No … thank … you …

Today, while at the Golden Gate Bridge, I spotted a large group of Asians trying to take a picture. Trying to be a diplomat, I slowly say “You… want me… take picture?” while using hand motions. The man looks at me and says “No thanks asshole, I got it,” in plain English. FML

A friend from high school had our AP English teacher ask her, “DO … YOU … SPEAK … ENGLISH?”
She replied, “YES … I … SPEAK … ENGLISH.”

I introduced my mother to one of my professors at graduation. The prof said, “IT’S … SO … NICE … TO … MEET … YOU!”
After she left, my mother said, “Does Dr. X have a speech impediment?”
I said, “No, Mom, she has a brain impediment.”
Mom: “Oh, that’s what I thought.”

19 thoughts on “No … thank … you …

  1. Now that is funny!!! It has also happened to me more times than I care to remember.

    I’m African, I speak another language in addition to English (which I speak perfectly and have spoken from birth).

    I was on a train talking to a friend of mine in swahili and the white guy seated across from us turned to his friend and said ‘They let these idiots come here and they can’t even speak English’. I turned to him and said ‘I know enough English to tell you the following. Go Fuck yourself!!!’ and turned back to my friend. The dude’s expression was priceless (and there were suppressed twitters of amusement from others on the train).

  2. Today, while at the Golden Gate Bridge, I spotted a large group of Asians trying to take a picture. Trying to be a diplomat, I slowly say “You… want me… take picture?” while using hand motions.

    Why would you do that?? I thought you were Asian and you would have enough of that, but now I’m confused.

    One day when I was going to work and got off the bus, I saw from the corner of my eye this white man snapping photos of me from behind. I assumed he was not from around here. I thought it was inappropriate to take pictures of POC without permission like we are scenery, but when I went into my work building, he went inside too, as he was going the same way.

    As we were waiting for the elevators, I tried to avoid contact, as being an Asian woman, I was creeped out by this white man taking photos of me without permission. The white man comes up to me and shows me the photo he took of me from behind (I was far away), using hand motions while having a silent open happy mouth, but never speaking, as if he was unable to speak, or he assumed that as an Asian, I understand ambiguous hand motions more than spoken English. I interpreted his hand motions as saying that I should be flattered that he, a white person, would find an Asian like me worthy of being photographed.

    Being confused by his overconfidence in his importance, I tried to think of the most charitable explanation. I asked in plain English, “Are you a photographer?”

    He said no, and then he seemed embarrassed as he shuffled away.

  3. Hahahahahahaha white people are so clueless. It totally reminds me of the second Harold & Kumar movie where they sent in an (awful) interpreter for Harold’s parents, and when the dad was explaining in English that they’ve been American citizens for over 40 years, the interpreter was like, “They’re using some sort of dialect I’ve never heard before…” Ha, I found it on youtube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM8pe-OLi6w

  4. Years ago, my daughter and I were on a bus, she was about five years old, and a man kept trying to talk to her, but she ignored him and looked the other way, finally he said, “What’s the matter, she doesn’t speak English?” and I said, “No, she doesn’t speak to strangers.”

    Hey Kim, that you tube is LOL good.

  5. I was at an event preparing for Chinese New Year and I saw a lady from church that I had spoken to but did not know well. Most people at our church speak both Mandarin and English, a few Mandarin only, and a few English only. I speak English mostly, a few words of Mandarin. (Church service is in Mandarin with translation.) So anyway, I saw this lady, and asked her a question, and she responded to me in Mandarin, and she saw I did not understand, and the next thing she did was repeat, very slowly in Mandarin what she said the first time (I understood the few words I know but not enough to understand the whole response). Fortunately, I asked a friend standing nearby to translate, and it was fine. But I thought it was amusing that everyone seems to do that….

  6. @restructure:
    I think these are collection from around the web, FML is an anonymous submission website that collects FML (Fuck My Life) confessions for example. I’m guessing the rest is taken from similar sites

  7. Hi Restructure!, Pazuzu is right, the first one is from FML. The other two are from ML (no particularly reason to say F it at this time).

    And yes, my mom is awesome.

  8. I was on the bus and this Asian woman was sitting across the aisle with a little boy who was probably her son in her lap. The boy looked about 2 and was repeating after the bus’s automated recording cautioning passengers to hold on to something so they don’t fall.
    Automated bus recording, “Please hold on.”
    Kid: “Hold on!”
    The kid was super cute, obviously, and was attracting a lot of attention from other passengers.
    The white guy sitting next to me said “they speak really good English!” Like he was surprised.
    This was also in San Francisco, which has huge populations of various Asian nationalities all going back several generations.

