Multilingual People Share the Time a Stranger Rudely Gossiped About Them in a Language They Actually Knew

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While it sucks to have people say rude things about you, there are few greater joys than being able to let them know you just understood everything they said. The following people give crap-talkers a huge shock by hilariously putting them in their place.

Read on for some very satisfying stories!

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47. Mission Failed!

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I’m an American traveling abroad in the Middle East, and went on a date with an Arab guy. He asked me if I spoke Arabic, but since I’m not comfortable speaking it, I just said no. I can understand most things, though, and can speak if pressed. Dinner was great, we got along well, and then went to smoke at a local cafe.

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The owner, who was my date’s buddy, asked who I was in Arabic. He smiled at me sweetly, squeezed my hand, and told his friend in Arabic, “An American floozie who I’m going to hook up with later.” I kept a stupid, docile smile on my face. When the owner took my order, I told him in Arabic “and one tea for the American floozie who he will not sleep with later.” The look on both of their faces was priceless. Needless to say, I ended up taking a cab home.

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46. Enough With Your Story

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I’m fluent in Spanish and was in a bank line in Lima and these two early middle aged women were in front of me have a mostly quiet chat. One was telling the other about this new young guy at work she was banging and describing all the crazy naughty things they were having, going into detail about all sorts of stuff. The other wanted to know what he looked like and she was kind of describing him badly, and she kinda did a sly look around the bank, waited a few seconds and said in Spanish: “He looks like this guy behind us, but with blonde hair, much better looking and a much better dresser.” She did a good job of not gesturing towards me when she said it, but it didn’t stop me from hearing it.

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So she goes back to discussing details about hooking up with him at work and they don’t notice the line has moved, and so without a warning throat clear I just say: “We all love the details back here but can you move forward?” She went white as a ghost and they didn’t really talk for the rest of the wait; it was hilarious.

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45. Easy Money

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I was in prison in the United States where a lot of people speak Spanish. Fortunately, I kept it to myself that I did as well. I was at the table playing poker to make a little money and to pass the time and a few Latinos were playing as well. They would tell each other their cards in Spanish then laugh like they weren’t talking about cards.

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Needless to say, this gave me quite the advantage. But things got a little more interesting when they started talking about my win streak. One mentioned to the other that he thought I was cheating and suggested that they don’t pay me what they owed (which is a good way to get into a fight in prison). So I calmly said to them in Spanish, “If you don’t wanna owe me money then you shouldn’t tell me your cards.” It was such an epic moment … I’ll never forget the look on their faces. Oh, and by the way, they did end up paying.

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44. Cash Or Credit?

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I’m Puerto Rican, but I tend to look Indian whenever I let my hair grow out and let my facial hair become rather unkempt (thanks to Taino genes!) I used to work at a big red retail store years ago, and I remember a time where I heard an older mom start complaining to her son that I’m putting in too many items in her bags and that I’m not double bagging them. She then muttered In Spanish: “Stay in school so you don’t end up like this guy.” Now, I had only done around three bags. She probably had another 20-25 items to go. I slowed my pace down and gently began to insert one item into two bags. Every. Single. Item. She starts complaining that I’m too slow and she has places to be, so I slow down even more. I gently checked for the barcode and made sure that her bags were inserted perfectly into her cart.

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Finally, she insisted that I can just scan it all and throw it in a bag. I tell her no, I want to do this right. In Spanish. She paused and her son just stared at her while she comprehended what was happening. From there, she just nodded her head as I scanned back to normal. She became deathly silent for the rest of the transaction. Cash or credit? No response. Did she want a red card? No response. Have a good day? I got a “Listen … I’m …” She didn’t even finish, she just paused and walked away while her poor son didn’t know what to do.

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43. Excuse Me?

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I’m half Latino and half Japanese. My Japanese mother only spoke Japanese to me growing up, and spending every summer in Japan with my grandparents also helped with my fluency. Anyway, I look way more Latino than I do Asian. When I was 18, I had a part-time job as a tour guide for Japanese tourists in San Francisco. Everybody meets in the hotel lobby and so I went to the lobby but not everybody was there yet. So I usually just chat up the hotel staff while I wait. I wear a name tag so it looks like I work at the hotel. This old man spilled his coffee and he started waving at me and saying “Excuse me” in Japanese and pointed at the mess. His wife said in Japanese to him, “Don’t do that; that’s rude” and he said, “Those guys are usually the janitors. Don’t worry about it.” Before I said anything, the hotel clerk that was talking to walkie-talkied someone to clean it up.

