Guest Relations

, , , , | Working | March 8, 2018

(I work in an amusement park gift shop in an area with very volatile weather. When the weather turns for the worse, we tend to get a lot of guests crowding inside our shop for shelter. One such storm happened yesterday just before closing, so the shop is a mess when I come in to open in the morning. My co-lead closed yesterday, and opens with me today.)

Co-Lead: “There was a wind storm yesterday that blew in a bunch of garbage.”

Me: “It’s not nice to call our guests ‘garbage.'”

Germaniac, Part 7

, , , , , , | Working | March 4, 2018

(I am buying a bottle of a well-known brand of carbonated water, among other things. The cashier is probably in her 40s or 50s.)

Cashier: *as she’s ringing me up* “How is this different from regular water?”

Me: “It’s just carbonated water.”

Cashier: “Oh, okay. What flavor?”

Me: “No flavor, just water.”

Cashier: “So, it’s just water?”

Me: “Carbonated water. It was served a lot when I lived in Germany, and I really liked it.”

Cashier: “You lived in Germany? Wasn’t that hard?”

Me: “It was pretty fun, actually.”

Cashier: “But they didn’t speak English, did they?”

Me: “A lot of them did, but I also learned a lot of German over there.”

Cashier: “Oh, that sounds so hard. Whenever I hear those languages on TV, it just sounds like noise. I don’t know how anyone understands it.”

Me: *taking my receipt and slowly trying to detach myself from the conversation* “Well, the Germans manage.”

Germaniac, Part 6
Germaniac, Part 5
Germaniac, Part 4

Sexually-Transmitted Translation

, , , , | Healthy | March 4, 2018

(I am a foreign college student and I need to see a gynecologist for the first time. I also need to fill out a medical information form that’s all in Chinese.)

Receptionist: “Can you read Chinese?”

Me: “The basics, but I have trouble with medical vocab.”

Receptionist: “Okay, start filling what you can and come back when there’s no line.”

(I do so and the receptionist translates while I answer.)

Receptionist: “Okay, this says, ‘Are you sexually active?’”

Me: *circles yes*

Receptionist: “Okay, and this says, ‘What protection do you use? Check all applicable.’”

Me: “Okay, does it say, ‘dental dam,’ somewhere?”

Receptionist: “Huh?”

Me: “Um… for oral protection.”

Receptionist: “This is asking what you do to not get pregnant.”

Me: “So, it’s ‘contraceptive,’ not ‘protection’?”

Receptionist: “Same thing.”

Me: “No… It isn’t. Okay, where does it ask for the gender of my partner?”

Receptionist: “Gender?”

Me: “Yes. I’m sexually active with women, not men.”

Receptionist: *long pause, looks around as if for help* “Then you put, ‘No,’ for sexually active and skip these questions.”

Me: “Don’t you care about me getting STDs?”

Receptionist: “Huh?”

Me: “It means I can still get STDs, as I’m sexually active, but you want me to put, ‘No,’ for being sexually active.”

Receptionist: *blank stare* “Uh. Let me talk to the doctor.”

(I am not called back for a while, and when I am, it’s for the actual appointment.)

Doctor: “I’m sorry about the form. We never get people like you. Let’s continue.” *hands form back to me*

(I noticed next to the line asking about being sexually active, “lesbian” was written in, in English. She helped me fill the rest of the form, adding — in English — the details it didn’t support, with no further issues.)

How Do You Say “Bird-Brained” In Cantonese?

, , , , , , , | Friendly | March 2, 2018

(I’m in a park in Hong Kong, where they have an aviary with a wide variety of exotic birds, including several species of parrots.)

Parrot: “Hello!”

(I see an older gentleman, presumably a tourist from Mainland China, yelling at this bird.)

Man: “Ni hao ma!”

Parrot: “Hello!”

Man: “Ni hao ma!”

Parrot: “Hello!”

Man: “NI HAO MA!”

Parrot: “Hello!”


(Good luck trying to teach Mandarin to a bird that can only speak English in a region that primarily speaks Cantonese!)

Going Back To My Father’s Roots

, , , , , | Learning | March 1, 2018

(I am in a beginner-level Spanish class. Even though this is most students’ first experience with learning another language, the class is encouraged to discuss topics entirely in Spanish as much as possible. It’s a Monday morning, and the lesson of the day has to do with descriptions of events, and deeper responses to, “How are you?” conversation starters, beyond the typical, “I’m well, thanks. How are you?”)

Profesora: “¿Quien puede decir como fue su fin de semana?” *Who can tell how their weekend went?*

(A student, whose “Spanish name” is Patricio, volunteers.)

Patricio: “Este fin de semana no fue bien, porque mi papa esta enfermo.” *This weekend did not go well, because my dad is sick.*

(At least, this is what he tries to say. However:)

Profesora: “Your potato is sick?”

(The class shared a laugh and Patricio turned an embarrassed, pink shade as the teacher took this opportunity to explain the importance of certain punctuations, specifically the accent, indicating emphasis. Patricio, trying for papá [father], instead emphasizing the first syllable [PA-pa], accidentally called his father a potato.)

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