The English Are Everywhere!

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 1, 2021

I am in a lift — ahem, elevator — with an English colleague. His parents are from Hong Kong and speak no English, but he grew up in a town on the Sussex coast so his accent is pure home counties; think Hugh Grant but without the London twang. The third person in the lift is a stranger.

Me: “Where should we go for dinner tonight?”

Colleague: “Maybe that hamburger place on Washington Square [Colleague #2] suggested?”

Stranger: *Pointing* “You shouldn’t have that accent!”

She immediately clapped her hand over her mouth and looked embarrassed, apologising. He laughed it off because he got it. Asian accent, sure. Asian with an American accent, sure. Asian with a British accent, shocking!

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The Brains Are Out The Window

, , , , , | Learning | February 24, 2021

I have diabetes and have to take insulin. In high school, I have to stop by the nurse’s office in order to take it, since all medicine must be stored there. We all call the nurse’s office “the clinic.”

One day, I have to stop by the clinic for insulin just before history class, but I know it won’t take long. The history teacher is known to be cool, and since I’m a good student, I know he will be fine with me being a couple of minutes late. I ask my best friend to tell the teacher that I’m in the clinic when she gets to class. 

Friend: “[My Name] is in the clinic.”

Teacher: *Staring* “The dog barks at midnight.”

Friend: “No, [My Name] is in the clinic.”

Teacher: *Eyes narrowing* “The crow flies in from the north.”

Friend: “Mr. [Teacher], you’re not listening! [MY NAME]. IS IN. THE CLINIC!”

Teacher: “The ship has arrived in the harbor?”

Friend: “My friend, [My Full Name], is currently in the clinic with the nurse so that she can take some insulin! She is going to be a couple of minutes late and asked me to tell you! She’s fine; it’s that just someone brought cupcakes in English and now she has to take insulin because she ate one!”

Teacher:Oh! I thought you were speaking in code! We are going over espionage in World War II today, and I thought you were just trying to really feel the subject material! I never submit the attendance until the end of class, anyway, so she’s fine. Thanks for telling me!”

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D***, What A Prude

, , , , , | Learning | February 21, 2021

I work as a substitute teacher. One day, I’m working in a fifth-grade classroom — the students are about ten years old — and it’s story time. Their teacher has been reading a book out loud, and I’m supposed to read the next chapter to the class.

The book is a young adult novel, with a few swear words here and there. For example, a character says, “D***, that was close,” after escaping a bad situation.

The first time I get to a swear word, I pause and ask the kids if they are okay hearing swear words as part of the story. The kids agree that they’re okay with it, so I continue reading, swear words and all.

A few days later, I’m subbing at the same school but for a different teacher. The teacher I subbed for earlier storms up to me before school begins.

Teacher: “Why did you teach my students swear words?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t teach them any swear words.”

Teacher: “My students said that you swore during story time.”

Me: “Oh, that? I was only reading the story. I even asked the kids if they were okay with me reading the swear words, and they said they were.”

Teacher: “Well, they’re not okay with it! I never use swear words with my students. I make up silly words when I read to them.”

Me: “You never said anything in your lesson plans about that, so I didn’t know.”

Teacher: “They’re fifth-graders! They’re too young to hear swearing. I shouldn’t need to write it in my lesson plans!”

Me: “Mrs. [Teacher], with all due respect, the kids said they were okay with hearing swear words, and they knew what every one of those words meant. I understand that they’re not learning those words from you, but they’re learning them somewhere.”

Teacher: “Then they lied to you! Fifth-graders are too young to know swear words. Now you ruined everything because the kids asked me why I don’t swear when I read the story.”

Me: “Okay. I’m sorry for misunderstanding, and if I sub for you again, I’ll make sure not to swear when I read a story to the kids. I’ll use words like dang or shoot, instead, and—”

Teacher:No! That’s no good, because it’s too close to actual swearing! You have to make up random silly words like dibbydabby or swizzlesticks!”

The bell rang to start for class just then, so I just turned and walked away from her. I never did get called to sub for her class again, so I really hope her students are doing okay.

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Totally Estúpido! Part 17

, , , , , , | Friendly | February 18, 2021

My girlfriend is visiting me in my apartment. She has an upcoming vacation planned to Panama with two friends. One of her friends speaks Spanish as her first language. During many of my conversations with her about this trip, she mentions the “Spanish friend” going with her on the trip and how helpful she has been in spearheading the arrangements since she speaks the national language of Panama.

Me: “You know, there are differences to how Spanish is spoken in Spain compared to how it is spoken in Latin America. Has she been experiencing any issues?”

Girlfriend: *Confused* “What do you mean?”

Me: “Your friend, the one from Spain going with you on your trip.”

She looks at me as if I’m wearing a block of cheese as a hat.

Girlfriend: “She’s not from Spain! She’s from Honduras!”

Me: *Confused pause* “Throughout the entirety of the weeks you’ve been talking about your trip, you’ve been saying, ‘My Spanish friend this,’ and, ‘My Spanish friend that.'”

Girlfriend: “Because she speaks Spanish!”

Me: “That doesn’t make her Spanish; she’s Honduran.”

Girlfriend: “It’s the same thing.”

Me: “No, it is not the same thing. You’re an American, but what if you were living in a foreign country and your local friend kept referring to you as their English friend? Wouldn’t that bother you?”

I can see the wheels turning in her head as she realizes I am right, but she’s trying to deflect.

Girlfriend: “Well… this isn’t like that.”

Me: “Yes, it is. It is exactly like that. You’re Asian. Do you speak Asian?”

Even after all that, every single time her friend comes up in conversation in the days or weeks that followed, she still refers to her as “my Spanish friend.”

Me: “You don’t have a Spanish friend; you have a Honduran friend.”

She would either reply with, “Whatever!” or she would repeat her statement with “my HONDURAN FRIEND!”

Totally Estúpido! Part 16
Totally Estúpido! Part 15
Totally Estúpido! Part 14
Totally Estupido, Part 13
Totally Estupido, Part 12

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No, Thanks, We’ve Already Got Enough

, , , , , | Working | February 17, 2021

It’s my second day as a bookseller at a large chain bookstore. Right now, we have an event where, when a customer makes a purchase, they can also buy a small paperback children’s book, which the store keeps (with a gift receipt) and then donates to children in need. We’re supposed to ask customers if they would like to donate a book to a child in our county.

I’ve just finished training on the register and a customer approaches. My manager tells me to check him out, so I do.

Me: “Okay, your total is [total]. Would you like to donate a child to… Wait…”

The customer chuckles, and I take a moment to figure out where that sentence went wrong and correct it before finishing the transaction.

Later, I tell my mom about it.

Mom: “There were a few times when you were younger where I would’ve liked to donate a child!” 

Thanks, Mom.

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