Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Angry Callers

Even after almost a year and a half, I still cannot master answering the phone correctly. No matter what, picking up a phone almost always seems to result in thirty seconds of confusion.

For example, yesterday I could see on my caller ID that someone from my office was calling so I just answered the very American way with, “Hello.”

Then the person said, “Madeleine.”

And I said “No, this is Chantal.”

And she said, “Chantal, this is Madeleine.”

And I thought. Oh, duh. Me and my crazy American brain again.

In the German language, typically you are greeted on the phone with someone barking their name at you. Often there is no “hello,” just a crude, “Herr Helmut”. Their tone usually sounds angry and/or serious so to a happy American used to a friendly “Hello?” it is very strange and I always do a second take and try to focus my brain to say my name and realize that others will also say theirs in a somewhat strident tone and expect me to say mine before they say anything else.

One time, a male called me and said “Ann-Charlott”. So I took the German approach and said my name. As it turns out it was the secretary, Charlie, telling me that he had Ann-Charlott on the line for me. After I made a fool out of myself for thinking a male could be an Ann-Charlott (hey, stranger things have happened around here), he transferred me.

In the US, if someone was going to transfer me, they might say, “I’ve got Ann-Charlott on the line. Can I transfer you?” Here, there is no such thing. Just a barked name said with a heavy accent and I never know who I’m talking to or how to react.

However, I am good at saying good-bye. Everyone here uses the Italian good-bye. Or in English, “chow.”

4 comments:

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