Thursday, May 05, 2011

The "Trigger" That Gets Me...

Most of the time I can be very nice, but there's something that usually gets me going exploding mean.  That's when I'm insulted.  OK, not every "insult."  Insults are rather subjective.  Frequently people have no idea that they've insulted someone.  I can go months, even years without the trigger, but for some reason it happened twice in twenty-four hours.

Yesterday I was in Jerusalem and on the way to the bus station (walking) I looked for some sort of belt or sash for a new dress.  One of the first stores I entered was a fabric store, because I had this idea that a cord for drapes or curtains may do.  I started explaining what I needed.  I have no idea what it is in Hebrew, because I've never talked about it in Hebrew in all the forty plus years I'm here.  In most topics I'm very fluent in Hebrew.  I give classes in Hebrew, work in Hebrew and has even written a bit in Hebrew.  It's just that word I don't know or can't remember.  The woman in the store said:
"Why don't you learn Hebrew?"
I also work in a store, and I use every form of communications to make myself understood  to the customers and understand them.  What an outrageous thing to say.  My reply was:
"I never needed that word before, and I'll never buy anything in this store, even if you have what I need!"
Then today, when I was at work I got a call from an unfamiliar number.  Some guy kept talking about having my phone charger.  I told him that it's impossible, because I keep it at home.  He must have dialed the wrong number.  Then, in English, as if I didn't understand Hebrew, he asked where I was.  I told him that he was an idiot and hung up on him.

So, now you know how to insult me.


Hadassa said...

I have answered to people asking me if I would prefer to speak in English, "If you don't get paid to translate, my Hebrew is better than your English." Sometimes, if I think that the person just wants to try out his/her English I reply, "If you would like to, you may." I would have pointed out to the saleswoman that not only had she lost a customer, but that she had missed the opportunity to help and teach a fellow Jew. .חבל (What a pity.)
I have been helped by far more people, including complete strangers, than I have been insulted. I always try to remember that people who ask me stupid questions are being stupid, not me.

Batya said...

They didn't ask.
The woman was out and out insulting. I'd never say that to anyone. I'm a remedial teacher and I'm so careful about how I deal with weak students.
The guy on the phone went into English because he wouldn't accept that he had made a mistake, dialed the wrong number. Or it was some sort of scam and he thought he could convince me in my native tongue.
I also throw out shnurers who start using English to try to convince me to give. OK, I'm mean.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Batya, I totally identified with this post!

I figured that I just had a chip on my shoulder about Hebrew.

When I lived in the Shomron, I would spend several days only speaking Hebrew. My Hebrew would be great, and several thoughts would even pop up in Hebrew. Then I would have days of speaking mostly English, and I would wake up the next morning having regressed, and feeling like an idiot, facing one of the people you just described.

I will say, though, that all of those Americans (and British, etc.) who have been here for 20 years, and have never even bothered to try to learn Hebrew do not help the situation in the least.

Batya said...

Ben-Yehuda, there was a time, almost forty years ago, when I was grateful for some English, because my Hebrew was very weak. I'm here almost 41 years. Many people tell me that my Hebrew is good, just the accent awful.

Most (all by now) times that someone tries English with me it's to convince me of something, which I've refused in Hebrew. They're really barking up the wrong tree.

Hadassa said...

I agree with Ben-Yehudah about the English speakers not learning Hebrew. There are far too many of them, and they do give the rest of us a bad name.

Batya said...

Something "off" in our Anglo mentality.