So it’s been nearly four months and I haven’t written a blog since my trip to Maine.. Why? Well, I would love to say it’s because I’ve been far too busy attending events around the globe – but actually I’ve been clearing the yard of sticks and sweeping leaves. Last week we got our first ‘real’ snow of the year so I’ve got no more excuses… I’m going to try and be more timely in future.
(Note to non-Wisconsinites: You know that bit in Crocodile Dundee with the knife? (Okay – note to Wisconsinites over 30, I guess) – Well, if you point out the snow to anyone that’s been living here for any length of time they’ll look at the snow, then at you. Then look at you like you’re five years old. Then they’ll say – ‘Naah, that ain’t snow – this is snow’, and then they’ll tell you about a time five years ago when they basically lived in igloos and the prime cause of death was tongue-stuck-to-pole-io.)
Then I needed to find something to write about – and the problem with not writing for four months is that you’ve got four months worth of stuff that happened, and you want to pick the best thing.
So I’ll give you a choice;
1.The crazy hairdresser.
2.The friendly A&W burger boy.
Really? I thought you’d go for the other one.. Are you sure? Okay – we’ll save the other one for next time..
Anyway, you know how people can be miserable? (The City Of London – Are you listening? You know who you are..) …Then some people can be okay. They’ll look a bit uncomfortable when you first speak to them but then they’ll open up – Until you make some joke that you think is perfectly okay but it strikes them as wholly inappropriate, and there’ll be an odd silence until you both wander away..
Then there are people that are really genuinely friendly. Like me.
And screw you if you don’t think so.
THEN there are people that are too friendly. Like their ‘friendly’ dial goes up to eleven if you know what I mean… Well, the American word for that is ‘Wisconsin’.
To put this in perspective, if you fall and break your hip –
In London/New York they will stand on your hip while they take your wallet.
In Wisconsin they will drive you to the nearest hospital, pay to get your hip fixed, and then send you away with a spare hip ‘just in case’.
This is clearly lovely in most cases. But in some cases it becomes slightly surreal…
So I went to buy burgers from the A&W drive-thru. It was raining a bit and I… well… drove-thru. I pulled up to the speaker thing and ordered. As these aren’t the best way of communicating I put on my best American accent to help. I ordered my “four cheeseboigers and fu-reyes – hold the mayo” (They don’t put mayo on them normally, but since I got to America I find I ask them to hold the mayo on everything. It helps me fit in.)
After the guy has asked me to repeat it three times I lost the pretend voice and used my normal one. He got the order and told me to drive around to the window. (I figured he didn’t want his parents to see me coming in the front door).
I arrived and he repeated the order to me and I agreed. Then he looked at me and said –
‘I really like your accent’.
Now I have a stock answer in times like this. I get told this sometimes, since we arrived here, and I needed something to say to avoid the embarrassment – so I go with;
‘Thanks – I really like yours too’. To which he said –
‘Oh, I don’t have one’.
‘…Yes you do’.
‘No I don’t… Do I?’
‘…Well – Yes.’
(Click of a lightbulb)
‘Oh! I guess I do, to someone who isn’t from around here!’
‘Yes! Exactly – now you just need to move to England and everyone will tell you how cool you sound!’
‘Wow – Moving to England. I’ve never even been outside the USA.’
‘Yeah.. Well.. I suppose… Does Canada count?’
‘..Umm.. Yes.. I guess that does count as being outside the US, as it’s an entirely different country.’
‘I really do like your accent’.
..There – you see? That turned a perfectly normal burger cooling conversation into something else. That little extra, unexpected, ‘I really do like your accent’… Weird.. So I say;
‘Thanks’. And then successfully drop my credit card on the ground as I manage to miss his hand reaching out for it. He shouts ‘Don’tworryI’llgetit!’ and a tiny door opens on the side of the store. He runs out in the rain and picks up the card. Stops. Looks up at me. Says ‘Sorryabouthat’ – then runs back indoors and apologises again.
Then he congratulates me on my accent again.
So I just smile this time. He gets the bag of food and goes to hand it to me. Then he says – ‘Whoa – look – isn’t this like the biggest bag you’ve ever seen?’ and starts swinging it to show off it’s.. biggishness. I reluctantly agree – although I’m fairly sure I’ve seen larger. Then he hands me my drinks..
I get as far as three before I run out of hands. He asks if I’d like a tray, and I say ‘no thanks – I’ve got enough to carry’. He says okay, so I point out I was joking.
He says – ‘That was pretty dumb of me, wasn’t it – I mean if you didn’t have the tray you’d be like “whooooaa”, “waaaaaaah”, “woooohoooo”’ All of this is accompanied by him holding some empty cups and staggering around the booth like an English guy in a Jeep with too many drinks to carry.
I say ‘absolutely’ – and he compliments me on my accent. He says he really hopes I come again, and I assure him I will – while thinking that I may never even use the letters A and W again.
So when you encounter someone who says ‘you can never be too nice’ – assure them you can. And then start complimenting them on their accent..
Next Time – The Crazy Hairdresser!