I worked a number of low-gratitude jobs during and after undergrad; one of them was at a national department-store chain (which is well known for its line of excellent tools). I worked in the housewares and linens department at the time. Our department had a very small room which doubled as "deposit your stuff here" and "very limited stockroom".
Well, one day as I reported in, the woman who would soon be our department manager was talking with a couple of older (but not quite elderly) women who were sitting at our desk. The DM-to-be spotted me, and with what I didn't realize was a malicious smile, told the customers I would be glad to help them.
I surely would be happy to help them; let me just drop my purse in back, and I'll be right with you. Fifteen-second operation, and I'm back to lend a hand. (During the ensuing discussion, I only remember one of the women spoke.)
Me: All right, thanks for your patience. How--
Customer: Speak up! (turns to her companion) Kids these days mumble. No respect.
Me: (louder, assuming she might be hard of hearing) I'm very sorry, ma'am. How may I help you?
C: (hands me a flyer-catalog, opened to a page displaying a sheet set) I want this right here.
Me: Oh, yes, these are very nice. I'll be happy to go get them and be right back so you can see them. What size do you need?
Me: (pause; I will note here that, in the U.S., beds and linens typically come in the sizes Twin, Full, Queen, and King) Regular?
Me: Um...ma'am, I don't believe there's such a size. Do you mean Twin, or Full perhaps?
C: I mean REGULAR. (turns to her companion) Kids these days are awful stupid.
Me: (starting to seethe) Ma'am, may I ask, where do you get the impression that these sheets are offered in a size called "regular"?
C: Can't read either, can you? (shows me on the page, pointing to where the sale price is listed, and then "reg. $XX" appears)
Me: Oh, I see, ma'am. That "regular" refers to the regular PRICE of the sheets, not the size.
C: I can't believe this! (turns to her companion) Office girls never know anything.
Me: Ma'am, if I can ask you the dimensions of your bed--
C: REG-U-LAR. How many times do I have to repeat myself?!
Me: (takes a deep breath) Well, if you'd be willing to come around to the displays, we could figure out what size bed you--
C: REGULAR. REGULAR. REGULAR. Get it through your thick skull, you stupid *****.
At that point I'd had enough, so I summoned a co-worker to my assistance who has a great deal more patience than I have even now. When co-worker arrived, I smiled with obvious insincerity at the customers and said (and this is as close as I can get it), "Well, as I'm obviously too lacking in cerebral functionality and linguistic capacity to comprehend your expressed requirements, I'm afraid I'll have to attend to other endeavors and ask [co-worker] to assist you in fulfilling your demands. Have a pleasant day." And turned on my heel and went across the department.
Later, I went to my co-worker and apologized for doing this to her. She told me that the customer spent the first three minutes complaining about how "office girls" are usually stupid fluffbrains and how I was very disrespectful and unhelpful. Then she started going through the same business about "regular" sized sheets. When Co-worker couldn't comply, the customer then told her companion that people of Co-worker's racial heritage were indeed as stupid as she'd always thought, and they left in a huff.
I wonder if they ever got "regular" sized sheets. I also wonder if, instead of trying to decipher her meaning, I should have just sold her some "full-sized" sheets with the package label removed...?
Sometimes, you just can't be as helpful as you'd like.