Saturday, July 22, 2006

¿Quien habla?

Here's something highly irritating about Costa Rican culture: When someone calls you and they don't recognize your voice, they ALL (and I friggin' mean EVERY SINGLE PERSON does this) ask "¿Quien habla?" (Who's speaking?). This annoying habit seems to have come from the days when we didn't worry too much about revealing our identities over the phone, and our parents taught us to answer like a good receptionist: "Jones residence, this is Lolita speaking!" all with great cheer in our voices. Those days are over, but the Costa Ricans do not seem to have caught up with the times. (They have only recently stopped putting your entire credit card number on receipts, for goodness sakes!)

So when I get a "Quien habla" call, "None of your G-D biz" is what I say! Actually, I don't, but I don't tell them who I am, either. I usually say, "¿Con quien desea hablar?" (With whom do you wish to speak?). At this point, they do one of two things: 1) realize that they don't know you and don't want to talk to you, and hang up, or 2) haltingly give you some other stranger's name (er, ah, Gonzalo? Ofelia? Emilia? Raul?). This has led to me doing one of two things 1) letting esposo answer the phone or 2) letting the answering machine get it. The only time I will answer the phone now is if I recognize the phone number in caller ID. AGHHH!

Another good one is when you answer the phone and they simply say someone's name. "Raul?" Sometimes this name is phrased in the form of a question that sounds like they're asking you "Is this Raul?" Other times the single-word response is in the form of a statement, as if they're saying "Raul, glad you're home!" Either way, do I friggin' sound like Raul? J. Sucristo*, I hope not! Maybe my OB-GYN needs to recheck my hormone therapy dosage. In these cases, I will say, "¿Me parace Raul?" (Do I sound like Raul?) And then I usually get a "Er, um, ah disculpe señora..."

*J. Sucristo, sort-of meaning "J. Your Christ" but which originally meant "Jesus Christ!" and came from the back of a car esposo and I saw one day that had giant stickers reading (in Spanish, obviously) "Jesucristo" with the "e" missing. We have, since that time, used "J. Sucristo" in place of "Jesus Christ!" This way we can be sacreligious and inoffensive to the Spanish-speaking populous at the same time! Whee!

1 comment:

  1. I, too, believe that it is incumbent upon the caller to identify himself. I always ask "Who's calling?"