The American

Preface: This is a short story of a simple misunderstanding I had. Very little is actually true.

There was a miscommunication. The American had not realized it yet.

“The toothbrush, lock, and ‘teen’ gigabytes of data will come out to thirty quid.” The clerk repeated to the American.

The American was confused. He thought he heard ‘fifteen gigabytes’, but he had asked for only ten gigabytes of data for his dorm. The American wasn’t upset; he had wanted more than just ten gigs, but the service sheet before him showed only a ten and one gigabyte data plan. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, the American decided to accept the clerk’s generous offer.

“Sure, I’ll take the fifteen gigabyte option.” The American was excited to get fifteen gigs of data for the price of ten.

“We don’t offer fifteen gigabytes, only one and ‘teen’.” said the clerk.

The American heard her say thirteen. “That was an odd number of gigs to sell,” thought the American. He was even more confused as the clerk had implied that she did not sell ten gigabytes of data, as the sheet of data below him had said.

“Thirteen will be fine.” Said the American slowly, not as confident as he was earlier.

“We don’t give thirteen gigs. Just one and ‘teen’.” Said the clerk.

The American could have sworn she said nineteen. Why would they serve nineteen, why not round up to twenty? Nineteen was such an ugly number. The American was beginning to think there may be a communication error. The American chose to visit this English-speaking country to avoid these miscommunication; regardless, he pushed forward. He just wanted his data.

“I’ll take the most gigs you guys offer then.” Said the American.

“Great!” said the Clerk, happy finish this transaction. “So ‘teen’ gigs will cost—“

“Sorry,” interrupted the American out of reflex, “how much will that be?”

“ ‘Teen’!” yelled the Clerk, waving her hands at the American.

The American was uncertain what jazz hands had to do with anything, he just wanted his gigabytes.

“I’m sorry, how much is that?” asked the American earnestly. After asking, he thought the Clerk might have been saying ten all along, she would pronounce it ‘teen’, not ten. The American felt confident that he was going to get his data. Before he could confirm the mistake between the two, the clerk continued:

“’Teen’, rhymes with ‘peen’.” She said, gesturing with her hand, stroking the air with an almost-closed fist.

“Wait, is she hitting on me?” Thought the American.

“Okay…” said the American uncertainly.

“’Teen’ like ‘teen’!” Said the clerk, flashing her hands in the American’s face.

“Ohh… Ten, you mean ten!” Exclaimed the American.

“Yes!!” Said the clerk with a sigh of relief.

The American, feeling foolish, paid for the items he came for and made his way out of the shop. He was happy to have the whole experience over with. He was thankful to have this experience, certain he would not make the same error ever again.

On his way out, the American noted he should return later. The clerk seemed to be hitting on him. Maybe he could show her his ‘peen’.


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