She Tried To Pull A Fast One And It Blew Up In Her Face
“I’m American, but can read and speak Russian on an intermediate level. A few years ago while visiting St. Petersburg, I was buying tickets for the hydrofoil to Peterhof. All the signs at the ticket booth were in Russian and I could read the ticket prices. The ticket agent assumed I didn’t know Russian and tried to tell me the ticket cost three times more than the stated price.
I looked her right in the eye and said in Russian, ‘I see on the board here that the ticket I want is (x) rubles.’ Her jaw dropped and the ticket agent sitting next to her started laughing her butt off.”
Public Humiliation Is Key
“I lived in South Korea for three years, but I never learned too much of the language. A friend of mine is 100% Korean but is very tall and was educated in America and New Zealand, so she has an American accent. Her co-teachers at her school all assumed she couldn’t speak Korean so they would talk crap about her constantly while she would listen on and feel terrible.
She said nothing for a whole year until she had to speak at the end of year ceremony. The school offered her someone to translate but she refused and in front of 800 or so students and faculty members she delivered her address in perfect Korean. She subtly called out the coworkers that had spent an entire year calling her a foreign pig. Apparently, one started crying from the shame of it. I wish I had gotten to see that.”
Give That Guy A Promotion!
“My cousin is a big white guy who studied for two years in Japan during college. He worked for one of the heads of Honda America for a few years. When the head guy learned that he spoke Japanese, he would make sure my cousin was in all the meetings and phone conferences with the Japanese branch. My cousin would listen to everything the Japanese would be saying to each other and report it to his boss during breaks.
As such, the boss looked like a psychic to the Japanese because after break, he would address their concerns without being prompted. The boss made mad bonuses every quarter and always funneled a bunch of that to my cousin.”
They Were Scheming…Right In Front Of Her
“So I was working at a dental clinic in Germany and these two guys walked in and started speaking in Arabic, not knowing that both I and my supervisor can understand it. The first guy (actual patient) was nervously telling his friend that this would never work and his friend was telling him to shut up and play along, so the supervisor and I tried to figure out what kinda game they were trying to play. Apparently, they were trying to lie about the patient’s age to get his dental treatment done for free; (I don’t know how that worked, I was just an intern). Unlucky for him, his teeth told the truth (you can’t fake being 16 when your wisdom teeth are ALL THE WAY out)
So my supervisor and I shut up about it. I was in actual pain trying to hold back from laughing as the friend tried convincing the patient that we’re idiots who don’t speak Arabic and can’t understand their trick. That is until I can’t anymore and decide to discuss the case with my supervisor. Right there in front of them. In Arabic.
I have never seen someone turn so many different colors so fast.”
This Pool Party Turned Into Honesty Hour Real Quick
“My family and I went to Sri Lanka for two weeks to see where my mom grew up and general beach stuff. For some reason, we were like the only people in the hotel we were staying at aside from a wedding party that left a day after we got there.
A few days in, there was another family staying there, I believe from Suriname, and we were all chilling at the pool and decided to play a game of water polo against each other. Things got exciting and one of the daughters yelled out something in Dutch like, ‘Go for the big fat guy!’
My Dutch dad replied, ‘What big fat guy?’ Everybody laughed.”
She’s Used This Language Trick A Time Or Two
“One time my friend and I shared a cab with two girls we didn’t know. Just decided to share a taxi with them because it was a long way and we wanted to save some money. They started speaking Swedish not knowing my friend is also Finnish Swede (her mother language is Swedish, she has been in Swedish school, but is Finn and speaks Finnish fluently). I understand Swedish but I was too inebriated to care. Suddenly she texts me:
‘They are planning to leave us with the bill.’
I texted that we should tell the driver so my friend just said:
‘These girls will pay half of this before they leave.’
He got the hint and didn’t open the doors before they paid.
There was another time I was in an airport with my aunt. She had broken her leg so she was in a , but because we were going to a beach holiday, we decided not to cancel it. Now my aunt has lived in Germany and speaks it fluently, I’ve lived there too so I understand it well, but I’m not fluent. We were speaking Finnish, saying something just to pass the time when the flight attendant asked us to go on the plane first.
This middle-aged man turned to his wife and said in German: ‘I don’t think disabled people should be allowed on planes.’