  9. @MA, I (caucasion American) had a similar experience on a train in France. The conductor asked me something, and given the small similarities between Spanish and French, I knew it had something to do with my ticket. I told the guy, “I don’t speak French.” He repeated the question in French. Again, I said, “I don’t speak French.” Then he said in English, “I will say it slowly”, then repeated the question in French. I told him once more I don’t speak French and he finally asked me the question in English.

  10. A couple summers I worked as a teacher’s aid in a summer school. My class one semester had 2 or 3 Chinese kids who were being sent to the US to learn/perfect their English since their families were going to be immigrating in the next few years. They were staying with friends of the family/extended family who were US citizens.

    One time, the teenage/early twenties son of the people they were staying with, came to pick them up from class. He was wearing an MIT t-shirt. The teacher was like “They…Are…Doing…Very…Well,” he said: “good, I work with them every night on their English.” “Well…They…Are…Doing…Well…Good…Job…” I swear, even hearing him speak English didn’t stop her from the slow/loud bullshit.

    I was so pissed/mortified/offended by that teacher. Especially since I was the only one working with the kids on their English, and had noticed they were clearly learning more/better than they would from me with my (very basic/broken) Chinese.

    After she left, I had a discussion with him about what he did with them at home. I wish I’d said “sorry the teacher is a racist asshole” but at the time I didn’t feel comfortable enough calling out authority, I guess.

  11. I live in Germany,my best friend has black hair and dark brown eyes as well a a last name of Hungarian origin (his family came to Germany over five generations ago) and he get’s this sort of crap time and time again.When someone at the jobcentre asked him what language he needed his forms and stuff translated into,he replied:”None.If you had bothered to talk to me,you’d have noticed I’m a native speaker.If you had bothered to look at my file,you’d know that I was born in (town 20 miles away) and that I studied history in Berlin.”

  12. Just wanted to note that situations in which one does not understand the majority language are not the same as ones where another person automatically assumes one does not speak the majority language.

  13. @olivia.
    now, you are just being silly.

    U were in france. the native language is french, you should make the effort to learn it. the onus is not on the french person to have to learn to a completely different language in order to speak with you.

    Did it ever occur to your privileged self, that the french ticket inspector could only speak rudimentary english?
    If you visit a foreign country, learn the damn language or carry a dictionary around.

  14. Thank you to Kim for posting the link to that video clip from the Harold and Kumar movie! I will have to share that with my husband.

    My husband was born and raised in India but he speaks perfect English (quite common *even in India* not just among Indians who move to the USA) and went to grad school in the USA. And yet, like others on this thread, he has had that experience of people assuming he could not speak English. What’s worse, even actually speaking English to them did not erase their faulty assumption!

    To give a few more details, about 30 years ago he lived in an area where there were mostly white folks and almost no Indians. He would go out to lunch bet his coworkers that the waiter/waitress would not understand his lunch order. And they would say, “What do you mean? You speak perfect English! Your accent is not fully American but it’s quite easy to understand you.” And he’d say, just wait and see.

    So, my husband would place some simple order, like, “I’d like a cheese sandwich.” And, sure enough, somehow the person taking his order could not understand him, make him repeat the order a couple times. His only explanation for this was that the waiter or waitress had made some sort of decision in advance that based on his looking “foreign.” And none of his white coworkers would ever believe it until they saw it for themselves.

    So, what the actor Ed Helms does in that movie clip is only a slightly exaggerated version of reality. Priceless.

  15. Oh, sorry about that. I first read it through Google Reader, and for some reason, I didn’t notice that the first paragraph was in a blockquote. I’ve visited FML before, but I thought that resistance was saying FML. (See, I have to explain myself, so that I won’t look like I failed at reading comprehension because I’m Asian.)

  16. LOL, I kind of admire the person making the original post for admitting to it in public. I think I’d spend months cringing at myself.

    I don’t how related it is, but this post really made me think of my boss at work. I work for an American branch of a Japanese company and in addition to having to communicate with offices in Japan, we have several Japanese expatriates working alongside us in our office.

    They aren’t all fluent English speakers, but still perfectly legible and have no problem seeking clarification when they don’t understand something. My (white) boss does this thing where every time he speaks to one of them, he takes on this stilted, mimic-Japanese accent and simplified sentences and a lot of pauses. He’s the only person in the office who does this.

    I’m always torn over if this is supposed to be helpful or is just insulting.

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