A queer insult.

Sometimes the difference in culture between the UK and the USA rears its ugly, and usually amusing, head. Today was one of those times.

At work we have some internal instant messaging software which is great for employees to communicate when they:

A) Can’t call.

B) Won’t call.

C) Have the social skills of a gibbon with its scrotum in a jar of fire ants.

As my department is like a central hub for any questions or issues from our call centre, we get a lot of instant messages to help out with all kinds of weird and wonderful situations.

Here is a conversation I literally just had:

Fran: Hi, I need some help

Me: Hey Fran, it’s Daniel, your favorite Brit 😉

Fran: Hey Daniel! How’s it going?

Me: Pretty good. Busy! So what’s up?

(For security reasons, this part of the conversation is omitted as it’s work related.  Needless to say, I fixed the problem like a boss!)

Me: Done!

Fran: Great! Thanks.

Me: No problem 😉

Fran: Have a great day!

Me: You have a great day too 🙂

Fran: Poof

Now, she meant to imply that she magically and dramatically vanished from the conversation in a puff of smoke, like a genie….or Batman.

To me she ended that conversation with ‘Faggot‘.

I laughed like a drain for at least a minute, solidly.

It was one of the funniest insults I’ve received since living in America, particularly because it was unintentional and from a person who wouldn’t even say boo to a goose (with or without their nuts in a jar of fire ants).

poof

This is also the word we use for an ‘Ottoman’. England is a weird place.

 

Thank you for not being a dick

Today at work we had a team meeting. It wasn’t the usual fare with topics and issues that needed addressing; this was lighthearted.

So that was nice.

In our department have the option of writing small paper notes of positivity and appreciation.  These are then collected and shared at these meetings for everyone to enjoy.

Is ‘enjoy’ the right word?

It’s all very touchy feely.

Here are some examples with the names changed to protect the innocent (although not THAT innocent as one of them is very, very pregnant):

To James.
I always appreciate the way you come in and say ‘good morning’ to everyone. Your positivity is contagious.
From Kim.

Or…

To Becky.
Thank you for letting me feel your baby’s hiccup.
From Linda.

(“Becky’ is the pregnant one. Linda isn’t just a weirdo.)

(Much)

And…

To Betty.
You’re always putting others first and never have a bad thing to say about anyone.
From George.

You get the idea. It’s enough to make you want to vomit into your mouth a little bit.

This went around the entire room and there wasn’t a single one for me, until right at the end.

To Daniel.
Thank you for not sticking your middle finger up at me today.
From Doris.

Yep, that seems about right.

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Spelling it out really doesn’t help me.

I haven’t really put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – recently and this is due to two simple factors:

  1. I have recently started a new job at the company I work for and have therefore been preoccupied with not fucking it up.
  2. I procrastinate more than (note – come back and add example here)

This isn’t to say I haven’t been making notes of life events; I have.  It’s just a case of sitting my arse down and actually writing something.

The irony is, I actually started drafting this post…got sidetracked…and in the meantime posted something else entirely.  Well, now I’ve decided to sit down and at least attempt to finish this entry.

To manage your expectations, this isn’t a big amusing moment in my life, but more of a mini-rant about a gripe that I never realised was a gripe until it began rearing its ugly gripey head.

And this isn’t the only gripe.  To be honest, there are a few small issues here in America that I simply wasn’t prepared for.  For example, America doesn’t seem to have a word for ‘peckish’.

I’m sorry….what?

I used it in a sentence the other day at work and was met with lot of blank faces.

No word for peckish?  Really?

That evening I went home and asked my wife if there was an American word for ‘peckish’ and all she could come up with was ‘a little bit hungry?’.  This astounds me in a nation that is known for being in a constant state of graze.

Saying ‘I could eat’ isn’t quite the same.

Also, another unexpected gripe is the fact that most people I’ve met can’t read the 24hr clock (or ‘Military Time’ as they call it here).  I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve seen them deducting 12 on their fingers and quitely mouthing the words.