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So finally everybody showed up and the other guide started introducing herself, and then I walked over there and began my self-introduction in Japanese. At that point, the old guy’s jaw dropped with confusion and his wife slapped his head. That always stuck with me. It was hilarious.

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42. Gonna Rip ‘Em All

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This happened to my brother and father while they were traveling. Some dude walks up to my brother, thinking he is a local, and starts talking to him in Farsi. When he realized my brother didn’t understand, started saying really rude things, about him and my dad being stupid.

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My dad (fluent in Farsi) comes over, and rips this jerk’s butt. The dude feigned being apologetic, and made excuses for his attitude. As he was walking away, he started muttering more foul things about them, but in Turkish this time. Dad speaks Turkish as well, and proceeds to tell him off again.

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41. A Little Bit Extra

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The people at the Chinese food place on my campus spoke Chinese to the exchange students. But even though I spoke Chinese I just always spoke English to them since I have an accent when I speak Chinese. But one day I got all meat with no rice since I had a rice maker at home.

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And when I was paying the lady says to the person beside her “The fat one wants meat, no rice.” And I responded in Chinese, “Actually I have rice at home.” They didn’t charge me for the order and started giving me a bit extra whenever I go there.

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40. You Think I’m Gonna Like You?

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I am Hispanic and fluent in both English and Spanish, and people often think I don’t speak Spanish. So there was this one time I was at a laundromat folding clothes while these two Hispanic ladies were at a table across from me folding their clothes. Both of them are speaking loudly in Spanish so I couldn’t help but overhear what they were talking about. They start talking about drinks. One of them said ever since she got married and had a kid she stopped drinking. The other chick was saying that she loved getting wasted and could not live without drinking to the point that she wanted a boyfriend so he could buy her drinks and take care of her kid. Then they both start talking about their ideal boyfriend. One of them says that she is lucky to have found her husband because he is everything she wanted in a guy. The other chick was listing off a huge checklist of her perfect guy. He must be hot, must worship her, buy her everything, have an amazing job, clean, cook, take care of kids, and a million other things. She then is interrupted by her friend saying that she was never going to find her perfect guy with her list being so long.

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She then turns and looks toward me saying, “What about a guy like him?” Her friend immediately rejected that idea. She then began to make fun of my clothes, hair, glasses, everything (I’m a pretty nerdy looking dude). She says how I look like a loser who is doing nothing in life, that I’m probably poor and won’t be able to buy her things, and more. I think to myself that this chick is quite rude and loudly reply in Spanish, “I wouldn’t be into a chick like yourself, because I wouldn’t want a lazy drinker for a girlfriend.” She got silent and just stared at me. Her friend began to laugh uncontrollably.

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39. They Could Have Made A Cute Couple

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I was in Korea when I was 22ish. I’m a fairly tall person and for some reason, younger Koreans kept asking to take pictures with me. After one photo these two girls had the following conversation: Girl 1: “He’d make a cute husband for you.” Girl 2: “He’s so cute, but my mom and dad would kill me if I married a foreigner.” Me: “I think your parents would like me if they got to know me.”

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Both of them turned red with embarrassment and kept apologizing. I just laughed and said not to worry they just made my stay even better. Ki-won, if you’re out there, we would have made a cute couple, even if your parents would have disapproved.

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38. Come Again?

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My family and I went to Sri Lanka for two weeks to see where my mom grew up and general beach stuff. For some reason, we were like the only people in the hotel we were staying at aside from a wedding party that left a day after we got there.

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A few days in there was another family staying there, I believe from Suriname and we were all chilling at the pool and decided to play a game of water polo against each other. Things got exciting and one of the daughters yelled out something in Dutch like: “Go for the big fat guy!”, and my Dutch dad replied: “What big fat guy?” Everybody laughed. Just a simple story but it was pretty sweet.

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37. Be Nice To The People Who Can Easily Spit In Your Food

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I was working in British Columbia, where people speak English. I was a barista, making coffee for an ungrateful salty Quebecers couple. They were saying how much the place sucks. My bosses were a married gay couple so they let out a few French slangs for gay and said the employees were idiots and probably don’t know the difference between a latte and a glass of water.

