Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mmmm...

I'm not sure what happened. I've just come from the big chain bagel place across the street where I had a puzzling experience. I ordered an Asiago bagel with plain cream cheese. The girl who waited on me asked if I wanted it toasted. I said "Yes." She said, "Your name?" I said "Pam." She said "Amy?" I said "Sorry. No. Pam. P-A-M." She wrote "Kim" on my order slip. It was weird. I started thinking, as I often do when people misunderstand what I say, that I was probably not enunciating properly. But, then I realized that she had no trouble understanding my order. And, then I started thinking about why her brain processed what came out of my mouth in the way that it did. It's true that "Pam" and "Amy" both have the letters "AM" in them, but the "A" is pronounced differently in the two names, so really the only common element is "M". So, it's like all she heard was "Mmmm" -- or *maybe* that's what she *saw*, but didn't hear anything... A quick "Mmmm". What short names have an "M" in them? Amy? But, then I said, "Sorry. No. Pam. P-A-M," as clearly as I could muster and she wrote down "Kim." "P" and "K" don't sound alike because they are pronounced using two different vowels. But if one were lip reading, perhaps it would be easy to mistake "P-A-M" for "K-I-M". So, now I wonder, is she hard of hearing? or was I really speaking so softly that she couldn't hear me?

7 comments:

Jake said...

See, I start thinking about what accent the girl might be thinking in. So 'P' sounds like 'Pay' and 'A' has an 'Ah' in it which equals 'I'.

Or she's just ... wow ... out there.

[Pam's blog] said...

Interesting theory, but she was definitely American with no foreign accent. Maybe she thought I was foreign? :-)

Suze said...

Geez, who knows. There's this senile old guy that calls our house every few days looking for his brother Eric, and he doesn't seem to understand that Eric does not live at this number. He gets all confused every time. It's kind of sad.
anyway, I hope you had a good sandwicH :)

Steph said...

I have no idea what was happening with the bagel girl, but as someone who has a last name that is either impossible to pronounce or impossible to spell, depending on one's perspective, I can sympathize with your difficulty. (I suppose your last name produces some challenges too--I admit I have no idea how to pronounce it.)

[Pam's blog] said...

So, just a follow up here... Today I went in and ordered the same thing. The woman who took my order was Spanish-speaking and she understood everything I said perfectly clearly. Interesting, eh? Maybe I am actually speaking Spanish and don't know it.

Andre said...

Happy belated Birthday Pam!!!

Pam said...

Thanks, Andre! When's your birthday?
:-)