We all know how embarrassing it can be when we’re having a one-on-one conversation with a loved one in public, only for a stranger to overhear what we say and possibly even chime in. But do you want to know what’s even more humiliating? When you’re intentionally speaking in a foreign language in public, assuming (and hoping) that nobody but the person you’re talking to will understand, but then later realizing that someone nearby does in fact understand? Yikes! At that point, you wish you would have just whispered or even kept your mouth shut, but now you just want to disappear.
If you know more than one language, you might understand the latter feeling. However, in the following stories, the roles are switched! The teller of each story is the one who overhears something that wasn’t meant for their ears to hear by someone who didn’t expect them to know their language, but sadly for them, they do understand. And to top it off, each of the storytellers makes it clear to the other party that they’ve heard everything they just said as they, too, are fluent or semi-fluent in their language. Whether they overheard the party talking about how “fat” and “ugly” they are or even about their little scheme to attempt to scam them, knowing another language definitely comes in handy for these narrators!
54. She Tried To Scam Us To Get Free Meals
How awful of this woman to teach her daughter how to be deceitful.
“I am a Macedonian living in Canada. My entire family speaks both English and Macedonian fluently. My family owns a diner, and I am a server there.
So, one day, a lady and her daughter come in for a meal. They sit down, and I take their order, and as I’m punching in their meal, I overheard the mother say to her daughter in Macedonian, ‘Watch, I’m going to get our meals for free. I will complain about the food and say there was a hair in it.’ At this point, I do not say anything to them I just deliver the food and wait to see if they follow through with their plan.
I also told my brother (who works in the kitchen) what they were saying. He made sure to put extra care into their food just to make sure they have absolutely nothing valid to complain about. They ate most of their food, and sure enough, when I delivered the bill to them, the mother starts to complain, saying the food was disgusting, everything was undercooked, she found a hair in her dish…the complaints just kept coming. Eventually, she said that there was no way she could pay for such horrible food.
It was perfect timing. At that second, my baba (grandmother) and dedo (grandfather) walked through the door to check on how the morning was going.
So, I waved said good morning to Baba and Dedo and proceeded to ask my grandparents how they were doing in Macedonian.
The mother and daughter’s faces turned completely red; they looked absolutely mortified and ashamed. I turned back to them and said with a smirk on my face in Macedonian, ‘So, how will you be paying for your meal?’ The mother quietly took out her credit card, and both mother and daughter refused to make any eye contact with me.
Just to top it off, my brother is a big mouth, and as they were walking out the door, he yells in Macedonian, ‘Do not try this here again, you nasty, cheap cows.'” meowmix22
53. He Tried To Trick His Mom Into Letting Her Buy Him An M-Rated Game
“I worked at GameStop for about 2 and a half years, and even though this isn’t something I overheard per se, it’s definitely a pretty awesome part about being bilingual.
I worked in a store that was in a pretty low-income area of Texas that had a lot of Spanish-only speakers come through. The following happened a LOT: 12- or 13-year-old Mexican kid brings an M-rated game with his mom or grandma who doesn’t speak a lick of English. I look to the mom to ask if it’s ok that the game is rated M, and she looks at me blankly, and the child translates my question as ‘He’s asking if this is the game I want’ or something similarly harmless. She looks to me and nods, so I just ask her the same question in Spanish.
I let her know what’s in the game, that the game is intended only for adults, and she then leaves the store without the game and the obvious intent of punishing her child for trying to trick her into buying him an M-rated game. No one expects the 6’5″ white guy to speak fluent Spanish.
Another User Comments:
“No one expects a resident of Texas to understand Spanish? Come on.” special2plumsfor1
52. The McDonald’s Employee Called Me Fat In Spanish, So I Got Free Food
“Army brat here. White male, born and raised in South America. Fluent in English and Spanish.
I was at a McDonald’s years ago when they were introducing the Angus burgers.
I went in to try one. They were running a promotion that said if the employee doesn’t offer you an Angus Burger, you can have one for free.
When I ordered one, they didn’t offer me one. So, I jokingly said I’d like a free one since they didn’t offer me one. The cashier was a little belligerent with me, so I asked to speak with the manager. When the manager came over, the cashier told her, in Spanish, ‘This fat pig just wants something else to shove in his face.’
At this point, the manager asked what she could do to help me.
I said, in English, ‘According to your promotion, I was going to ask for a free Angus Burger since your employee didn’t offer me one; however, now I’m going to ask for my entire meal for free and perhaps some remedial training for your employee.’ The manager looked puzzled, ‘Why is that?’ she asked. ‘Porque yo entendi todo que ella dijo’ (‘Because I understood everything she said’).
The manager and cashier were stunned. The cashier lowered her head and made an awkward backward walk away from the counter. The manager simply said, ‘Allow me to take care of that for you, and yes, I’ll be speaking with her about this immediately.’
I did get the meal to go, with an additional Angus Burger, free of charge.
I also had a couple of coupons for free meals thrown in.
I ended up giving the free Angus Burger and cards to a homeless person out front. No idea what became of the cashier, as I never went back to that, or any, McDonald’s.” seosemcro
51. They Believed Tourists Didn’t Belong In “Their” City
“Me and my husband had this happen to us when we were dating. He’s 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.
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 f*ck they want without concern about real Parisians, how we’re a**hole tourists, etc., just being total a**holes about ‘foreigners in their city.’
My husband turned around and said in the snootiest Parisian accent he could muster, ‘Considering your sh*tty 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.” 2354PK
50. They Assumed We Were Deaf
“In high school, my best friend and I took 3 years of American sign language.
One of our assignments was to spend a whole weekend not verbally talking but to use sign language instead to understand how hard/frustrating the hearing world can be for those that are hearing impaired/deaf. If another person didn’t sign, we could use paper and pencil to convey our message.
We went to an outlet mall on a Friday evening for a couple of hours shopping, ordering food, and walking around. At one point, these two guys start following us around. We could plainly hear them making fun of us from a few feet behind us and mocking how deaf people make sounds.
We tried to ignore them, but after about 20 minutes in a store and hearing them, we walked up to them. We didn’t say anything until we got close enough to speak at a normal level, and I took my pad of paper out and wrote down, ‘Why are you following us?’ He smiled and said we were pretty (but since we couldn’t speak, we just looked at him confused). I stared at him for a minute, kind of smiled and looked him in the eyes and said, ‘I know that that’s bullsh*t, and we both heard you making fun of us the entire time.’
At this point, his turned bright red, and I continued and said, ‘For one, if you think we’re pretty, then following us around is just creepy, so maybe you could stop that.
And two, just people it may seem like people speak another language doesn’t mean that they aren’t bilingual. Maybe next time you could just not be an a**hole and leave people alone.’
The look on his face as we walked away had us laughing for the rest of the night.” aivdrawdeegreog
49. She Told Her Son That If I Try To Punish Him For Touching Our Turtle, To Pretend He Didn’t Speak English
Joke’s on them; he already knew their language!
“I speak fluent Chinese and volunteered to protect a threatened species, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles on the North Shore of Oahu. The turtles always sleep on that beach after they gorge on seaweed, so the spot is frequented by busloads of tourists.
We put ropes around the turtles to stop people from doing dumb sh*t to them and answer questions about the species and the area.
One day, a busload of Chinese tourists roll-up. I explain that the turtles are protected by law and can’t be touch and go into my turtle info spiel. One little Chinese boy asks his mom: ‘Can I touch it?’ His mom replies, ‘Yes. If he yells at you, just pretend you don’t speak English.’
I watch him sprint over the rope and start slapping the turtle’s shell. The turtle, his name is Kahuna-Nui, lazily looks up, and I say, with desperation, ‘Ni zhen baoqian, ta chi xiao nan hai – Careful, he eats little boys!’ The kid ran back to his mom crying, and I tell her, ‘Zhu ni hao de fangjian – Have a nice vacation.'” Daguerrotypewriter
48. She Bad Mouthed My Work Performance, So I Slowed My Pace
“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, 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:
‘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.
Finally, she insisted that I can just do one item at a time. I tell her, no, I want to do this right, in Spanish: ‘Quiero hacer esto bien.’
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. Do you 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.” Reddit user
Another User Comments:
Saying sorry is an existential threat to some people.” throwawayplsremember
“That’s an actual thing! Admitting one’s wrongdoing causes cognitive dissonance.
We always look for ways, for our own mental peace, to blame others or the situation. When others make a mess, it’s THEIR fault, but when we do it, we blame everything and everyone but ourselves – this is called ‘the fundamental attribution error.’
