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    Category: Geography

    You may call them “lost”, but we prefer the name “geographically disadvantaged.”

    Incheon Further Away From The Answer, Part 4

    | Cheyenne, WY, USA | Bigotry, Geography, Language & Words

    (My family lives in a predominantly Caucasian town. We are half-Korean and half-Caucasian, but we were born in the US. While shopping with my sister, we are approached by an elderly lady and her younger friend.)

    Elderly Customer: “Where are the cotton balls?”

    Me: “I do not work for the store, but my sister and I can walk you to the display of cotton balls.”

    Elderly Customer: “When did you come to the country? Your English is so good!”

    (I answer with a smile, since I get asked this all the time.)

    Me: “Well, actually, we were both born and raised here in this very town. Our father met our mother while he was stationed in Korea for the Air Force. We’re first-generation American on our mother’s side, but our father is from Kansas. Our family actually owns a ‘century farm’ there.”

    (The elderly customer looks puzzled and her friend offers us an apology)

    Customer’s Friend: “Sorry. I don’t know what is wrong with her today.”

    My Sister: “It’s okay. Many people assume we aren’t American. We just correct them. It’s the nice thing to do.”

    Elderly Customer: “You people are always so nice! Orientals are the nicest people, aren’t they? And you have such pretty skin and hair, too. Isn’t Chinese food the best? Those people are so nice at the restaurant, but you must know them since they’re Oriental, too!”

    Customer’s Friend: *turning red* “They said they are American and they aren’t even Chinese!” *to us* “I am so sorry about all of this! Thank you for helping us find the cotton balls.”

    (My sister and I smile at her and bid them both a nice day. As they walk away, the elderly customer turns back, smiles at us, and yells out with her hands open:)

    Elderly Customer: “Welcome to America!”

    Related:
    Incheon Further Away From The Answer, Part 3
    Incheon Further Away From The Answer, Part 2

    Speaking American Is A Country Diction In Terms, Part 2

    | St. Louis, MO, USA | Extra Stupid, Geography, Language & Words

    (I’ve lived in New Jersey all my life, but had moved to Missouri roughly two months ago. I’m managing the fitting rooms in our store when a husband and wife approach me.)

    Husband: “Ma’am, do you think you can help my wife find something?”

    Me: “Oh! Of course! What were you looking for?”

    (The couple stares at me in shock for a few seconds.)

    Husband: “Where are you from? You have a very strange accent.”

    Me: “I just moved out here from Jersey.”

    Wife: “That’s in Europe, right?”

    Me: “Er… no. I mean New Jersey. The state.”

    Husband: “Oh, so you’re from Eastern Europe?”

    Me: “No, sir. The East Coast of the United States.”

    Husband: “Was New Jersey one of those Soviet countries?”

    Wife: “It must have been. You poor dear, living under such oppression. Welcome to America! Your English really is excellent!”

    Me: “Uh… thanks. What was it you were looking for?”

    Wife: “Oh, I’ll get someone else to help me. I really dislike being helped by foreigners.”

    Related:
    Speaking American Is A Country Diction In Terms

    French Disconnection

    | Quebec City, QC, Canada | Bigotry, Geography, History, Language & Words, Top

    (I’m a customer in a very small boutique that specializes in selling Quebec-made items. It is a slow day and I am alone with the shop owner who helps me choose a gift. A man storms in and goes straight to the owner with a really angry face. The owner sees him and welcomes him in French.)

    Owner: “Bonjour, Monsieur. Comment puis-je vous aider?” *Hi, sir. How can I help you?*

    Customer: *loud and angrily* “ENGLISH! Do you even speak it?”

    Owner: “Of course, sir! How are you today and how can I help you?”

    Customer: “Finally! Someone who’s speaking English! I don’t know what the h*** is going on but everyone in this f***** town is speaking some kind of weird gibberish!”

    Owner: “Actually, they are speaking French, sir, as do most people in the province of Quebec.”

    Customer: “What the h***?! We are not in f***** France! This is America and people speaks god d*** American! I don’t understand what the fuss is about! Is this some kind of a weird hipster thing? Young people trying to be cool or whatever?!”

    Owner: “I’m sorry, sir. Is there anything I can do to help you today?”

    Customer: “Yeah, I’m looking for a poutine recipe book. Do you have any?”

    Owner: “Of course! Right this way, sir.”

    Customer: “Why do people want to speak French anyway? It is a dead language like Latin or Greek. We are in America and America is for American speakers! We don’t need no foreigners to come here and bring their weird language. And you shouldn’t encourage them by greeting American customers, in America, with any other language than American!”

    Owner: “I’m sorry, sir, but I can no longer pretend that what you are saying is not wrong. Just so you know, people are speaking in French because Quebec was colonized by France more than 400 years ago. Quebec City is actually the oldest city in North America and has always been French. That is why everything from the street names to the billboards are in French! The Canadian dollar you’re holding is in both languages. Even the name poutine is French! Did you do any research before coming here?”

    Customer: *hesitating* “Well, yeah! But the brochure was in English! How was I supposed to know that poutine was a French word. We have that in New York!”

    Owner: “First of all, you can find pretzels in New York and those are German, or gelato which is Italian! It just proves that languages get mixed and influenced with time. That is also why there are cities in the United States that have French names, such as Baton Rouge or Des Moines! Those are all proofs that the French were present in North America hundreds of years ago! H***! Even the term ‘brochure’ is French!”

    Customer: “That is irrelevant! You are all just lazy for not learning American! You live in the past, holding to some old bull-s*** language!”

    Owner: “Well, I AM speaking English! And, by the way, it is ‘English’ and not ‘American’ because that language originated from England and not America. But I am also speaking French. How many languages do you speak?”

    Customer: “I speak English and English only! I don’t need to know any other language!”

    Owner: “Who’s being lazy, then?”

    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 8

    | Halifax, NS, Canada | Canada, Extra Stupid, Geography

    (I work in a call center dealing with Americans and insurance claims. A caller calls from Washington state.)

    Caller: “Where am I calling to?”

    Me: “That would be Halifax, Nova Scotia, sir.”

    Caller: “Where’s that?”

    Me: “That’s in Canada, sir.”

    Caller: “Whoa… so that’s like a foreign country?”

    Me: “Yes, sir, we’re located above the US.”

    Caller: “Really? You learn something new every day!”

    (After the call ends…)

    Supervisor: “You should have told him Nova Scotia and Canada were suburbs of New York.”

    Related:
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 7
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 6
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 5
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 4
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 3
    Canada: America’s Hat, Part 2
    Canada: America’s Hat

    A Directionless Conversation, Part 3

    | Germany | Extra Stupid, Geography, Hotels & Lodging

    (I answer the phone.)

    Me: “Good evening, you have reached the front desk. How may I assist you?”

    Guest: “I’m lost.”

    Me: “I’m sorry to hear that; where are you right now?”

    Guest: “I don’t know; I told you I was lost!”

    Me: “Where are you calling from right now?”

    Guest: *annoyed* “My cell phone!”

    Me: “I understand that, ma’am, but I need to know where you are if you would like directions to the hotel. Is there a street sign near you?”

    Guest: “Yes.”

    (There is a very long pause.)

    Me: “Can you tell me what it says?”

    Guest: “No.”

    Me: “No?”

    Guest: “No. It’s dark; I can’t read it.”

    Me: “Ma’am, if you would like me to give you directions I will need to know where you currently are. Can you please tell me the street name?”

    Guest: “Fine…”

    Related:
    A Directionless Conversation, Part 2
    A Directionless Conversation


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