Forget Wine, We Can Turn Water Into Guacamole

, , , | Right | November 21, 2018

(My parents and I are on vacation in Mexico. We go to a local supermarket to get some groceries, and also to get back a deposit on a ten-liter jug of water my mom bought the week before I arrived. My mom drags me over to the desk to help with translations, as she doesn’t understand or speak Spanish at all.)

Mom: *returns jug to customer service cashier, speaking in English* “I’m here to collect my deposit on this jug.”

(I translate roughly.)

Cashier: *in Spanish* “There is no deposit on water. You don’t even need to return this jug.”

(I’m struggling with translating as we go.)

Mom: “What? But when I bought this jug of water, the man who sold it to me assured me there was a deposit that I could get back if I returned the jug!”

Cashier: “I don’t know who you talked to, but we don’t charge a deposit on water. If you wish to leave the jug with us, we’ll take it, but there’s no deposit to be returned.”

Mom: “Then tell me why I was charged 40 pesos for this water on top of what I paid!”

Cashier: “There is no deposit on water. You can’t have been charged 40 pesos for a deposit. The water is only about 20 pesos. That doesn’t make sense.”

Mom: “No, I know I paid that deposit! I looked at the receipt carefully. The man told me there was a deposit, and I want that deposit back now that I’ve returned the jug!”

Cashier: “We don’t charge deposit on water jugs here. I’m sorry, but we never have.”

(This goes on for a while. Finally, I just want to end it.)

Me: “Mom, can you just show her the receipt? Just to prove that you paid that deposit.”

(Mom fishes it out and gives it to me.)

Mom: “See?! There. Show her. It’s the second line item. Under the line item for the water!”

(I look at the receipt. At the top, it says, “[Brand] agua, 10L — 26 pesos,” and then the next line, “Aguacate – especiale — 40 pesos.” I lean over to show it to the cashier, and as I do, I remember what ‘aguacate’ means.)

Me: “Um, Mom? That says, ‘aguacate.’”

Mom: “Right! ‘Agua’ means water! I know that much. ‘Especiale’ means special! Special price for the deposit!”

Me: *feeling a headache coming on* “No, Mom. ‘Aguacate’ means ‘avocado.’ Did you buy a bunch of avocados when you shopped here last week? And were they on sale?”

Mom: “I…!” *she pauses* “Oh, yeah! So, ‘aguacate’ doesn’t have anything to do with that water?”

Me: “No.” *turns to the cashier* “Lo siento!” *I’m sorry.* “Muy, muy… Um… lo siento.”

(I walked away, leaving my mother there to sputter her own apologies to the tightly-smiling cashier.)

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