don't know what to make of this.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:57 PM on October 9, 2013


sodium lights the horizon: "Any suggestions for V?"

Vibrates
posted by invitapriore at 2:02 PM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Almost any two-word subset of that list makes (in one order or the other) a credible metal band name. Remarkable. I'm not even sure I haven't actually been to see Iced Djinn opening for Seizer Retch.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:09 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is reminding me of the Family Guy scene about being in line at the airport behind Robert Loggia and he has to spell his name: R as in Robert Loggia, O as in "Oh my god, it's Robert Loggia", B as in "By god, it's Robert Loggia", etc.
posted by zorrine at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is Q not Quonsar?
posted by likeatoaster at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my ADD, special way, I have recently noticed three posts from Samizdata: One where s/he is dressed as a lion, one threatening people where they live, and it just gets creepier.
posted by Jacen at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2013


Robert Loggia
posted by Chrysostom at 2:17 PM on October 9, 2013


Did someone from Boston formalize the pronunciation on the NATO alphabet? Oscar pronounced os-cah? Victor pronounced vic-tah?
posted by zorrine at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2013


*sigh*

No... I meant a phonetic alphabet that was as difficult as Metafilter, not one that sums up Metafilter. Or are you all being as difficult as Metafilter by summing Metafilter up? How... Meta.

But, I suppose...

Ask
Beans
Cameras
DTMFA
Eponysterical
FPP
Givewell
HAMBURGER
IANAL
J
K
L
Mushrooms
N
O
PepsiBlue
Quonsar
RTFA
Snowflake
TLDR
U
Vibrates
Wendell
X
Y
Z
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:22 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


T as in Taters, obviously.
posted by axiom at 2:26 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hm, I'd prefer GRAR for G instead of Givewell (and HOPPITA MOPPITA or HURF DURF for H instead of HAMBURGER, but I guess having more than one word defeats the purpose).
posted by tzikeh at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2013


C as in Can I Eat This?
posted by carmicha at 2:32 PM on October 9, 2013


VAMANOS (pronounced bommanosse)
posted by lordaych at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2013


J as in jessamyn.
posted by Night_owl at 2:51 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Years ago I met this older, designer sunglasses and giant sunhatted woman on the beach some years ago at a resort in Isle of Palms, SC. I was with my grandfather, who was fishing in the surf and she walked up to him and asked what he was doing. My grandfather, an unfailingly polite man, smiled and said something like, "I'm trying to convince my granddaughter that fishing is a worthwhile hobby to pursue."

"But there are no fish in this water," said the woman. " The resort agents assured me there were no fish in this water when I booked my reservation. That's why I stay here."

My grandfather, ever the charmer, gave her a smile and said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry to say that somebody's been pulling your leg. The Atlantic Ocean is full of fish."

The woman sighed, regarded him with rather imperial distaste and said. "And what, pray tell, does the Atlantic Ocean have to do with anything?"
posted by thivaia at 3:10 PM on October 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


C as in cats
posted by mightshould at 3:10 PM on October 9, 2013


K as in Kaycee Nicole.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:25 PM on October 9, 2013


and:

L as in Longboat thread.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:26 PM on October 9, 2013


I like G as in Grar. My first thought for H was hardcore taters, but I'm also a fan of Hoppita Moppita.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:35 PM on October 9, 2013


Metafilter doesn't know the sequence of the alphabet.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:46 PM on October 9, 2013


MCMikeNamara: "I was really worried you hated the song too much to get that joke. YAY!"

Nah, but, in case it wasn't blitheringly obvious, I am rather a fan of...[riffles through some papers]...extended riffing, is it?
posted by Samizdata at 6:17 PM on October 9, 2013


sodium lights the horizon: "We clearly need a Mefi phonetic alphabet...

Ate
Bee
Cue
Djinn
Effervess
Faze
Gnome
Heist
Iced
Jalapeno
Knight
Llandudno
Mnomic
Noel
Oestrogen
Phial
Qatar
Retch
Seizer
Tzar
Usurp
V?
Wrack
Xenophobe
You
Zeal

Any suggestions for V?
"

Suggestion for S. Look at the "Posted by" line. And P should be Portobello.
posted by Samizdata at 6:19 PM on October 9, 2013


R should be ROTATO.
posted by Samizdata at 6:24 PM on October 9, 2013


Her livelihood/continued employment depends on things like making sure a car is available for her boss happens seamlessly and without issue. If she can't confirm that "Yes, sir, a car will be waiting." when asked, she very likely will find herself unemployed.