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In the end, when I gave them their coffee, I said in French, “Just because we’re in BC doesn’t mean no one speaks French here. Some advice: remember that the person who’s making your coffee can also hear everything you say.” The look on their face was priceless. I don’t feel bad about making their coffee decaf too. Stupid tourists.

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36. Sorry, Not Accepted

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I’m Mexican, but look little to nothing of it. I’m pretty white and have pretty light-colored brown hair. I’m very well educated and have no accent at all despite English being a second language. So if you were to pass by me or overhear me you’d never think I was Mexican. Well, I work at a location for my work that is 60/40 percent Spanish speaking. If I see a customer struggling, I start to speak to them in Spanish and it’s usually followed by, “You don’t look like you’d speak Spanish.” One day at work I was helping these rude ladies at my desk. The whole time I was helping them they preferred to speak to me in English so I just went with it. Halfway through our conversation, I said: “Unfortunately, I can’t do much about your issue but I can speak to my manager and see what we could do.” To which this lady said that the last person to help her was able to do it. She then proceeded to roll her eyes and look at her friend and start smack talking about me in Spanish. Basically, she was calling me dumb, useless and a terrible human being and she didn’t stop there. She and her friend then started to pick me apart.

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I walked off, talked to my manager about the situation and then went back to my desk. I told the lady that we fixed the issue but if she came back in again, we wouldn’t be able to do it. Again she rolled her eyes and continued to talk to her friend. This is where I got smart with her. Since I was basically done, I then finished our whole transaction in Spanish. “Thank you so much for coming in today. It’s been a real pleasure to meet you and if you need anything at all please, please feel free to contact me.” The look on their faces was priceless. They started to say sorry and apologize that they didn’t mean to say anything like that. I don’t think I’ve seen them back at my work since and they were regulars. It’s been over a year now.

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35. “You’re Not As Quiet As You Think”

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I was traveling in Austria, getting on a shuttle to go from Innsbruck to a small little town higher in the mountains. I was chatting and laughing with a few friends as I got on, my American accent on full display. There were two older women who gave us weird looks as we boarded, and we sat down across the aisle and just behind them.

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Almost as soon as we sat down, one turned to the other and said in German, “These stupid tourists are so freaking loud.” I was sitting nearest to them on the aisle, so I leaned forward and said in my far less perfect (but still understandable) German, “and you’re not as quiet as you think.” It was a looooooonnggg ride of pleasant silence up through the mountains.

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34. “I Feel Sorry For Your Wife”

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I was in an airport with my aunt. She had broken her leg so she was in a wheelchair, but because we were going to a beach holiday, we decided not to cancel it. My aunt has lived in Germany and speaks it fluently. I’ve lived there too so I understand it well, but I’m not fluent. We speak Finnish, something just to pass the time when the flight attendant asks us to go on the plane first. This middle aged man turns to his wife and says in German, “I don’t think disabled people should be allowed on planes.”

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My aunt, who is a true icon, asks me to stop. I stopped pushing her wheelchair, and turns to the man and says in perfect German, “I’m sorry sir, but I broke my leg and didn’t want to cancel my holiday plans. You are being incredibly offensive towards handicapped people and I feel sorry for your wife. Have a nice flight.” He turned red, couldn’t even say anything to us and just looked away. His wife looked mortified.

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33. They Even Had The Audacity To Ask For A Tip

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My friend’s mom is from Vietnam, but her dad is from the States. My friend looks like a typical brunette girl, but speaks Vietnamese with her mom’s side of the family all the time and is fluent. So, one day we got off school. We went to a Catholic high school and walked over to a nail salon a few blocks away to get our nails done. The ladies running the salon were speaking Vietnamese, and according to my friend were talking smack on us the entire time we were there. They were talking about how rich we must be and how “these little girls can probably sleep with whoever they want and get ahead.” I was completely oblivious to this the entire time, but as we were about to pay, my friend told me all the terrible things they were saying, so we didn’t tip them.

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We started to leave and one of the workers said something about how the rich girls couldn’t even afford to tip. My friend turned around and yelled at them in perfect Vietnamese about how if they expect their business to stay open, they shouldn’t talk badly about their customers in front of their faces. I didn’t understand a word of it, but the workers were in utter shock and sheepishly apologized to both of us.

