Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Language Barrier

Copied from my MySpace blog. Originally posted August 24, 2006

I just saw a comedian on TV talking about misunderstandings that can arise when two people who speak different languages try to communicate with one another. It reminded me of a couple of stories from an old job. So I thought I would share. Because that's what I do. I am a sharing kind of guy.

I used to work in a roadside restaurant along the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick. It was attached to a Motel. I think you can picture the kind of classy joint I'm talking about. I loved working there, but classy it wasn't.

I was the only one there who could speak any French, and I can't speak French. But when the servers had a problem understanding someone, they would call me. Which didn't often help.

One time, I spent five minutes trying to figure out what Onaise was. This French woman wanted Onaise. I thought she was asking for something in French, but I couldn't figure it out. Finally, I asked her to spell it. She said "H-O-N-E-Y. Onaise." I felt stupid.

Not as stupid as the late-night bartender guy did one night. After the restaurant closed and the "lounge" (AKA a bar with some stools and some taxidermy on the wall) was the only thing open, the bartender would also work at the front desk in case someone checked in to the motel late or if a guest called from their room.

One night, a Dutch family was staying there on their way through town. The mother came in to ask a question, just as Dave was about to start closing up. She asked him for "stems from lettuce." He asked her to repeat it several times and every time she asked for "stems from lettuce". He figured that it was some strange foreign thing, so rather than seem culturally retarded, he went into the kitchen and cut the bottom off of a couple of heads of romaine lettuce.

When he presented her with her lettuce stems, she laughed and said "no, stems from lettuce. You know." She reached into her purse to pull out an envelope and said "Stems, from mailing our lettuce."

"AH! Stamps for mailing your letters."

"Yes, that's what I said."

Stupid English speakers.

5 comments:

BeccaJean said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace blog. Comment posted August 24, 2006.

Too funny!

I remember watching the news with my dad when I was a kid, and they mentioned someone being "dead on arrival". I turned around and asked my dad what it meant when they said people were "dead on a rifle?"......he looked at me like I wasn't his child.

lisa said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace blog. Comment posted August 24, 2006.

we live in North Texas and my son thought i was swearing when i kept talking about a big hail storm we had here a couple of yrs ago.

nyk said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace blog. Comment posted August 25, 2006.

Haha. That's pretty good. I worked in a grocery store for two years as a cashier and had to hablo espanol (even though I don't) on a daily basis. Or at least I had to "comprendo" the espanol.

Jaz said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace blog. Comment posted August 24, 2006.

That was funny

Can_I_B_U_when_I_grow_up? said...

Comment copied from Lloyd's MySpace blog. Comment posted October 4, 2006.

Would that have been that fine establishment the BlueBird?