On the other hand, as someone who's been an assistant before, and an assistant in high-pressure positions/situations as well, the trick is to not be SOBBING on the phone when you call to sort this stuff out.

Snafus happen. Email confirmations don't get sent. Sometimes things don't go smoothly. Your job is to liaise between Service Provider X (in this case the hotel concierge) and Your Boss, and to do it with a modicum of grace and professionalism. Even if it gets stressful or everything goes to shit. Sobbing on the phone to the hotel concierge isn't going to make it better.

My script likely would have been, "Hi there, it's Mr. Shmoe's assistant calling. He has a reservation with you on [date], and I just wanted to confirm that you had booked the [thing] I requested via email X hours/days/weeks ago, because I didn't receive any confirmation. Oh, great, so it's booked? And everything is set? Could you do me a favor and re-send that confirmation email just so I have it? Great, thanks! And thanks for all your help booking [stuff] for Mr. Shmoe's stay. It's been a huge help not having to do all this myself from overseas."

Not, you know, a panic attack.
posted by Sara C. at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2013


I've never been to Tiffany's and, having never seen the movie, it wasn't much of a stretch to imagine the store having a small cafe.

Except that Tiffany's isn't a department store, it's a jewelry store.
posted by Sara C. at 6:51 PM on October 9, 2013


I don't get this one. I mean, obviously I understand what the person was asking for but that must be something that's requested rather frequently and the concierge must have realized what was happening nearly instantly. So if you're a surly-and-tired-of-this-shit kind of service worker why feign ignorance and play along instead of just saying "I can't help you with that" to make them go away without wasting your time? Or is watching them flail while you troll them the whole point? That seems a little hypocritical, as I'm sure if someone walked up and just said "yo, I want a hooker" they'd also find their conversation on some tumblr being mocked. I guess the moral is that you should find your own sex worker.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:58 PM on October 9, 2013


So if you're a surly-and-tired-of-this-shit kind of service worker why feign ignorance and play along instead of just saying "I can't help you with that"

It's always a little bit delicate to try to communicate "I think you're asking for something totally inappropriate, so no" when the other person a) is being even slightly coy about it and b) has some power over you. They always have the option of howling "How DARE you even SUGGEST that I might want that totally inappropriate thing YOU should be FIRED." So, you know, eyebrow signaling and weary contempt instead.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:09 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and to go back to the Tiffany's thing again, they actually throw an event every so often (I think during the holidays, but they may do it more often than that) called Breakfast At Tiffany's where they open the store an hour or so early and serve mimosas and continental breakfast type stuff and you can shop. You have to reserve it in advance and I believe it costs a stupid amount of money to participate.

Despite the fact that it in no way resembles anything in that movie.

Also, I used to work on Fifth Avenue in the 50's and would often get off the subway a stop early and walk up fifth at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning with a bagel and/or coffee. It's a great New York City experience as well as an authentic tribute to actual events in the film. But it's not really something that any five star hotel tourist would ever be interested in doing.
posted by Sara C. at 7:10 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


So if you're a surly-and-tired-of-this-shit kind of service worker why feign ignorance and play along instead of just saying "I can't help you with that"

What restless_nomad said, but also the feigning ignorance is a signal that it’s not going to happen and everyone should drop it and pretend it was all innocent. If the concierge was going to get involved something like that he would have said yes right away and made it happen. Either way there is no reason to keep asking and get all specific. Unless you’re dense and want to embarrass yourself.
posted by bongo_x at 7:19 PM on October 9, 2013


Despite the fact that it in no way resembles anything in that movie.

Well, except that Mickey Rooney always shows up and acts all racist.

It's always a little bit delicate to try to communicate "I think you're asking for something totally inappropriate, so no" when the other person a) is being even slightly coy about it and b) has some power over you.

Coyness is nice, but coyness can stop you from saying all the things in life that you'd like to.
posted by The World Famous at 7:22 PM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


This whole thing is pretty racist.
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:26 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worked at a Barnes and Noble. A customer once asked me where she could find books on World War III.
posted by kat518 at 7:34 PM on October 9, 2013


I know not with what devices books about World War III will be written, but books about World War IV will be written on stones with charred sticks.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:48 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Besides, come on. Is Pier 83 on the water? Ummmmmm what planet would a person be from and not know that all piers are universally on the water?