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32. Have A Nice Day!

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I am whiter than white, not Hispanic. My first language is French and I’ve always lived in predominantly non-white inner-city neighborhoods. People, usually from Central America but not always, will speak Spanish in front of me ALL THE TIME. They’re like completely flabbergasted that non-Hispanic people might understand Spanish, even though that’s pretty common in the U.S.

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My fave was a few months ago when I was on the train with my kid with Marfan syndrome and these two Dominican women were talking about did you see this skinny kid? With this fat white girl with lesbian clothes? Can you believe that? I bet she starves her. She probably locks her in the basement. She probably hates having a white mom, especially one like that. I listen for a couple of stops without reacting. Then as we pull up to our stop, I stop right in front of them, look right at them, and say “¡Pase un buen día!” (which means “have a nice day!”). Then watch their faces turn all shades of purple, wave goodbye to them, and catch up with my kid and run out of the train.

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31. Nice Weather, Isn’t It?

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This happened just recently when I was in Malta. My friend is Bulgarian and she has friends from all over the place there too, so we all speak English; however, I’m Dutch. When we were eating at this restaurant, there was this one old Dutch couple relatively close to our table. The guy kept swearing because he thought we were too loud, but we really weren’t; it just seemed they were a bit bitter and sour because they had nothing to say to one another. Swearing in Dutch is a bit special too since compared to most languages it’s incredibly harsh. It’s basically wishing diseases like cancer and typhus on one another.

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At some point, he was just kind of mumbling some swear words one after the other pretending to look outside the window, when even his wife was telling him to stop. So I turned and I asked in Dutch “Everything alright? Nice weather out isn’t it?” They replied back in kind and I didn’t hear him swear for the rest of the evening.

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30. Great Job, Grandma!

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I was on a tour bus with my grandmother going to a luau in Hawaii. My grandmother spoke fluent Italian as both her parents were Italian immigrants. Two young women behind us were speaking to each other in Italian, probably assuming none of the other tourists could understand them. My grandmother told me (I don’t speak but a few words in Italian) that they were insulting everyone on the bus.

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She let it go on a while but just kept getting angrier and angrier as the ride went on. Finally, she turned around and told them off, telling them they should be ashamed of themselves for being so rude. They looked so embarrassed and apologized to her profusely. Getting told off by a grandmother on a tour bus was not what they expected.

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29. Can You Mind Your Own Business?

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My family is Cuban, but we look white AF. In 2007, I was on a cruise with my parents, and we were sitting next to a Venezuelan couple on the open-air deck ordering food. The woman was looking at my parents, and loudly said in Spanish: “He’s so OLD! Why would a young woman like her marry him? Do you think the child is theirs?” Her husband replies: “No, probably he is the father’s. He’s too old to be the woman’s. Too ugly too.”

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My mother got very upset and just said “Excuse me” in Spanish. The woman’s face turned white and she started apologizing profusely. While my mother was telling them off, my dad was laughing his butt off. For the record, my parents are about three years apart. My dad is only three years older, he just looks ancient. At the time, my mother was 47 and my father was 50.

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28. Different Comments From Different People

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I went to a psychiatric emergency ward once and asked for help and if they were comfortable speaking English. I understand Danish but have a hard time making myself understandable in it and didn’t really feel like an idiot at a crucial time of my life.

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I stayed there for 4 days without anyone realizing I knew what they were saying about me right in front of me. Two of the nurses thought I was cute. One doctor thought I was lying all the time. A patient thought I was a spy for the staff. A lot happened in those four days. It made my stay way more enjoyable then it should have been.

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27. 25% Tip To Make Up For It

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I’m a very pale person, and I was a waiter at a Tex Mex restaurant. A customer came in and said, “I don’t want this ugly boy serving us,” to each other in Spanish.

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I chimed in that I started going to the gym, as a joke, in Spanish, to break the ice. They were clearly very embarrassed and gave me a 25% tip to make up for it, so it worked out.

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26. He’s Just Being Polite, Not Flirting

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I’m Brazilian and was flying to Rio from Atlanta. There were these two very attractive girls with their mother speaking English very fluently and one of them had their seat right next to mine. We exchanged some courtesy in English as I just assumed they were American and so did they. They were Brazilian-Americans and so did not have an accent and I started speaking English from a young age so as long as I don’t talk too much I can go unnoticed.

