Language Mishaps #2

I was in the line at the fast food burger place, getting a large coffee for after-school stimulation. I received my number and sat down near the front door. Some middle school kids came in and were bouncing around. Three of them went across the room to order, while one of them stood next to me. He immediately asked my name, so I told him. Then he asked me where I live, and I said Sineum-dong, which was where we were at. After a bit more banter, I decided to try some new Korean phrases I had learned earlier in the week that I hadn't said out loud to anyone yet except for my co-teachers who helped me with learning them. So I knew my pronunciation wasn't good, but it had to be passable. Kids are the best to practice on. I won't write the Korean here, but here is how the translated conversation went: Me: "Next year I'm switching to elementary school. Which elementary school did you go to?" Kid: ::Stares blankly:: Me: "Elementary school, which? Jungang... Dong-shin... Gimcheon...?" Kid: "... Eh?" Me: ... "Where did you go to school last year?" The kid looks straight at me in the eyes and says "I no speak English". I point at my mouth and say "I'm speaking Korean". He pauses, contemplates, then jumps "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Speaking Korean!". Then he literally answers every previous question I had asked him like a full minute before. My coffee came out right as his friends were returning to him, so I left the restaurant and headed home. The humor of the situation didn't dawn on me until I was halfway home. I put myself in his shoes. I put myself back in America. In a Starbucks. I'm in the Starbucks, and some Asian-American walks up to me and says in choppy but legible English, Asian: "Hello. How are you? Do you live around here?" Me: :: Stare blankly at the man :: Asian: "Umm... okay. I just graduated from UC Irvine and I moved here recently. Know anything fun to do?" Me: ".. hmmm..?" Asian: "Alright, uhh.." Me: "SORRY I DON'T SPEAK CHINESE." What a weird phenomenon.

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