A planet where other languages besides English are spoken and people do not necessarily know what the word Pier means in English. Or, in fact, a planet where even people who do speak English might not be familiar with the word pier because they are from a place with a lot of corn and not a lot of oceans. I don't feel like it's super esoteric, but it's not that common a word, and when you hear about something completely in the context of a whole phrase, you don't necessarily parse it down further.

GUEST: But that’s not the address! What address is it?
CONCIERGE: 65 E. 54th St.
GUEST: WHAT? The address is 65 E. 54th? That doesn’t even make sense.

This story is amazing. I can't even begin to explain the guest's behavior, without invoking some sort of cognitive disability, or without contemplating the possibility that this person has literally never heard an address before in their life.


I'm willing to bet that the concierge didn't start out carefully enunciating that it was at number sixty-five on east fifty fourth street during this conversation. 65 East 54th, especially if not clearly enunciated, isn't going to sound much like an address to someone who is expecting to hear 457 Pine Street or something in that vein. And once they're not understanding it, repeating the same couple of pieces of information over and over again without really elaborating or explaining doesn't make things better.

I am laughing so fucking hard at the horrible child who called long distance for a zillion dollars. SO FUCKING HARD.

I had to put a fake, non-working phone number as the first item in my cell's phone book, because I kept purse dialing my friend Abby, who happens to be an international long distance call, and that shit gets expensive. I probably totally would have accidentally dialed Russia as a toddler if we'd been the type of family that stayed in hotels in an era when you could dial international long distance calls without operator assistance.

I laughed at a lot of these stories, but I didn't see all of them as stupid customer stories. A lot of them are just 'this is what happens when two people are repeatedly failing to communicate' stories. Which can still be funny, but in a different sort of way.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:55 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


GUEST: I’m supposed to go to this building between that’s between two streets. Do you know where that is?

Is this something that would be acceptable to say/think outside of NYC?
posted by bleep at 8:29 PM on October 9, 2013


A planet where other languages besides English are spoken and people do not necessarily know what the word Pier means in English.

So, I've worked in a public-facing context in a part of New York City that is typically flooded with tourists.

There are some things you learn very quickly. One of them is how to tell where people are from and what sort of tone/approach is best to communicate with people from that place. For example, when I worked in a tourist place I could see pretty much all non-English speakers coming a mile away. Especially folks who were way out of their element and were likely to just completely not get things. I find it hard to believe that hotel concierges don't develop this same "does this person speak enough English to handle this conversation" sense.

Likewise for folks who are what I grew up calling "country come to town". You can spot those people a mile away. It is obvious when you're talking to them that they don't understand ideas like cross-streets or public transit or revolving doors.

So I'm going to give these folks the benefit of the doubt that, probably, they didn't see these communication problems coming a mile away. These interactions weren't with obvious rubes or people who lack basic English comprehension. They were with people who, for whatever reason, came off as unreasonably dense. (And, worse, haughty about it, which IMO is where the concierges are justified in venting their frustrations.)

Again, I'm aware that, outside of the Northeast, often words used to describe places have no bearing on any physical aspect of the place. So you could have a bar called Pier 83 which is in the middle of what used to be a cornfield with no water in sight. Or you could have a neighborhood called Oakwood Heights in the middle of the prairie. The entire time I lived in New York I used to marvel at the fact that Clinton Hill is called that because it's actually on a hill, and Chelsea Piers is built on Hudson River piers, and numbered streets actually enable you to figure out all sorts of useful geographical information with math, because they are laid out in a logical manner.

But still, seriously, man, some people are just DENSE. And haughty about it.
posted by Sara C. at 9:27 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am having crab rangoons right now. Just thought y'all should know.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:19 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"At what altitude do deer turn into elk?"

That's just crazy talk. Here in Maine tourists ask "How old does a deer have to be before it turns into an elk?"

"Where do they put the animals at night?"

The retired head of the Chamber of Commerce in town once told me her two favorite questions she'd been asked were "Where do you put the whales at night?" and "What do you do with the islands in the winter?"

A customer once asked me where she could find books on World War III.