Source: I’m majoring in psychology!” Captain Cortes
47. They Bashed Me For Being A White Girl Working At A Japanese Grocery Store
“I’m one of the whitest girls I know (half-ish Norwegian decent), and I speak Japanese. I used to work at a Japanese grocery store, and at that time, I was the only white person; others were Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.
There were these two older Japanese ladies that came into my line. I normally don’t speak Japanese to older ladies because my experience with old Japanese ladies that live in America is that they have a complex about speaking Japanese to non-Japanese (like they’re really proud of their English, or they just feel weird about it, which is fine).
So, I was scanning their sh*t, and one lady says to the other, ‘Why’d they let a white girl work here? This is a Japanese grocery store.’ And the other lady says, ‘Yeah, she’s really out of place here’ and then they laughed.
So, I just looked at the first lady dead in the eye and said, in Japanese, ‘I can actually understand everything you’re saying, so I’d be more careful with the words you use’ or something along those lines.
The ladies’ faces turned bright red and responded in Japanese, ‘I’m so sorry’ and then tried to save themselves by going off, ‘Tour Japanese is so good. Oh wow, can’t believe it’ and just praising me. I didn’t really care cause I sorta knew were they were coming from, but it was still America, and it was the way they said it which p*ssed me off.” kyarorin
46. I May Have Albinism, But I Speak Fluent Spanish
That was sure a plot twist for them.
“I’ve got a few of these. But instead, I’ll give you a positive experience I’ve had quite a few times that’s still somewhat relevant to your question.
My name’s Juan. I’m United States born. My family’s from Mexico. I have albinism.
Long story short, for those that don’t know, albinism is a genetic disorder (leaving out the science) that causes you to look like a white person regardless of race.
My first language is Spanish. But you’d never guess that by looking at me. And I went out of my way as a kid to get rid of my Spanish speaking accent when I speak English due to how bothersome people were during my formatives.
My skin is pale, my hair’s almost white, my eyes are a somewhat grayed out bluish.
I walk into a Mexican restaurant with a brown friend who’s half Arab, half white and tall. He’s easy to confuse for a Mexican or a black guy, so, you know: Dominican.
My tall friend goes to order first. The cashier tries talking to him in Spanish, only to realize he’s not understanding. He has a quick laugh, apologizes and quickly switches to English.
My turn to order. He speaks to me in English, and I start ordering in Spanish.
The confused look on this poor man’s face just had his expectations subverted twice made my day.
On top of that, a lady in line behind me put her hand around my arm and asked where I learned to speak such beautiful Spanish. I told her I’d been learning it for many years and had been speaking it most of my life.
She then asked what my name was; I said, ‘Juan,’ and quickly told her my mother has a sense of humor.
Sorry for writing a f*cking essay, but you gotta write with the homies.” NosyNoSee
45. They Called Him A Terrorist, But He Decided To Be The Bigger Person
“My father-in-law is Moroccan but has lived 30+ years in Finland and is completely fluent in 4 languages (including Finnish).
He traveled a lot for 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 terrorist.’ They spent the flight being incredibly rude about my polite father-in-law who bit his tongue.
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 terrorist and start selling air conditioning units.’ He says they were absolutely mortified.” SuomiBob
44. He Referred To Me As A Cow
This “cow” knows Spanish too!
“I was shopping once, leaning over into the dairy case when I heard this dude say (in Spanish) to his buddy, ‘Aren’t you going to get some milk?’ His buddy replied, ‘Yeah, when this f*cking cow gets out of my way.”
I whirled around and stuck my finger in his face and very angrily spat, in Spanish, ‘Watch your mouth! You never know who is going to understand you!’
The guy was floored.
He apologized about 10 times, and I managed to continue to look angry even though I found the whole thing very funny. I mean, in his defense, I was totally in his way and I was about 100 pounds heavier than I am now, and I was wearing a cow suit.
Okay, I lied about the cow suit part. But the rest is true.
I just want to add for all those people who always think people who speak other languages are talking about you. I’ve spoken Spanish for 22 years. I live in an area where it is a very common language, and this is the only time I have ever heard anyone talking about me.” MrsHorrible
43. She Called Me Fat While I Was Going Through Treatment For An Eating Disorder
“I’m a German major, and while I wouldn’t consider myself fluent (reading Goethe is about as hard as reading Shakespeare), I’m pretty dang good with my street vocab.
I was on the bus coming back from classes, and I grabbed a slice of veggie pizza from one of the food places where they box it up in a slice-sized box. You’re permitted to carry food on the bus as long as it’s boxed, so I wasn’t breaking any rules, but you could kind of smell it.
The stop after I got on, a girl gets on the bus right next to me. As soon as she sits down, she pulls out her phone, dials, and starts having a conversation about how sh*tty her day was…in German. As she was next to me, I couldn’t help but overhear.
It was pretty standard awful-day stuff until she starts to say, ‘And now I’m stuck next to this fat American girl with a smelly piece of pizza. It’s so gross.’
I should clarify that, at the time, I was undergoing treatment for an eating disorder. I had just managed to get myself out of the underweight range and into the normal range, and I was very sensitive about my weight. Needless to say, I was p*ssed off. When we got to my stop, I turned to her and said, ‘Entschuldigung, könnten Sie aufstehen?’ (‘Excuse me, could you stand up?’–in unnecessarily formal speech from one college student to another).
She turned bright red and didn’t move until I added, ‘Oh, and I’m sorry the smell of my pizza bothered you,’ in my best polite-formal German.
I’ve run into her since, and she has yet to be able to look me in the eye after the incident.
Edited to clarify language issues. For those who aren’t familiar, German has varying degrees of politeness in how you can phrase things–kind of like English, but more extreme. Among students at various levels of study, you usually use less formal speech because you’re kind of like comrades in arms (at least, this is how it was explained to me).
By being as formal as I could, I was trying to prove a point.” Reddit user
Another User Comments:
“I have experienced this. Europeans will use any excuse to call Americans fat, even when they’re fatter than us. Well done.” cheapshinythings
42. Yes, I Have A Leg Injury, And No, It’s Not Because I’m A Dumb American
“I’m an American, but my dad and his family are from Switzerland, so I had to learn some languages other than English if I wanted to keep up with my grandparents and cousins’ conversations. I’ve got pretty poor with my French but good enough that I can still listen in on other people’s conversations.
But, I was never expecting to be able to use this skill or surprise anybody’s secret conversation since I live in Texas.
But lo and behold, one day I was out shopping with a couple of friends – one who also speaks French and German. I’m disabled from an accident that deformed my left leg – it’s pretty obvious, and people do tend to stare, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go around covered up in pants all the time. It’s too d*mn hot here!
At lunch, we overheard a mom talking with her son at the table next to us. The boy was about 7 or 8 years old and was totally fixated on my leg and the leg brace I wear – just typical kid curiosity, and I was probably one of the few disabled people he’s seen.
The little boy was asking his mom what happened, why that girl’s leg all messed up, why does she have to wear that brace. The mom then starts talking crap about Americans and tells the boy I probably lost it in the war while killing a bunch of helpless people. She then goes on about how Americans are unhealthy, dumb, and should stay out of other people’s business.
My friend had gotten up to go to the restroom and came back and just casually asked how the meal was – in French. I answered her back, and the mom looked mortified as it dawned on her I had heard the whole conversation.
I wasn’t rude, but I did take the opportunity to tell the boy – who was legitimately concerned. I explained that I was injured in an accident, but I’d be okay.
So, I got to surprise someone being a jerk and got to show a little boy that disabled people are just regular people, so win-win.” calypso_cane
Another User Comments:
“I think you may have also saved the boy from believing everything his mother says or at least got him to start questioning her words. I don’t think many people have that breakthrough at such an age, and it’s good that he had it so early with a parent like that.” SHPLUMBO
41. They Weren’t The Only Greeks On Campus
“When I was studying in England for three years, I’d come across a mysteriously ginormous number of Greeks.
There was one point where every single time I’d go outside, I’d overhear at least two groups speaking Greek to each other, so the conversations I overheard tend to get jumbled together.
However, I remember this couple who were walking along in the same direction I was taking, and I remember hearing them badmouth every. single. thing. and person. they came across. for a whopping ten whole minutes. That includes English customs, people’s appearances, fashion sense, way of walking, way of talking, and around the end, they started criticizing me and the way I looked and walked and how clumsy and unfashionable and dirty and stupid I looked, and without skipping a beat, I turned and asked one for the time in Greek.