“So, 17:00 is…(counting on fingers, under breath) 16:00, 15:00, 14:00, 13:00, 12:00, 11:00, 10:00, 09:00, 08:00, 07:00, 06:00, 5:00.  it’s 5pm, right?”

Amazing.

Admittedly I do remember struggling with this myself, when I was SEVEN.

Anyway, back to the case in point.

I speak to a lot of Americans on a daily basis at work and, more often than not, I need to take their email address.  This isn’t anything out of the unusual, except for the way they read out their email address.  It simply baffles me.

Me – “What’s your email address?”

Them – “D as in Dog, A as in Apple, V as in, erm, Van, E as in Everyday, S as in Sam, M as in, erm, Mary, I as in Insulin, T as in Tommy, H as in Happy”

 

Small pause.

 

Me – Sorry, you said that so quickly, so it was D for Delta, A for Alpha…”

Them – “No, A like Apple”.

Me – “What’s the diff….er, I mean, can you repeat it for me?”

Them – “D as in Dog, A as in Ask, V as in Vanessa, E as in Egg, S as in Sam, M as in Mary, I as in, erm, (Inbred? Idiot? Imbecile?) Illinois, T as in Tree, H as in Hello”

 

(Usually always completely different words from the first attempt).

 

Another pause.

 

Me – “So, ‘DaveSmith’ then?”

Them – “Yes”

Me – “Ok….?”

 

There usually follows an unnecessary pause while the customer assumes I magically know their email domain name.

 

Me – “And the rest of it?”

Them – “What?”

Me – “Davesmith…..at?

 

Longer pause whilst they try and understand that I’m not a fucking mind reader.

 

Them – “@gmail”

You’ll notice the lack of “.com”.  In the US, if they don’t say ‘.org’ or ‘.net’, then it’s an assumed ‘.com’.

This has caused me no end of problems when I give out my email as I still use my ‘.co.uk’ address.  This usually takes some explaining and is met with a blank, open mouthed stare.

Drool optional.

So this is my issue, why don’t the majority of Americans actually say their email as it’s written?  I could understand if it’s something like 15t8f725d54it4@blah.com, but it rarely is.

It’s usually something that can be read out like ‘davesmith’, ‘rockdude’ or something laughably awkward like ‘sexxychick’ or ‘hotmama’.

These last two are particularly interesting when you can hear little kids in the background.

Seriously love, have a different email address when you’re shopping; your poor husband must hate calling on your behalf and being asked for it.

At least I understand why HE prefers to spell it out rather than say it.

I was talking to my wife about this and she said a customer had given her “K for Knife”.  What next;  ‘P for Pneumonia’ or ‘J for Juan’?

Sometimes I try and help them out and they disagree with my suggestion.

Them – “P as in, erm…P as in….”

Me – “P for Peter?”

Them – “No, P as in….erm, Psalm!”

double facepalm

F as in Facepalm

You may have noticed, from the examples I’ve given, there appears to be no grasp of the phonetic alphabet here; at least the official one.

How do I know this?  Because it confuses the shit out of them when I use it.

For the uninitiated, the phonetic alphabet is:

A – Alpha
B – Bravo
C – Charlie
D – Delta
E – Echo
F – Foxtrot
G – Golf
H – Hotel
I – India
J – Juliet
K – Kilo
L – Lima
M – Mike
N – November
O – Oscar
P – Papa
Q – Quebec
R – Romeo
S – Sierra
T – Tango
U – Uniform
V – Victor
W – Whiskey
X – X-ray
Y – Yankee
Z – Zulu

Admittedly, I have spoken to a few people who have used the phonetic alphabet correctly and I’ve openly commended them for it.  It’s a nice refreshing change from the random selection of words I’ve heard.

Mind you, there are a few unofficial phonetics that seem to have become the standard, even thought they’re not.