Years ago, my friend Ed wrote a pretty good one.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:25 PM on October 9, 2013


Aisle
Bee
Czar
Djinni
Eight
Fe ("iron")
Gnat
Heir
Isle
Jalapeno
Knot
L ("fifty")
Mnemonic
Na ("sodium")
Onion
Psycho
Quran
Rye
See
Tzar
Urn
V ("five")
Why
Xenophobe
You
Zeitgeist
posted by straight at 11:45 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here in Maine tourists ask "How old does a deer have to be before it turns into an elk?"

I meant "turns into a moose," of course.

Anyway, speaking of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Great Smoky Mountains, there's also this list of questions people have asked in the national parks...
posted by LeLiLo at 11:53 PM on October 9, 2013


This story is amazing. I can't even begin to explain the guest's behavior, without invoking some sort of cognitive disability, or without contemplating the possibility that this person has literally never heard an address before in their life.

How about cultural dissonance? I mean, I grew up in Manhattan so this system always made logical sense to me, but I can't really explain to you how TOTALLY CRAZY this is to people who did not grow up in places with a numeric grid system, particularly to people from outside the US. It is really not that hard to understand how "45 East 65th Street" sounds like nonsense to some people.

This is what I mean by my earlier statement that these are shitty concierges. That guest's confusion could have been addressed with a map, and overcome entirely by calling the bellhop station to arrange for the doorman to give the address directly to a cab driver.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:49 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


GUEST: I’m supposed to go to this building between that’s between two streets. Do you know where that is?

Is this something that would be acceptable to say/think outside of NYC?


If you come from somewhere locations aren't usually given in terms of cross streets, yes. It's between two streets? So it's not on a street itself, then?
posted by Catseye at 2:10 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greg_Ace: "I know not with what devices books about World War III will be written, but books about World War IV will be written on stones with charred sticks."

I am more a fan of carved in bone with sharp rocks, but tomato tomahtoe.
posted by Samizdata at 2:18 AM on October 10, 2013


Again, I'm aware that, outside of the Northeast, often words used to describe places have no bearing on any physical aspect of the place.

Yeah. When I left NYC to go to grad school, it took me some time to get the hang of the fact that "downtown" in my new location wasn't the southern end of the city.
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:43 AM on October 10, 2013


I definitely found the numbered streets in Manhattan a bit disconcerting because, obviously, numbers get bigger as you go south, not north, so everything was the wrong way round. Let's not even mention the numbered streets running north-south as well. I would be willing to be there's some cultural convention of always giving the avenue or street first, so you can say "The corner of 7th and 8th" and have it make sense, but I have no idea what it is. (And then I moved to Minneapolis!)

Similarly, I can't reliably tell you which way is north in Berkeley. Water is obviously east (it's not, it's west) and uphill is obviously north (it's east).
posted by hoyland at 5:44 AM on October 10, 2013


Again, I'm aware that, outside of the Northeast, often words used to describe places have no bearing on any physical aspect of the place. So you could have a bar called Pier 83 which is in the middle of what used to be a cornfield with no water in sight. Or you could have a neighborhood called Oakwood Heights in the middle of the prairie.

Or you could have a major street called Park Avenue which is not actually the one that runs along the park, which is 5th Avenue. Or (even more popular in Boston than New York) you could call things "Squares" which are not squares, or which are even more or less just big intersections. Or you could have a purportedly east-west street, like West 4th, jog northwards and intersect West 10th, 11th, and 12th.

As for names like "Oakwood Heights" for neighborhoods featuring neither oaks, woods, nor heights, they massively popular in the Northeast, anywhere where neighborhoods were named in the time period (mid-20th-century and after, I think) where that style of neighborhood-naming becamse popular. Places that are older don't have names like that. Here in Madison, Wisconsin, far from the northeast, Mansion Hill is indeed a hill, Shorewood Hills is on the shore, has woods, and is on a hill, and Eagle Heights is high (though admittedly you don't see that many eagles there anymore.)

I mean, I've lived in New York and I dig it too, but to pretend that its nomenclature and layout are somehow more sensible than other places is the worst kind of hickitude.
posted by escabeche at 6:10 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah. Numbered streets sound very weird if you come from somewhere that doesn't have them. Plus, for most of that exchange, the concierge doesn't refer to it as 54th street - it's "54th between Madison and Park", "65 E. 54th", "54th between Park and Madison". If numbered streets are new to you, and the idea of giving an address as between cross-streets is also new to you, then all that is going to sound very weird.