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So they start putting their carry on luggage in the bin overhead and the mother says to her daughters, in Portuguese: “Poor thing, he thinks I’ll let one of you sit next to him.” So I just turn to her and say, in Portuguese: “Don’t worry, ma’am, I’m just being polite. I do have a girlfriend and it’ll be a pleasure to share this flight with you.” She just went: “Oh” And then she sat there in silence for the whole flight.

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25. “You Want To Say That Again?”

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I was in an elevator going back up to my apartment after working out some two years ago and I had a man bun at that time. There were six other guys in the elevator speaking Arabic so I just listened as I usually do. Then, one of the guys goes, “Haha. Look at this guy’s hair. It’s ridiculous.”

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I turn around and respond, “You want to say that again?” The five other dudes proceed to die of laughter with one of them screaming, “I knew you were Arab! I knew you were Arab!” I ended up laughing alongside them to their one friend who felt super awkward.

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24. *Insert Cricket Sound Here*

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My dad was the rude one. So my dad decided to come with me to the pet store while I got crickets for my gecko and the cashier (who looked and sounded 200% American) ordered a dozen of them. It took an unusually long amount of time for the insects to arrive, and my dad kept mumbling complaints to me in Armenian. Things like “She’s taking forever. Can she go any slower?,” etc. I replied in Armenian that it wasn’t her fault, it’s not in her control, it’s up to the other employee getting the crickets.

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And after a good couple minutes of this back and forth, the cashier joins our Armenian with her own. “You’re Armenian too?” My dad shut up instantly but she was so kind she carried on the conversation as if he didn’t insult her in the first place. That still didn’t stop him from turning into a tomato though.

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23. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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I’m one of the palest people I know, and add to that blonde hair and a thick, northern (UK) accent I look like the last person on the planet to speak a Middle Eastern language. We married into an Egyptian family and we spend plenty of time there. My Arabic isn’t amazing but I can get by. I live for the horrified look on people’s faces when I switch to Arabic. I used to do debt collection for a utility company and had a gentleman who refused to pay his bill. He called me all kinds of horrific names. I quickly told him in Arabic that I absolutely wouldn’t tolerate language like that, that I was trying to help him and that he was bringing shame on his family. He stuttered for a good few minutes, apologized and ended up paying.

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However, I got into trouble at work because all calls are recorded at the call center and management was unable to review my call because they couldn’t understand what I was saying. They were worried I could have said something offensive. So from then on, we were forced to use professional translation services only on three-way calls, which was an absolute pain.

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22. Why Didn’t You Say So?

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I am 100% Mexican, but I don’t obviously look it and even though Spanish is my first language, I speak English without an accent. I remember back in college I started this job as a delivery driver/cashier at this Japanese restaurant. My first day there I was being trained by someone that worked there, who was around my age. Most of the kitchen was Mexican or from somewhere in South/Central America where they spoke Spanish. As she’s training me on the processes and teaching about the orders, I could hear comments from the back that were in the line of “Oh, I bet they’re gonna bang” and “They want each other.” It was funny to me because it was a bunch of grown men gossiping like they were in high school. I didn’t really get a chance to talk to them because I was so busy learning the ropes, so I stayed quiet about that.

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At the end of the day, the owner asked me if I could drive the cooks back home since it was on my way. I agreed and we all got in my car and I asked them in Spanish how to get to their place. They were all silent for a second and they all starting laughing and saying, “You speak Spanish! Well, crap, why the heck didn’t you say so?” It was a lighthearted car ride and I enjoyed it and their company. We all became friends during my time working there and I would often drive them home because I enjoyed talking with them outside of work.

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21. Trust Issues?

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I am fluent in Spanish because I lived in a Spanish speaking country and my wife and her family are all native Spanish speakers. But as I am fairly pale most don’t expect me to speak Spanish. One day when I was working retail, I was helping this Latino family–abuela (grandmother), husband, wife, and kids–all of whom spoke English very well, buy a computer. Since they all spoke English I didn’t mention me being able to speak Spanish.

