I was exchanging emails with my good friend, Nicholas, yesterday and I tried to explain my lack of knowledge as it relates to the English language. Now, I can speak "American" English and I think I occasionally have a knack for grammar... although my spelling is atrocious! However, when it comes to proper English (as the Brits call it) I am at a complete loss. I spend most of my day asking people to repeat themselves. Unfortunately, no one ever says the same thing when they repeat it which just leaves me even more lost! I try to read lips but since I have not mastered this technique I usually look like I am staring at their bad teeth! I have a rule about asking people to repeat themselves 2 times in a row. As a result of this asinine rule, I spend about 60% of my day grinning and nodding. Because "Grin and Nod" is my second rule! Who knows what I have agreed to or smiled about over the last week.
I receive some funny looks which I respond to by laughing. I find that when I start laughing other people laugh, too. I tell myself we are laughing together but reality is that they are likely laughing at me. I can't even imagine what must be going through peoples heads when I am bobbing my head like a hula dancer on the dashboard and breaking into fits of spontaneous laughter! I am really helping the American image!
Now the second part of this is the number of people in London who have a mixture of accent. I worked with a Letting Agent who was Korean and had a British/Korean accent. Seriously, this is just wrong. I think that the hour I spent with her was being taped for candid camera or punk'd or whatever practical joke show is popular in London! She was asking me questions.. I could tell by the way she looked at me when I did not respond with an actual answer. I exaggerated my nod, just in case she had missed it, and flashed my pearly whites but she kept looking at me like I was supposed to say something. So I just started talking... I told her about Chris and how he was in Singapore. I talked about Moe and how he had woken me up the the middle of the night by stepping on my chest and then staring at me. Essentially, I started talking and did not stop until we got back to her office! All of you who know me well, know that I am perfectly capable of talking non-stop for at least an hour... maybe longer. This poor agent probably thinks I am an idiot... However, I did tell her that I had a degree from the University of Florida! She essentially knows my life story.
To top it all off, I met a potential work contact at The American Bar. She was very talkative but she was British and drunk! All the lip reading, repeating and grinning/nodding in the world couldn't help me! I am banking on the fact that she was drunk enough to not realize that I had no idea what she was saying but sober enough to think that I was a lovely person deserving a break!