When he told me, I said to him, ‘You know, there’s more than two thousand Greek students in this city and about a thousand more Greeks around, so I’d watch what I said from now on because not all of them will refrain from breaking your face like I’ve been doing for ten minutes now,’ and I then boarded a random stopping bus to avoid a silly retort which could escalate into a fight. Lucky me, it took me faster to my university.” DeSaad
40. They Called Me Disgusting For Eating Cotton Candy, So I Told Them Where To Get Some In Their Language
How ironic that they bash her for eating cotton candy, only to want some of their own as well.
“I was at Six Flags, and my friends walked ahead of me ’cause I wanted to buy us all some cotton candy. I got in line at the same roller coaster (I think it was Nitro), but they were already far ahead of me, so I was stuck with a massive ball of cotton candy and naturally started eating some of it.
Little did I know, there was a group of French tourists (university students by the looks of it) right in front of me, and when they turned around and saw me eating the cotton candy, they looked shocked and appalled.
They turned to each other and started saying, in French, how disgusting they thought I was and how unhealthy Americans are (this was the Six Flags in New Jersey). At some point in the conversation, they decided that they wanted some but to split (they thought I was eating the giant ball all by myself)– but they didn’t know where to get it.
The look of horror on their faces at how rude they had been was priceless when I directed them to the nearest place to purchase carnival snacks. A small, squeaky ‘Merci’ came from the girl of their group who hadn’t been smack-talking.
I’m not completely fluent in French, but I do understand most of what I hear– these situations actually occur a lot, especially when I go more North and start running into French Canadians. Turns out people are rude no matter how ‘worldly’ you may think they are.” Reddit user
39. Don’t Let My Dark Features Deceive You
“I was born in Ukraine, and English is my 4th language, after Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish. That being said, I am very Americanized since I’ve lived in Brooklyn for about 17 years now and definitely didn’t look very Eastern European at the time because I was really tan and had dark hair and dark brown eyes.
I got on the train in Brooklyn and sat across from these 2 girls who started talking about me in Russian and I guess they didn’t realize that I could understand what they were saying. The first girl said that she really liked my shoes and then her friend began to go on and on about how she’s crazy and that they’re the ugliest shoes she’s ever seen, then she went on to call my entire outfit ugly. She eventually began to talk sh*t about my hair and my appearance in general while her friend just sat there and giggled.
I decided this would be a good time to call my mom, and as soon as she picked up, I immediately began speaking with her in Russian and told her about how dumb and dumber have been talking about me for the last 5 minutes not realizing that I understood everything they were saying.
The girls looked MORTIFIED, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone turn a shade of red that deep. They were quiet until the next stop, and as soon as we got to the station, they got up and moved to another cart.” kko5062
38. They Thought We Were Shoplifters
The mom’s response is epic!
“My grandparents are from Poland. I was raised by a Polish nanny, and needless to say, my family speaks Polish but are clearly American and do not have accents.
When I was a kid, my family went to the grand canyon when we stopped on the aide of the road for a pitstop at a highway store called, ‘Breakfast, Lunch, and Computers’ (which in itself is absurd).
The store had all sorts of trinkets, and with the big family we were (6 kids and 2 parents), we immediately spread out and started looking around.
The whole time, the shopkeeper was eyeing us down. After about two minutes, he turns to his wife and says in Polish to his wife, ‘Follow them, so they don’t steal anything.’
They were floored.” philthadelphia
37. They Insulted Me Because I Mistook Their Italian Heritage As Portuguese, But I Got The Last Laugh
“I’m half-Spanish and speak it fluently, although my red hair among other things prevents me from really looking it.
When I was in France once at a beach, I was chilling with some of my friends and there were these two older women sitting in front of us, being really loud and obnoxious as usual.
My friends asked me what they were saying, and I had no idea, not knowing the language. It sounded to me like Italian, so I simply explained to my friends that I didn’t speak it.
Well, the women in front of us heard me say it, and let’s just say that they weren’t too pleased. As it turned out, they were speaking Portuguese. Being called Italian was a huge insult to them, and they turned around to me and started yelling at me and getting all mad for confusing this.
After all this, they turned back and continued to talk loudly. Now, the kicker is that Portuguese and Spanish are similar enough that I could understand what they were saying next.
They started talking about how ignorant Americans are and how they need to teach these kids some respect. Well, I walked right up to these women and tore them a new a**hole each, explaining that I was Spanish thank you very much and that maybe they needed to learn some respect themselves.
Felt good man. Felt good.” Jobboman
36. The “Fat, Dumb, Tourist American”
“I was waiting in line with my sister to take a boat tour in California, and ahead of us was a group of 5-6 German-speaking people. The wait to board the boat was long, and they got to talking. At first, it was about how nice the weather was, and then it turned to how annoying Americans can be, especially overweight, dumb, tourist Americans.
They cracked a couple of jokes having to do with American stereotypes.
While this was happening, the line started moving, and people started boarding the boat. But the group was too wrapped up in their own jokes to realize it. So, I finally turned around to them, and in fluent German, asked if they were part of the tour and if they were getting on the boat.
They stopped dead in their joking tracks and said yes. So, I replied that they had better get a move on because the ‘dumb, overweight, American tourist’ standing right behind them wanted to get on the boat too.
They all looked really embarrassed.” teknogeek78
Another User Comments:
“It really f*cking bothers me when people visit America from other countries as tourists and complain about Americans. In any other country, it would be considered incredibly rude, but for some reason, ribbing on Americans in their own country is ok… If you don’t like Americans, maybe California isn’t the place for you.
Source: am Australian.” rootfairy
35. Some Texans Do Know French, You Know
“I live in Austin, Texas and was visiting the state’s flagship Texas history museum. If you’re not familiar, Texans are very proud of Texas history and the fact that this place was an independent country for about ten years in the 1840s.
Anyway, I was in the museum and heard some people speaking French. I thought that was odd because you almost never hear people speaking French in Texas. So, I sidled over and began to eavesdrop. They were all making fun of everyone in the museum, calling them ‘bêtes’ (stupid and beastly) for being so interested in their state’s history and so proud of it.
This went on and on for what must have been about five minutes or more, and I’m just listening as they ridicule my fellow Texans. I happened to be wearing a Texas shirt, so I made my move.
I just went up to them and asked the time in French. They paused for a bit, but one of them eventually answered, and I thanked them and walked away. The look on one of their faces, in particular, was priceless.” BandarSeriBegawan
34. The Translator Told The Doctor That I Was “Faking” My Pain
That translator needs to be fired.
“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 a brief physical exam where I was visibly in pain, the translator told the doctor that he thought I was only pretending.
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.” Tbone456
Another User Comments:
“I hope you reported this to the hospital, so some person who doesn’t speak Korean doesn’t get stuck with this translator.
It might have serious health consequences.” RainbowDarter
33. They Made Fun Of Our Sign Language, But Little Did They Know We Could Still Hear
“Once, I was in sitting in a restaurant with my mom, and we were signing back and forth. (Neither she nor I are deaf; she learned the language, and I grew up signing with her.)
I notice that the women sitting in the booth next to us are closely watching our conversation. One of them, really loudly, finally goes, ‘Wow, what a poor little deaf family. It’s sad to see what the world’s coming to these days, but I wish they’d find somewhere else to do their hand signals.’
Now, I was fine to let them think whatever they wanted, but my mom, just as we were leaving, stepped over to their table and said, ‘Despite your assumptions, we’re not deaf.
In fact, as you can probably tell by now, I can hear just fine. So, may I suggest you stop talking and actually consider your surroundings before you stuff your foot even further down your throat? Thanks so much, and have a wonderful evening.’
With that, we left the building.” TheOccasionalTachyon
32. She Didn’t Like That We Adopted A Chinese Girl
“My wife and I adopted a little girl from China. To get her, we flew to Beijing and spent two and a half weeks in three different cities while taking a little cultural tour, picking her up, and filling out gobs of paperwork.
We spent a couple of years prior to picking up some Mandarin, not enough to be fluent, but enough to get around and order food.
Anyway, we’ve had our girl for a couple of days, and we walked over to Walmart (yes, Walmart) in Zhengzhou to pick up some food and toddler stuff when a 20-something Chinese woman sees us and walks past.
At this point, we were used to all the stares, points and occasional dirty looks from locals as a group of Americans wandered around with Chinese babies. This woman doubles back, smiles sweetly, pinches our daughter’s cheek, and says, ‘Ni bu xihuan ni de mama, ma?’
This works out to, ‘You don’t like your mom, do you?’ Took a second to sink in, but my wife whipped around and says in rough Mandarin, ‘Oh, yes she does.'” f0rkboy
31. I Made Him Cook Dinner
“I worked at a school with a large population of Chinese students.
I’m fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. I, however, speak to the students in English because their parents paid for a full American immersion experience, and they ain’t never gonna learn English if they knew they could speak Chinese to a teacher. (I am aware of the horrific grammar in the last sentence. It was there for a dramatic effect. Also, it’s how I generally talk.)