These are:

B – Boy
M – Mary
N – Nancy
D – Dog

I hear these every time.

And yet, oddly, they don’t use C for Cat.

Hmm.

I have a C word they can use.

types of cat

Don’t interrupt…

I’ve noticed that a lot of my posts recently have been highlighting all the frustrations and annoyances of living in America.  It’s been very anti-USA and that’s not entirely fair

I do actually enjoy living here….there is so much about America that is awesome and I will share events when they arise. However, if I wrote about all the things I like about my new life, my posts would be less ranty and more unicorny and rainbowy.

So in keeping with the negative trend, I want to share something that really annoys me when speaking to an American customer over the phone.

Firstly, let me give you some context…

Let’s say a woman is calling our company to order a new jacket for her son.  She bought a jacket with us last year and wants the same one again but in a larger size.

Got it?

Good.

Now, in England, the conversation would go something like this…

 

Customer – “Hello, I’d like to ask you about a jacket for my son”.

Me – “Uh huh, OK”. (verbally nodding to demonstrate I’m listening)

Customer – “Now, I ordered this jacket from you last year…”

Me – “Mm Hmm”

Customer – “…but it’s too small for him now, so I wanted to check if you had the same one but in a larger size”.

Me – “Sure, no problem.  Let’s bring up your details so I can find the jacket from last year.  Do you have your account number?”

Customer – “Yes, my account number is 123…”

Me – “…123…”

Customer – “…456…”

Me – “…456…”

Customer – “…789…”

Me – “…789, thanks.  So your account number is 123456789?”

Customer – “Yes”

(Brings up account details)

 

Right, now here’s the same conversation with an American customer…

 

Customer – “Hello, I’d like to ask you about a jacket for my son”.

Me – “Uh huh, OK”. (still verbally nodding)

– Silence –

Me – “Hello?”

Customer – “No it’s OK; you go ahead”.

Me – “What? No, it’s OK.  I was just listening; you go ahead”.

Customer – “OK, so I ordered this jacket from you last year…”

Me – “Mm Hmm”

Customer – “Sorry, go ahead”.

Me – “No no, please continue”.

Customer – “OK, so I ordered this jacket from you last year but it’s too small for him now, so I wanted to check if you had the same one as before in a larger size”.

Me – “Sure, no problem.  Let’s bring up your details so I can find the jacket from last year.  Do you have your account number?”

Customer – “Yes”

– Silence –

Me – (rolls eyes) “So what’s your account number?”

Customer – “123…”

Me – “…123…”

– Silence –

Me – “Hello?”

Customer – “Yes, I’m here, go ahead”.

Me – “So you said it’s 123..”.

Customer – “…123…”

Me – “123123?”

Customer – “…456…”

Me – (getting annoyed now) “…yep…”

– Silence –

Me – “Go ahead”.

Customer – “No it’s OK, you go ahead”

Me – (through gritted teeth) “I need the rest of your account number, please continue”

Customer – “…789…”

Me – “…789, thanks.  So your account number is 123123456789?”

Customer – “Yes”

(No account details…unsurprisingly)

 

Farkin’ ‘ell!

Now, let me be clear, this isn’t the case with conversations face to face, this only happens over the phone.  If you so much as fart it spooks them like a deer in the headlights of common sense.

During a face to face conversation I don’t have people stopping mid sentence…unless I flop my cock out.

raise eyebrows

It’s all a matter of choice.

Yesterday, during a drive from Las Vegas to Riverside California, my wife and I stopped at the famous Peggy Sue’s diner for lunch.

We took a seat, ordered a couple of drinks,and perused the laminated menu full of 50’s puns and references to see what took our fancy.  Soon enough the waitress came over in her 50’s diner uniform and asked us what we wanted to eat.

Mine was easy; I wanted a cheeseburger.

When my wife ordered it highlighted another big difference between the USA and the UK.

Below is an almost exact word-for-word account of the conversation my wife had whilst ordering her meal.

