I have been in Barcelona exactly 2 months and 2 days and I am happy to report that my Spanish has improved a lot; however, it is no where near perfect and, especially when I get flustered, barely even adequate. I thought perhaps my lovely readers would enjoy a series on hilarious instances of communication problems. I am sure there will be plenty to choose from as I just started an internship at the restaurant that is attached to the school.
I know that you are all far more intelligent than I am and in this story you have the advantage of being able to read the conversation, which would have helped me as well. So, for the reminder of this story try to suspend your puzzle solving abilities and try to feel the frustration of incomprehension that I felt. I’ve tried to make it a little harder for you by using pictures to keep it from being super obvious.
During my second day at the restaurant the first thing the chef asked me to do was (this was in Spanish except the word bag which he said in English because he is trying to practice English with me a little bit) “to go up into the attic and from the shelves on the right hand side bring him the big bag with the . I understood all of the directions except the last part and since it was my second day and I was still trying to impress these people, I made the (wrong) decision to just go upstairs and see if I could figure it out. There was only one bag on the right hand side, it was a full fifty pound bag of sugar, I didn’t know why he would need it but that seemed to be what he asked for so I carried it downstairs.
When I got downstairs the chef looked at me and said “what is that?” (please assume in every sentence he says from here on out that there are swear words, choose whichever ones seem appropriate to you). The sous-chef (who speaks a little more English) looks ups and says “he meant box not bag.” At this point I’m feeling flustered and just want to fix this as fast as possible so I run back upstairs and again try to figure out what he could possibly want, the last two words just don’t make sense in Spanish or English. Then my eyes fall on a box filled with vacuum bags. Perfect! it’s a box of bags and its on the right hand side of attic on the shelves. So, I take that downstairs.
“What is that?!?”
“Um a box of bags, Chef”
“Taylor, this is the easy part!!!”
“Maybe for you, Chef,” I thought as I re-climbed the steps to the attic with the Chef on my heels. “Look here, the robot coupe.” he said grabbing a large box that some how I had never even looked at. Of course how could I have been so dense, here I was trying to translate words that I already knew but had never tried to pronounce using all of the letters or in a Spanish accent. We had always had a Cuisinart brand machine at home, I had worked in enough restaurants with the Robot Coupe brand that this should have been simple.
The moral of this story is always ask when you don’t understand. Pride doesn’t help the situation and frequently gets you in more trouble. Too bad this is an easier moral to preach than it is too live.