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However, I recommended a more expensive computer than the one they were looking at (the one they wanted sucked and wouldn’t have been good for what they wanted to do). The abuela spoke to the husband in Spanish saying: “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about; get the cheaper one.” I looked her dead in the eye and, responding in Spanish, said: “I actually know exactly what I’m talking about as I have been doing this for many years.” I then turned walked away to check and see if we had the one I was recommending in stock. The abuela didn’t say another word the entire time they were there and they bought the computer I recommended.

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20. Surprise!

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When I started working at McDonald’s at 16, none of the other employees realized I could speak a fair amount of Spanish. A few of my coworkers would talk crap about me in Spanish and I pretended for a few weeks that I didn’t know what they were saying.

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Then one day a manager told me she was worth than me because she was bilingual. So I told her (in Spanish) that I was actually trilingual. The looks on their faces when they realized I spoke Spanish all along was priceless.

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19. Language, Please

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In high school and college, I was a lifeguard, also tall, skinny (at the time), and very blonde in the summer, and also with a Spanish major and about seven years of Spanish by my senior year of high school before that. I used to guard at a community pool in a 95+ percent white community, but there was one Latino family whose kids were at the pool almost every day. They brought some out-of-town cousins one time who thought it was amazing that, anywhere in town, they could yell in Spanish and no one would have the slightest idea what they were saying. Well, almost anyone.

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So these kids are coming down to the pool right behind me and I’m up in the guard chair. One of the cousins starts laughing and yelling at the top of his lungs, screaming a torrent of curse words about how all these people are witches and so on. Following my standard operating procedure, I turned around and said something along the lines of “Language, please –let’s keep it G rated” and that kid went bug-eyed and about jumped out of his skin. His cousins from the community thought it was hilarious, and burst out laughing. The rest of the day, he kept looking over at me, I guess to make sure I wasn’t listening in.

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18. Who’s Pretending?

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I’m white but reasonably fluent in Korean. When I went to an orthopedist in Korea for elbow pain, a translator was provided by the hospital and I figured I might as well talk through him in case there was any specific medical terminology I didn’t know. After describing my symptoms and having a brief physical exam where I was visibly in pain, the translator told the doctor that he thought I was only pretending.

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The thing was, he was doing an absolutely terrible job of translating even prior to that, so I quickly responded: “And you’re only pretending to know English” (in Korean). The doc actually cracked a smile and the translator spent the rest of my visit sitting in his seat without saying a single word.

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17. Rude People In The City

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Me and my husband had this happen to us when we were dating. He’s a born and bred Parisian and has never lived anywhere else, but is half Norwegian, and looks very Nordic. When he speaks English, he has a flat, Norwegian accent instead of French thanks to his mom. I’m an American.

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Anyway, we were waiting for takeout at a restaurant one night, and discussing something in English to each other. Apparently, we were in the way of these girls behind us because they started speaking in French about how people come to Paris and just do whatever the hell they want without concern about real Parisians, how we’re crappy tourists, etc., just being totally rude about “foreigners in their city.” My husband turned around, and said in the snootiest Parisian accent he could muster “Considering your crappy Marseillais accent, I’d say you’re the one that doesn’t belong in my city.” I’ve never seen someone go white so fast.

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16. Is That How You Treat Your Customers?

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The first time I visited Montreal was on a school trip. I’m from Alberta, and our hotel receptionist knew this. I guess she had assumed we couldn’t speak French, which, looking back, was pretty stupid of her. What kind of school would send non-French speaking kids to the only French province?

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Anyway, one of my friends was having an asthma attack, and the receptionist muttered under her breath, “Étouffé, s’il te plaît” (suffocate, please). To which I responded, “Madam, do you speak to all of your customers this way?” in French. Not super clever on my part, but it shut her up.

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15. Two Naughty Girls

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This happened a number of years ago to one of my colleagues. We were working in a busy car rental branch. His parents are Welsh and Belgian; he grew up in Belgium and is multilingual. We were in a tourist town in the UK. He’s a handsome chap and was in his early 20s at the time. Two attractive young ladies come in and sit down. It’s a small office, there’s a big queue and everything can be heard by everyone.

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The two girls proceed to have a long and graphic conversation in Flemish about what they’d like to do in bed with my colleague. He carries on dealing with his current customer, not letting on that he understands every word. When he comes back into the office, he walks up to the girls, greets them in fluent Flemish and proceeds to deal with them in that language as he would any other customer; they turned bright red with embarrassment.

