I Must Not Be From Around Here
By Lareign Ward
Especially not at a call center that required me to wear a headset with a tiny silver microphone that made me feel like I should have been preaching at a megachurch or on tour with a pop star, not in an office building just off the interstate, sitting at a cubicle I shared with two other employees.
I’m sure she meant it as a compliment, but it frustrated me a little that I had no viable response besides acknowledging it and moving on. I couldn’t say, “Oh, I love your accent, too!” Because she didn’t sound like she had an accent. She just sounded like a normal American with a normal speaking voice. She could have been from Michigan or Iowa or Arizona, or, most likely, from right here in Washington State. I can’t tell where others are from, but most of them seem to know I’m not from here.
I moved to the Northwest nearly three years ago, and since then it’s become a little game: You tell me where you think I’m from, and I’ll tell you if you’re right. I’m testing myself just as much as I’m testing you, though.
I started teaching college freshmen a few weeks after my arrival, and I was convinced my students would discredit me the minute I opened my mouth, that everything I said would sound like, “Where do I park my cow?” or “George W. Bush was our nation’s greatest president.” While they all noticed, I don’t think any of them thought less of me for my accent. They thought less of me because I was a shitty teacher, especially in that first class. The teaching, at least, got better. Eventually.
About the Author
Lareign Ward’s work has appeared in The Southeast Review, Atticus Review, A Love So True, Defenestration, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Eastern Washington University. A native of northeast Texas, she currently lives in Spokane, Washington.
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