When I went to Sandbox Suites in San Francisco I parked about a hundred meters down the road at one of those leave your keys joints. Once I explained that I didn’t know how long I was going to be I left the car there and walked down the road.
On my way back I picked up the car and the attendant noted my English accent. I pointed out that it wasn’t English, but rather Australian.
“Same difference” he said, at which point I became very self conscious and realised that unless you have a very nasal voice you are going to end up sounding English if you are an Australian in the US.
It reminded me of an incident the first time that I went to Seattle where myself a few friends from around the globe were sitting in a restaurant. When asked what I would like to drink I responded with “Merlot” (pronounced Mer low). A few minutes later the waitress brought back our drinks and plonked down glass of beer of front of me. I said, “I’m sorry, I was getting the Merlot” to which she replied yes, there you go, there is a “Miller”.
Realising my mistake I explained that I meant Merlot – the red wine. Still not getting through one of my English counter-parts stepped in and explained – at which point the subtle accent difference was enough to get common understanding.
I’m still amused by that little experience today and it taught me that its not the written word that binds us, but rather the spoken word (when it comes to face to face communication).