Some people are jerks. There’s no question about it, some people are just pure and simple jerks who will take any opportunity to be jerks, including pretending to not understand what someone is saying. I’ve seen it for myself.
A long time ago, my mother had an appointment in a government office. She went to the office and approached the secretary, stated her name and said she had “an appointment with someone on Team 3, with someone named Rick, or something like that”. She said she wasn’t sure about the name, but it was something like “Rick”, but it was definitely with someone on Team 3 (there were six “teams” in the office with two or three people per team).
The secretary said she wasn’t familiar with an employee in the office named Rick. My mother reiterated that she wasn’t certain it was Rick, but it was someone on Team 3 at this time with her (she re-gave her name). The secretary then proceeded to spend 20 minutes searching for someone named Rick.
Eventually, another employee walked by, and the secretary flagged her down and asked her if she knew someone named Rick (my mother chimed in with “or something that like that, on Team 3”), and the other employee said there was a guy on Team 3 named Eric.
The secretary said “oh, ehhhhhh-rick”. Needless to say, my mother exhibited a herculean resistance to rip into the secretary. 🤦 ¬_¬
Another time, my mother went to a farmer’s market with a few family members, specifically, with her—give me a second—her cousin’s aunt, the aunt’s husband, and their two daughters. Her cousin’s aunt and uncle-in-law didn’t grow up in North America, so they had accents, but their daughters grew up here, so they spoke English just fine.
At one booth, he asked the vendor how much the strawberries were, but with his accent, it sounded like “estrawberries” (it’s pretty common for non-native English speakers to precede words that start with an ‘s’ followed by a consonant with an ‘e’).
The vendor then spent a few minutes pretending to not understand what he was asking about. This one wasn’t stupid like the secretary was, this one was just a racist prick. 😒
I had my own experience with pricks pretending to not understand. A couple of years ago, when I was out of town, I had a Tim Horton’s coffee during their yearly Roll-up-the-rim-to-win contest and won a free donut. I kept the cup, brought it home with me, and took it to Tim Horton’s. I went in and presented it to the girl at the counter and asked for a cruller. She contorted her face and said “A what? 🤨” A cruller, I repeated and pointed at the crullers. She said, “oh, you mean a croooooler”. ¬_¬ I just nodded and took my donut and left, but if I didn’t have crippling social-anxiety disorder, or better yet, if I were Samuel L. Jackson, I’d have said “No, bi—! I mean a mother-f— crUH-ler!”. 😒
There is no way in hell that she could ever convince me that no customer ever has pronounced it the way that I did, which I only do because I learned it that way because that’s how almost everybody pronounces it. She works in a mofo donut shop and crullers are one of the most popular donuts. Unless she just started working there, there’s 0% chance that she’s never heard it said this way. 🙄