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.
"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. 😂"
"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"
"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."
"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."
"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.'"
"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."
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"
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.'"
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."
"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."
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."
"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...."
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."
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."
"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."
"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."
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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?
I am claustrophobic. It paralyzes my life. I can't ride elevators. I freak out at amusement parks. And don't get me started on trains in New York that get stuck in the tunnel. Why am I like this?
"I was about 7 or 8 when I heard some noise coming from the garage. My mom was at work and I was being babysat by one of my uncles. I went to open the garage to find my other uncle strangling his girlfriend up against the car. She had blood coming out of her nose and mouth. I just froze and stood there staring and my uncle didn't even notice and continued choking and strangling her."
"My other uncle came to the door where I was standing saw what was happening and grabbed me. He called my mom and then the police who later came and arrested my uncle. There's more to this story I wasn't privy to at such a young age. But yeah my other uncle is crazy. He's been to jail a few times, has anger and control issues."
"Going to another person's house and realizing that living in filth and decay and having breathing problems isn't the norm. Having dinner every night and a clean room was just a regular day in their household. Grass is always greener right? Especially when yours is dead and everyone from school thinks your house is haunted. Smh good riddance."
"Watching my grandpa slowly waste away on our living room couch. He had a paraganglioma on his pancreas, and there was nothing (especially in 1980) that could be done for him. I was four, and he was my favorite person, and I couldn't sit with him, or hug him, or anything. I miss him even after 40 years. Either that or my best friend dying over Christmas break in 1988. I miss her too. I pretty much hated everything after that."
"I saw my Dad get swept away and drowned when I was 11. It's really something I've never recovered from. It's been 16 years and not a day goes by I don't remember it. I live with it. I think we have to for those who we've lost. I always kind of imagine it as a sort of like an emotional loss of a limb. I haven't lost a limb, but I imagine you adapt to not having it. You learn. But you never forget you are missing an arm or a leg."
It's taken me years to confront my struggle. Finally a little while ago, I tried hypnotherapy and I was able to recover a childhood memory that manifested into my phobia. I was trapped in handcuffs as a joke by my babysitter's brother. Six hours.
"The older I got through my teens, the more my step-father's alcoholism spiralled out of control, and the more I was biding my time until I was 18 and would head off to college. Education was my only escape in my mind. Every instance of physical and emotional abuse had to be met with, "just shut up and take it, it'll be over someday." Really wish I could give that kid who slept on the floor of a three-bedroom trailer a hug and say that he'd make it out and get a master's degree. I feel like I just won a decade-long war."
"I had a dog that I absolutely loved. I begged for this dog in a Walmart parking lot a week before my 3rd birthday, my mom said I could have the dog but that meant no birthday presents or cake just the dog (she lied, I got presents, cake, and dog.) This dog went everywhere with me and did everything with me. Despite being a tiny mutt he would do his best to protect me from our Doberman who did not like me."
"In fairness to the doberman, as a 2 yr old I did stomp on his nuts for some unbeknownst reason so no hard feelings on not liking me. When I was 5 my mom became a truck driver so we moved in with my grandparents on their farm. While I was at school one day Bouncy had gotten into the fence with the donkeys and was kicked in the head."
"When I got off the bus I couldn't figure out why he wasn't waiting on me. My grandparents met me outside and told me what happened, then walked me in to where he was. He died 30 minutes after I got home like he was waiting to see me. I haven't been able to bond with a pet since."
"I saw our neighbor's collie killed by a driver speeding through the neighborhood. As a young boy, it had real impact because I loved her, and it hurt when he stuck his head out the driver's door window, grinned, and just sped off - leaving the dog dead in the road and me - a kid - in tears. As I once commented, how anyone could be so callous and cruel was beyond my imagination."
"I actually don't remember the event much, but when I was really young (~6years old) I was playing outside and I heard a woman screaming. I was curious so I went across the street to see a bunch of smoke coming out of the cracks in the front door. Didn't see any flames initially so I didn't put two and two together right away. My Dad saw me across the street in the driveway just staring at the house and when he investigated what I was doing he realized the house was on fire. Whole house burnt down."
"Older woman fell asleep on her couch with a lit cigarette. I was traumatized by fire as a kid and I was petrified about burning alive in my sleep for quite some time. Dad had to install a fire escape ladder in my room, fire extinguishers, etc. I was obsessed with what to do in case of fires as a kid. No longer an issue, but my parents still tell me stories about how they knew that messed me up."
"I was 12 and sat down at the edge of a sidewalk to pet a cat crossing the road. I lived on a very quiet, but wide street. Even if a car drove by, there would've been a lot of room, as I was in an area reserved for parallel parking. (No cars were parked though). All of a sudden a big red car sped up and swerved to hit the cat. It missed me by inches, and instantly killed the cat. It was decades ago, and I still think about it often."