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14. The “Bad” Guy

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My father-in-law is Moroccan but has lived 30+ years in Finland and is completely fluent in four languages (including Finnish). He traveled a lot on business selling air conditioning units. Once, whilst on a connecting flight within the States, he overheard two young Finnish girls on holiday talking to each other about which one would have to sit in the middle seat next to “the bad guy.” They spent the flight being incredibly rude about my polite father-in-law who bit his tongue.

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It was only until they got onto the terminal bus that he gave up his seat to one of the girls and said in Finnish “You can have my seat; after hearing you I have decided to stop being a bad guy and start selling air conditioning units.” He says they were absolutely mortified.

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13. Just Like A Banana

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My brother is adopted from South Korea; he doesn’t speak a word or Korean but he goes to a massive Big Ten school with a lot of Asians. He said some of the Koreans there will recognize him as Korean and start asking him a question and he just has to say “Sorry man, I only speak English.”

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I don’t know if you’ve heard of this, but they also refer to him as a banana and don’t want to hang out with him because he’s “yellow on the outside, but white on the inside.”

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12. Who’s The Chicken Now?

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Not me, but my mom. She was in line at a supermarket and these two dudes behind her started talking about her “chicken legs” in Spanish. My mom is skinny, but not unnaturally so and it just so happens her legs are quite skinny.

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So she turned around and in perfect Spanish said, “I know exactly what you guys are saying about me.” The two dudes were shocked and got into another check out line without saying another word.

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11. Cute But…

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I was bussing this table, and I can hear these two guys speaking in Vietnamese to each other. One asks the other what they think about me. The guy responds and says I’m cute, but I have a flat chest. Also, in my defense, we had to wear these oversized shirts that were not flattering. Anyways, I just keep doing what I’m doing and continue on.

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When they came to the register to pay, one asked me what nationality I was. I smiled and said, “I’m Vietnamese.” They looked shocked, then asked me if I spoke it, which I responded I did. Then he asked me in Vietnamese if I’m understanding him right now, and I responded back in Viet that yes I do. They didn’t say anything else and left.

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10. Don’t Be Like That, Señor

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I’m white but grew up in San Diego, so I speak decent Spanish, especially derogatory words. I once had a customer call me a “pendeja” (prick) after I momentarily forgot to scan his coupon.

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I then responded with, “Señor, hablo Español.” He just said, “Oh” very quietly, paid for his movie, and fled the store. I never saw him again.

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9. An “Inconvenient” Ride

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I look really white, especially now that my hair is blonde and I live in Australia so it’s an easy mistake to make, but I’m half Nepalese and my mom speaks seven languages on top of that. For those reasons, there are a few languages I can understand almost completely but not speak very well.

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Once, when I was in an Uber, the driver was on the phone complaining that he wouldn’t have accepted the trip if he knew it was going to be so inconvenient. Not exactly mean, but I felt like it was my fault. He was speaking in Bengali so when I got out I said (in Bengali) “Thank you for the trip, god bless, god be with you.” He seemed very taken aback and said thank you very quietly and drove away quickly!

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8. You Can Pay Extra

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I work at Chipotle. I am also Iranian and speak Farsi. My hair is blonde, and I look like a normal white person. One day a group of Iranians come in and they were speaking Farsi together. As I was giving one of them their chicken, I heard one of them say in Farsi, “Why doesn’t this kid give me more chicken. It’s not like it’s his money.”

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This irritated me because I had given her even more than what I’m supposed to. So I responded to her in Farsi, “If you didn’t like the amount I gave you, you can always pay for an extra scoop.” She looked at me shocked for a second, then laughed. They were pretty nice people, and it was just funny how they found out I was Iranian.

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7. Just Stop It

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I’ve got two cases of this. One is me, one is an old co-worker. I was on a train in the UK recently and it was pretty full. There was a French couple standing near me who ended up trash talking the people around them. As soon as they got to me, I interrupted and said, “Stop. I understand you.” They eyed each other and shut up.

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The other one is the flip side! An ex-colleague’s friend is on a train in France, drunk and trash talking (in English) one particular woman sitting a couple of seats behind. The woman doesn’t interrupt and sits listening to it all. When it’s time for her to get off, she walks by the ex-colleague’s friend and says, “I understood every word you said.” The ex-colleague’s friend almost died of embarrassment and shut up for the rest of the journey.

