Monday, October 23, 2006

So this kid--freshman, possibly even still a high school student--comes to the desk tonight for headphones.

He then says something that sounds as if he's asking if he can take the headphones downstairs.

Sure, I say.

No, he says; I've misunderstood. He tries again. His accent is very strong, but it still sounds as if he wants to know if he can take the headphones downstairs where his brother is.

He tries a third time and finally I understand him: he doesn't know how to get downstairs. He is standing no more than 15 steps from an open set of stairs and the elevator, also clearly visible from the desk, is no more than 25 steps away and he doesn't know how to get downstairs.

His eyes light up when I say the word "elevator" and he departs down the staircase once I point it out to him.

My question is: how did he manage to get upstairs?


  1. I once heard two residents, one from somewhere in Eastern Europe, one from Korea. Talking together in English. Of a sort. I wanted to try and help them, but it seemed hopeless.

  2. It's so much worse when it's a phone call. At least in person I can resort to having them write down the words I can't understand.

    And I feel sorry for them having to attempt to understand me as well. I'm sure they never expected to encounter a hillbilly accent when they studied English!

  3. This is like those questions you get on IQ tests: "If X and Y take the 3:30 train and go 25 miles, how many minutes would it take to go to Texas?"

    I fear for his academic future.


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