"Oh, hands down, my mother alcoholism. It really messes you up in ways that you cannot imagine. And you don't even realize that until years after. I still can't drink alcohol because of it, it terrifies me to even entertain the possibility to become something close to her."
I survived. But, I'm still haunted. I think I always will be. But I have learned to manage. We all struggle with the past. We were too young to process. But now we have to try. You're not alone.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
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:
Why are you single?
Give too much. Give too little. Pay for the first date. Don't pay for anything. I've heard it all. Sometimes it all worked, sometimes it didn't. Let's hear more...
Nemo?Finding Nemo Movie GIFGiphy
"There are plenty of fish in the sea. Unfortunately, I live in the desert."
"My girlfriend passed, and I can't figure out how to fall out of love with a dead woman."
"I think the only way I could move forward is knowing I will always love and cherish her memory, but am capable of loving another as well. Then again there's nothing wrong with making peace with the fact you've had the love of your life and staying single."
"I tell myself it's by choice."
"Here is the reality, it may make some feel better. If you aren't using a dating app, not going to bars/clubs or putting yourself out there, you have made a conscious choice not to date. If you are ok with this, you have NOTHING to be ashamed or worried about. Some people are wired differently. Not everyone wants to be in a relationship. If you are not ok with this, you need to make some changes in your life. And no, it's not their fault. Do some introspection."
"Self esteem issues. Anyone I like enough to date deserves better than me."
"I have a question for you, I suspect that this person I really care for a lot also really cares a lot for me but they push me away despite never fighting having any disagreements or ever a bad time or issue of any type. In fact, we've always really enjoyed each other's company. So my question is would you or have you just given up on someone despite really liking them because you thought that they'd just leave you anyway and couldn't possibly be happy with you--and they'd would be disappointed? Thinking you're doing them a favor?
"It's not really that I would be worried about them leaving or being disappointed with me. I'm disappointed in myself, and I wouldn't want to bring that into a relationship. I don't like me, so how can I ask someone else to? If I've given up on myself, then I'm really not bringing anything to the relationship except baggage. I'm not sure I'm doing them a favor, but I am sure that they will find someone better than me."
"Also, I swear I'm a functioning human lol. These are legit the deep dark thoughts that come out in the wee hours of the morning. I am trying to fight against this train of thought as much as I can, but I hope you can see why I wouldn't want to make this someone else's problem, especially someone that I care for deeply."
The Appeal...So Excited Reaction GIF by OriginalsGiphy
"I assume because I'm not appealing in any way to anyone"
no one else....
"I can barely handle myself, what makes you think I could handle some other fool?!"
"For me, it is a choice. In my country, marriage is set up by parents and children barely have a say in 90% cases. I am 35 now and still single, think of it how you will. I just detest human interactions. When I try to recall the happiest moments of my life, all of them were with my dogs, gods help their departed souls. I can't imagine spending intimate time with another human being. And a relationship is unnecessary bondage. It is an utter waste of time, money, energy and everything one can imagine."
"I'm a physically ugly dude who generally dates by having people get to know me for a while, look past my looks and develop feelings for me. Post-university this has been extremely difficult, as I don't have enough people coming through my life despite my best efforts, and doubly so in a dating market that is so thoroughly warped by looks-based online dating."
"I lack the social skills."
"It's difficult, I avoided people and bonding with people because I was too insecure about being socially unskilled and this only gets worse with time, people are growing and getting better at it, but I barely started really."
ConnectionsDont Touch Me Season 9 GIF by FriendsGiphy
"I don't connect with people very well. I have a hard time talking to people I care about normal things, and I have an even harder time talking to them about my feelings. On top of that I have really bad social anxiety and I don't have a lot of friends, so the chances of me actually getting in a relationship is basically zero."
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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."
"Instructions unclear I drugged my dinner party guests and now they're high on acid."
"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."
"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."
"There's a book called 'Salt Fat Acid Heat' that comes highly recommended to amateur cooks."
"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."
"Salt is important for sweets. A batch of cookies without that little hint of salt doesn't taste quite right."
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."
"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!!!!!!!!!"
You can't take back what you've already put in.
"You can always add, but you cannot take away."
"I find people's problems usually are they're too scared to add rather than they add too much."
"I see you also grew up white in the mid-west."
"Not really a cooking tip, but a law of the kitchen: A falling knife has no handle."
"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!"
"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."
"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)."
How else will you know it tastes good?
"Taste the food."
"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."
Here's one just for laughs.
"When you grab a pair of tongs, click them a few times to make sure they are tongs."