Anyway, those kids have no idea whether I speak Chinese. I let them on, not responding to the first few hilarious instances, so they think I have no idea what they’re talking about. And whenever non-Chinese-speaking students ask me if I knew what two kids were talking about in Chinese I’d just say ‘boys and shoes’ as a default—even if those Chinese kids were straight guys—which added to the deception.
So, basically, for years, I’ve overheard a whole bunch of kids who think they have perfect privacy from teachers talking about relationships, b*tching about teachers, cursing the f*ck out of each other and such.
A couple of months before I quit the job, I was on a camping trip with a bunch of students. One of the Chinese kids was attempting to impress these two Chinese girls by b*tching about camping food and how everything’s dirty in Chinese. I looked at him, handed him my 20″ stainless steel skillet, a cooler of meat, pointed towards the fire and said, in Chinese, ‘Then why don’t you cook dinner and do the dishes tonight?’
His face was, of course, hilarious.
But the best part was that he (along with the two girls and the fact that I meticulously measure out and pack themed spice mixes for camping trips) figured out how to actually cook some delicious dinner. REALLY impressed the ladies and pretty much everyone else.” Reddit user
30. They Thought We Were Too Good To Shop At Their Store
Needless to say, they didn’t get a sale from them.
“I was in a discount clothing store outside of Camden, NJ, with my sister. While I am distinctly low-income, I try not to look it, and so my sister and I must have seemed like we were upper-middle-class brats as we picked over the clothes and commented on the worth of various items of poor quality, (A nearly see-through long-sleeve shirt being sold in winter was supposedly worth $20.
We scoffed.), as well as praised good ones. We were there to shop, and the observations we made were quiet and for our own conversation.
A pair of Hispanic women who worked for the store was in the same section and took turns coming closer to eavesdrop and then regrouping to mutter about us in Spanish things like ‘Spoiled gringa b*tches.’ ‘They think they deserve better than us?’ ‘Why can’t they shop at some fancy gringa store and leave us alone?’
I gently encouraged my sister to leave the store, not wanting to stay where we were not welcome.
As we were leaving the section, we detoured closer to them, and they smiled big fake smiles at us with dead eyes.
I smiled back, and said, ‘Sean ustedes que nos podemos oir, y compredemos lo que ustedes digan? Y ustedes ses preguntan porque nos no van a comprar nada.’ (You (pl) know that we can hear, and understand what you (pl) say? And you (pl) wonder why we aren’t going to buy anything.)
My sister and I left then, and I told her in the car what had happened. (She doesn’t speak Spanish.)” falsestone
29. She Thought I Was Handsome, So I Told Her She Was Pretty
“I’m a white guy who has been living in Singapore for the last two years. I speak fluent Mandarin.
I hear a lot of people talking about me, but one of the cutest moments was as I was walking out of the train, an older lady looked up at me in shock and said, ‘Wow, handsome man” to her friend in Mandarin.
I replied, ‘Wow, pretty woman’ as we walked by each other. It couldn’t have lasted longer than a few seconds.
The last thing I saw was her blushing and her friend laughing at her as the doors closed.” HonestEthan
Another User Comments:
“After reading some cringe-worthy ones, this one is absolutely beautiful!” HaziqahP
28. They Didn’t Expect Her To Ring Them Up In French
“My sister was working in a store, and this french woman and her mother come in.
The mother is absolutely trashing everything… ‘Look at this cheap stuff. How can they get away with selling it?,’ ‘typical American trash,’ ‘I would never bring this back…’ blah blah blah. My sister, who is fluent in French, hears this but thinks nothing of it since the stuff in the store was pretty trashy.
Then, Mama Francais decides to start trashing my sister, saying all types of terrible, mean things she wouldn’t repeat to me. When they get to the counter, my sister rings them up completely in French. After asking them how they were doing and if that would be all (all in french), the daughter, who sounded like she was in her 20s, asked my sister how long she had been studying French, and she replied, ‘Quinze ans’ or whatever it is that means 15 years.
The mother ran out of the store, crying in embarrassment, and the daughter kept on trying to console, and my sister kept on a sh*t-eating grin and never stopped speaking French.” MoreSteakLessFanta
27. The Nail Salon Staff Were Talking Horrible About Us, So We Left Without Tipping
I would have done the same thing.
“My friend’s mom is from Vietnam, but her dad is from the States and is white. For whatever reason, my friend looks like a typical White 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 crap about us the entire time we were there. They were talking about how rich we must be and how ‘These little white 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.
We started to leave, and one of the workers said something about how the rich white 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 the both of us.” antonjad
26. She Thought We Were “Bad People” That Took People’s Jobs
“Family owned a business on a beach right outside of a French town. None of us spoke French, but a great friend of mine was French and came to work with us for years.
One of the local townspeople came up to order fries to go while their child walked into the candy/toy store part where my buddy was working. The kid asked for a toy in English, and the parent responded in French, ‘No, these are bad people. They take jobs from the community and won’t hire locals.’
My buddy interrupted her and said no, that my family was great people, and he did not appreciate her telling her kid flat out lies (all in perfect French). The woman turned beet red and waited outside for her food.
My buddy told my dad what happened, and my dad explained very nicely how we had to bid on the business and have a business plan, and that there were 5 offers, 4 from the city and only one from the town who only offered 12k for the building, equipment and the 3 acres of property it sits on.
She was kind of shocked at how it all worked. We gave her the fries for free for the hassle of listening to us, but apparently she told the story, and we started getting local business for the first time in over a decade.” anxietysufferingfool
25. The Stinky-Footed Italian Women
“Back in 06, I was backpacking through Europe with a buddy, and we ended up staying at this one particular hostel in Berlin. Considering we were on a budget, we’d almost always stayed in the dorms.
This one particular night, it was me and him and this group of gorgeous Italian girls staying in the dorm.
We just happened to be returning to the room at the same time and immediately started with the small talk. Now I was born and raised in Canada, but I have an Italian background — that being said, the girls assumed we spoke English and would often break out into Italian.
They started talking about how my buddy and I were really nice and that perhaps we’d ask them to go for drinks. Immediately after that conversation, they began talking to each other about how badly their feet stunk and that they were praying to God we wouldn’t notice.
At this, I started laughing at myself, and when they asked, I simply responded with, ‘Soooooo, you ladies got stinky feet, eh?’ They were mortified.
I just laughed and told them not to worry about it. We ended up all heading out and had a pretty kick-a** night!” riula
24. He Made Her Blush In French
“I speak French, but not completely fluently, although I am a French/American citizen. At my first girlfriend’s house for the first time eating dinner with them. We go upstairs afterward and her little sister (2 grades below us) comes in as we are selecting a movie to watch. Well, they are Canadian and speak French at home a lot. The girl comes in and starts talking about how I am cute and so forth to her sister.
And then her sister banters back about how she agrees and then turns to me and asks me in French if I agree. I responded in French that I appreciated it. Cue bashful run-up to her room. I lived off that high all year.” Bobbled_It
23. His Second Language Saved Her Life
“My grandparents were Romanian Jews living in Europe during WWII. Post-war they fled to America via Italy and lived in Italy for several years. Now, they largely spoke Romanian, but my grandpa could understand Italian as well. My grandma had a variety of serious health issues throughout her life and at this point (they were probably in their twenties) she had to be taken to an Italian doctor.
Thinking they spoke only Romanian, the doctor told his nurse (about my grandma) ‘she’s not one of us, let her die.’ Well, my grandpa understood this and was able to seek out a more underground doctor to save my grandma’s life. She lived into her 80s.” Awesomeness0232
22. She Got Busted And Is Still Embarrassed 20 Years Later
“My mom is Chinese. I was born in America. At that time her English wasn’t very good so we always communicated in Mandarin. This was about 20 years ago in Barstow, California. We were on a road trip to LA. I needed to use the bathroom so we stopped at Barstow Station, an old rest stop.
It’s a pretty popular pit stop so when we walked in it was jam-packed with people.
So we’re searching for the bathroom and my mom sees it but I’m only 12 and too short to see the sign. She points and says, ‘behind that guy.’ (nayga ren ho mien) I say, ‘Which guy?’ (nai guh ren?) cuz there’s about a hundred people in there and I had no idea who she was pointing at. She points again and getting slightly annoyed says, ‘behind that bald guy.’ (nayga gwong tou ho mien) I still don’t see the bathroom sign or who she’s pointing at.
