The Domain of Steven Pinnacle of Paperless Perfection

14Oct/084

Where everybody knows my name

The French intern at my summer job learned English through British schools, and while he could passably converse with the rest of the Brits in the office, he found our American accents to be a rather big hindrance to comprehension. This amused me to no end.

I miss England sometimes. The company, too.

Perhaps it was the attention I received, not only as an American-accented Chinese (actually a minority for once) but also as an intern from abroad (of which I was the first). People were curious about me, about where I came from. They wanted to know whether everything they'd heard about New York City was true, and though I barely know the other side of my block, I had plenty of things to tell them about it. God, I had conversation topics. And each conversation, delightful in itself, was made all the better by hot British accents.

I was talking with Chris about my time there, since he is interested in studying abroad, and conveyed this sense of celebrity status. I would be singled out for being Asian, and pegged for an American once I opened my mouth. They'd ask almost immediately, "are you American?"

To the disappointment of some, I did not come back with a British accent, but Chris noticed that I was imitating a British accent when I quoted them. I hadn't done it on purpose, I was simply relaying what was ingrained in my mind. The "are" was pronounced more like a gentle "ah," and American used a "meh" in place of the "mare" sound.

When we imitate the British we make ourselves sound haughty, but when the British imitate us they make themselves sound like redneck retards. No joke. I also found this endlessly amusing. In fact, endlessly amusing would be a recurring theme while there, provoked by places like Poundland (as in currency, not weight) and conflicting concepts like suspenders. Everything there was different, and yet familiar enough to keep me insulated from the worst of culture shock.

Best of all? Net profit. Also, apparently I am the British definition of Filipino, as evidenced by their consistency in guessing my nationality.

6Oct/0810

Guarding my grill is not enough

The funny thing is, I did everything right. I did not jaywalk in front of the stopped bus, because I would have had a hard time looking at the traffic. I did not start walking once the light started changing away from green. I did not cross before cars had pulled to a stop. I was not the first one on the street.

Yet as I take my first few steps onto the crosswalk, I notice a flicker of movement in the corner of my eye. Just a biker zooming down one of the newly-painted bike lanes. With all these people crossing on a red light, no doubt he'll slow down and stop. Safety in numbers, the creed of anyone who has ever walked through a shady part of town at night or crossed a Manhattan street.

But the flicker isn't slowing nor stopping. As I turn my head, the flicker is no longer just a figment, it's a biker mere feet away cycling straight towards me. Headlights, check. Deer, check. I'm caught.

I said a big fuck you to Newton right then and there, because his third law causes the biker to stop and me to start. The front wheel hits the side of my calf and I'm finding that my legs have gone on strike. I'm thrown to the side, amazed that I was actually hit by something when I see the biker and his mount fall over to the side in front of me. He must have been in shock too, cause it was a pretty slow and hilarious descent. His side saves his bike from further harm, though I hear some things of his clatter and crack as they fall to the ground.

Now remember that I'm not alone on this crosswalk. In order to reestablish my faith in the "safety in numbers" creed, the rest of the pedestrians gather around us and make sure we're okay. I wave them off and tell them that I'm fine. My leg responds, and it's just a dull pain rather than a sharp pain caused by movement, so I doubted anything was damaged.

My main concern is the other victim in the accident. In the heat of the moment I ignored the red light and thought the collision was my fault. My inability to move out of the way caused the biker to fall. I was fine, but how was he? Would he be pissed that I threw him off his bike? What if he broke something?

Barely coherent apologies came out of my mouth, only to be met by a stream of apologies coming from him as well as he stands up. I help him pick up his stuff, then limp over to the bus before it leaves or I get run over for standing in the street (again). I plop down onto the bus and then look myself over. I was afraid that I had scraped my palms when I fell, but I was actually wearing a jacket with sleeves that extended past my palms, which kept them from getting scraped up. Instead, when looking at my calf I find a small cut. I was wearing jeans which probably deflected some of the bite of the bike wheel, but it wasn't just a papercut that I could ignore. I immediately went into treatment mode, once again glad that I am a walking first-aid station.

I would be feeling that leg for the next few days, but I got out of it much easier than I might have. And hey, I learned a valuable lesson.

Filed under: General 10 Comments