"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."
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.
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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.
Fast forward to our grocery store trip with our mother, my younger sister, and myself. Sister was having a fit over wanting one of those cheap plastic toy packs they hang in some of the aisles. Mom said no.
Cue the scream, my little blonde sister lets out a wail and starts yelling for the entire store to hear "Stop it! You aren't my mom! You aren't my mommy! No!" My mom tried to grab her hand and tell her to stop but then realized that in doing so it made the scene look worse.
It was such a mix of mortification and humor that I just stood there. Little sister stopped after a few minutes, pretty sure she got her prized toy just to shut up. Now that I'm older it's a wonder the police didn't come.
Redditor Granted01 wanted to hear the most embarrassing childhood moments the internet had to offer and asked the subreddit:
“What inappropriate thing did you do as a child that you didn't realise was inappropriate?"
The answers make us want to crawl into a hole for them.
“My parents used to keep mini bottles of liquor in the fridge (the ones you'd find in hotel mini bar). We had to make our own lunches at times when mom and dad were busy with work and my first-grade self decided to empty the bottles into the sink and put juice in them to bring to school… my parents got a call that day from school lol." wander-lux
On my--well, him...
“Not me but my daughter. We live in a place where we don't see many people of different ethnicities but one day she saw a Muslim man with a beard dressed in the long white outfit, and she was convinced he was God."
“No idea why but she wouldn't leave the dude alone (she was 4) and started reeling off a Christmas list.. turns out Santa and God were mixed up too. Thankfully he found it funny." ApricotSuperb7196
“Not me, but my sister used to lap her drinks up like a dog. Turns out she was calling this "doggy style". One time they forgot to bring her a straw at the restaurant we were in and she loudly screamed "guess I'll do it doggy style". I think she was 7 or 8 at the time." knotsy-
Not what they’re called…
“I used to call those pigeons with the pointy tuft on their heads ‘horny birds’. I would yell it out so loudly too -.- my mum told me she had to look away every time I did it because it made her laugh until she cried. Obviously I wasnt told until later because I was only 5 at the time.” Artherwritethiss
Anything but that *gag*
“I used to play with this cup in the bath and drink water out of it for years, did it in the shower too as i got older, it had a handle on the end of it and I never knew why. One day I witnessed my mother use this cup in the toilet violently, and that was the moment I realized what a plunger was."
“It scared me I was about 10 when I realized what I had been using as a toy. I would fill it up with water in the bath or shower and play with it, and sip the water out of it, etc as kids do with toys I guess. Probably never forget that." That-nz-guyChannel 9 Brush GIF by Married At First Sight AustraliaGiphy
“riding my big wheel across one of the busiest roads in town…”
“I was a serious nudist as a child. My parents could never keep me in my clothes. My older sister would have her friends over who I had a crush on and I'd run outside butt naked to see them. There's a story that I still get teased about to this day of when my neighbor called my mom at work to tell her I was riding my big wheel across one of the busiest roads in town completely nude.” jdbuck99
“I called my Granny's boyfriend a dirty bastard…”
“I grew up on Looney Tunes & would call people who were mean to me stinkers or dirty bastards. I called my Granny's boyfriend a dirty bastard cause he started teasing me. I had my mom dying.” Kuriosity93
“my mum made me forge her papers…”
“When I was like 12 my mom was on probation and had to do community service. (Still no idea why) I had pretty good cursive handwriting at the time and my mum made me forge her papers and sign her p.o's name saying she was doing her service. Good times. Thanks for the memories mum.” osum_o_posum
Why didn’t they say anything!?
“When I was in 5th grade we made a calendar to take home. We each had our picture taken and glued to cover and were allowed to decorate it and each of the following months however we chose."
“Being 10 (nearly 11) there was so much that I didn't know about the world. What made it tick and more importantly, its history. Prior to the creative masterpiece that was unfolding in class, at home, I had walked in on my dad watching a WWII documentary where they showed footage of the German regalia and, subsequently, their flags."
“Not knowing any better, I thought the 'windmill' symbol was really cool and decided it should be on the cover of this calendar. One in each corner with my photo smack dab in the middle."
“No one said anything to me about it. It went through the lamination machine and was sent home with me. I wish I could've seen my teacher's reaction while she thought one of her students had skinheads for parents..." FusedByFire
A different way to say hello…
“Right, so anyone who's seen Mr. Bean (the movie) probably remembers the scene where he waves his middle finger at people tryna say hi? I did that. To an elderly person. Need I say more.” Blackrap1d
These cringe-worthy and laughable moments are brought to you by the ignorance of childhood. We've nearly all had a moment like this growing up, some just way, way worse than others.