In 1989 I was working as a scheduling analyst in the pilot planning department for America West airlines. They had sent me to Hawaii to help open a crew base there in preparation for flights to Japan.
With little for me to do there during my first few days, my workdays usually ended by 10 or 11 AM. My afternoons were spent walking the beaches, exploring shops and restaurants, but mostly surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki beach.
One afternoon, after paddling out, I sat mid-point on my surfboard taking in the peaceful scene. There were few people around and I remember feeling as though I had won the lottery. After a half-hour or so another man paddled out and sat beside me waiting for waves, but like me, was in no hurry to catch any. The man was quite tan, extremely lean, had blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked like he belonged in Southern California more than Hawaii.
While striking up a conversation and making small talk, I noticed he had a unique accent. I pride myself on being able to identify accents, even within regions, and I’m usually quite good at it. His, however, was distinct and I couldn’t figure it out. So I asked him leading questions in order to get him talking more. The more he spoke, the harder I had to work at identifying his accent, and the more lost I became in doing so.
I just couldn’t pinpoint his accident. The blonde hair and blue eyes lead me to believe he might be German, Scandinavian, or from somewhere in northern Europe. His accent though, sounded nothing like a European accent.
Eventually I just asked him…
You know, I’m pretty good at identifying accents, but yours is eluding me. Can I ask where you’re from…?
“I’m from Japan” he said through a small but noticeable chuckle.
Never saw that comin’…
We talked for a few more minutes and explained that he gets that all the time. He was from a 3rd generation family of German immigrants who settled in Japan as missionaries before the turn of the last century. He told me he spoke no German whatsoever, and English was his second language. He had been raised and educated speaking Japanese, hence the accent.
Once he explained this to me, it was clear as a bell. He sounded Japanese. He was Japanese. He was just a blonde haired, blue eyed Japanese.
On one hand, I should get a pass for not being able to identify his accent. Blonde haired, blue eyed people rarely have Japanese accents. But the lesson learned that day was quite simple…
There is an explanation for everything, even for those things that are strange and unique. Sometimes though, those explanations are very well hidden and require a little digging…. Jhciacb
If you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this tasty cover of a bubblegum classic from Cornershop. Enjoy…!