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Woman Furious After Customer Says She Should Tell People Her Speech Impediment Is An Accent

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Speech impediments can be caused by a number of things, physical, developmental or psychological.

Sounding different, for whatever reason, can make a person self conscious. Having strangers bring attention to it can be upsetting.

A woman dealing with people bringing attention to her speech impediment consulted the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit to ask if her reaction to one person was out of line.

Redditor omegaskunkeh asked:

“AITA for saying I have a speech impediment and not an accent?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“So, I’ve had a speech impediment pretty much my entire life. I went through ten years of speech therapy as a child.”

“I tend to talk fast, I slur my words together, and I have a lot of trouble saying ‘r’s. It’s something that I’ve always been insecure about but there’s nothing I can really do about it.”

“That being said, I work in customer service, and I get asked all the time ‘where are you from?’ or ‘whats that accent from?’ I’ve been told I sound like I’m from New York or Boston, but I live in Michigan and have never lived anywhere else.”

“No one else in my family sounds like me.”

“I get asked this question at least twice a day and I am not exaggerating. It’s tiring.”

“Whenever anyone mentions it I just answer with a short, curt ‘It’s not an accent’ with no further explanation. Most people note the change in my tone and drop the subject.”

“Sometimes however…”

“I’ll get customers that just won’t let it go. ‘No its an accent. Where are you from?’ or ‘You don’t sound like you’re from Michigan’.”

“I try my best to just avoid the subject but some people just have it in their mind that my voice is something they’re allowed to pry and ask me about despite my obvious discomfort.”

“The other day a customer started through this, and legit said ‘You sound funny, you’re not from michigan’ and when my blank cold stare and silence made him a bit uncomfortable after a pause he said ‘no offense’ to which I replied ‘How is that not offensive?'”

“He said it was a joke, I said I’m not interested in being the butt of your jokes. He said well just tell me where you’re from and we can move on and I snapped that it’s not an accent, it’s a speech impediment.”

“‘It’s not a speech impediment’.”

“I replied, ‘Oh let me go tell my Dad those ten years of speech therapy were a waste of time!'”

“He said ‘You’re making me feel bad. I didn’t know it was a speech impediment. You should have just made up a place where your accent is from’.”

“Again, not an accent, and I’m not going to lie to make you feel better.”

“This is a repeat issue. People always get upset when I finally say it’s a speech impediment, and I’ve had countless people say oh you should just say its an accent.”

“I’ve even had other coworkers just say I should lie and say I’m from X just to appease people. I’m biased because I’m already insecure about my voice so hoping for an outsider’s opinion.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. I’m sorry people are so rude. Working in customer service, I’m sure you get your share of unhinged people….”

“Here’s what I would suggest. This advice is only for work, not for social interactions.”

“The reason these comments bother you so much is because you’re mixing personal emotions with work. You already understandably feel insecure about your impediment, and these strangers just underscore your feelings of insecurity.”

“Is there perhaps a way you can reframe this to yourself as not an assault on your identity, or insecurities as a person, but turn it around and say it just shows some peoples’ stupidity and self-centredness? That is, this is 100% about them, and nothing to do with you.”

“Imagine what a crappy person you have to be to ‘diagnose’ a stranger’s speech at work, then argue when they’re insulted and still try to turn it on them.”

“I guess I would simply say, as calmly as you can, ‘It’s a speech impediment, thanks for your concern’. Something like that.”

“That should shut them down. If it doesn’t, don’t engage.”

“They go on, then you say, ‘Can I help you with something?’ Don’t respond to their questions.”

“Keep it pleasant and don’t fall for their rudeness and stupidity. Don’t let yourself be dragged down by them.”

“I totally get you are insecure about the impediment, but it is what it is. As you say, nothing you can do about it.”

“Keep your head high. You are far more than the way you pronounce your r’s.” ~ toughdog18

“NTA. Customer service employees are there to provide a service to a customer. They are not there to be examined and provide details of their personal lives to random strangers during those services.”

“You don’t have any obligation to make people feel better about asking prying, rude, unnecessary questions of a stranger in public.” ~ srslyeffedmind

“NTA I have a speech impediment and also have trouble saying ‘r’ sounds as they come out like a w sound.”

“I did speech therapy for a really long time and it helped, but it’s still noticeable, especially if I’m nervous or mad. You definitely shouldn’t lie for other people’s comfort.” ~ The_Smiddy_

“It’s so funny because I always have a similar issue but never met anyone else like that. So much NTA.”

“I grew up speaking different languages, and didn’t talk at all until I was beyond toddler age. I never had therapy, but no matter what language I speak, I always sound a little different even though I’m fluent in it.”

“‘What’s that accent’ ‘No no, you are (insert random country I’ve never been to)’ ‘But what IS your native language??’ after I explained this is one of them, ‘no, you can’t be from there’. It’s so odd how many people are repeatedly so insistent on this.”

“It’s extremely annoying, and it sometimes feels really intrusive (no, I don’t want to explain myself to you stranger in depth) or like random people say you’re lying.”

“Be firm. Say where you’re from once politely, then be firm.” ~ HereFishyFishy4444

“I’m grown (like a grandparent, grown) and I’ll never understand people. In my head I think ‘What, is the answer not cool enough for you?’.”

“Not that you owe anyone an explanation for anything, but I’m willing to bet if you respond with something like ‘I was shot, but I’m fine now’ or ‘I used to have a tumor’ they’re less likely to respond negatively or try to call you a liar.”

“I’m sorry this is happening to you. It’s not at all necessary, some people are just so nosy. You’re definitely NTA.” ~ dragonfly825

The OP returned with an update. 

“Wow wasn’t expecting this much response.”

“I just wanted to thank everyone who replied with their own speech impediment difficulties it has absolutely made me feel less alone!”

“Thank you to everyone and have a wonderful day. Be kind!”

Redditors agreed, the OP should not have to lie to make other people feel comfortable.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metis Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. She considers herself another proud Maineiac.