Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lemme Get......

Those of you living outside of Metropolitan Dade County, when you go into a store or a bar or a fast-food establishment and you want to order, what do you say? Perhaps you start the sentence with “I’d like a #4 with no pickles.” Or maybe you are more polite and say “Can I have two Bud Lights and a Vodka Tonic?” The extremely well-mannered among you might say “Can I please have five beef chalupas with extra cheese?” This is true in nearly every major city I have been to in America, not just Seattle or Orange County, but even some of the “ruder” ones like New York or Detroit. And then I forget that Miami is not part of America.

If you want something from someone in any type of establishment in Dade County, the only acceptable way to ask for it is to say “Lemme Get.” As in “Yeah, lemme a six-inch steak and cheese on honey-oat, toasted. And lemme get some onions, a little lettuce, some mayo, oh and lemme get some of those jalapenos too.” I’m not exactly sure why this is, and it is a phenomenon I just recently began to notice. It started when I began working at the bar where I am now employed, and it began to irritate me a little. “Yeah, lemme get two Johnny Black on the rocks, a Vodka Tonic, and two Blue Long Islands. And lemme get a cup of water. No ice. With a lemon. Oh, no, sorry, I mean a lime” Excuse me? “Lemme get?” Yeah, how about lemme get someone else’s order who knows how to ask for something. Or, better yet, lemme get a decent tip before you start ordering me around like your errand boy.

At first I thought this inherent rudeness was exclusive to the gutter trash that patronizes my bar. But apparently this was not the case. Soon I started noticing it when I went to lunch, ate at a restaurant or even just at the Publix Deli Counter. Everyone who asks for anything in English prefaces it with “Lemme Get.” No wonder people think we are so rude.

As I tend to like to do with most problems in Miami, I tried to trace the root of this back to Hispanics. But no such luck. In Spanish, if you want something, generally you preface it with “Da me” which, directly translated, means “give me.” While not exactly wallowing in politeness, it is certainly a lot nicer than “Lemme get.” Similarly, it is not just the Latinos telling people to lettem get stuff. Whites are just as bad, as are blacks as are Asians. Well, if we had Asians. I’m not sure if it’s just contagious like the Miami accent or if it’s just a regional colloquialism or what, but for some reason nobody in this city knows how to ask for anything. The just want to lemme get it. So while I would love to blame this rude phenomenon on my favorite Dade County inhabitants, unfortunately it looks like something or someone else is to blame.

I’ve tried to start going into establishments and telling them to let me get things, but it just isn’t natural. I’m a West Coast native and if you say that out there you are more than likely going to get your food spit in. While I understand a good two-thirds of people taking my order probably don’t even understand exactly what “Lemme Get” means, I still feel like I’m being rude and condescending by allowing it to preface my order. Perhaps that is part of the reason service in Miami is so awful: the customers are awful too. I know I’m not in a hurry to serve anyone who tells me to “Lemme get,” so I’m pretty sure nobody else is either. I catch myself doing it occasionally, usually after work when I’ve heard it 700 times over the course of the night, but I make a concerted effort to stop. Just lemme get a pass on this once and I promise it won’t happen again.

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At 5:11 PM, Blogger Yvette said...

WD, I honestly believe we are the rudest people on the planet. Yah, there are impolite people everywhere, but this sort of thing seems to be the rule, rather than the exception, here. For example, if you pay attention, very few people say, "thank you," and then there's the whole door-opening thing, where you hold the door open for the person behind you and they walk through without even looking at you. And don't get me started on the lack of etiquette or's like we were raised by orangutans.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"I need a..." always irritated me more than "Lemme get..." Hearing someone say that they need a large mushroom pizza used to piss me off for some reason.

is it ok to say "Lemme get" if the waiter or whoever says "What can I get for you?"

yvette -- for a healthy dose of in your face rudeness and lack of manners, i recommend living in china. for a healthy dose of being-smiled-at-while-having-a-greivous-act-of-rudeness-committed-onto-thee, japan is the way to go. japan tricking the world into thinking they were polite must be the biggest con-job in the history of humanity.

At 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the most ultra polite form of Spanish, it's appropriate to say "Permítame ...", which literally means "allow me [to have] ...". I could see how this gets converted into "lemme get" in this context ("Allow" and "let" are close synonyms).

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think "lemme get" is rude at all. It's just a regional/dialectal variation on the English language. I usually say "please" when I'm done.

Hell, even in the Deep South, the waiter/waitress might even ask you, "What can I get'cha?" You can respond, "[I think] I'll have", "let me have/get"..

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Yvette said...

Paul, my theory about China is that they have to be sort of aggressive in order to function in (what looks like a) sardine-can environment. I've never been there, though, so I'm really making that up!

The Japanese have turned apologizing into an art form. Maybe you've just touched on the reason for this. At the very least, if you care to address the rudeness directly, you may get a really ornate and elaborate apology that perhaps encourages forgetting the rudeness, to begin with. But at least they're civilized.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger ANON1 said...

Back to talking about Miami. Come on man you need some new stuff.

Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Similarly, it is not just the Latinos telling people to lettem (sic) get stuff. Whites are just as bad, as blacks as are Asians."
I know you are not alone on this, but you are mixing apples and oranges when you compare Latinos, a cultural designation, with whites or blacks, which are genetic not cultural designations. There are many types of Latinos, both culturally and genetically. Why is a Latino whose anscestor is from Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, or even Russia, not considered white? Does a European immigrant remain white only if he comes to the USA directly, instead of parking in Latin America for a generation or two or five? Likewise, if you mean US American blacks then be clear about it. There many black Latinos both in Latin America and here in the good ole' USA (visit New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Santo Domingo, Cartagena, Santiago de Cuba, Chicago, Caracas, Panama City...), who are not only different culturally from American blacks, but from each other. Asians? That's a heck of a lot of different people to pin anything on--look at a world map and focus on Asia. Are the cultural practices of Afghanis, Israelis, Turks, Indians, Chinese, Indonesians, Japanese, Nepalese, Pakistanis, Iraquis, Iranians, Saudi Arabians, Sri Lankans, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc. all the same?

