Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Minor English-As-A-Second-Language Indignity of the Week

We have a friend---a close friend---who answers to “Jim” but whose Christian name is of course James, the name under which he maintains his checking account and driver’s license and other formal accoutrements of the modern, cosmopolitan life. Jim reports that he recently made a trip to the drive-thru at the branch of the multinational banking corporation he’s patronized for many years, intending to deposit a check that was written out with his first name as “Jim” and to get a small amount of cash back.

After sending the check up the pneumatic chute, Jim waited in silence for what seemed like an unusually long time before the speaker crackled and the teller, forgoing the usual introductory pleasantries, demanded to know, “Who es Jeem?”

“Jim is me---Jim is James,” James/Jim sought to explain. “Jim is a whatyacallit, a diminutive, for James … in America.”

Jim says his explanation resulted in another full minute’s worth of silence, during which there apparently was some intercession by a higher-ranking bank authority, before the canister with his $40 hurtled back through the chute. No one wished him a nice day at the conclusion of the transaction, he says.

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