Ever been on the phone and had to ask the other party to please speak more clearly? If so, perhaps you can relate to a conversation earlier this week in Germany. An unidentified man – we'll call him Klaus – rang up what he thought was a company near the southwestern corner of the nation that repairs pumps. But he wasn't even close. Instead, his long-distance call was answered at a bank in Chemnitz in eastern Germany. The conversation went something like this:Skip to next paragraph
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[Klaus] "Hello, I've shipped a pump to you and I'd like you to look at it and give me a diagnosis."
[Employee] "You're sending us a bomb? Yikes!"
(Pump, in German, is "pumpe." Bomb is "bombe." You can see how the two could be confused.) Fighting panic, the employee had the presence of mind to ask what number Klaus thought he'd dialed. But because he mumbled, she couldn't make out every digit and wasn't able to repeat it correctly when alerting the police minutes later. Fortunately for all concerned, an investigator down at the station sorted it out by trying variations of the phone number until the folks at the pump-repair company answered.