I don't dispute this at all.

But! The greater point is that, even if "54th between Madison and Park" presents an unfamiliar address format, there is still no reason to doubt that it is, indeed, a real address, as repeatedly given to you by the concierge. Even if you had never heard of a numbered street before in your life*, it is apparent that the answer to the question "what is the address of that place" is either "65 East 54th (Street)" or "54th between Madison and Park."

The guest in that scenario had three options: accept that this was the address, ask further clarifying questions, or assume that the person giving the information was an idiot. Only an extremely dense person would make that last assumption.

I mean, British postcodes are not in the same format as American ZIP codes, but there's not even a split second where I would assume that someone giving me a British postcode was wrong, just because it had letters in it, and it wasn't called a ZIP code.



*Which is weird to me, because I never personally encountered numbered streets until I was an adult, and yet I had been somehow aware of numbered streets' general existence for all of my life. When I moved to NYC, there was never even a split second where I thought it was unusual that the streets and avenues usually had numbers. It seems no more remarkable in and of itself than anything else that has ever existed in a city.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:17 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mean, I've lived in New York and I dig it too, but to pretend that its nomenclature and layout are somehow more sensible than other places is the worst kind of hickitude.

The majority of streets in Manhattan are pretty easy to find if you can count, as opposed to most places that just name them more or less randomly or by geographical features that aren't really that helpful. For instance, when you say "Mansion Hill is indeed a hill, Shorewood Hills is on the shore, has woods, and is on a hill, and Eagle Heights is high," you realize that if you're new to Madison, there is no way whatsoever to figure out from those clues which direction any of those is from you.

Perfectly sensible does not describe the New York layout, but more sensible than a lot of other places? Yeah, I'm okay with New Yorkers saying that.
posted by Etrigan at 6:33 AM on October 10, 2013


For instance, when you say "Mansion Hill is indeed a hill, Shorewood Hills is on the shore, has woods, and is on a hill, and Eagle Heights is high," you realize that if you're new to Madison, there is no way whatsoever to figure out from those clues which direction any of those is from you.

Of course. I was just responding to a claim that there was something especially NYC-y or Northeastern about neighborhoods-named-after-geographical-features having something to do with those geographical features. You also can't tell where Murray Hill or Crown Heights are unless you have a map.
posted by escabeche at 6:48 AM on October 10, 2013


I mean, I've lived in New York and I dig it too, but to pretend that its nomenclature and layout are somehow more sensible than other places is the worst kind of hickitude.

That would be a sensible criticism if numbered streets were somehow unique to NYC or even rare outside it. But they're boringly common.

And yeah, numbered street names are certainly boring, but anyone who went to UF or otherwise spent time in Gainesville will tell you how easy they make life. I haven't actually lived there since 1988 but could still drive to pretty much anywhere without directions just from the address.

Me, I kinda like the idea of alphabetical streets like (never been there) Portland. Seems like you should get the advantages of numbered streets without the monotonous names. Dunno how you deal with the 27th street though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:52 AM on October 10, 2013


GUEST: I’m supposed to go to this building between that’s between two streets. Do you know where that is?

Is this something that would be acceptable to say/think outside of NYC?


This is worth solving, because you're probably going to get variations on this, and most people are looking for pretty much exactly the same thing. When I worked at Virgin Records in New Orleans, on the jazz floor, people were always asking impossible questions, and they almost always had exactly the same answer.

GUY: I heard a song today on the radio and it was like a saxophone song and I don't know how else to describe it ...

ME: "Take Five."

GUY: That's it!

WOMAN: And I'm looking for, like, a female voice, and there's piano ..,

ME: Diana Krall.

WOMAN: That's it!

I mean, you sort of hope for a challenge, but people tend to do what other people do, and the same half dozen jazz albums that sold for 50 years are the ones that are still selling. People who want obscuro music tend to know exactly what they want. Everybody else wants a very narrow band of stuff. I suspect the answer to this question is:

GUEST: I’m supposed to go to this building between that’s between two streets. Do you know where that is?

CONCIERGE: Empire State Building.

GUEST: That's it!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:58 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perfectly sensible does not describe the New York layout, but more sensible than a lot of other places?

