Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good and Bad Attention

Good attention:

My co-worker and I grabbed a cab on our way to happy hour Friday evening.

"American?" the driver asked.
"Oh yes, Obama. Very good. ha ha ha"
"Oh wow! Yes. Clinton. Wow."
"ha ha ha ha. Lincoln. that's great!"

My co-worker and I had a laugh.

"What about him?" I asked. "He's not American. He's Australian"
"Yes," co-worker says.
"Ah yes, Brisbane."

And so on. I love it. It's friendly. It's funny. We get out of the cab ready to have a good time.

Moving on to bad attention:

I'm standing on the train Saturday morning trying to read a magazine and some guy starts prodding his daughter to speak English to me. After a minute or so it becomes clear the kid is shy and doesn't want to, but he persists. So at the next stop, I take a seat
farther away from them. And they sidle up beside me. Guy persists in prodding his daughter, so that now everyone in the car is looking at us. I wouldn't be so opposed if it were an actual opportunity to practice English, but the girl looks like she's about 6 and totally incapable. She was very cute though, she had pigtails and a little peacoat, so I suppose what irked me most was that it seemed more about him making a scene with his adorable daughter than actually having a teaching moment.

And more bad attention:

On my next subway ride of the day a guy in a suit with a wheeled suitcase pops up and asks, "Excuse me, where are you from?"


"You study here?"

"No, I work."

I move away, because his tone of voice is such that I know it's not just small talk. He re-approaches:

"Excuse me, I have a small language center near here-

"I'm not a teacher."

"Oh okay. That's okay. Bye."

As I type now, I suppose I sound more irritable than is warranted, but after a couple years it gets old. I came home and retold the last story to James - "Who looks for an employee in a subway station?!"

"Well you are the perfect candidate - young, white, female..."

Then I felt a bit more sympathetic to the school owner. It's much tougher to find a white lady teacher. Alas - as the gentleman visiting our fair city this week might say: It ain't me babe.

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