After I had been living here for about three months and studied Swedish for almost as long, I went into my bank to make a few transactions. In my best Swedish, I asked the teller – a male somewhere around 30 – if he spoke English. To which he replied no and told me that I must speak in Swedish. Stumbling and sweating over my limited basic vocabulary and grammar knowledge, I somehow managed to use hand gestures and toddler Swedish to describe what I needed.
Three transactions were on my to-do list. None of them could be made. Just as I was turning from the window to leave in defeat, the now smug clerk said in perfect English and with a smile: “It seems I have done everything in my power to make sure that you get nothing done today.”
I was so shocked by his behavior that I could not reply. Instead, I slunk out of the bank, went home and felt sorry for myself. It was such an unbelievably cruel act and so very surprising as most young Swedes in particular want to practice their Swedish. I’ve never known what to make of his behavior. My only guess is that he wanted to make sure that I learned the language!