December 8th, 2011

One issue with The Elder Scrolls that hasn’t changed at all from Oblivion to Skyrim is that NPCs often talk to you in the least believable way possible. Examples abound in every city and faction. Take for instance:

After becoming the Archmage of the College of Winterhold, one of the pupils/professors/Snape/whatever says to me, “You’re not as stupid as you look.” Excuse me, I’m essentially THE DEAN. If it was a professor, boom! Fired. If it was a student, boom! Sent back to the… high school of Winterhold… or something.

Even worse is the Legion faction quest, where upon joining the Imperials, some soldiers question my toughness. These are the same soldiers who fought alongside me as I was slaughtering dragons. Apparently Skyrim is a “what have you done for me lately?” kind of place.

Maybe I should have joined the Stormcloaks; it would be a ton of fun and I’d have been able to say that I was a part of the rebel alliance. Neat! Unfortunately it turns out the rebel faction is pretty racist; their home city sticks non-Nords in the slum part of town.

I’ll use the Stormcloaks’ apparent racism as a segue into something that happened at work today. Normally, my work related stories are silly; this one is not.

I was standing at my desk when a guy came right up to my face and said in a low, nasty tone, “Where were you born?”

I didn’t immediately respond; I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly.

“How do you mean?” I managed to say.

“I mean what country? Pakistan? Iran?”

Now I was super confused. After another long pause and a furrowing of my eyebrows I started to say, “I was born-“

“You know I was working at the World Trade Center… on 9/11,” he said, cutting me off and appearing visibly angry.

“Think about that,” he snarled and walked away.

Now I could just joke about this and say that I haven’t shaved in so long that I was mistaken for a terrorist, or that Pakistan and Iran weren’t involved el-oh-el, but I’m not.

What I will say is that the interaction made me really sad. Not because he thinks I look a certain way, and not because I probably wont be the last person he says it to, but rather because this guy is so messed up in the head that approaching strangers and asking “where were you born?” in a nasty, accusatory manner is socially acceptable to him.

Obviously what the guy did was wrong, terrible, horrible, evil, whatever you want to call it. Obviously, the next person he says this to might care more than I do and take it personally. Obviously, people like that asshole need to understand that someone’s nationality and physical appearance have nothing to do with what kind of person they are. I’m really not sure how to tie up this story… it was just really depressing.

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to shave though. It’s been like, three weeks.