Thursday, September 30, 2010

small talk

I went to the ob/gyn today. I haven't been in a really long time (more than eight years I think) so I was nervous and anxious. The character of the visit added to the feeling of discomfort.
I guess I can understand that the nurse wanted to make a small talk, maybe to relax me? But somehow I think she had no idea I was anxious and she was just nosy. I can understand some basic questions... But why when people hear that I am from Poland they feel free to dig for details about my private life? Do they really think it's their business to know where I was educated? And do they have to ask about my spiritual road to Judaism just like that, in the third minute of our acquaintance? And then often comes the sharing. About grandparents from Ukraine (close enough), visiting death camps or asking about Anti-Antisemitism in Poland.
I think the fact that I am not an American gives a permission in people's mind to ask, as if checking if I really have the right to be in their presence. They ask about my legal status (on what kind of visa I am here), about the family (if they are still living in Poland and if they are living in Jewish tradition), about my education (again to check if I am really telling the truth of being a teacher in America), and sometimes about seriously private stuff (if I have a boyfriend, how old am I and so on).

Am I oversensitive? Is it that I am much more of an introvert than the majority of the people? But somehow I feel that the fact of me being from another country works as a catalyst in this case. It might be they simply want to connect with another person, but very soon it changes into interrogation with over sharing about dead family members.

I found it interesting as well that the doctor lated commented on me knowing English in a mock guilty way about Americans not knowing any foreign languages. Really? There is quite a strong minority that's bilingual. There will be more and more of children speaking perfect English and Spanish. There are others coming from all over the world speaking their native languages in addition to adopted English. Aren't they counted as "American"?

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