Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Are You Looking At Me Like I'm Speaking Chinese?

I was walking to my car after work this evening, when I noticed a woman, smiling broadly and speaking animatedly, coming in my direction. Since I am fairly well known on campus, I smiled back although I did not recognize her. As she came closer, she looked straight at me, smiled, and said something. She spoke Chinese. I don't understand any Chinese. She continued smiling and walking towards me. She did not seem disturbed by the fact that I didn't respond or appear to understand her. Then, she took out her car key, opened the door of the car parked next to mine and, as she turned, I saw the Bluetooth device in her ear. She kept on speaking Chinese, but not to me.

This is only the latest in a series of misunderstandings I've had with people wearing wireless headsets. I don't seem to be able to shake the assumption that when someone is speaking and no one but me is present, that I am the one being addressed. I guess I will have to learn to wait until I hear, "Hey, you...yeah, you, I'm talking to you - you see anyone else around here?"


MaryWalkerBaron said...

Bluetooth, hands free, cell phone accessories have done more to normalize mental illness than anything else I can recall. How wonderful that we all appear to be experiencing symptoms of a psychotic episode. Internal or external stimuli, we'll all talking to ourselves. To normalize is to remove stigma. Keep on talking, even if there's no one on the other end of the line. It all helps.

ravaj said...

it happens on the other end of the phone as well, y'know. the caller is multi-tasking, and there you are in the middle of your chat, and s/he will suddenly yell 'stop that!' and it takes a moment to move from being confused and hurt to realising that a small child in someone else's vicinity has just committed a misdemeanor.

Leslie said...

Yes, I was the unwitting cause of offense on one such occasion. I was on a conference call from home and my dog was barking and I yelled, "Hush!" and one of the participants on the call said, in an icy voice, "What did you say?"