Once you have spent time in Arlington, VA, where West Glebe shoots off to the southeast from South Glebe (which, of course, runs, east-west) and where the major thoroughfares together resemble a jellyfish (with Arlington Cemetery as its brain), you become ecstatic at the prospect of navigating in a place like Manhattan.
posted by psoas at 6:59 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone whose address is something like Lärchenbürgerstraße 196/2/1/15, I find numbered streets like the adress mentioned odd and counterintuitive.
However, if a concierge tells me that this is the address I will believe him and chalk it up to "wow, people do things differently here." It's the fact that this guy can't seem to get over how this address format is unlike his own and therefore it must be wrong and ridiculous that makes the post funny.
Pretty sure he reacts that disturbed way anytime his comfortable assumptions are challenged. This is not an attractive character trait.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:18 AM on October 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suspect the answer to this question is:

GUEST: I’m supposed to go to this building between that’s between two streets. Do you know where that is?

CONCIERGE: Empire State Building.

GUEST: That's it!


I figured the Flatiron Building.
posted by Etrigan at 7:21 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or you could have a purportedly east-west street, like West 4th, jog northwards and intersect West 10th, 11th, and 12th.

Or you could do as we do in Chicago and have East Wacker Drive, West Wacker Drive, North Wacker Drive, South Wacker Drive, Upper Wacker Drive, and Lower Wacker Drive.

Yes, we have a major throughway in the middle of the city that's on two different levels, and crosses all of the directional name-changing intersections in the city--and it's basically one street.

Good luck!

(Lincoln Park: do you mean the neighborhood, the street, or the, you know, actual park?)
posted by tzikeh at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2013




Let's not forget that DC has diagonal streets radiating off roundabouts, named after states and arranged into quadrants.

I hate DC's street plan so. Much.
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on October 10, 2013


I hate DC's street plan so. Much.

You just openly asked for a Freemason beatdown, man.
posted by COBRA! at 8:13 AM on October 10, 2013


We don't do that anymore. We'll just ruin his credit rating.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:22 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate DC's street plan so. Much.

That's before you get into the nonsense of "You can't turn from the main roadway, please use the service road. An entrance to the service road was conveniently located 30 feet in front of this sign. No U-turns."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:30 AM on October 10, 2013


That's what you get for driving on K st.
posted by rtha at 8:35 AM on October 10, 2013


It's hard to beat Provo, Utah for strange addresses. They're given as grid coordinates. For example, the Marriott's address is 101 West, 100 North. "Are you telling me how to get there, or where to call in an airstrike?"
posted by penguinicity at 8:49 AM on October 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


(Lincoln Park: do you mean the neighborhood, the street, or the, you know, actual park?)

The Zoo. They always mean the Zoo.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:59 AM on October 10, 2013


Is this something that would be acceptable to say/think outside of NYC?

How else do you tell somebody where on a particular road something is? It's on Foo, between Bar and Baz. Which I suppose works best on grids with long roads, but I'd still say it's a useful way to describe a location in many situations.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:21 AM on October 10, 2013


So buildings in NYC don't have street numbers? How very special!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:05 AM on October 10, 2013


They do! Random numbers. Numbers picked out of a hat. Hell, in Queens, they have two hats.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it hard to believe that hotel concierges don't develop this same "does this person speak enough English to handle this conversation" sense.

I have worked as a concierge as well as behind the front desk of enough hostels and hotels to assure you that the passably bright ones do. It used to make me slightly crazy in my hostel front desk days that one of my coworkers, when asked the price per night, would give the non-member price followed by the lower price "if you're a member." I have no doubt that many guests --especially those who did not speak English comfortably -- parsed this as "if you remember," and were baffled.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:37 AM on October 10, 2013


And as a side note to the Breakfast at Tiffany's stuff, can I just point out that I grew up in a city with an entirely passable mom-and-pop-owned breakfast place called Tiffan's, so I always assumed this movie with a typo in its title was set there.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:46 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or you could have a major street called Park Avenue which is not actually the one that runs along the park, which is 5th Avenue.

That's because 4th Avenue was renamed for the "park" in the middle of it.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:48 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]




Griphus, I swear there's a corner of the West Village in which Waverly Place crosses itself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM on October 10, 2013


Or you could have a major street called Park Avenue which is not actually the one that runs along the park, which is 5th Avenue.