I’m getting frustrated at this point, so I say frantically, ‘WHERE??’ (NAHLEEE????) She looks at me super annoyed and says ‘AYYYAHHH’ which is like Ughhhh in Chinese. So we push and squeeze our way through a bunch of people closer to who she was pointing at and she says in Chinese ‘BEHIND THIS BALD FAT GUY!’ ( ZUGGA GWONG TOU PONGZE HO MIEN LAAAHHH!)
As we’re standing behind him he slowly starts to turn around. He looks at me, then looks at my mom. He stares her right in the eye. I had no idea what to expect because I had never heard a white person speak Mandarin before.
Neither had my mom. I still remember the look on his face, it was very stoic. With a look of apathy on his face, he very simply and calmly said, ‘I’m not fat,’ (woh bu pong) in perfect Mandarin.
We were shocked. My mom gasped and put her hand on her mouth. Then she waved her hands back and forth really quickly trying to signal that she was sorry but the guy just turned back around and ignored her. Then we just stood in line in silence. I have never seen her so humiliated in my life. She couldn’t even look at me.
I was pretty embarrassed too. We stood in that line for like 5 minutes without saying a word. None of us, my mom, him, me. Longest 5 minutes ever. Then I had to pee in the stall next to him. Then she had to see him walking out, and then we saw him in the parking lot too. Lmao.
I still bring it up to this day to mess with her. ‘Hey remember when you called that guy fat?’ 20 years later and she still gets embarrassed.” Source
21. Some Comments Are Better Left Unsaid
“Not me but my mom’s friend. She and her aunt were on a bus.
A very sickly looking woman sat in front of them. They just started talking between themselves in Polish and said something along the lines of ‘that lady looks like death.’ She turned around and in Polish said: ‘I have cancer.'” weetek
Another User Comments:
“My grandma could speak Arabic fluently. One time we are out and some women behind us in line are mocking her calling her tacky, making fun of her bad dye job etc. She turned around and said in Arabic, ‘I may be tacky, but at least I’m not stupid enough to assume nobody can understand me.’ They were so mortified.” lameio69
20. She Beat Them At Their Own Game
“I was at a bar in Scotland, sipping my drink, whilst my friend had gone to the restroom.
Two guys around my age came in and stood a few feet away from me. I noticed them looking at me.
#1: ‘She’s hot! Reckon I could get her to come home with me haha?’
#2: ‘I dunno like, these foreigners can be a bit stuck up.’
#1: ‘Want to bet on it? £5 says I have her number by the end of the night.’
#2: ‘A tenner says you can’t!’
So guy number 1 walks over. And in very slowly enunciated English he offers to buy me a drink and points to my empty glass just to reinforce what he had said.
I’ve had a few already by this point so I’m in a pretty happy mood and decide to ride this out.
I nod silently and we get drinks. He takes his phone out and points to me, points to himself, points to his phone and then hands me his phone whilst speaking in the same tone, ‘You give me your number.’ I take his phone and open the ‘Notes’ app.
I type, ‘You owe your friend £10’ and hand back his phone to him.
His face dropped to the floor and he went bright red, bless him. I began laughing as he profusely apologized and assumed that my blonde hair, blue eyes meant I was Latvian or some other Eastern European nationality.
My friend appeared back at this point and I filled her in.
They offered us drinks as an apology and they got a long lecture on ‘betting’ on women from me and my friend!” Source
19. He Got Insulted In His Own Native Language
“I’m Mexican but I studied my college degrees in the US. When I was studying abroad in Germany I only spoke English to my German classmates. 4 months in, one time we were waiting for a train at a station and a group of young tourists were being loud and just waiting beside us. I could understand every word they were saying (except for some slang), and they suddenly start talking crap about our group.
I don’t blame them at all, they were just bored at the train station trying to pass time, but I smiled and looked at them. One of the guys looked back and said in Spanish: ‘Do you not like what I’m saying crap head?’ I respond in Spanish: ‘It’s been a long time since someone insulted me in my language.’
The guy had a speechless look on his face and all his friends looked at me. We had a laugh and soon after that both our groups sat together and had a nice time talking.” jmojoker
18. Hungarian Isn’t As Obscure As One Would Think
“I speak fluent Hungarian, and the thing about the language is it’s so obscure that Hungarians will always assume when abroad that no one else can understand them.
As you can imagine, this can backfire spectacularly – I grew up in the USA, and I’ve heard marital spats at Walmart that frankly never should have left the living room, serious goodbyes between lovers that were awkward to hear, all sorts of things like that.
The best story in this genre though is my mother’s when she and my dad were enjoying their first Christmas together. They were in a small village in Austria in the early 80s, and for Christmas Eve when they went out to dinner there was a man in the restaurant with a dog sitting at the table (like guy putting food on the plate in front of his dog, dog eating it, etc).
My mom proceeded to spend a lot of time telling my dad how disgusting and unsanitary this was of the guy to do etc, and when guy and dog finished their meal he just went up to my parents’ table, said, ‘kellemes karacsonyi unnepeket kivanok,’ and left. In Hungarian, this is the polite way of telling a stranger you wish them a Merry Christmas.” Andromeda 321
17. He Foiled Their Awful Plan To Commit A Heinous Crime
“Here’s one that I overheard and I live to tell the tale because of it…
My wife and I were traveling overnight across North India in an empty train on a not very frequented route.
A group of five university students boarded our compartment in the early hours of the morning, spotted us and sat together in a row on a free seat facing us out of the 80 odd other free seats available in the compartment.
They spoke in low tones but I could hear what they were saying and it didn’t take very long for me to realize they were talking about us. I pretended to look out of the window and not pay any attention to them. I also whispered to my wife to do the same and ignore them.
That pretense saved my life and perhaps that of my wife as well…
The boys conversed in Hindi, which I speak but which they didn’t know – for some obscure reason I’ve always been identified as a Sri Lankan or Malaysian and never as the south Indian that I am.
I let people think what they will and these guys probably assumed I was a foreigner or maybe it didn’t even occur to them that I might know their language.
In the conversation that I overheard, these boys decided to rush us, knock me out, throw me out of the moving train and violate my wife.
As simple as that. It didn’t take them very long to come to that decision as well which only goes to prove how psychotic they were. Or that they’d done this earlier. Throwing me out of the running train would have most certainly meant certain death or serious injuries.
And once done with her, they were likely to have thrown my wife out of the train as well.
I, at first, though they were just fantasizing about their course of action soon realized they weren’t. I whispered to my wife what they were saying, to discreetly take her Swiss knife out of her bag and keep it ready. I also told her when they rushed us to kick wildly at their groin areas and to stab as many as possible, as viciously as she could.
We then waited. And it didn’t take them very long to rush us. And rush us they did as one man, all five of them together…
Years ago I had been a serious practitioner of Tae Kwon Do and had kept in practice with some of its finer close-quarter defensive and offensive techniques.
My wife and I had also just finished a six-week-long, high-altitude, Himalayan trek and were incredibly fit. On top of everything else, I’m pretty big for an Indian so I was quite confident that I’d be able to take control of the situation through my heart was beating like crazy.
I waited for them to close in and then I got up in a rush, stepped forward, stood like a rock and quietly said the first two of them would die really horrible deaths…in Hindi, in their language. They stopped, they were shocked I spoke Hindi and had understood them all along.
My wife stood behind me with her knife.
This was something completely unexpected for them. They just froze and not one of them took the crucial first step. Their plan collapsed in a fraction of the time they’d taken to decide on their extreme action.
Cowards that they were, they quietly slunk off, without a word, to the end of the compartment and stepped off at the next station all the while giving us baleful looks.
That’s one adventure I’ll never forget and which was a lesson in itself – there are advantages to keeping some skills secret!
Especially language skills…” Source
16. Airport Security Was Engrossed In A Heavy Discussion About Her Undergarments
“My mother is a French-Moroccan Israeli and the only member of her family to move to America, so as a child we spent part of every summer ‘visiting,’ which means traveling around to places where you can stay for free with family.
Because I was the only American cousin, all of my family and friends would want to practice their English…my cousins would even take me to school for ‘show and tell’ in their English classes. As a result, my passive vocabulary is very good, although I hardly ever actually spoke the language. I also learned very early that everyone assumes that Americans only speak English, and rather than correct them it is MUCH more fun to roll with it because the eavesdropping is awesome.
I don’t visit Israel anymore, but seven years ago my cousin was getting married in Tel Aviv and I attended the wedding.
My passport was about to expire so I did a rush renewal one week before the trip, so my passport was crispy and fresh and hot off the press. I should also note that although I have been to Israel more times than I can count and spent my entire childhood traveling abroad, I had never ever been stopped at security.
