Lost in Translation

To wish someone luck in the U.S., you cross your fingers. In Germany, you hold your thumb in a fist. Incidentally, crossing your fingers, in either country, means you’re lying.

At some point, these somewhat folkloric pearls of wisdom will manage to fall through the cracks of one’s consciousness, rattling around with all the other confounding and contradictory quirks of one’s native culture, such that one may no longer remember the proper split second reaction to certain social situations.

Case in point. At a coffee shop in Cupertino, a young woman comes up behind me, and exclaims, “Oh, do you work for Apple?” as she pointed to my blue t-shirt and shoulder bag, (not to mention my phone — just a coincidence, I assure you) bearing the familiar logo. She went on. “I know, because my boyfriend works there and he brought one back for me. He loves it there. I don’t work for Apple though,” waves her arms” I work for the city here. It’s pretty interesting actually, we’re trying to get funding for this project…” and so on, detailing her whole life, friends, family and career, quite cheerfully at that, as if we had known each other for years and years.

The thing is that, had I been in Germany, I would have found her behavior overly forward and rather rude. It took me a full three seconds to realize that, on the contrary, I was in California, and she was in fact being incredibly friendly, engaging, and nice. And once I had properly classified the encounter, I considered that, after all, I might have liked to get to know this person.

Three seconds, however, is too much time to reflect on niceties. Before I knew it, she had her coffee, waved goodbye, and was out the door.

Author: Lucello

Something about me?

Leave a Reply