Mom wrote recently about thinking the best, and Janet just got back in touch with a lost friend whose email was misbehaving.  Now it is my turn to be on the receiving end of a gracious friend thinking the best of me.Our friend Sanda, who grew up in Romania, is now staying in our house as she works on her PhD dissertation.  This past Sunday we had after-service plans with a family from church.  When Jonathan got sick twice in the middle of the night, and both Sanda and Jon had colds, we decided to rest at home.  So I called the family to let them know the change of plans.  "Jonathan got sick last night, Jon has a cold, and our housemate has a cold."

Today, Sanda approached me and asked if she might clarify something.  She overheard my phone conversation and thought it was strange, so wanted to see if there was some cultural difference that would be the reason for something I said.  "Why did you refer to me as your housemate instead of just 'friend'?" 

Well, I did not think there was any problem with that, so I guessed it must indeed be a cultural difference, and proceeded to explain something like: "People at church haven't met you yet, so it would be weird to mention you by name.  If you were "just" a friend, why would it matter to our plans if you were sick or not - it mattered because you are living with us and were going to be part of the plans."  These didn't seem to completely satisfy her, so I tried to explain better.  Eventually, I thought it must just be a word she was not familiar with (her English is superb, but it is not her heart language) so I likened it to "roommate" and click! The realization dawned.  No, it was not a problem with her English, but with my pronunciation.

She thought I had said "housemaid"!!

How humiliating would it be to begin sharing a house with those whom you believed to be friends, only to overhear one refer to you as the maid!  Yet, she graciously assumed the best in me, choosing to think it must be a cultural difference.  Not only that, but she was willing to talk to me about it.  Now, the matter is cleared up and we can even laugh about it.

P.S. The daughter who took the message also thought I had said housemaid, so now I will not use that word.  When we had a married couple living with us I said it all the time, but as plural there was never any confusion. 

Posted by Heather Daley on September 19, 2007, 3:15 pm | Read 3353 times
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How funny! But how true that it might be offensive, maybe even more so for someone from Romania, as I believe many of the housemaids in Western Europe are Eastern European women. I'm glad she was gracious and you both were patient!

Posted by SursumCorda on September 19, 2007, 4:51 pm

Great story, and a good lesson. Sounds like a wonderful friend!

Posted by serina on September 19, 2007, 8:45 pm

P.S. While grateful for news of any kind, bear in mind that certain interested parties are especially hungry for grandchildren/nephew stories....

Posted by SursumCorda on September 20, 2007, 10:28 am

You mean the last half dozen posts haven't been that interesting??

Posted by jondaley on September 21, 2007, 12:05 am

Well, now, I didn't say that. Though I have to admit that this particular blog viewer can't tell a tcpd_wrapper from aluminum foil. But I think the New Hampshire contingent will agree with me that not much can beat grandchildren stories for high box-, er, blog-office ratings.

Posted by SursumCorda on September 21, 2007, 7:03 am
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