What I Hated the Least Today 109/365: Certified Regular

Not my means of commute

At some point when I wasn’t looking, I became a certified regular commuter (CRC). You know you are one when you find yourself on first-name terms with the staff of your usual bus line. Before that, I was just an unverified frequent rider (UFR). A frequent rider is the transitional stage of a person who ditched paper tickets and uses her transport company’s dedicated phone app but still doesn’t know all the ropes. Even before that, I was a random unaspiring occasional (RUO). An occasional is a loser who prints out her tickets and doesn’t yet have her favourite seat.

My newly earned status as a CRC entails the social duty of small talk with staff. This isn’t going very well for me because I’m not precisely the interactive kind. I imagine, however, that I might soon unlock a more advanced status when the transaction of polite phrases will be replaced by a simple and elegant exchange of mere meaningful looks. I also hope to get access to the function of a permanent seat reservation, so that the staff, for the sake of our continuing peaceful coexistence, would ensure that no one will ever be able to book my seat. Everyone knows it’s my seat. Only some aggressive individuals still sometimes try to cheat me out of it.

The first sign of my promotion to a CRC appeared when stewardess Martina observed that I surely love to travel with them, considering how often I indulge in this pastime. Since I’m no good in conversation, I didn’t manage to respond anything beyond the tentative and hesitant Uh, well, yes, I guess… She also addressed me in Czech, though she sees well that my ticket reservation app is set to English – you shove your phone with the reservation screen on in the stewardess’s face so she can check your ticket number – hence she should deduce that I’m not comfortable using my mother tongue.

The second sure sign of my CRC status occurred when steward Francis gave me a quick glance, confirmed with me that my reserved seat was at the back of the bus as per usual and checked me in without having to look around in his passenger list for more than one second. Normally, it’s up to the staff to tell you your seat number, so this was an interesting inversion. Also, I don’t need to be told which seat I have reserved – only amateurs accept the seat automatically allocated to them by the system without changing to their seat.

Here is my seat, selected below in yellow. Looking at it, I see I need to change the language of my web reservation account as well. Bloody Czech everywhere. It’s like I live in the Czech Republic.

My spot <3
My beloved spot

Author: Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

40 thoughts

    1. That’s easier (and perfectly logical) to ask than to answer. The chief reason why I switch all apps into English is that none of them is originally in Czech – and the translations make me hurt. They are not only awkward but often incorrect or inconsistent with the style of formal written Czech (Windows 10 is so far the worst translation I’ve seen of this kind).

      As I graduated in English, I use English for work and also for entertainment – should I blog in Czech, we wouldn’t be talking now – so I guess it’s natural that I prefer to use English whenever the option is available.

      You almost made me write an essay in response 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. English is the most used language of them all if I’m not mistaken.

        I thought it may be insulting to ask you that but I fancy the different dialects of English. I don’t speak any other language.

        I’ve noted that Europeans who learn English as a second language will spell and speak the language in British English.

        Guess that makes sense and it’s a good thing too – I see the American dialect as not proper English.


        1. I did a little Googling to confirm that Chinese is the most spoken language. Surprisingly for me, Spanish comes the second. English is the third. These stats however reflect the number of native speakers. So as far as non-native speakers are considered, I do believe English is the most widely spoken and most universal language.

          Europe has a tradition of teaching British English, perhaps due to the geographical proximity to Britain rather than America. There has been a shift to American English recently, and in general a shift to a wider range of language variants, including English as spoken by non-native speakers. I’m just summing up what I gathered from my experience of learning and teaching English. I haven’t really looked into it though.

          It’s funny that American English should be thought of as “improper”… I certainly prefer the British variant, but then, I’m biased.


    1. Not for regular buses, but these are special ones, long-distance. They are also very fancy. It’s not the usual standard to have Wi-Fi on board and accompanying staff – besides the driver, that is 😉


  1. You travel a long way to be able to have a designated seat. Here its first in though the early workers trains are all a bit that way, with the regulars having their special seats.


  2. Would they address you in English if you insisted? Meaning … are they comfortable with switching back and forth? In Sweden (read Stockholm) I sense you get much better service when you address them in English. That’s really weird, but then they get really eager to serve you.

    Interesting that you can book a seat on the bus, just like the aircrafts.


    1. The staff on buses speak some English, but I doubt it’s so good to allow for a conversation. The thing is that I’d convince no one that I’m not a local, if only owing to my ridiculous clearly Slavic accent. And yes, same here, when you’re a foreigner (an actual one, not a fake one, like me), you get better service. And whenever possible, you’ll be also cheated to pay more than natives do.

