Spoke German Initially

, , , , | Working | December 5, 2017

(I am checking in a group of European guests at my hotel. They all primarily speak French, but one of them speaks a little English as well, so he does his best to interpret between me and the other two. Everything goes fine until…)

Me: “And initial here please.”

Customer: “I’m sorry?”

Me: “Just put your initials on this line here.”

Customer: *blank look* “I… what do you mean?”

(I realize that he does not know the word “initials,” at least not in the context I am using it. I try another way.)

Me: “You just want to write the first letter of your first and last name here.” *I try to illustrate by pointing at the letters of his name on the registration card.*

Customer: *still confused* “I am sorry… I do not understand.”

(I don’t want to embarrass the man, but I do have to have the form filled out properly. Suddenly, I get an idea! Many Europeans speak several languages. I think back to the German class I took in high school…)

Me: “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” [Do you speak German?]

Customer: *immediately brightens* “Ja! Ich spreche Deutsch.” [Yes! I speak German.]

(I suddenly realize that I don’t know how to ask for his initials in German, either! My eyes get big and I put my hand to my head.)

Me: “…Ich spreche nicht gut Deutch.” [I don’t speak German very well.] “So sorry!”

Customer: *laughs* “Okay.”

Me: *laughs* “Just sign here, please. Thank you!”

(I wish I had thought of that earlier, but thanks goodness they were so understanding! They turned out to be very pleasant guests!)

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