Park Avenue is called Park because it was a park before cars. Once upon a time there were fewer lanes, and the median was a much wider strip of usable parkland. Sort of like what Eastern and Ocean Parkways in Brooklyn are like today.

And, yeah, that is exactly the sort of thing that has always fascinated me about New York. Made an avenue that is also a park? Call it Park Avenue! Made a parkway that starts at Prospect Park and heads east? Call it Eastern Parkyway. Made a parkway that starts at Prospect Park and goes to Coney Island? Call it Ocean Parkway.

Logical in a way very few other cities are. I'm not saying it makes New York a better place than other cities, but it does make New York easier to navigate, and also makes it fun to think about if you like thinking about geography and onomastics.
posted by Sara C. at 11:38 AM on October 10, 2013


Not a matter of being lost, but the day that I found myself at the intersection of Duane and Reade was mind-bending.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:41 AM on October 10, 2013


So buildings in NYC don't have street numbers? How very special!

They do, but since there are an awful lot of them, it's useful to create a mental map of where that street number is likely to be. Hence the cross street.

2319 Oak Street is only useful as the sole piece of an address if you live in a small town that doesn't have many streets. In cities, more information is usually needed.
posted by Sara C. at 11:45 AM on October 10, 2013


Well, unless you are in one of those HYPER-logical cities (I think Utah has a bunch) where the the address tells you the cross street. 2319 Oak Street is, by definition, between 23rd Ave and 24th Ave.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:15 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


DC is like that as well: 1818 H St NW is on the 1800 block of H St in the NW quadrant. The basic grid is pretty simple, like Manhattan, in that the street letters/numbers increase from A or 1 with each block away from the Capital, in four quadrants. Lettered streets run E/W and numbered streets run N/S.

The worst aspects for visitors/new people is that many of the streets are interrupted, and that it's such a transient city that there are always loads of people who have not lived here long enough to know their way around. Also, if you don't know where the state-named street goes (they are all diagonal to the basic grid), avoid it.
posted by exogenous at 2:10 PM on October 10, 2013


The funny thing is I started to say that in DC, 2319 Oak St would be pretty easy to find (assuming you understood the letters-trees-flowers system). But of course, Oak (NW) is one of those weirdo streets that's kind of in the park, and so is exempt from being easy to find.

But DC still makes sense to me in a way that San Francisco doesn't, and I've now lived in SF longer. Oh well. Now I also have cell phone with maps.
posted by rtha at 2:15 PM on October 10, 2013


This Sunday I spent twenty minutes more in a car service cab (i.e. no meter) than I should have because the driver thought the numbers going up meant 50 Ocean Parkway would lead to 100 Ocean Parkway rather than 50 Ocean Parkway leading directly into the entrance ramp to the Prospect Park Expressway.

The numbers are lies.
posted by griphus at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


the letters-trees-flowers system

I impressed SO MANY PEOPLE in D.C. by explaining that the east-west streets you encounter when heading north from the Mall are letters, then alphabetical two-syllable names, then alphabetical three-syllable names,* and then trees and flowers. Some people had lived there for years and never noticed.

*I think "Ingraham" is misplaced here, but that battle is not mine to win.
posted by psoas at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2013


Logical in a way very few other cities are. I'm not saying it makes New York a better place than other cities, but it does make New York easier to navigate, and also makes it fun to think about if you like thinking about geography and onomastics.

Is it really any more logical than any other city that was gridded with Cartesian coordinates? It's pretty darn hard to get lost in Chicago. If I'm sending you to Wrigley Field, I'll tell you it's at Clark and Addison and if you give me a blank look, I'll tell you it's 3600N and 1000W (which is actually Sheffield and Addison; Clark is one of a handful of streets that runs on a diagonal, but note that it doesn't impede my ability to tell you where Wrigley Field is) and you'll get there.* I can be off by up to 400 in any direction and not screw you up too badly.

Even Minneapolis, whose grid system I complain about all the time (it's in six parts!) is generally more than sufficient. I've only got a vague notion of how SE Minneapolis is laid out and NE is tricky because I don't know what order the presidents come in, but otherwise things are basically numerical or alphabetical.** The corner of 3rd and 3rd does exist (ew), but New York has that issue, too.