      The bus company I use travels all over Europe, so it makes sense that when you go, say, from Prague to London, you need to book a seat. As its long-distance, you are not allowed to stand, as in regular buses, and at peak times these buses are full, so you need to book in advance. If you want to risk it, you can come and see if there are vacancies, and you can get your ticket on the spot as well. But why do that…


      1. Ahh … now I see what type of buses they are, long distance! How long would it take you to go to Prague?

        I think I’m too old to ever lose my accent. I was fifty when I moved here. People can’t place my accent, though … some get intrigued and ask where I’m from. I listen to our Swedish hockey players, when they’re being interviewed on TV, and I almost get a little envious … they speak like native North Americans … even G. testifies to that, and he can really detect the slightest difference.


        1. Hm, I think it takes about two or three hours for me to get to Prague on the train or the bus. I don’t go there often. What for…

          I’m too unmusical to ever lose my accent. I do hear what’s wrong but I can’t imitate the “correct” sounds. I’m such a loser that I can’t even pronounce one consonant peculiar to Czech – it’s quite a common speech defect, but annoying when you’re trying to say something.

          Hockey players seem to speak with great accents. I noticed that too, though I don’t watch sports. We’re surprisingly passable at hockey, and we have a bunch of players in NHL and elsewhere. It was always fun to see them giving interviews in English with a voiceover translation on Czech TV 😉


          1. One wonders what that consonant is … or what it sounds like.

            I had a problem in English with S. Sometimes it’s like z and other times like regular s. Since we don’t have that z-sound in Swedish, I didn’t even hear the difference at first, but I’m getting there …

            I know about Czech hockey players 🙂
            In Detroit, right now, they have six Swedes.


          2. It’s “ř” that I can’t pronounce and since I can’t pronounce it, I can’t really say first-hand what it sounds like 😉

            Are English sounds very different from sounds native to the Swedish language? Czech is one of the languages that is extremely distant from English, including the language sounds. There are quite a few consonants used in English that I can’t pronounce very well. It’s especially those sounds at the beginning of “thought” versus “thigh”, which should be different sounds but I often confuse them.

            One wonders how come I can teach English 😉


          3. Yes, different … the whole intonation is very different. One would think Swedish is closer to German, as so many words are similar, but I can’t really say that either.

            That “s” sound I talked about, used to be what gave me away, but it’s getting better. The ‘th’ is different in there/thanks/. We don’t have any such sound in Swedish, and not the W either. Our ‘u’ is pronounced the same way as it is in French.

            Does your TV have subtitles or are the shows dubbed?


          4. It’s quite fascinating how many different languages evolved, say, in such a relatively small area as Europe. There’s probably a perfectly logical historical linguistic explanation for that, but I’m not a linguist 😮

            Sadly – almost tragically – we have a strong policy here of dubbing all that goes on TV. There’s no chance to aid learning a second language by watching TV. I think it’s effort wasted because the dubbing is often so awkward – there are errors and structures translated directly from English into Czech, which sounds very unnatural. I guess it’s ok for viewers who are not as picky as me 😉


          5. It IS interesting! Like the fact that Finnish and Hungarian are related (Ugrian whatever). My husband is a linguist and has explained it to me and I immediately forgot it.

            When I came to Quebec, where all TV was in French or dubbed into French, I came to really appreciate having grown up with subtitles. I think that’s a great part why Swedish people are said to be relatively good in English.

            I learned a lot from Sopranos ROFL


          6. Now I want to meet not only you but also your husband the linguist 🙂 I could have chosen to do linguistics but literature was more of my thing from the start. So I specialised in literature.

            Of course that it makes a huge difference in language learning when you are exposed to the foreign language on TV. While it’s also true, as you say, that one doesn’t always learn the most useful things by watching some shows. I learned colloquial American through watching American TV series, and it’s a perfectly useless thing to know. It’s not like I could use it in my professional environment. I accidentally slip to some phrases when teaching and it’s stupid because it only confuses the students…


          7. We’ll meet in Praha some day 🙂 He really would love to travel to Europe one more time, but I don’t know …
            Yeah, besides from learning real useful sentences like “I’m the fucking motherfucker who calls the shots”, I DID get a lot of expressions, and ways of speaking … like in Seinfeld; all those words of daily living, so to speak.

