It was Sunday morning and Shawn was with his friend, Gerardo, and they were on their way to a restaurant to have breakfast. Shawn’s American and his friend was from Mexico. On this particular morning, Shawn began to talk about some recent news that was on television the night before. The news talked about the capture of a bank robber that had escaped prison six weeks earlier. Most of the people in town had been following the news story.
“Did you hear that the police caught the bank robber?” Shawn asked.
“What bank robber?” Gerardo asked.
Shawn replied, “You haven’t heard about the bank robber who escaped six weeks ago?” “Where have you been?” “Have you been living under a rock?”
“Wow.” Shawn said a little confused by Gerardo’s sarcastic tone. “Why the sarcasm?”
Wow. You Didn’t Know?
It took some time for both Shawn and Gerardo to realize that the problem wasn’t the words but rather the cultural interpretation of the expression. In the American culture and in informal settings, the expression “living under a rock” is heard as “Wow, I am surprised you didn’t know that.” “How is that possible?” In Gerardo’s culture, the message was taken literally. Keep in mind that this expression should really only be used in informal settings. When in doubt, use the expression:
“Wow, I am surprised you didn’t know that.” or better yet, just say nothing.