*The only way I can reconcile my favourite scene in the Blues Brothers, where the cops and Nazis both converge on Wrigley Field, with reality is that if you asked me where Wrigley Field was, I'd tell you Clark and Addison. You'd have to specify you wanted the street address to get me to tell you an address not an intersection.
**I once drove to Bloomington with someone who refuses to take 494. The alphabet recycles at least three times!

posted by hoyland at 3:32 PM on October 10, 2013


Is it really any more logical than any other city that was gridded with Cartesian coordinates? It's pretty darn hard to get lost in Chicago.

Again, cripes, I'm not saying New York is the best city in the world, easier to navigate than any other city.

I'm saying it's easier to navigate than most, and an interesting place to live if you enjoy thinking about how people name things.

Besides, it is incredibly easy to navigate compared to the nightmare that is Los Angeles. I still can't get over the local tendency to give two streets that run immediately parallel to each other the same name. Like, WHY THE FUCK would you do that? Who does that benefit? In what way does it make sense? How is it helpful or good in any way? I would prefer streets go unnamed than just giving them all the same one. Seriously there is a street near me where, if you turn right it's called "Collegian" and if you turn left it's called like "Schoolside" or "Campus" or something. WHO DOES THAT???

The corner of 3rd and 3rd does exist (ew), but New York has that issue, too.

Not really, because New York has the streets vs. avenues designation to clarify things.
posted by Sara C. at 6:25 PM on October 10, 2013


Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's street system is based on fractal dimensions.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:31 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Besides, it is incredibly easy to navigate compared to the nightmare that is Los Angeles.

Puh-leeeeeeze. You have obviously not been to Atlanta, which makes Los Angeles look like it was designed by efficiency experts for the military. I’ve lived here a decade and still get lost in my immediate area on a regular basis.
posted by bongo_x at 6:36 PM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Logical in a way very few other cities are.

Oh? You think it's logical to count the avenues "Third", "Lexington", "Park", "Madison", "Fifth"? And when you get to the Lower East Side, and suddenly it's not streets one way and avenues the other, it's suddenly named streets in all directions? It's not logical, you're just inured to its illogicalities.
posted by gingerest at 6:47 PM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's pretty darn hard to get lost in Chicago. If I'm sending you to Wrigley Field, I'll tell you it's at Clark and Addison and if you give me a blank look, I'll tell you it's 3600N and 1000W

What? Okay, that is MADNESS.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:15 AM on October 11, 2013


I worked at Blockbuster twenty years ago

About 15 years for me. My favorite question was "Do you have the Bruce Willis film with all the killing in it?" because although I had to think about it for a bit ("Is there even a Bruce Willis film that doesn't have killing in it? I guess I can rule out Blind Date...") I ended up nailing it on the first try: Last Man Standing.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:34 PM on October 11, 2013


"Is there even a Bruce Willis film that doesn't have killing in it? I guess I can rule out Blind Date..."

you gotta check out the director's cut my friend
posted by escabeche at 6:38 AM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Is there even a Bruce Willis film that doesn't have killing in it? I guess I can rule out Blind Date..."

you gotta check out the director's cut my friend


Does it finally explain why Basinger's title character could actually see?
posted by Etrigan at 4:06 PM on October 12, 2013


She's a xenomorph, which is hinted at when they go to an exhibition of the art of H. R. Giger. She looks human, because she's a fusion of human and xenomorph DNA, hinted at by the fact that they visit fusion guitarist Stanley Jordan.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:17 PM on October 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I wonder how many of the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" tourists are influenced by Google Calendar.

I just put an appointment in there through the website for the first time in months rather than entering it through my phone. The example subject line for a calendar appointment is "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and has been like that for years now that I think about it. Huh.
posted by lordaych at 2:41 AM on October 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


So I wonder how many of the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" tourists are influenced by Google Calendar.

That's a fun one. Mine is "7 p.m. Dinner at Pancho's". I hope they have good tacos. I should ask my next concierge to make a reservation...
posted by urbanlenny at 8:22 AM on October 15, 2013


Seriously there is a street near me where, if you turn right it's called "Collegian" and if you turn left it's called like "Schoolside" or "Campus" or something. WHO DOES THAT???

Those are usually city/official neighborhood boundaries.

...I'm surprised you didn't mention the parallel streets that cross.
posted by flaterik at 1:13 PM on October 15, 2013


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