“Ma’am, who passed away?”

Let’s Connect

Blogs About Brand-building Tips, Marketing Strategies, Insights & Stories

Thank you for subscribing. Appreciate your comments and sharing!

Subscribe to our Blogs

To watch is as a video

To listen as a podcast

(An excerpt from my memoir)

More than 40 years ago, when I just arrived at Brandeis University from Beijing, China, I had to learn American English (which is different from the British English that I learned in China), while struggling to survive in an academically rigorous environment.  

As a young woman, I had severe menstrual cramps, and did not use any pain killers. Compounded by the stress and pressure, I fainted in the dorm bathroom’s common area outside the shower stalls one afternoon.  Surprisingly (and fortunately) there was no one there.  I came to a few moments later, then stumbled into my dorm room.

I was scared, did not know what to do, whom to call, so I called the campus police.

Somehow, I mistook the American way of describing “fainted” as “passed away” instead of “passed out”.

Distressfully, I called: “I just passed away in the bathroom. My tummy feels a lot of pain, please come!”

A few minutes later, in came this heavily built, white police officer, with all the beeping noises from the radio transmissions on his belt, with a thick Bostonian accent, he asked, seriously: “Ma’am, who passed away?”

Sitting up in bed (with all my clothes on), I said: “I did!  I passed away in the bathroom just now, and I am still feeling sick.” 

He did not laugh, but looked at me straight-faced, with lots of compassion and genuine care: “Do you want me to take you to the infirmary to see a doctor?”  I replied: “Maybe… I think I will feel better, my stomach pain is getting a little better now.”

He asked me to rest, and said that if I still needed a ride to the other side of the campus where the infirmary was, to just call again.

Some months later, I realized that I misused “pass away” for “pass out”!  “Damn it!  I should have just said that I FAINTED!” I felt embarrassed. 

More than 40 years later, I am now laughing to tears (probably what the officer did too in his police car). It took me 40 years to laugh at myself, now.


To stay in the loop, subscribe to our Newsletter

Please don’t forget to like it, comment, or better, SHARE IT WITH OTHERS, – they will be grateful!

(About 10 Plus Brand: In addition to the “whole 10 yards” of brand building, digital marketing, and content creation for business and personal brands. To contact us: 1-888-288-4533.)

– Visit our Websites:




Phone: 888-288-4533

– Find us online by clicking or follow these hashtags:




#10PlusInterviews OR








Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Decode | Create | Amplify