Misunderstandings shape about half of my world. As someone who considers themselves a “good” communicator I find myself more often in these positions than others.
This past Sunday my room mate and I got picked up by two friends heading to a pool cook-out party outside of our friends apartment complex. I was still exhausted and somewhat drunk from an entire day and night of debauchery coming to an end just hours earlier. I hadn’t managed to pick up any alcohol for the event so I asked my buddy driving to stop at a liquor store before we got to the apartment. I hate showing up without booze because it makes me feel like a moocher I actually prefer to stick to liquor if I can help it anyway.
We stopped across the street from a liquor store and I headed in solo while my room mate went to a nearby McDonald’s to “destroy a bathroom.”
I walked in and went down the first isle and quickly found my Jack Daniels for the day. After a trip down two more isles I began feeling stupid for getting confused by the layout. I stopped and scanned the place for someone working there. Not far from the register, currently spacing out was a light skinned Moroccan man. He was wearing dark black pants and a dark black turtle neck (in the middle of summer) and as I approached he continued to blankly stare towards the back wall of the store.
“Excuse me.” I said breaking his concentration as he slowly lowered his eyes towards me, “Hey, where’s your Jäger at?”
The man squinted at me, “Huh?”
“I’m looking for Jäger.” I repeated
The man’s aloof attitude quickly shifted to anger, as he pointed at himself and said with a thick accent “Whose nigger?”
“What?!” NO!” I said, my eyes darted around the store quickly in hopes there might be a third party walking around that would easily be able to help clear this up.
Nobody else was in the store.
I wasn’t sure if he thought I was asking for a friend of his or he thought I was requesting a type of liquor with a very progressive marketing strategy or maybe he thought I was straight out calling him names. Nobody else was there to back me up on the existence of a liquor that sounds like racial slur to him, so I had to think fast.
“You know Jäger! Like Jägermeister? It has a deer on the bottle.” And I put two fingers on either sides of my head above my ears and struck a slightly squatted pose with my head tilted upwards like a deer. I know, I was still drunk and I suppose I thought that this would help. More likely he probably thought I was calling him the devil.
He shook his head and didn’t seem amused, “What?”
I turned and walked down a third isle of the liquor store and within a moment I spotted the familiar green bottle on a bottom shelf.
As I reached to grab one of the bottles, he called after me, “Oh Jägerrrr! It’s where your hand is.”
-Which I thought was helpful.
We both chuckled a little bit as he rang me up. We had one of those cultural misunderstanding moments where we both kind of nodded and air-elbow each at one another after we realize what’s happened. It hadn’t occurred to me until I was already back in the car, but I missed a prime opportunity to fuck with this guy. The next time this ever happens to me again… (because why wouldn’t it right?) before I walk out the door, I’ll shake my head at the guy disapprovingly and yell out in a redneck voice, “You Fuckin’ Jäger!”
That would have blown this guys fucking mind… next time.