Word 10: Accost

Do I seriously look THAT Cantonese?

I don’t usually talk to strangers. The exceptions are when I am at work in the restaurant and when I do my journalism homework, in which means I need to interview people, most likely strangers on the street, in the library or even by the bus top.

I’ve learned the word accost for a while. But I never need to use this word. This isn’t a very common word for everyday life actually.

According to dictionary.com, it means 1. to confront boldly; 2.to approach, especially with a greeting, question, or remark; 3. (of prostitutes, procurers, etc.) to solicit for sexual purposes; or as a noun, it simply means “a greeting.”

In modern days, people don’t talk to strangers at all. The nice ones will give strangers smile. This may be the nicest thing the urban people do. If you approach someone on the street you don’t know and start greeting and talking, “hey, how are you? what’s your name?”, I think you will probably be given a weird look from that person. Speaking of this point, it is because I would totally give this weird look to you.

I grow up in city and have been taught to not to speak with strangers. Ever since I started elementary school, my mom had told me not to speak with strangers because she’s afraid that I would be kidnapped or sold by these bad people. This is not friendly, I admit, to assume all the strangers were bad people. But obviously, there are different social norms in different societies and different stages of civilization. I am telling you, it’s totally awkward to start talking to a stranger in my city, Foshan, China, and start a real conversation. A real conversation means to ask some personal information such as what school one goes to, what one studies, or even what one plans to graduate. Isn’t this too much? You sure you only want to be stranger with this person? No more other purposes?

I am not too sure about America. I guess it also depends on geographic locations, most likely distinguish by urban and rural. Maybe. I am not sure. I am not American. I don’t grow up here. Yet, I’ve lived here for four years already.

I am blah-blah-ing about this because I was approached today by a boy.

I got to the bus stop at the corner when a few people were waiting already. He, among them, had his earphone plugged in with loud music, and he was kinda trying to sing (or rap) along… Some other stood in the back, from time to time look up from the ground to the direction where the bus would come. I usually have my iPod with music on. But it’s out of battery today. So I didn’t bring it with me. I was just standing there, like the ones stood in the back, waiting for the bus to come.

Suddenly, this boy walked to me, (it was a few steps), and asked, “do you speak Cantonese?” I believed I looked completely puzzled and confused. Hesitated, I finally answered, “yes?!”

“I just think that you look very Cantonese and you look like you could speak Cantonese well,” he said.

“Oh, okay,” I said. Then in a few seconds of awkward silence, “well, I take that as a compliment.”

Then he started asking me where I came from, what I study and what my plans are after graduating. I was surprised I was nice after all and answered all his questions.

“By the way, I am Terry,” he said.

Awkwardly, “hi, I am Karen.”

Then there my bus came. It FINALLY came. My face almost twitch because I felt like I wasn’t being myself.

Then he said, “Bye. See you next time.” (Really, am I seeing you next time again by the bus stop? Oh, really. I know I sound so mean now.)

Anyway, it was undeniably awkward. The whole situation just reminded me of this word, accost.


That I was so nice and stayed until I finished the conversation reminded me of the other day when I sort of scared my roommate’s friends. My roommate also have some other friends live in the same apartment complex. Literally, they live across us. So they stop by all the time, just as if they were still in the dormitory. They often yell my roommate’s name, walk in, finish their business and walk out and slam the door.

So the other day, as usual, they yelled his name before they entered. But the door was locked. So I opened the door. I guess I did look unhappy but I wasn’t. Then they asked me if he was home. I looked around and his flip-flops were home. But how do I know?! I answered, “how do I know?! I don’t know. Don’t you have cellphones? Call him.” Then they looked so guilty and apologized before they left. They literally said, “we are sorry.”

Dude, am I that scary?

Well, anyway, just another story.


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