English As a Third Language; Don’t Underestimate Anyone


I should have had this entry on 1st May, since something that I am writing now had happened on that day. It is the day my second child Saral was born three years ago. So it was his birthday, and we were planning to celebrate it in the evening. We had ordered a cake in Costco two days earlier. Pick up day was on the same day as his birthday. I drove there with my son who was seen visibly excited with a sheer anticipation that people would gather around him and sing, ¨Happy Birthday to you Saral!¨

Eye-Fi_mobi-8-16MB_cardsI always wanted to have a Wi-Fi flash SD memory card that can ease my pain from taking out a memory card from the camera or hooking wire into the camera every time I needed to upload pictures from it. I strode straight to the electronics aisle and saw a bunch of flash SD memory cards next to cameras. I was, however, disappointed to not see what I was looking for. Just as I was about to move to a different section, I saw a staff with different uniform than other staffs coming towards me to whom I simply asked if they carried an Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card. He gave me a confusing look and asked me again to make sure he heard me right. I repeated, “Yes sir, I am looking for a wireless memory card for my camera.” He assured me that he would ask another staff who works in the Cell Phone department.

It was few feet away from where I was standing, and I could hear him talking to another store guy.  He told him that a man, (who was definitely me), was inquiring about a wireless memory card called Eye-Fi.  The guy in the Cellphone booth chuckled and then both laughed at me. Now I knew at that point that they had no idea what they were laughing at. For them, a random non-native English-speaking guy with little English language speaking skill was asking them about something that they had never heard about.

At that moment, I was sure that they had never heard about the wireless memory card before, thus it was a nonexistent piece of technology in their world. I composed myself and walked there to tell them exactly that I was looking for to buy a 16GB Wireless SDHC Memory Card, so that I would not have to pull my other flash memory card out of the camera every time I needed to upload the pictures into my Flickr account. Furthermore, I explained to them that the wireless memory card has a built-in wireless transmitter that transfers photos and videos with 802.11n speed directly to any wireless devices that are SDHC-compatible and also to your favorite online sharing sites like Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Picasa, etc. All of sudden, their facial expression changed. The guy in the cell phone booth acknowledged honestly that he had never heard of it before. Also, he said that the store usually did not carry those Wi-Fi flash memory cards. Before I walked away from there, once more I asked the first guy if he could tell me where I would find potato salad!

Moral of the story: Do not underestimate a person if he does not look like an American. Do not judge someone’s level of knowledge about something on the basis of their color of skin.

To borrow Shrek’s quote: Look, I’m not the one with the problem, okay? It’s the world that seems to have a problem with ME! People take one look at me and go “Aargh! Help! Run! A big stupid ugly ogre!” They judge me before they even know me – that’s why I’m better off alone…

NOTE: Shrek can be more daring and intelligent than the Prince Charming or the Lord Farquaad (characters from Shrek sequels).

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