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Knowing a second--or third or fourth--language is like possessing a secret power.


You walk around looking like everybody else, you appear completely unassuming, and yet you have access to entire realms of conversation occurring all around you.

The best part? All the eavesdropping.

When people don't know you can understand them, you're liable to hear all sorts of things--things about you that they'd rather you never heard.

Some Redditors shared their best stories from those moments.

msgbubba asked, "Bilingual people of reddit what is your best 'they don't know that I speak their language' story?"

Ghost Train

"I'm white. Was in Beijing on a train, and had a little kid (like, 4 or 5) call me a white ghost in Mandarin. I stared him down at which point he asked if I understood him."

"I nodded, and he proceeded to hug his mom terrified. 😂"

-- Dipsendorf

Parting Discomfort 

"The tube in London"

"Two girls talking very explicit about their sex partners the Night before,in Swedish."

"Me and My mates all telepathically knew to Keep our mouths shut and dont look at them."

"When we got to our stop we loudly spoke Swedish so we knew they would hear :p"

-- Senalmoondog

Captive Audience 

"My cousin and her friend were on a ski lift in the US, and these guys on the lift with them started speaking Chinese."

"The whole ride was like, 'Look at these two American-born Chinese girls. They speak to each other in English. They don't even know Chinese. How pathetic.'"

"They all exit the lift. My cousin and her friend turn to one another and start conversing very loudly (and fluently) in Chinese. Apparently, the looks on the guys' faces were priceless."

-- birdwalk

Mingling

"I once went to a party where most of the people where English exchange students and i'm Dutch but fluent in English and there where these 2 girls saying things like 'Omg i know for a fact that Dutch guy doesn't even speak English he looks like such a ret*rd.'"

"And 'He looks like he is having a hard time understanding us.' All i did was look over to them and said 'Well thanks for the compliment but i'm going to look for some nicer company.'"

"Almost seating area erupted in giggles meanwhile i smiled towards the door."

-- TheDutchfella2001

Two Assumptions

"I speak English and Russian, but this is happen to someone else. In high-school we were leaving school with a whole bunch of us Russian speaking students. Pretty much we all hung out together."

"As were are walking 3 of us there is an Asian guy who is walking about 6 feet behind us. One of my friends turns to us and says in Russian 'why is this Chinese kid walking with us. I noticed him following us since we left the school grounds.'"

"Next thing we know we hear a voice from the back reply in Russian 'I'm not Chinese, I'm Korean.'"

-- Imispellalot

Polyglot Power

"Portugal has a lot of emigrants in France, and they enjoy vacating in their home country, but when they return, they like playing the fool with their countrymen by speaking in French."

"Well, I'm fluent in 7 languages, including French, and I used to work at a general store to pay for my tuitions, so from time to time, I'd get these a**holes asking me for help while trash talking me in French and I would fake I didn't understand them..."

"...and curse them back in Portuguese to see if they reacted, and if they did, I would trash them in French and would call security on them in case they tried to press a complaint."

"Let's just say I liked my time in the supermarket more than most."

-- TudoCasual

An Interesting Apology

"Half black half Japanese here. When I was in a train at japan there were two women judging me, called me 'black monster' in Japanese, I turned around and asked 'who's a black monster?" in Japanese..."

"...they started bowing their heads really quickly and gave me a bag of marshmallows as a gift of apology, even when I told them it's fine lol"

-- b8ednm8ed

5 Star Rating Probably Took a Hit

"An Uber saying in Spanish over the phone that had to drive me and I was ugly."

"I didn't talk in all the time I was in the car but when I got out of the car I said to him (in Spanish) 'thanks for your compliment! Have a good day.'"

-- Mbeheit

Not a Baby and Not an Idiot

"I was young, like 9, and I was going on this huge roller coaster. I was kinda shivering (it was really big, ok) and the couple behind me started laughing and talking in Hindi. Saying stuff, look at this little baby and stuff like that."

"So as I got on the ride , I turned back and said in Hindi, I understand Hindi you know, so shut up. I will never forgot the looks on their face as I ascended."

"And the ride was actually really fun, went on it like 5 times."

-- Xeno1224

Cutting Corners 

"My origins trace back to Southern Asia and I was born in Europe. My parents speak their native language and I had picked it up overtime. I once went to a restaurant and ordered some wings and patiently waited."

