... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Friday, February 03, 2012

514: Hiya

I say "thank you" to bus drivers because as a lot of people say "cheers" or "ta" and the first time I decided to say "thank you" (instead of "cheers" or "ta" as I used to say) the driver replied "thank you for saying thank you; it's nice to hear a thank you, instead of the usual cheers or ta". That story is not entirely true; it was a work colleague who had that conversation with a bus driver, not me. I do say "thank you" to bus drivers. If you are interested in "thank you" and bus drivers you can get more information by reading the short story Thank You by Yasunari Kawabata.

I often find myself saying "hiya" instead of "hello" or "alright". I don't enjoy saying "hiya"; every time I hear it pop out of my mouth I cringe ever so slightly. It usually pops out to shop assistants, takeaway delivery men, or the security guard on the staff entrance at work. I feel extra special levels of shame and embarrassment when the person I say it to is of Chinese appearance. What if they think I was being racist, I worry; saying "hiya" like I'm making a bad joke about kung fu or something.

There used to be a TV programme hosted by Jimmy Carr, one of his early efforts, called Distraction. It was a quiz show where competitors had to punch cactuses instead of buzzers and received electric shocks when answering questions. I'm sure it was all very distracting for them. The prizes were usually a bit shit. In one episode a Chinese-looking lady won a fairly decent sum of money, say £1000, however it was all in pound coins, and the coins were in a wheel barrow and embedded in solid concrete. To illustrate the concrete was dry he tapped it with a trowel and said to the lady something along the line of "listen, you can hear it chink," or "it makes a chink when you tap it". Her eyes widened in surprise at the unexpected racial slur and moments later Jimmy Carr realised what he had said and apologised genuinely and profusely. I really don't think he noticed the unfortunate double meaning of the word he chose until it was too late. I remember this every time I hear myself say "hiya".

While we are on the subject, I'm fed up of hearing the word "Jap's Eye" to describe the male urethra. I hadn't heard it in years and I'm ashamed to admit used to use it myself when I was younger. I have heard it a few time recently but haven't felt the opportunity has been right to challenge it. I work a lot of the time in a sort of warehouse/store room place where talk of genitalia is fairly common. Isolated outcrops of coral used to be called Niggerheads by British sailors, and Ian Fleming uses the word frequently in the James Bond novels. I doubt very much that people who still unthinkingly use the word "Jap's Eye" would be comfortable describing something as "looking like a nigger's head", and rightly they shouldn't.

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