David Sedaris
Contributed by Larisa Brooke
Your English Is So Good

In this chapter, Sedaris reflects on how people from different languages and nationalities communicate. He also considers the small talk that people engage in when they go about their professional duties that require customer care. The author begins by telling the reader of his interest in learning other foreign languages. He describes his new venture of learning Japanese using a particular app. Through the app, Sedaris learns basic Japanese phrases that would help him communicate his needs in Japan.

The author receives praise when he visits Japan and speaks a bit of Japanese while purchasing some items. Sedaris has a habit of always informing people who speak a foreign language that he is American. The author has a way of trying to ease communication when he meets new people. He likes initiating conversations and getting to know the inner feelings of others.

Sedaris identifies certain word preferences by specific nationalities. For instance, the French prefer using the word ‘bullshit’ while Americans love saying ‘awesome’ and ‘hands down.’ He complains of the cliché statements used by most customer service agents. He feels that they always ask stupid questions like "how was your flight?" which come across more as routine inquiry than heartfelt concern.

Despite his efforts to communicate with strangers, the author admits that people always feel uncomfortable when having a conversation with him. They do not usually think about what he asks but, rather, about why he asks some question. For instance, Sedaris begins a discussion by asking the cashier if her house has ever been burgled. The cashier feels uncomfortable about it, but Sedaris thinks that conversations should be more meaningful rather than a formality.


The author feels that people should have authenticity and express genuine feelings when communicating. He adds that customer care should not be just a formality as if it is a rehearsed script towards the client. Sedaris treasures knowing the thoughts of people and their views on specific topics. This is why he feels uninterested and bored when asked cliché questions about himself. He stresses the importance of real communication and the need to avoid words that lack true meaning and emotion.. The author recognizes customer service professionals as human and thus feels they need regular and genuine interactions, unlike their rehearsed fake smiles and inquiries.

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