"The guy at the counter told his employee to pack the remaining food from last night and leave the today's item fresh. I simply said 'Hey, I like the fresh food, Thanks.'"

"He was so shocked and gave me some extra food."

-- AzyCrw4282

Cussing in a Desperate Moment

"Delivered a patient's baby and while repairing her tear she was uncomfortable and called me a bi*** and a wh*re in Spanish. I responded with 'now that's not very nice to say to someone holding a needle near your bottom.'"

"Everyone in the room just stared as the patient's mouth opened and closed a few times before she apologized and said it hurt."

-- crruss

Graphic Secrets

"One time I traveled to Argentina, and I'm pretty good with Spanish. However, I'm white, blonde, and I have blue eyes."

"Sometimes girls would talk about me in Spanish. I don't know if they thought I would understand them, but their conversations seemed pretty.... personal...."

-- SaveTheClams

Too Embarrassed to Tip

"Waited tables on TX-MX border. Couple didn't know I speak Spanish fluently and he called me 'f*ggot' in Spanish multiple times, to the wife's total embarrassment."

"I waited for her to get up to go to the restroom after clearing their dishes and I told him in perfect Spanish, 'When you're ready to pay I'll be your cashier.'"

"His eyes got wide and he asked me if I really spoke Spanish. My response: 'Yes, but I understand more than what I speak.'"

"Got $0 in tips from them but I have a story I like to tell."

-- Bibber_Song

Hiding Raunchiness in Plain Sight

"Half of my family is Amish, and speak Pennsylvania Dutch. Little did they know, I'd picked up on quite a few words."

"One day my parents were talking about sex and sh*t in Dutch. (My dad taught my mom Dutch, since he knew it and his half of the family spoke it.) They were making a ton of sex jokes like just plain yelling, "big boobs" or dumb sh*t like that."

"They realized when I started smiling that I knew what they were saying and they instantly shut up."

"Glad I'm older now, and I'm allowed to laugh at the jokes now. Keeping a straight face was f*cking difficult."

-- Choco-Late-Malk

Busted

"A substitute teacher came in to teach my Music lessons. Two kids who speak Spanish were mocking him (I assume, based on the tone of their voices, they were speaking Spanish and I only speak English) then they started laughing at the teacher."

"Anyway, he goes up to them, looks straight down at them, and breaks into fluent Spanish."

-- MrMagnificent1234

Confirmed

"My ex roommate is bi and overheard a gay couple commenting on how attractive the cashier was when we were having lunch at a Panda Express."

"After my ex roommate got his meal, he slowly passed by the couple and quietly told them that they were absolutely right."

-- pighalf

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Life is hard. It's a miracle to make it through with some semblance of sanity. We are all plagued by grief and trauma. More and more people of all backgrounds are opening up about personal trauma and its origins. Finally! For far too long we've been too silent on this topic. And with so many people unable to afford mental health care, the outcomes can be damaging.

All of our childhoods have ups and downs and memories that can play out like nightmares. We carry that, or it follows us and the first step in recovery is talking about it. So who feels strong enough to speak?

Redditor u/nthn_thms wanted to see who was willing to share about things they'd probably rather forget, by asking:

What's the most traumatizing thing you experienced as a child?
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Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Being single can be fun. In fact, in this time of COVID, being single can save lives. But the heart is a fickle creature.

And being alone can really suck in times of turmoil. None of us are perfect and it feels like that's all anyone is looking for... perfect.

Now that doesn't mean that all of us are making it difficult to partner up. Sure, some people are too picky and mean-spirited, but some of the rest of us are crazy and too much to handle. So one has to be sure.

The truth is, being single is confusing, no matter how much we try to match. So let's try to understand...

Redditor u/Mcxyn wanted to discuss some truths about love and our own issues, by asking:

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Tiard Schulz/Unsplash

Whether you're an at home parent, a college student just leaving the nest, or a Food Network junkie, there are a few basic tips that everyone should know.

Chef's gave us some of their top tips for amateurs and beginner at home cooks that will really make a difference. They are trained professionals with years of experience in the kitchen, so they definitely know what we're all missing.

If you're looking to improve some of your cooking skills and techniques, but you're still learning how to boil water correctly, this list is for you.

Redditor BigBadWolf44 wanted in on the secrets and asked:

"Chefs of Reddit, what's one rule of cooking amateurs need to know?"

