Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cross-Cultural Fun Times

How much rudeness can you explain away as the result of someone who is not a native English speaker not being able to communicate in a tactful or nuanced fashion?

When I was pregnant with Cily, I had an encounter with someone at work who is on pretty much everyone’s Must Avoid List. I ran into her in the bathroom and she said, gesturing at my swelling belly, “Lisa, are you pregnant?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m six months along.”

“Boy or girl?” she said.

“It’s a little girl,” I said.

“ANOTHER GIRL? Well, better luck next time,” she said, and went into the stall.

Oh. Right.

So anyway, yesterday I ran into her, again in the bathroom. I mainly try to avoid her (see above re: Must Avoid List), but you know, there is that whole inconvenient “must void bladder” issue as well. So there I was, and she said: “Lisa, who watches your kid now?”

“She is in day care, just down the street,” I said. She gasped. No, really, she did, and then she said in a horrified tone:


“Yes, all day. I work full-time,” I said. And then I did something I hardly ever do, because despite what you might think I’m generally pretty polite. I gave her The Look. The “what the hell are you trying to pull here, lady?” Look. The “I can’t believe you’re asking me that” Look. The “if I were male you wouldn’t be asking me that” Look. And she shut up and put her head down and scuttled out of the bathroom.

She really chaps me. Is that not rude?


Bridget said...

Girlfriend, I have GOT to remember to use "the Look" when I get a nasty, uncalled-for comment. Seriously. I usually end up stammering something stupid because I'm so taken aback by someone else's rudeness.

"The Look" could now be my new default switch! If an issue arises then I could go all passive/aggresive and say, "What? I never said anything." LOL. You're brilliant. Thank you. (So glad you made her scurry away!)

Hope you all are on the mend. :-(

Los Angelista said...

Good for you that you gave her the look! But how funny would it have been if you told her the baby was only in day care for half the day and fends for itself the rest of the time you're at work. She gets a FAIL in critical thinking!

Cee in SF said...

What a rudie!

Next time, pull your patented, "Excuse me. I have to stand over here now." Then, turn your back to her. If you don't remember when you did that, I can remind you. I loved it!!

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Bridget: A lot of the time when I encounter something like that I, like you, can't even think how to respond. In this instance since she is known for rudeness I was already on the defensive as soon as she opened her mouth!

LA: I wish I had said that! LOL! She gets a fail in common sense!

Cee: Oh, I remember. He was so blatantly rude I honestly didn't know how else to respond except by saying, "Hm. I don't know what you expect me to say to that so I'm going to stand over here." What is wrong with people...