Sunday, January 18, 2015

Use Your Words, Use Your Words

Tales from the Cutting Counter:

A woman and her teenaged son come up to the cutting counter.  The teenager looks as though he'd rather be at the gates of hell than at the fabric store.  The woman begins to ask me a question, and she's gesturing furiously as she speaks, trying to get her point across.  "Do you have the thing (hands flying furiously about belt level) that you know that thing that not really sort of pants (hands still flying, add head nod toward teenager) thing you know that thing?"
Me:  "Um.  I don't know."
Teenager:  "I told you they wouldn't have it."

Later that day.

A woman puts three bolts of tan fabric on the counter in front of me.  "I need two of these," she says.  "Which two?"  I ask.  "This one," she says.
 "Okay." I say.  "Let's start with this one.  How much do you need?"
 "Two inches," she says, looking at me like I'm a totally incompetent slug. 
"Two inches?"  I ask, puzzled.  I am trying to figure out what she wants.
 "Two inches."
 "Okay."  I lay the fabric out, ready to cut.  "Are you trying to match paint, or other fabric?" I ask, assuming she just needs a swatch.
 "No, I need two INCHES," she says, exasperated.
 "This is two inches," I say, showing her with my fingers where the two inch cut line will run.  "Oh!  I meant two FEET! A foot is 10 inches, right?" she says, with a little laugh.
 "Twelve.  But no problem.  Here's what two feet looks like,"  I say, rolling off more fabric.  I show her that cut line, too.
 "No.  Is that feet?"  she asks. She has totally confused herself, and confused me. 
 "Yes.  Did you mean yards?"  I ask.  I roll off two yards, lay it out and show her the cut line.
"Yes!"  she exclaims, triumphantly.   "But you'd better cut me 2 and a half, because that's not going to be enough." 
"Do you need two yards and half of two yards, which would be three yards,  or two yards 18 inches?"  I ask. 
"Whichever is more," she says, breezily.
I cut three yards, print her ticket, and send her on her way.  I reshelve all three bolts of fabric.

Those gentle weeping sounds you heard about quarter past two yesterday?  That was me.

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