November 20, 2006

Playing it by Ear

When my friend Simone from London worked with me in San Francisco people would go gaga over her accent. They had no idea what she was saying but they just loved to hear her talk. She had to frequently remind us "I'm a person, not an accent!"

I get it and it goes both ways. If anyone thought that the US had a million accents try the UK. Having absorbed (kind term for conquering) so many cultures, countries and ethnicities the UK is a melange of accents. I’ll be honest, I still can’t discern a Scottish accent and I’ve been with Stephen for 5+ years – but it does sound dreamy.

Calling customer service help lines takes a certain talent for deciphering what the person on the other end is saying. Forget that they are using terms I’ve never heard – I can’t even make heads or tails of the words themselves. These tend to be lower paying jobs so you get all kinds of accents from little corners of the city. But the people are always patient and end the conversation with the obligatory “Lovely.” I’m now in the habit of saying Cheers but it seems to have gone out of style.

I just got off the phone with a lovely customer service person from my new bank. She (or was it a he?) asked me if my name was American. I said it isn’t but my accent is. Oh he/she went gooey. “That is so nice, how lovely, just lovely, very nice, oh yes. Have a lovely day. Thank you. Oh yes.” I believe from their accent that they were from Asia so it was all very sing song and sweet. I felt like a movie star. You know what, I’m happy to be an accent for a while.