            The German I used to know was highly technical, and I could hardly carry out a regular conversation about ordinary things in life. Guess I could then, as long as it didn’t get too complicated. With a few beers it got easier with the grammar too 🙂


          8. Some day, absolutely 🙂

            I love the extreme versatility of the fuck-word in English. I don’t think many languages have a swearword that is so wonderfully flexible that it can be used as almost any part of speech. My language doesn’t have any interesting swear words and I often catch myself swearing in English – in public. I guess it’s general knowledge already that I’m mad, so whatever.

            I used to have (and still to some extent have) a similar problem with English as you had with German. I know lots of specialised words but few phrases for everyday communication. I remember I couldn’t remember the phrase “Can I get the bill please” when I was in Edinburgh – but I don’t remember what I used instead. Probably something archaic I got from reading Victorian literature.

            Liked by 1 person

          9. Yeah, flexible is the pivotal word here … like unfuckingbelievable. In Swedish, all swearwords are related to the Devil or Hell. That’s why it looks so funny to me, to see the hockey player Satan. Just typing the word/name now makes me shudder LOL. Satan is the worst/most ‘powerful’ of all our swearwords. Hell = Helvete in Swedish is bad too, but it gets used just as much as fuck, so it’s sort of losing its charge 🙂 To say ‘Hell’ here, is not at all as bad as Helvete. In Sweden, nowadays, the younger generations all use fuck and motherfucker.


          10. That is so interesting! In Czech, “devil” as a swearword is something your nice grandmother would say – it is on of the weakest. I guess it reflects how irreligious we are. I would love to hear how teenagers speak these days, but I don’t really have access to an environement where I could study them. Also, it would be rather creepy. I have however noticed that especially boys who apparently play online games use a lot of English words from the games – in rather unorthodox ways. Czech is a strongly inflectional language, so it doesn’t work very well to stick an English word just somewhere – you need to inflect it somewhow. But then, obviously, how?


          11. Devil is very weak here too, just like “hell”. Satan is Slovak, by the way …

            Swedish is too, and the worst/ugliest part in all this, is that they blithely put Swedish endings on English words … I cringe when I hear it.


          12. Satan is Slovak? I don’t think that’s a very common name. Never heard that before. Today on the bus I heard someone use “bullshit” in a Czech sentence, with a Czech plural ending and the relevant inflection ending. It was horrible.


          13. I see now! The diacritics above S means it should be pronounced as Shatan (like “shit”, if you please) rather than Satan. How did the commentators call him? Satan? Poor guy…


          14. Oh, that really takes away from the whole thing. The commentators said SAY-tan. I saw a photoshopped picture with the back of him (name on the back of his jersey) on the ice, with two red horns on the helmet LOL


          15. Well, say-tan is so far away from sha-tan (both as pronounced as the vowel in pub, we don’t reduce our vowels) – while I totally get that the commentators can’t try to find out the pronunciation of all foreign names they come across, I also wonder if the guy responded when called Satan… It’s such completely different sounds. But it’s a funny story 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          16. Sweden had a great tennis player, his family name was Wilander [vil-AND-er]. The funniest (to me) pronunciation of that name was to hear the French commentator in Paris Open … something like wiland-AErrrr — impossible to render the French accent LOL

            Then we have a hockey player now in Montreal Canadiens (hence in Quebec), his name is P. K. Subban. Of course, they say Pee Kay Subban, but the Quebeckers want to change that because the letter K isn’t pronounced Kay in French (!!!) so they want all commentators to say Pe Kah Subban. Geez! Subban himself said in Twitter; “you can call me darling or anything you want, I don’t care” 🙂


          17. It’s a complex question and I have no answer to it. I’m generally ok with people pronouncing my name or other names as they can and don’t correct them, but when it comes to the point when you distort a name beyond recognition – and make someone a Satan 😉 – then it’s maybe time to think about it a little.


  3. I also choose English as a language for most of (all) my software. It’s easier to find tutorials and explanations online if you need it, plus I don’t like the Norwegian translation. The Norwegian version of Photoshop sounds pretty retarded…


    1. That makes sense. I wonder if all translations suck. I’m using a Czech translation of WordPress on a site I’m setting up for someone else, as the person doesn’t speak English and wants to use the admin, and I have huge problems trying to figure out what the translators meant. Never heard some of the words they present as Czech. It’s great as a work of volunteers, but it sucks when this kind of translation is used in commercial software, rendering it perfectly useless.


      1. When I worked professionally with Photoshop, it wasn’t available in Norwegian. All photo editing software was in English, which led to English being the professional language. Nowadays you can get photoshop/lightroom in Norwegian and you have these people that use stupid Norwegian translations when they’re talking about different post-processing that they’ve done.
        I can’t be bothered to take them seriously.


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