On this trip, I had no trouble on my way out, but on the way back I found out pretty quickly that they are REALLY not a fan of a brand spanking new passport at Ben Gurion airport. I got interrogated in the line.
I was removed from the line and brought to secondary. They x-rayed my luggage, made me open the luggage, thoroughly rummaged through my belongings, made me completely unpack my large suitcase in the middle of the airport, x-rayed my bags again without the contents, etc, etc. They acted like everything about me was suspicious and unusual, from my electric razor to the spare battery that I carried for my Blackberry. This was all fine with me, because I appreciate how good the Israelis are at security – especially when about to board a plane – and also because the most possibly controversial item in my possession was the pointy Tweezerman in my checked bag.
All the while, I felt like the security agents were getting increasingly annoyed with me for not getting riled up or nervous. But I mean, I felt like it was pretty hilarious. They were trying so hard to make me uncomfortable but after a lifetime of this type of travel, I was very secure in my position as an American in an allied country who had not done anything wrong. The worst thing that could happen to me is that I would miss my flight, and I could not have cared less about that or the whole airport seeing that I pack a ridiculous amount of underwear.
From the beginning, when they asked me if I spoke Hebrew, I gave my usual answer of ‘not really’… so it’s not my fault if they interpreted that as ‘not at all,’ and continued discussing me in Hebrew right in front of me and telling every subsequent agent that I did not speak the language.
At one point I had been handed off to two female agents who were doing a comically obvious ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine and brought me into a private room. I was wearing a long summer dress that was basically a cotton sheet with spaghetti straps, so I had undergone minimal body searches at that point since there was no place to hide anything unless they wanted to get REALLY personal.
They ran a handheld metal detector over me and were not unreasonably curious about the fact that it kept beeping when it passed over my crotch. The reason for this was because I was wearing Beyoncè underwear. Remember the House of Derèon, ladies? The underwear had a little metal tag with the brand name sewn onto the front. The security agents were having a very serious (very VERY serious!!) conversation in Hebrew about whether maybe I had a genital piercing and how to proceed. After patiently waiting through an official ten-minute discussion about my panties, I finally took pity on them and assured them in Hebrew, ‘It’s just my tachtonim you guys.
Do you want to see? This whole misunderstanding is all Beyoncè’s fault’ and lifted the skirt of my dress to show them my green and purple zebra-striped troublemaking underpants.
Oh, man! They turned so red and panic-gestured for me to lower my dress. I even offered to take off the underwear and let them screen me without it, but they didn’t take me up on it. Every agent they handed me to after that was informed in super loud whispers that I could understand them. They continued to hold me and make me jump through more hoops until finally, I told them that they were cutting it close and would have to decide soon whether they were going to actually make me miss my flight because I would need to inform my boss if I was going to miss work in the morning.
Eventually, I was escorted to my gate with moments to spare, but I was not permitted to bring my electric razor. It had to take a separate flight without me, and when I received it a few days later it had been torn apart and taped back together.
Thanks a lot, Beyoncè!” Source
15. He Pointed Out Her Rudeness In Their Language
“I was at a party a couple of years ago and there were these two really good looking Asian girls. I started chatting one of them up and we seem to be having a good time. Anyways, the party keeps going and we split momentarily (I grabbed myself a beer and her friend came over to talk to her).
I hear them speaking in Korean and the one I was talking to was explaining how she thought I was really cute. Her friend starts talking in Korean, ‘That’s not a good idea. Don’t go after him. He’s not that good looking. He just wants to sleep with you. Blah blah blah.’ (the usual protecting your friend’s line, which I have no problems with minus the not good looking part).
Now at this point, I’m OK with that and I just try to enjoy the party. However, later on I overhear the same girl again speaking in Korean how much of a lowlife I am and I’m a horrible person with some added vulgar swear words (remember, this person has never met me before today).
She was basically describing me as if I was the enemy of all women, how I live in poverty, and trying to label me with as many negative things she could think of. Obviously the girl I was talking to is listening to her friend and is clearly no longer looking at me with interest. Before leaving the party I go over to them and I try asking for her number (just for laughs), which she politely refuses to. I turn to her friend and speak in perfect Korean ‘Thanks so much for telling your friend about me. It was really nice getting to know you and I’m glad you know so much about me, even though we’ve never met before.'” minal18
14. Canadians Aren’t Always Polite
“We, as good Canadians do, went on a ski vacation to Quebec.
While my dad was parking his car a tour bus backed into our van. After seeing the damage, my dad marches on to this tour bus and starts talking with the driver. The driver apologizes profusely to my enraged dad, but when my dad starts asking for his name, employee number, and insurance information, he starts pretending that he doesn’t understand English. My dad is fluent in French so without skipping a beat he continues questioning the driver en francais. The driver was super shaken up by this turn of events and his face turned red but surrendered his information in the end.” DarthPun
Another User Comments:
“Canadian – with an English group in a very French town in Northern Quebec.
The waitress talked bad about us, being anglophones, the whole night to her coworkers and the bartender. She was doing it fairly loudly, which I found weird in a bilingual country.
When she came around with the bills I put on my best Qubcois accent and said in French ” I hope you aren’t expecting a tip from these stupid English people, because you sure as hell aren’t getting one” and told the group we were leaving.
She chased us out of the restaurant screaming at us in French.” MackingtheKnife
13. She Caught Her Date Speaking Poorly Of Her In Front Of Her And The Server
“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 shisha at a local cafe. 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 prostitute 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 prostitute” who he will not be hooking up with later.’
The look on both of their faces was priceless.
Needless to say I ended up taking a cab home.” pizza-khaleesi
12. Her Compliment Went Further Than She Imagined
“My husband is American born and raised but grew up speaking German with his family. He wanted our kids to be bilingual so speaks only German with them.
My kids and I were at Chincoteague Island in Virginia where a lot of Amish people like to vacation. We were in line at an ice cream parlor behind a group of about 20 Amish, including 7-8 teen girls. My daughter is used to speaking German to me as if it’s a secret code, and said, ‘Look at what they’re wearing, those dresses and bonnets.
And look at their hair, so thick and shiny! They all look pretty.’ The girls turned en masse and looked at her in surprise, which in turn surprised her, and I told her, ‘They clearly understood everything you just said!’ She looked embarrassed, then shrugged and answered that she didn’t say anything she wouldn’t have said to their faces. It was still a new experience for her.” MrsTurtlebones
11. They Were Caught In The Cross-Fire Between Jealous Women And Rude Men
“Some 30 years ago, I was a petite blonde 20-year-old working in a rather depressed industrial area that employed predominately Mexican nationals.
Since I don’t have any features that would imply that I speak Spanish, I often found myself the subject of conversation. On this day, I went to lunch with my co-worker and friend Kiara, (who was a very beautiful 18-year-old Italian Spanish speaker). There were few options to choose from so we decided on a local authentic Mexican restaurant. We were the only ‘gringas’ in the place and quickly found ourselves the center of attention from both men and women, none of whom guessed that the two of us were fluent Spanish speakers. The conversation among the men centered on us and was initially complimentary.
However, there was a surprising amount of venom in the conversations between the women. It became clear that the women were deeply upset that we were commanding the admiring glances and the complete attention of ‘their’ men. So, rather quickly the conversation turned to their desire to ‘mess us up’ and ‘teach us a lesson’ about coming into ‘their turf’ and trying to ‘steal their men.’ The men’s conversation had steadily digressed to an inappropriate sexual nature so they found the women’s ire amusing. However, no one made any move to defuse the situation at all. So Kiara and I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable and felt that we were headed for trouble.
By then, we were finished with our meal so as we got up to leave, we turned and loudly addressed the group surrounding us in fluent Spanish. It went something like this:
Me: ‘You men should be ashamed of yourselves for all the really disgusting things you just said about the two of us.’
Kiara: ‘We are complete strangers whom you know nothing about, just trying to have lunch in peace.’
Me: ‘And ladies, both of us are already spoken for so we have no desire to steal any of your foul-mouthed men.’
Kiara: ‘So you all need to grow up.
Me: And you need to stop and think before you speak so disrespectfully about others.
Kiara: Because you never know if they can understand every rude disgusting word you say.
You could have heard a pin drop. During our little rant, each and every pair of eyes shifted back and forth between the two of us as we spoke. It was really quite comical to see them all staring at us in wide-eyed silence. At least most of them had the grace to be embarrassed knowing that we had understood their every word. Not one of them made any move or said another word as we walked out of the place with our heads held high.” Source
10. According To Some, Russians Don’t Like Pizza And Americans Can’t Cook
“My wife and I are OBVIOUSLY American – no hiding that fact.
