Developing Laser Listening Skills

Creative Commons image.
Creative Commons image.

Listening skills are really important, especially when you’re working with foreign accents. Yes, I’m familiar with the Aussie accent by now, but sometimes I fail to pick up on certain words. I think my brain automatically converts from Australian to American, and sometimes slots words into the wrong place.

Usually this doesn’t result in any real confusion.


Earlier this week I was with Jared’s family at his uncle’s place, where I met his cousin’s girlfriend. We started chatting, and here’s what happened.

* * * * *

Me: Where do you work?

Her: At a Laser Eye Clinic.

Me: Oh, cool! I had that done in Korea. It was awesome and I tell everyone that they should do it. Have you had it done?

Her: I get it done and I do it, too.

Me: You actually do it? Wow! That would freak me out. I don’t think my hand would be steady enough.

I shudder and mime lasering my eyes with my fingers.

Her: …oh, it’s not that bad.

Me: I’m so glad I had it done. I went with the LASIK instead of LASEK because it had a faster recovery time, even though the LASEK is apparently slightly safer if you get hit in the eye later on.

She appears slightly confused. Maybe there’s only one kind of laser eye surgery in Australia.

Her: Yeah…It’s a lot of upkeep, but I think it’s worth it.

Me: Definitely. It’s been two years since I had mine done, but I haven’t noticed it getting any worse. The clinic in Korea gave me a lifetime guarantee, so I might even fly back someday to have it done again.

Her: To Korea? That’s serious commitment.

Me: Well, depending on flight prices it might even work out cheaper. And it would be a good excuse to visit Korea again. Though in saying that, I imagine the price will keep going down in Australia as the technology becomes more common.

Her: Yeah, I mean, it’s only $39 for a Brazilian.

Me: 39 dollars?!

Hang on. For a Brazilian?

Me: Um. Sorry. I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. Where did you say you worked?

Her: I’m a laser hair removal technician.

* * * * *

Now go back and read that exchange again and you’ll see that we were having two entirely separate conversations.

I especially like the part where I, in all seriousness, am considering flying to Korea to have my bikini line and under arms lasered.

We all had a good laugh about it, and now I’ve got a nice reminder about the importance of listening to an entire phrase – not just the first few words.

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    1. I think this girl was genuinely trying to preserve my feelings despite thinking I was off my rocker. It was a relief for both of us when we figured it out!

  1. So in Russian the words for “breakfast” and “tomorrow” are nearly the same. So I was in a restaurant in Kiev and the guy asked if I wanted to eat breakfast, and I said no, I want to eat today.

    PS: I met a guy who actually got LASIK in Turkey for 80% less than I got mine in the US. But at mine they had a teddy bear to hold while I got it done. So HA!

    1. Ahh…language errors. Reminds me of the small yet significant difference between the words for ‘verb’ and ‘explosive diarrhea’ in Korean.

      I also had a stuffed animal to hold during my LASIK, though it was large and green. Unidentifiable as any actual creature, but that’s par for the course in Korea. Can’t believe it’s so cheap in Turkey, though. Obv the cuddly toys are an important part of speedy recovery.

  2. My boyfriend has the WORST ear for accents. We’ll often spend one or two days in a new destination where I do all the talking because he has no idea what anyone’s saying.

    At least you had a good laugh about it!

    1. Jared and I have to reconvene after a conversation with someone with a strong foreign accent. “This is what I thought they said. Is that what you got?” Sadly, a skill that has not improved with time. At least you can carry the team!!

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