“I’m stranded and you sent me a gag gift.”

I used to work for a mail order auto parts place specializing in unreliable sports cars from defunct companies. As an adjunct to actual parts, we sold ‘lifestyle’ gifts for people who liked these cars, like t-shirts, garage signs, prints of the cars or company logos.

I worked the phones as a second tier sales person, for people who needed help figuring out which part they needed. I also handled overflow from the first tier sales people, who normally just took orders and customer service calls.

One night, I get a very unhappy caller on a very scratchy line.

Caller:”Hi. This isn’t funny.”

me:”Ok. What can I help you with?”

Caller:”I ordered parts from you, overnight and, it’s just not funny. I’m surrounded by unfriendly rednecks”

I get the customer name. He’s ordered a bunch of parts from us in the past. All but one order has been shipped to a Boston, MA address.

The last one was shipped next day air to a repair shop in North Carolina. It contains a few rubber hoses and a neck-tie with an image of the same model car as the customer owns.

Turns out he was driving to graduate school and his suspension broke in a rural area not exactly awash in parts or service for odd little cars. So he had called us to order a new tie-rod (the part of the car that connects the steering rack to the front wheel).

The order-taker misunderstood “I need a tie-rod for my MGB” as “I need a tie of my MGB”.

So he got a very nice tie.

In the middle of nowhere.

I personally pulled the parts he needed and made sure they were on the next day air list. I felt sorry for laughing at him without muting the phone.

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