My aunt, who is a true boss, asked me to stop (I was pushing her wheelchair), turned to the man and said in perfect German: ‘I’m sorry sir, but I broke my leg and didn’t want to cancel my holiday plans. You are being incredibly offensive towards handicapped people and I feel sorry for your wife. Have a nice flight.’
He turned red, couldn’t even say anything to us and just looked away. His wife looked mortified.
Also, when I was a substitute teacher, I had two boys who came from Russia. They had a way of using Russian as their own secret language. They clearly talked about this one 4th grader. I didn’t understand a word, but they kept looking at her and then talking to each other. They were in 3rd grade. So this girl listened for a while and I didn’t get involved, because I knew she had guts. I kind of hoped she would put an end to it because we suspected the boys said really bad things about teachers and other students. We had talked about it, but they denied it, and we don’t speak Russian, so we just had to believe them and explain our school language is Finnish. The girl said something to them, then later told me what she said to those boys:
‘I’m Russian and you are being really rude. You should not talk like that about other people.’
I just remember how the boys stopped and ran away. I praised her when she told me because she handled it really well. These situations are so common that I’m just wondering how often I miss them, because you can’t know every language there is.”
At Least She Got A Free Meal Out Of It!
“The people at the Chinese food place on my campus spoke Chinese to the door exchange students. But even though I spoke Chinese, I just always spoke English to them since I have an accent when I speak Chinese. But one day I got all meat no rice since I had a rice maker at home. When I was paying, the lady said to the person beside her, ‘Fat lady wants meat no rice.’
And I responded in Chinese, ‘Actually I have rice at home.’ They didn’t charge me for the order and started giving me a bit extra whenever I go there.”
The Art Of Negotiation Just Got More Interesting
“So I don’t speak Spanish fluently, but I understand it just fine. I used to sell cars in Houston and as you can imagine, we had a lot of bilingual Spanish speakers come to buy cars from us. They never asked if my super clean cut white guy self spoke Spanish, so I never told them I did.
It was fun to have a couple that would speak English to me and Spanish to each other. They would literally tell each other everything, like how much they wanted to pay and their negotiating tactics… They would say things like, ‘If he offers to take $500 off, let’s do it, but I’m going to ask for $1,000.’
So once they said yes, inevitability one would ask the other a product question in Spanish and I’d jump in and answer in English. The looks on their faces when they have that ‘a-ha’ moment were priceless.”
Those Are Some Rude Employees
“I was shopping with friends for clothes and these two ladies that worked at the store were outside of my fitting room speaking in Spanish. They kept criticizing me for taking so long to try on clothes and referred to me as a dumb gringo and jokingly asked me if I needed any assistance (in English).
They didn’t realize I was Hispanic until I came out of the room and responded in Spanish that no, I didn’t need their help. They got so red.”
That’s Not What You Want To Hear At The Barber
“When I was stationed in Korea, I was getting a haircut and the hairdresser had like an assistant or a new person helping her get me seated and prepared. She says to the main girl, ‘He looks like a baby!’ I have a baby face and was like 22 at the time.
I responded in Korean with, ‘I look like a baby?’
She was really startled and embarrassed and hopped out of there for the rest of the haircut. The main hairdresser took advantage of being able to talk with me in Korean, though.”
She Let This Go On For How Long?
“My stepmother grew up in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese. She looks Italian and white. She has an olive skin tone and since she is only a quarter Japanese, she doesn’t look like she is from any east Asain speaking country.
One day, she and some friends went to get their nails (both hands and feet) done at a salon for some girl time. The lady’s who were doing the work were speaking fluent Japanese and were mostly gossiping about men and other things until they got to the feet part of said procedure.
My stepmother’s friend is a little overweight and she doesn’t have runway model style of feet. Well, the ladies who work at the salon just started to make fun of her in Japanese. Laughing and giggling; enjoying themselves in someone’s else’s misfortune and looks.
My stepmother said she let this go on for too long. It was about five minutes of them talking crap before my stepmother replied in Japanese.
Her comment to them: ‘I didn’t realize that we needed to look like princesses to get service here.’
The ladies stopped and looked at my stepmother with extreme guilt. They apologized in English and were silent the remainder of the time my stepmother and her friend were there.”
He Was As Smooth As Can Be
“I’m Swiss and Peruvian and live in Peru, so I don’t look at all like a Swiss guy.
There were two Swiss girls sitting behind me on a bus talking about Latino guys. Then one of them asked the other if she found me attractive. I turned around and said that I would love to know that, too. The look of confusion and shame was priceless. Then we just all laughed. Now I’ve got two new friends!”
