More Southern Than I Thought?
In fact growing up in Tennessee, I was questioned and teased about my accent* much more than anything I've encountered in DC.
Today, I had to call volunteers in Southern California about a project that we're working on out there. I expected to get a lot of voicemails and wrong numbers, but I never expected to have problems being understood.
The first few calls went like this:
Me: Hi, this is ______ calling from __________. You recently volunteered for _________.
SoCal Volunteer: What? I can't understand you.
Me: (slower and more enunciated) HI! THIS IS __________, calling from _______. You recently volunteered for ___________.
SoCal Volunteer: I still can't understand you. You're talking too fast.
Me: (supremely slow) HI. THIS. IS. __________, CALLING. FROM. _______. YOU. RECENTLY. VOLUNTEERED. FOR. __________.
SoCal Volunteer: Yeah. I just can't understand you.
Me: CAN. I. E. MAIL. YOU?
SoCal Volunteer: What? Email? Sure.
Me: THANKS. I'LL. E-MAIL. YOU. NOW.
After about five calls, this got old. Either people in California speak at extradordinarily slow speeds, or they're just not used to even a hint of a Southern accent. Frustrated, I went to find my boss and see if I could just e-mail the remainder of the list.
Me: People in California apparently can't understand my accent. Can I e-mail them instead?
Boss: They can't understand your accent? What?
Me: I tried calling about five people, and none of them understood me.
Boss: Really? I'm from California, and I understand you. (starts to laugh.)
Me: Well, none of the people I called today did.
Boss: You're accent's not that bad. (laughing)
Me: Yes, but you've been on the East Coast for several years now. You're used to us.
Boss: True. But that's really funny.
Now, I feel like I should be blasting some Skynerd and waving my Dixie flag around while I chug down some moonshine before hitching a ride home in the General Lee. And people in California are suppose to be more diverse and progressive. Sounds like they need some Southern diversity.
*Despite what Hollywood believes, there are numerous Southern dialects that differ from state to state or even region to region. However, most movies will have either a Mississippi drawl or a Texan slang. Hardly anyone actually speaks that way. I can't stand most movies about the South because of that. Steel Magnolias is like fingernails down a chalkboard. Must be what the Brits felt when Bridget Jones came out. And seriously folks, get over the Deliverance crap. We have shoes and we're educated.