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A Mouthful Of Either Will Silence A Coworker

, , , , | Working | July 2, 2020

I work for a company which mostly deals with international clients, which means we mainly communicate with our clients via email or phone, but sometimes we have foreign visitors who don’t speak Czech.

[Coworker #1] is a serious gentleman in his sixties; [Coworker #2] is a quiet woman in her fifties. We have an open space office, and both of them sit in the row next to mine and neither of them speaks any foreign language.

There are two visiting Finnish engineers sitting right next to my table. The word “paska” in Czech means “duct tape,” while in Finnish it means “s***”. The whole conversation is in Czech.

Coworker #1: *Yelling* “Hey, does anybody know where the ‘paska’ is?!”

The Finnish engineers raise their heads and give him a deer-in-the-headlights stare.

Coworker #2: “I think there is ‘paska’ in the office kitchen.”

The Finnish engineers look shocked.

Coworker #1: “Is there a ‘paska’ in the kitchen?!”

Someone: *Yelling from the kitchen* “No, the ‘paska’ isn’t here! Have you checked the supply closet?!”

The Finnish engineers now look like two scared owls.

Me: “Guys, can you please stop yelling ‘paska’? Our guests seem to be shocked.”

Coworker #1: “Why?”

Me: “Because ‘paska’ in Finnish is ‘s***’. I’ll explain it to them. Please use ‘izolepa.’

“Izolepa” is another word for duct tape.

I explained to the engineers that my coworkers weren’t yelling, “S***!” at each other, just looking for duct tape. They were understanding and found it funny, especially when they looked at [Coworker #1], who gave them a sheepish smile and said, “Sorry?” with a very strong Czech accent.