However, we speak multiple languages and Russian is one of them. We were in the Russian Far-East over 20 years ago and were visiting a recently opened ‘supermarket.’ It was called that because it was the first store in the city to allow customers to actually TOUCH the products and put them in a shopping cart (about the size of a child’s Barbie doll ‘Let’s go shopping’ shopping cart).
My wife was going to make home-made pizzas (American style) for a large group. That meant making entire pizzas from scratch. We were shopping for ingredients and saw that this new store had spaghetti sauce! WOW! She was pretty excited because this would greatly reduce her workload.
Now, the sauce was pretty expensive for the local population, so I doubt that they sold much sauce during the course of the day. We, on the other hand, went wild! We put 20 small jars in our little cart and headed to the check-out.
The store was empty except for us. (Did I mention that it was pretty expensive for the locals???) As we approached the cashier, the guard who had been following us around, took up his post directly behind the cashier, who was sitting down. He folded his arms across his chest and stared at us as we began putting the jars up from the cart unto the counter.
Cashier: ‘I wonder why they want all these?’
Guard: ‘They are Americans.’ (Like THAT explains it.)
Guard: ‘It is their taste. Americans do not know how to make anything. They can’t cook.’
Cashier: ‘Aahhh. That makes sense.’
Me (in Russian!): ‘Well, actually, my wife is going to be making a LOT of American-style pizzas. You should come and see. This is a good base to start with, but it still takes a lot of work to make good pizzas.’
Guard (still looking deadpan at us but whispering out the side of his mouth to the cashier): ‘They understand!’
Cashier (whispering back while staring straight at the cash register): ‘I know! I know! Shut up!'” Source
9. Two Can Have Fun Playing “That Game” – In French
“At 20 years old, I had just finished up doing a year of study abroad in France, when my father came out to travel around Europe with me.
Being a (very) poor student and traveling with a very frugal father, we were dressed about as ‘American’ as they come.
It just so happened that as this was before 9/11, it was possible to store your luggage (temporarily) in lockers at the main train station in Paris (though by just looking through an image search there may still be some available nowadays, I haven’t seen any in person for a long time). We went to go store our luggage so that we could do sightseeing during a 10-hour stopover.
The lockers were all pre-paid and had signs all over the place to that effect (in French – this was before the country had multi-lingual signs as de rigeur).
We paid our fee and went walking around the city.
Upon return, there were two new guys on shift, and as we came up to the desk to get our bags retrieved, I heard one guy say to the other, in French, ‘Watch this. This will be fun.’
He proceeded to tell us, in English, that we had to pay for the return of our bags. I explained (in English), that we had already paid, and that I had the receipt to prove it. It was very clear that he was trying to scam us and was going to pocket the money.
(As a side note, my frugal father didn’t want to spend the $50 equivalency to store the luggage.
He would rather save the money and take the bags – huge suitcases designed for 2 weeks travel – around Paris, and I had to fight with him to store the bags. I was concerned that this was going to reinforce his idea that we should have taken the bags with us).
I pointed to the sign and said that it would have been impossible for us to leave the bags without pre-payment. The guy was completely shocked that I could read the sign, and said that it was ‘an old sign.’
I was getting angrier at this guy, and we were getting pressed for time as we were going to miss our train (which he probably guessed).
I started pointing to the other signs around the room. ‘Are these all old, too?’ I asked
His friend behind him realized this wasn’t going so well. ‘Just get the bags,’ he said (in French).
The guy waved him off, and said (in French), ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ve got this.’
I lost it, and shot back (in French). ‘You’ve got what? What do you have?’
The look on his face was absolutely priceless. He was absolutely shocked and began to stutter. ‘Is this the part where you’re going to have “fun”,’ I asked, sarcastically.
‘Look, I heard you talking to your friend over there behind my back, and I know what you’re trying to do.’ (In French, the equivalency of “talking behind someone’s back” is an idiomatic expression that very few Americans would know, which clued him in that I was completely fluent.) ‘You think that just because I’m an American, that I’m stupid, don’t you?’
‘I suggest that you get our bags before I contact the gendarme and tell them that you were trying to rob us.’
In the background, his friend was nearly convulsing from holding in his laughter at the other guy being busted.
We got our bags, and we were on our way.” Source
8. What You See Is More Complicated Than What You Get In This Case
“On my first trip to New York back in 2007, as soon as we checked in to our hotel, I was on the hunt to find a SIM card for my phone. Found this electronics store around Times Square. I proceeded to walk in, still on a massive high form actually being in New York even after a 20 flight. Me being all chirpy and excited I asked the salesman for a local SIM card. He pulled one out of the cabinet but had no prices on them.
He must’ve been new or something.
He shouts out across the store in his language ‘How much are these?’ To which the other man across the store yells out ‘Charge him 80, he won’t know’ turns out the SIM cards were 30 dollars. Not even an hour in New York and I’m getting ripped off.
Little did they know that I understood every single word they said. My reply, ‘So how much is it? Is it 30 or 80 dollars?’ Their faces dropped to the ground with absolutely nothing to say back. I proceeded to let them know in Arabic ‘Shame on you both, you thieves.
Is this how you treat your guests in your country?’
I in no way look like an Arabic, I was born in Ghana, my grandfathers are from Lebanon. Being dark-skinned with an Australian accent totally threw them off.” Source
7. The Man Her Friend Was Talking About Was Talking About Her Friend In A Chance Encounter!
“In 1985 I had dinner with a friend who had brought a Peruvian, John, with her home across the ocean. The relationship ended badly. He was abusive, hit her, and would not tolerate that she was an independent woman. She left him. It lasted for just a couple of months, so I had not had time to meet him yet, but she was sobbing through the whole story during dinner, not understanding how he could go from super charming to abusive in just a few weeks.
When the dinner was over, I went to the metro and sat down next to three people who spoke Spanish. After a couple of minutes, I suddenly realized that I was hearing the exact same story in reverse and that the guy sitting next to me was my friend’s ex. Since I am blonde and blue-eyed, and Spanish was very uncommon in Norway at the time, they obviously did not think I would understand anything they said.
The metro ride lasted for 15 minutes, and he went on and on about how terrible my friend had been to him, going from sweet to withdrawn to downright cold (leaving out the part where he had abused her).
I could see that he was trying to charm the girl he sat next to, who was all concerned about the ‘horrible’ treatment he had had. Just as we were approaching my stop, he was saying agitatedly: She would not let me make the decisions! And then she left me! How could she do such a cold-hearted thing to me? To me!
I had said nothing all through his rant, but as I got up to get off, I turned to him and said: ‘Well you see, John, Norwegian women don’t particularly enjoy being beaten’. And then turning to the girl next to him: ‘And my guess is that Latin American women are not too crazy about that either’.
For a couple of seconds, he said absolutely nothing. He just looked at me in total shock and disbelief. Here was this perfectly strange blonde woman whom he had never met, but who obviously knew his back story and addressed him by name. Then he turned to the girl and yelled, ‘but I had to beat her! She wanted to dominate me, and I could not take that, as a man!’
I thought ‘gotcha’, and left, and as the metro left the station I could see him frantically speaking to the girl, whose body language had gone from smiling and flirty to cold and withdrawn in a second.
And I was happy to potentially having saved another girl from being abused.” Source
6. He’s Her Dad, Not Her Lover
“So I look kind of Asian but I look mostly South Asian and to top it all, I have green eyes. Keep this in mind because it’s important to the story.
This happened last summer when I was visiting Korea with my family. I was out shopping with my father who is Korean and a group of girls and boys walked in, wearing their school uniforms. They were my age or a bit older than me.
We didn’t mind them and continued our shopping spree.
Also keep in mind that we usually speak in English in our family because my younger brother only knows English. Even though my brother wasn’t there, we still spoke in English due to habit.
So we were shopping for a new pair of shoes for myself. We found an expensive pair and was in line to pay. The group was right behind us. Halfway through my dad realizes that he left his credit card in the car and ran back to get it. This caused a buzz with the people behind me and they started snickering and talking between themselves.
Basically, they called my dad an old man with an exotic young girl a.k.a me.
They said it was a ‘sponsorship’ which is something similar to a ‘sugar daddy/sugar baby’ relationship. It was about me sucking money out of ‘my’ date and how I must be hard to maintain because I was exotic. It was something along those lines. I don’t remember exactly what they said.
Maybe they felt that way because I didn’t look like my dad and looked different. Maybe they felt that way because my dad was spending a lot at the store. But whatever made them feel that way, made me feel horrified.
Then my dad came back with the credit card and paid.
Before we left, I told my dad, ‘let’s go quickly. We need to pick up mom from the saloon,’ in Korean.