These Wicked Women Had It Coming
“I’m a Mexican who speaks Hebrew fluently.
I was actually in the US in a deli around the time when the World Cup was going on in 2014. I was wearing a National team jersey and had been watching with family. We usually paint the colors of our flag on our cheeks (tradition). The game was over and we were getting food.
So my parents, brother and I walk into a booth. We sit and the people behind us, three middle aged women start speaking in Hebrew saying: ‘Look at these stupid Mexicans (which should have been a giveaway since the word for Mexicans in Hebrew is ‘mexicanim’) being loud and thinking they own the place. Typical.’
Well, I turned around, looked at them, and answered in Hebrew: ‘Yes, we are very proud of our country and the great job they are doing at the World Cup. If it bothers you, you can move.’
The look on their faces was priceless. I’ve never felt so empowered…until Mexico did a terrible job and got eliminated from the Cup.”
**Cue Dramatic Exit**
“While I’m Spanish, I don’t quite look like the stereotypical Spaniard: light skin color, blonde, green eyes…
When I was living in London, I got into several situations. The top one was on the tube back home. I think there was a football game (Chelsea – Barcelona) and this couple was going to the stadium and I was standing just besides them. The tube had a hard stop and I accidentally fell a bit over one of them. I apologized in English as I didn’t realise they were Spaniards too.
They started talking to each other saying, ‘This freaking fat cow nearly smashed in the ground,’ and things of the sort for almost five minutes.
When they left the tube and he looked at me one last time, laughing, I told him in perfect Spanish, ‘Enjoy the game, you little piece of crap.’ His face going pale as the doors were closing was enough satisfaction for a week.”
I Would Definitely Want New Roommates
“A friend of mine was visiting my country for a few days from Italy. He was staying in a hostel dorm that happened to have a group of German tourists sharing it. He said anytime he was back in the dorm, he would hear them laughing and making fun of him in German.
He said the stuff they said about him was that he must be the weirdest person on the planet because he was traveling alone and that he must be odd because he chose to read his book instead of talk to them all night.
Little did they know he speaks fluent German.
He stayed quiet for the few days he was there and remained perfectly pleasant, speaking English to them when they had conversations but otherwise keeping to himself. On the last day, as he was leaving the dorm, he turned to the group to say goodbye and in German added, ‘I hope you all enjoy the rest of your trip.’ He said the look on their faces was priceless when they realized he’d understood everything they’d been saying about him.”
That’s A Good Way To Get A Quiet Plane Ride
“I’m Brazilian and was flying to Rio from Atlanta. There were these two very attractive girls with their mother speaking English very fluently and one of them had their seat right next to mine. We exchanged some courtesy in English as I just assumed they were American and so did they. They were Brazilian-Americans and so did not have an accent and I started speaking English from a young age so as long as I don’t talk too much I can go unnoticed. So they start putting their carry on luggage in the bin overhead and the mother says to her daughters, in Portuguese:
‘Coitado, tá achando que vou deixar uma de vocês sentar do lado dele.’
Which means, ‘Poor thing, he thinks I’ll let one of you sit next to him.’
So I just turn to her and say, in Portuguese, ‘Don’t worry, ma’am, I’m just being polite. I do have a girlfriend and it’ll be a pleasure to share this flight with you.’
She just went, ‘Oh.’ And then she sat there in silence for the whole flight.”
His Qualifications Were Shocking
“I once interviewed for a part-time school holiday job, together with a good friend of mine. My friend is Chinese, the majority race of the country I live in. I, however, am quite clearly not.
The first thing the HR manager says when he sees me is ‘We need someone who speaks Mandarin,’ a criterion not stated anywhere in the employment ad, and which subtly translates to, ‘Chinese candidates preferred.’
My friend, while ethnically Chinese, speaks little to no Mandarin. I, on the other hand, speak it rather fluently.
Probably as a test, the HR manager decides to field us questions in Mandarin, clearly intent on cutting me out of the interview.
My friend turns pale, as he stumbles along to answer the question posed in whatever halting Mandarin he can scrape together.
The manager then turns to me, rather arrogantly, waiting for my reply.
It gave me great joy to tell him straight to his face, ‘Thank you for the opportunity, but clearly I am not the right candidate you are looking for to fill this position since I am not Chinese,’ in crisp fluent Mandarin.
The look of bewilderment of his face was priceless.”