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6. Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

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As a white female in China, I got talked about on a daily basis. Apparently they see more male foreigners than female and they always seem to assume I can’t understand them. I was in a three-story mall that sold nothing but cell phone accessories and two of the clerks started fighting about not wanting to be the one who helped me. The female clerk spoke more English than the male clerk, so he made her follow me around. Then they started betting over whether I could understand them or not. Since the female had to basically stay within three feet of me, I made her follow me around the whole store without saying a word to them until the bet got higher and higher.

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She thought I understood what was going on and was telling him they should stop and he thought I was just indecisive and stupid. The bet got to ¥200, which was like $40 USD when I finally said, “Hey, you can’t judge a person by their appearance. But you’re lazy and made her help me. She tells you to stop and you don’t listen. Now you owe her ¥200. You should help the next white person customer too.” before walking out. I don’t think either of them were expecting me to say anything at all and that it was going to sit as an idle bet, but the girl was pretty much dying of laughter when she realized she won.

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5. Yea, Your Mom!

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I lived in Shanghai for three years. I used to live near the “fake market,” so I’d have to dodge a few vendors peddling fake watches on my way home from work. One day, a guy tried to sell me a fake Rolex, which I ignored. I heard him mutter under his breath: “Screw your mom” in Mandarin.

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The guy had been quite persistent and I was tired, so I kind of lost it at him in Mandarin: “Screw my mother? Screw YOUR mother, pal!” I had to stop and laugh when I saw his face. CLEARLY he wasn’t expecting me to understand that.

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4. Walking Out Without Paying

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I went to get my hair done at a Hispanic salon. I walked in and was greeted in English so I responded in English and kept speaking English during my time in there. The woman doing my hair starts talking to another stylist in Spanish, talking crap about me and who do I think I am coming to a Spanish salon because apparently in their twisted view, white people should only go to white salons and blah blah. Well, I’m Mexican, just light-skinned.

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I let her finish while she’d jump back and forth in conversations in English with me and in Spanish with the other stylist. Just let her keep talking crap. Once she was done, I got up and, in fluent Spanish, thanked her and told her I’d be sure to never come back. I walked out without paying. No one came after me.

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3. I’m Illegal?

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I was going to see my boyfriend in the UK, and I was leaving from Poland. I’m brown and very obviously not Eastern European (my third world passport is also a big sign that I’m not European). So the people at the gates (budget airport) double checked my passport and double asked me if I didn’t need a visa to enter the UK. And I was like, “No no, I know the countries that require me to have a visa and I know the UK isn’t one of them.” And some Polish girls were behind me, discussing my migration status; one said I was probably not legal.

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Now, I’m not fluent in Polish but I know enough to have gotten a grasp of what they were saying. I just turned around and said, “Rozumiem” (which was basically saying “I understand what you’re saying” in very crappy basic Polish). They just froze. I went in the plane and didn’t really see what they did afterwards.

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2. Hope He Learned His Lesson

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I was living in Jersey and got into a taxi. The driver was on the phone and started talking in Spanish to the other end about me; how he just picked up some white girl and then must’ve answered “What does she look like?,” saying I was cute for a white girl. I’m very light-skinned because I take after my dad, who’s Cuban. My mom, who is Puerto Rican, has very dark olive skin.

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Once he got off the phone, I said to him in Spanish that he shouldn’t always assume someone is a “gringa” just because he thinks they look it. His eyes about bugged out of his head and I laughed. He started apologizing and told him it was OK, because he didn’t say anything too bad, but that I hope he learned a lesson.

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1. You Can’t Just Leave Like That

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Me and my friend were sharing a cab with two girls we didn’t know. We decided to share a taxi with them because it was a long way and we wanted to save some money. They started speaking Swedish, not knowing my friend is also a Finnish Swede (her mother language is Swedish, she has been in Swedish school, but is Finn and speaks Finnish fluently). I understand Swedish but I was too sloshed to care.

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Suddenly she texts me: “They are planning to leave us with the bill.” I texted that we should tell the driver so my friend just said, “These girls will pay half of this, before they leave.” He got the hint and didn’t open the doors before they paid.

Marijean Grace

Marijean Grace

Spreading some good positive vibes!

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