Are We Both Speaking English?

I was at Petco last week, about to lug kitty litter when I broke down and asked, “Do you deliver?” (I make myself carry all heavy things for exercise, that’s why I say I broke down.) The cashier answered, “What’s delivery?”

I was so confused by her question I just repeated the word. “Delivery.” We stared at each other in mutual non-comprehension. People were waiting behind me so she finally answered, “No,” even though I’m sure she didn’t know what I was asking. I figured it was probably the right answer nonetheless.

Along the same lines, I wrote a polite but angry letter to the Durham Police Department. People keep almost hitting me making right turns on red when I have the walk sign. And it’s “almost” because I learned quickly that pedestrians are invisible in Durham. I always watch and jump out of the way.

Someone reasonably responded it’s not much of a walking city, and I reasonably responded that they shouldn’t have right turn on red then, in a city that’s not used to watching for pedestrians.

(That reminds me, when I leave I’m going to post a BIG thank you to the librarians of the Special Collections Library who have been taking care of me. For instance, after this incident Elizabeth Dunn, who fed me an amazing meal, drove me to Petco to stock up on kitty litter. Then she drove me to Target to stock up on water. Zachary Elder, who was featured earlier as the youngest librarian of Special Collections, also had me over for an amazing dinner.)

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

4 thoughts on “Are We Both Speaking English?

  1. How can the way people drive and ignore pedestrians in Durham be any worse than NYC or…the ultimate aglomeration of numnutz drivers-LONG ISLAND ?


  2. I was in Durham last year for a wedding. Believe me…it’s worse in Durham. In Durham, pedestrians are invisible.

  3. Yeah, in New York it’s like a game of Chicken, but in Durham it’s like you’re not even there which is a lot scarier. They just hit the gas. It’s not like they looked first and gauged that they could make it, it’s hard to explain. But it’s worse.

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