Air-headed customer

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This is an actual conversation between a stupid person and a couple of vendors. It happened at the Univ. of New Hampshire campus; the story was told by one of the vendors, and recorded by a linguistics professor at UNH and passed around among linguists; I got it from a pragmatics course. It can be rather entertaining to read aloud and practice emphatic stress patterns or for emotional and humorous rendering of dialogue.

1 The background

This is a true Story. Ian works in a vending truck that sells coffee, bagels, and sandwiches on the campus of UNH (University of New Hampshire). Vinnie is his boss and the owner of the place. Ian is the one telling the story. This was told to a linguist at UNH, who transcribed this and passed it on to others.

2 Air-headed customer discourse

Her: Yes, I’d like a milk with some coffee in it.
Ian: So, that’s just a splash of coffee in a milk?
Her: No, a regular amount of milk, but not coffee.
Ian: Is there more milk or coffee?
Her: Oh, definitely more coffee.
Ian: So that’s a coffee with some extra milk.
Her: Just the usual amount of milk.
Ian: A coffee with milk.
Her: Yes.
Ian: Anything else?
Her: A little extra milk, and do you have coffee with no caffeine?
Ian: We do have decaf.
Her: No, I don’t want decaf, just some coffee without the caffeine.
Ian: Ma’am, that’s what decaf means, no caffeine.
Her: Oh, then do you have milk with no caffeine?
Ian: Milk doesn’t come with caffeine.
Her: Yes it does.
Ian: Not that I know of, where do you get your milk?
Her: It doesn’t say caffeine free on the milk so it must have caffeine.
Ian: Oh, you’re right, my mistake, I forgot that we only get the decaf milk. No problem, we have only decaf milk. Anything else?
Her: Do you have any bagels?
Vinnie: (who has been listening all along)
I’m sorry, ma’am, we’re all out of decaf bagels.
Her: Oh, well, then I’ll have one of those, with sesame seeds.
Vinnie: We’re all out, ma’am.
Her: Well what are those? (pointing at sesame bagels)
Vinnie: Those are sesame doughnuts with extra caffeine added.
Her: I guess I’ll just have the coffee. Do you take credit cards?
Ian: No ma’am, cash only.
Her: What about Visa?
Ian: Is that a credit card?
Her: Well, yes.
Vinnie: Is it cash?
Her: No.
Vinnie: Then no, we can’t take it.
Her: What about checks?
Ian: Cash ma’m, nothing else.
Her: Okay. How much is that?
Vinnie: Eleven dollars and 45 cents.
Her: Really?
Vinnie: New war in Alaska is ruining the coffee business, plus you wanted the coffee with no caffeine, that’s hard to find now, had to grow it myself.
Her: Okay. (proceeds to write a check)
Vinnie: Please leave.
Her: Why?
Vinnie: You’re raising my blood pressure, leave now.
Her: But what about my coffee?
Vinnie: Leave and never return.

(She leaves, but first pays the $11.45. Really.)