In our neck of comparatively multi-cultural suburbia, there is a fair percentage of people who hail from the former Soviet Union. Kimmy recently relayed an anecdote that illustrated that rather amusingly.
She was having lunch in her middle-school cafeteria. A few girls sat together, as usual. Kimberly, Danielle, Gabriela, Emily, Nicole – common American names, proper English-language conversation.
At the nearby table, a boy with a distinctly Russian name Artyom (easily converted into “Artie”, of course) was bragging to his non-Russian-speaking friend how he could say anything he wanted in Russian and no one around would understand a word of it. To prove his point, he switched to Russian and started chanting rather loudly “No one can understand me! You can’t understand me! No one can understand me!”
Distracted by the noise, Kimmy turned to him and said in her perfect Russian, “I can understand you”.
Then, Danielle, Gabriela and Emily, all with Russian-born parents, said each, “Me, too”. Only the Italian-American Nicole was left out of the proceedings.
Kimmy says Artie’s jaw almost literally hit the floor. His family moved to the area very recently.
That reminds me of the time, when I was 14-15, standing in the aisle of a train from White Plains entering Grand Central Terminal. The train was rocking back and forth and the lights were dropping off as we crossed the third rail gaps in the crossover switches. In front of me were two tall young businessmen. When the train stopped in the dark, these two men began speaking German, safe in the knowledge that no one could understand them.
“Americans have no idea of how to run a railroad.” “Their trains are awful.”
They spun around with abject fear on their faces.
First year German FTW.
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