The looks on their faces when I said that was hilarious. I wish I took a picture of that.” Source
5. She Made The Salespeople Work Extra Hard When She Was Mistreated
“A few years back, I went to a big shopping mall to purchase some sarees. My purchase of sarees usually does not take more than fifteen minutes. Before leaving the house, I had already decided about the color, fabric and price range that I was looking for.
As usual, I asked (in Telugu), ‘Show me Bengal Cotton sarees in the price range of six hundred to eight hundred rupees in cream color and lemon yellow color.’
The salesman at the counter went to pick the sarees from the rack that was in the store.
That’s when a girl, who seemed to be the leader of the sarees section, called that salesman and in English, told him, ‘There is unsold stock bought two years back, lying in the godown. This lady will not know the difference. Bring them.’
The guy looked at me. There was a suppressed sneer on his face. She was careful not to use the phrase ‘old stock’.
Me being an old lady wearing a simple cotton saree might have made her assume that I didn’t know English.
‘Today I have a lot of time. Let me enjoy the scene,’ I thought to myself.
She then told me in Telugu that there was a new stock that just arrived in the morning, lying in the godown and asked me to wait.
I asked for a chair and settled myself comfortably.
After fifteen minutes, the salesman arrived with a big bundle of sarees and started showing each of them to me.
I told him that I wanted cream-colored sarees and lemon yellow colored sarees, to which he showed me some sarees.
I rejected them, citing that Cream should be a little lighter and Lemon Yellow should be a bit darker.
‘Bring more sarees from the same stock,’ said the chief to the salesman in English.
The salesman went inside and brought more sarees. I patiently inspected and rejected every saree that he brought. This happened thrice.
Meanwhile, I felt sorry for the guy.
But I could not forget his suppressed laughter. Throughout the process, he was communicating with the chief with a conspiring look in his eyes.
After one and a half hours, I got exhausted could not enjoy the scene anymore.
‘I am tired of seeing this old stock of yours! Please inform me when new stock arrives,’ I said in English.
The girl stood flabbergasted.
I walked out of the shop. And never returned.’ Source
4. Discuss Personal Matters In Public? Careful, You Might Get Someone’s Opinion Thrown In
“In a shopping mall, my friend and I went to eat at the food court. Next to us was a middle-aged couple having a conversation in Indonesian.
As we were chatting away, I overheard the husband say to his wife in Indonesian:
‘I think I might sh*t my pants. I told you it must be the yogurt I had this morning.’
I could see the pain on his face. He bit his lips and couldn’t stop shaking his leg. I know the feeling. Next thing I know, I smelled the most horrendous fart… I knew that guy was the number one suspect. Then the wife said to him:
Wife: ‘Oh goodness. You better run away now before everyone at this food court dies. It smells like a garbage bag filled with wet trash that has not been collected for a year.’
Hubby: ‘Yeah it’s wet.
I’m convinced I just sh*t my pants. These two girls seem fine, the wind must have blown your way.’
It stank so bad. I agreed with his wife. I couldn’t help it so I looked at him and said in Indonesian:
‘Yep, I would listen to your wife if I were you.’
He froze. He apologized to us then off he went to the toilet.
The wife was there laughing her arse off. Then while she’s waiting for her hubby to come back, she told me the full story about how this yogurt incident started. She shared too much info but it was fun!
Lesson to learn: When you know you have lactose intolerance, don’t eat vanilla bean yogurt that has a picture of a giant cow on the packaging and then say, ‘Yeah I’m sure I’ll be fine.’ Because you know you won’t.” Source
3. They Were Charged Extra For Something That Shouldn’t Be Charged Extra
“In the last year of school, we were on a science trip to geneva (CERN).
We lodged in a youth hostel downtown. Five boys in one room. We were staying inside because it was raining cats and dogs outside when suddenly the fire alarm box fell down. Three minutes later and two guys from the reception entered our room and yelled at us in French. We understood everything because we were fluent in french but we didn’t say anything because we were surprised, so they must have assumed that we don’t speak French. (We are Germans)
And then it went something like this:
Guy 1: ‘They don’t understand us.’
Guy 2: ‘Stupid germans, they demolished the fire alarm.’
Guy 1: ‘These boxes always fall down, I mean they don’t even work.
So annoying to pretend we have these just because they are required by law.’ *curses*
Guy 1: ‘I guess we can make some profit here. How about we just tell them, that this might alert the firefighters, and they will have to pay – let’s say – 1000 CHF.’
Guy 2: ‘And they will pay because they are afraid something worse might happen to them.’
Then I stood up and said in perfect French: ‘No I think they will sue you and your company for fraud.’
They made up some sh*tty explanation that the business is not going well and stuff. We said we would sue them…needless to say we got everything for free and everybody got his own room.” Source
2. She Saw Through Their Ruse And Killed Them With Kindness – And Karma
“I’ve had several experiences while traveling or living abroad where locals assumed I didn’t speak the language, but my favorite was right here at home.
A small town in Georgia, USA, I was working as a real estate agent. An Indian couple came in to look at one of the houses for sale, I was making friendly conversation with them and I was just about to mention that I was taking Hindi language classes and ask if I could practice a bit with them when the wife looked at her husband and made a very uncomplimentary remark on my curly red hair.
I was a bit taken aback, but I wasn’t really offended. It wasn’t a great hair day. But of course, I didn’t want to embarrass a customer, so I pretended I didn’t understand and began the tour of the model home.
The whole time, she talking away at him in Hindi, while not even pretending she didn’t understand English- she would ask questions in English, and never pretended to need him to translate anything I said. The rudeness was starting to irritate me, but I continued to smile. She pointed out every flaw or feature in the home that she didn’t like in fluent English, but everything she liked she would point out to her husband only in Hindi. The poor man looked more and more embarrassed by his wife’s rude behavior.
When we finally reached the last room, the husband admired the built-in bookshelves but his wife snapped at him not to ask, they would be too expensive of an upgrade.
Then she began instructing him on how much they might offer for the home, far below the list price.
I finally had enough, and in my friendliest voice and nicest smile, I said, ‘Oh yes, those built-ins are lovely, aren’t they? They actually come standard! And I’m very sorry, but as we discussed initially, there is no negotiation room in the price with this builder.’
They both went wide-eyed as they realized I had understood the whole time. I acted as if there was nothing unusual and began pointing out the window at available lots. The wife was flustered, but after a moment the husband began grinning and then giggling like a little boy.
He giggled for probably 5 minutes.
We never made mention of it, and within a few weeks, they did actually buy a house. With built-ins. For list price.” Source
1. He Was The Apple Of Their Eyes – And He Caught On Very Quickly
“In order for this story to make sense, I’ll begin by stating my age: 14. I’ll also gladly reveal that most people believe me to be older than I am. Why? I’ve always liked to think it’s because I act older than my age, but alas, this story proved said theory wrong.
A few weeks ago, my mom and I went to a burger joint.
Hardly an uncommon occurrence. We were, at the time, in an Arab country. I remember I was speaking English, due to the fact that my mom is American, and consequently have no doubt the people in the restaurant were unaware of my trilingual nature (Arabic, English, Turkish). This was proven to be true when I began eavesdropping on the women in front of us in line. It did not take me long to figure out they were talking about me:
‘…the people behind us.’ One of them was saying, in Arabic.
My interest level increased sharply. I zoned out again upon noticing that they had returned to discussing the car models parked outside.
As we drew closer to the counter, however, I was surprised to hear their conversation shift back to me. Mind you, they were in their 20s. The following dialogue [trialogue?] took place, as I choked and blushed, pretending not to understand:
Woman 1: ‘Where should we go now?’
Woman 2: ‘Give me a moment to rest my eyes.’
Woman 3: ‘[giggle] He’s just a kid you know.’
Woman 1: ‘It’s obvious he’s [insert most vulgar way to say “sexually mature” in your language].’
Woman 3: ‘Imagine if he understands what we’re saying!’
So. I had 20-something-year-old women eyeing me. Riiiiight then. My mom, blissfully unaware of what was occurring due to her minimal command of the language gave me an odd look, noticing my embarrassment.
I silently walked to the nearest table and sat, sure I had misunderstood. But, no, my friends, this was not all. Upon returning to pick up the order, I was stopped by the trio and asked my age. Careful to keep a poker face, I answered truthfully in Arabic, before turning and leaving the restaurant, burgers in hand. I would have loved to see the reaction, but looking back would have spoiled the dramatic exit.” Source
Knowing a foreign language can definitely come in handy, but in the case of using a different language to talk bad about other people or even trying to take advantage of people who you think don’t know your language, not so much.
As a little word of caution for multilingual, be careful of what you say, even while speaking in a foreign tongue!