Waitress – “What would you like?”

My Wife – “Steak and eggs”

Waitress – “How do you want your steak?”

My Wife – “Medium”

Waitress – “How do you want your eggs?”

My Wife – “Scrambled”

Waitress – “Do you want hash browns?”

My Wife – “Yes”

Waitress – “Toast, biscuits and gravy or English muffin?”

My Wife – “Toast”

Waitress – “White, wheat or sour dough?”

My Wife – “Sour dough”

If that had been in the UK, the conversation would’ve gone something like this:

Waitress – “What would you like?”

My Wife – “Steak and eggs”

Waitress – “OK”

America 1, England 0.

too many choices

United States of Oblivious

I’ve noticed that some companies and brands in the USA have names and wording that could be considered…well…downright inappropriate and fucking hilarious in the UK.

Case in point…

image

Delicious, right?

Now, the dictionary definition of a growler is:
1. a person or thing that growls.
2. a small iceberg that rises little above the water.

To Americans, a growler is some kind of bottle with a handle that is usually used to hold beer.

image

A growler (snigger)

In England, the word ‘growler’ is slang for vagina.

Over here it’s entirely acceptable to say “Hey, check out her growler” without getting a slap.

In England it’s deemed a bad chat up line to use.

And it gets better.

In the UK we have a verb that is slang for, erm, ‘obtaining a beer foam moustache from partaking in a growler’, if you know what I mean.

image

Know what I mean? 😉

This verb is ‘Mott’.

For my English brethren who have ever seen Celebrity Juice on UK TV, you will have heard (and seen) Keith Lemon talk about ‘motting a lady’.

This is usually met with raucous laughter as he demonstrates it on one or more of his celebrity guests – more often for an American who has no idea what it means.

image

Mott mott mott!!

So imagine my joy at seeing these in Walmart last night.

image

Take a sip, you know you want to.

Although I do have some concerns about these.

image

What’s 9442 miles between friends?

This evening I went to Target which, to my English brethren across the pond, is like Woolworths used to be…but on steroids.

I found what I was looking for and made my way to the till (checkout). 

The guy at the till (checkout), upon hearing me speak, joined the slew of uncultured twats I’ve encountered since moving to America by asking, “So what part of Australia are you from?”

Here we go again.

He could’ve simply asked where I was from, but no; he thought he’d be clever and join the ranks of twattery by asking the question I’ve heard about a million times since I emigrated.

Even if I was from down under, would he have known the area? I doubt it. This guy probably couldn’t find his own arse with both hands. [¹]

It didn’t stop there. He went on to embarrass himself and his country further.

Here is an almost literal account of the entire conversation.

Him – “So what part of Australia are you from?”

Me – “Guess again”

There was a unnecessarily long pause.

Him – “New Zealand?”

Me – “Nope. Where else do they speak ENGLISH a lot?”

He paused again and really thought about it this time.

Him – “Scotland?”

I couldn’t believe it.

Me – “No. Think about it. Where is the most ENGLAND place you can think of that speaks ENGLISH?”

Him – “Well, there’s England but….”

I had to interrupt him. I didn’t want to know what level of ignorance was churning that sentence out of his mouth.

Me – “That’s right, England. I’m English”

He looked at me skeptically and turned to scan my goods though his till (checkout).

Him – “Huh, well you don’t sound English. You sound Australian”.

No I don’t; I sound English.
Do you know how I know I sound English? Because I’m English! That’s where I came from! The Australian accent is completely different.

I was warned that a majority of Yanks thinks we’re either Ozzies or Kiwis, when in fact we’re just Poms.

It amazes me how they can’t tell the difference and then, when corrected, proceed to ask me if I’m sure or – in the case of Captain Cretin tonight – dispute it.

Then, on cue, he decided to tell me about people he knows or is related to that once lived in England or he knew someone in England, or read about England in some book.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fucking atlas.

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[¹] Also down under