Lost In Multiple Translations

| Mariehamn, Finland | Right | November 21, 2016

(I’m standing in line at the service desk at the library. It is located in a Swedish-speaking region of Finland. A patron is in front of me.)

Patron: “Hi! I’m looking for a book. A very specific book.”

Librarian: *very friendly and accommodating* “Of course. Do you have the title or the name of the author so I can look it up for you?”

Patron: “Well, here’s where you can help me, because I can’t remember the title of the book. Or who wrote it. But I think it was about an Italian girl… or a woman. Maybe she was French, by the way. Or Finnish. Somewhere from that area anyway.”

Librarian: *still friendly* “All right…”

Patron: “There also may have been a crocodile involved in the book somehow. But I can’t remember which page that was on. Or if it even was in this book.”

Librarian: *just a tad less accommodating now* “Well, er, you see—”

Patron: *interrupting* “And I simply can’t remember what language it was written in, but it’s very important that you find me the book with a Swedish translation. The original edition was written in English. It might have been Japanese, though. And there was a crocodile in it. I think. In Finland. Or in Italy. It’s about divorces.”

Librarian: *not looking very happy at all* “Let’s just go have a look at our fiction section, then…”

Patron: “No! It was a biography! Or a short story. I think.” *they walk away*

Me: *to the other librarian* “And I thought I had had a bad day working in retail.”

Other Librarian: “This is the second time this week!”

(I later found out that the woman was looking for ‘The No. One Ladies Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith! Way to describe it.)

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