At 11:04 AM, Blogger White Dade said...

Yvette - Never noticed the door thing but I bet I will now. The "Thank You" lack I have noticed but that is not uncommon in a lot of cities.

Paul - Everyone has their ones they don't like. I pretty much think "Lemme Get" is about as you as it comes.

Anon - I'm guessing the gutter trash who populates my bar does not think that heavily.

Anon2 - the difference is in the asking. If I say 'What would you like?" I beleive it is still rude to answer with a lemme get

Anon1 - Again, that is sort of the point of the blog. But don't worry, it'll change up.

Anon3 - have you taken my "Are you White" quiz? Take a look, that pretty much sums up who it is classified in America. We are right now just gettign to a point where all Latins aren't "Mexican." All whites are no longer referred to as "Italian" or "Irish" or even "Jewish" becasue of interbreeding and whatnot. Perhaps in a few generations thsi will not be the case, but right now anyone coming from a Spinsh speakin country, or Brazil, is Hispanic. Or, if ou live in the rest of the country, Mexican.

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, white dude. I get your point after reading the "are you white quiz." Said quiz actually supports what I am talking about. Culture is acquired during your lifetime from family, friends, community, society, country, language, religion, etc. Your genotype, what is usually referred to as 'race,' is based on genetic inheritance not cultural traits. If you take a 2-year old white boy of Scotch-Irish descent from the Appalachians and place him with a local family in Caracas (or Sao Paulo, or Guadalajara, or Medellin) where he grows up and becomes part of that society, he will definitely turn out Latin American, or to use the term in vogue in the USA, "Latino," (which is in itself a term which masks the vast cultural differences that exist from Argentina to Mexico). Is the former Appalachian boy no longer white? Of course not! That the majority of people in this country are mixed up re. culture vs. biology is no excuse to continue to foster such ignorance. You can neither shed your genotype nor your phenotype when you cross a border.

At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a much better article than last Friday's whiney "gringo" post, which you even admitted at the end of the comments that it didn't bother all that much. I'll put my two cents in, and I might be right, or I may be talking out of my ass.

It does trace back to the hispanic roots here. In sociology, cultures are rated on a low content,high context scale, in which white european societies place more emphasis on what is said and other cultures on the way it is said.

In Spanish,the way you inflect your speech and your mannerisms are really the way you display your intent. You could ask for anything any way you want, as long as you ask in a nice way, the verbiage is as important.

But I am probably talking out of my ass.

anon- youre beating a dead horse, I gave up trying to explain that shit a long time ago. just be happy when they know the difference between a cuban and a mexican.

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that horse is dead, then I'll start grilling it. It's the dead burro (a donkey or an ass, if you will) I'm concerned about--it's called ignorance. Can "they," whomever that covers, understand that while many Apaches that live on the USA side no longer speak their native language but are nevertheless rightfully classified as American Indians, Apaches from Mexico (who mostly do speak their native language) who come to the USA are not considered American Indians but Hispanics? Triple yikes!!! Not only are both groups part of the Amerindian world that still exists from Alaska to Chile, but they are specifically from the same ethnic Apache group. And have you noted that many African Americans do not like it when blacks from Latin America identify themselves as Latinos and not as African Americans? These Latinos are not denying they are black, they are just rightfully pointing out that culturally they are Latin American. Therefore, this type of ignorance is not just prevalent among Anglo Americans--it's found in every group conceivable in the USA, and yes, that includes so called Latinos.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly think it's the new generation. Miamians are the absolute rudest people on earth. It doesn't matter. driving, customer service, and even employees of business establishments. They get rude because I'm ready to check-out, and god forbid, they have to actually process my order (what an inconvenience). Generally speaking of course, Parents in Miami are HORRIBLE. They don't teach their kids shit, yet complain when the schools try to teach it for them. WHATEVER.
Teach kids to say Please and Thank You.
I only see common courtesy from those who transplant from the north, with the exception of New York. They are #2 in my book.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Manola Blablablanik said...

I haven't noticed this. I will keep my ears peeled.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sooo.....what do you suggest we say instead of "lemme get"? I swear I did not realize this was rude or annoying until I read your post. Good to know though...God forbid someone spits on my food if they hear this from me.

At 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your entire post, WD. I am also appalled when I hear something like "Gimme a burger...". I've taught my daughter [we are white] to say, "I'd like a burger, please" and "Thank you". I live just off of Calle Ocho and I have noticed that old Cuban folks are notorious for pushing to the front of pharmacy line @ CVS. So in a loud voice I announce that since they will probably be dying pretty soon anyway, they are more than welcome to cut in line. If I get a dirty look, I know they at least understand basic English. Oh and when I hold the door for someone and I don't hear a "Thank you", I say "You're welcome" to remind them of their rudeness.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger White Dade said...

Anon - "Can I have" or "Could I have" are muhc better alternatives. If you add please that helps, but I prfer the request.

Anon2 - Yeah. Last night at the Broward center I notcied two kids stealing gummy bears with their mom looking on knowingly. what is wrong?

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

being cuban-american i am extremely offended by this no way do i condone the over-take of spanish in america, but trying to "pin" every rude action to hispanics is a little ignorant, there are a lot ruder people in miami than just hispanics...


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