Let's learn from the masters!


What a common mistake!

"A lot of the time when people add salt to a dish because they think it tastes flat, what it really needs is an acid like lemon juice or vinegar."

- Vexvertigo

"Instructions unclear I drugged my dinner party guests and now they're high on acid."

- itsyoboi_human

"Yes! Or tomatoes. They're pretty acidic too and go with so many things. Our dinners are so much better once the garden tomatoes are ripe. Or if a dish is too acidic, oil/butter or a little sugar can help add balance to it."

- darkhorse85

"Like tomato and eggs. Every Chinese mom makes those slightly differently and I haven't had a tomato egg dish I didn't like yet."

- random314

"There's a book called 'Salt Fat Acid Heat' that comes highly recommended to amateur cooks."

- Osolemia

"Reading even just the first chapter about salt made a lot of food I cooked immediately better, because I finally understood salt wasn't just that thing that sat on the dinner table that you applied after the meal was cooked."

- VaultBoy42

"Salt is important for sweets. A batch of cookies without that little hint of salt doesn't taste quite right."

- Osolemia

Unfortunately, this tip might not be accessible to everyone. Many people who contracted COVID can no longer use their sense of smell the way they used to.

"Have a friend that lost his smell from COVID, and now he only recognizes if food is salty, sweet, sour or bitter."

- AlphaLaufert99

"Just wait until he gets his sense of smell back and a ton of foods smell like ammonia or literal garbage now. Yeah, that's fun... It's been 7 months for f*cks sake just let me enjoy peanut butter again!!!!!!!!!"

- MirzaAbdullahKhan

You can't take back what you've already put in.

"You can always add, but you cannot take away."

- El_Duende666

"I find people's problems usually are they're too scared to add rather than they add too much."

- FreeReflection25

"I see you also grew up white in the mid-west."

- Snatch_Pastry

Safety first!

"Not really a cooking tip, but a law of the kitchen: A falling knife has no handle."

- wooddog

"I'm always so proud of my reflexes for not kicking in when I fumble a knife."

"If I drop anything else, my stupid hands are all over themselves trying to catch it (and often failing). But with a knife the hardwired automatic reaction is jump back immediately. Fingers out of the way, feet out of the way, everything out of the way. Good lookin out, cerebellum!"

- sonyka

"Speaking of KICKING in. On first full time cooking job I had a knife spin and fall off the counter. My (stupid) reflex was to put my foot under it like a damn hacky sack to keep it from hitting the ground. Went through the shoe, somehow between my toes, into the sole somehow without cutting me. Lessons learned: (1) let it fall; (2) never set a knife down close to the edge or with the handle sticking out; (3) hacky sack is not nearly as cool as it could be."

- AdjNounNumbers

"Similarly, NEVER put out a grease or oil fire with water. Smother with a lid or dump baking soda in there (do not use flour, as it can combust in the air making things worse)."

- Metallic_Substance

How else will you know it tastes good?

"Taste the food."

- OAKRAIDER64

"Also don't be afraid to poke and prod at it. I feel like people think the process is sacred and you can't shape/flip/feel/touch things while you cook them. The more you are hands on, the more control you have."

"No, this does not include situations where you are trying to sear something. Ever try flipping a chicken thigh early? That's how you rip a chunk out of it and leave it glued to the pan until it's burnt."

- Kryzm

Here's one just for laughs.

"When you grab a pair of tongs, click them a few times to make sure they are tongs."

- Kolshdaddy

"People really overlook this one. You've gotta tong the tongs a minimum of 3 times to make sure they tong, or else it can ruin the whole dish."

- BigTimeBobbyB

If you're looking to get into cooking or to improve you technique, pay attention to these few tips.

Salt generously, add an acid to brighten things up, and don't forget to taste your food!

If all else fails, you can always order take out.

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Victoria_Borodinova/Pixaba

As part of the learning process, children often do embarrassing things before they learn a little more about the world and all the different implications therein. While the inappropriate moment is usually minor and ends in laugher some instances are truly mortifying.

One such instance involved a little sister who was around 6 at the time. It was the 90s and at the height of the youth-focused PSAs (think the frying egg representing your brain). One type was a safety PSA about stranger danger. The speaker would remind the children that if a stranger tried to take you anywhere to yell “Stop, you're not my mommy/daddy" to raise the alarm.

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