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July 2, 2010 / Brent Sears

Meeting People

It is much easier to remember places than it is to remember names. In the last 72 hours I have met people from all over the world: England, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, USA, and Australia. I can list all the places, but it is hard to remember names. This is partly because a lot of the names are uncommon, so it is easier to simply associate the person with their home country.

There was a 3 minute hold up last night when I was ordering dinner, so I introduced myself to the receptionist at the backpacker inn we were staying at who happened to be standing next to me waiting as well. We exchanged names (I don’t remember hers) which is always fun because based on the response I always try to pick up the accent and make a guess at where they are from; my guess from her response was England or Australia.

I went through my usual lines…New York, but not the city, and 5 hours north. There are quite a lot of people who don’t think of NY as anything more than NYC, but I then tell them that is like saying London in all of England, and they get it immediately.

Then when I asked where she was from she winced at the question and sheepishly said “England,” as if it were the most boring/dreadful place in the world. I enquired about what part and she said Essex, which is south of London.

I then went on to order dinner, but her reaction to being asked where she was from stuck. Why was being from Essex, England a bad thing? My first morning in Australia I received a similar response from a woman from Tanzania, and I was equally perplexed. I am from a small town in the USA. So what?

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