Weekly Writing Challenge: Eavesdropping

Coffee-Shop-ConversationIn response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Overheard.”

While I was reading the newspaper, I heard a very natural English accent. I tend to notice any kinds of English use, both the natural (the good) ones and the very bad ones (you know, the ones that just make your blood boil and then start to feel sorry for the listener – as an English Nazi that’s totally understandable). But I’ve grown a different appreciation of bad English over the years. No one’s perfect I suppose, or like my mom keeps telling me “they might as well laugh at your French” – true. My French sucks.

The native English voice was a man’s who was with two women, all of them around 40. The man was dressed dully with jeans, Nike running shoes, gray shirt with dark collar and a hat. A typical American I suppose. His face was the kind that everyone considers “mainstream”. But who am I to judge, we Asians look pretty much alike too. Two women looked Asian though; I was pretty convinced that they were Vietnamese, especially when I overheard their conversation (or rather their very bad and Vietnamese-like English accent).

The men walked out to buy a breakfast, leaving two women behind to keep each other’s company. I expected them to start speaking Vietnamese, who wouldn’t? But to my surprise both of them keep on talking in English. The effort was undeniable and more than obvious, which resulted in an unnatural conversation.

One of them gestured towards the table and asked “we sit there?”. Her English was certainly bad, but she tried.They both sat down and started talking and asking about each other’s family. I heard the barrier, loud and clear and I felt sorry for them. The conversation could have been much more interesting and various in topics, but instead it was just about their families and showing of photos.

After the man came back, three of them sat for another half an hour or so before leaving. I believe that’s what happens when the lack of ability to converse, to use the same language gets in the way. How could they even stand each other’s presence; what’s the point of hanging out and having a coffee when they’re unable to speak to each other about anything that comes across in their minds?


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