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Don’t Waste Your Breathalyzer

, , , | Right | September 1, 2020

I’m working at the front desk of a smallish hotel. Most of our holiday-makers are lovely people, including this one: a single traveler in his early sixties. His only fault is that he is perpetually drunk. The following conversation occurs on the day prior to his departure.

Client: *Speaking in a slur* “Hello, my friend. This might be a silly request. But do you have any of these balloons?”

Me: “Balloons?”

Client: “Yes, these balloons the police have when they stop you on the road and you have to blow into them, so they can see how much alcohol you had.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but not even the pharmacies sell those, because in Spain it would be illegal to have them — apart from the police, that is.”

Client: “I would have thought so. What a shame. It’s because I was talking to my wife and my daughter just a minute ago, and they said that I was drunk. But I’m not drunk. So I only wanted to know how much I’ve had.”

Me: “Well, unfortunately, as I’ve said, we are not allowed to have any breathalyzers.”

The client then stares at me for about ten seconds until he starts to speak again.

Client: “So, you think that I’m drunk?”

Me: *Telling a white lie* “Of course not. You may have had a beer or two. But you’re definitely not drunk.”

He then reaches across the front desk, hugs me, and says:

Client: “Thank you very much. You are a great honorable worker and a good friend.”

Then he started meandering toward the exit, trying to keep his balance.

He Was Watching “The Danish Girl”

, , , , | Right | August 12, 2020

I’m working at the reception of a smallish hotel on the beautiful island of Mallorca, just six hours by ferry from Barcelona. The following interaction is with a couple who are in their mid-sixties:

Guest: “I can’t log on to the free WiFi. Can you help me?”

Me: “Of course I can. Just give me your laptop.”

I put in the password and connect him to the Internet, his wife all the time eagerly looking over his shoulder. Up comes the last page he had visited, and it is “Busty Danish Teens.” The man turns bright red and slams his laptop shut.

Guest: “Thank you.” 

Guest’s Wife: *Glaring at him* “What was that?” 

Guest: “We’ll talk about it later.”

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

, , , | Working | July 16, 2020

I live in a rural village on the edge of a tourist area. This means there’s a lot of competition among the bars and restaurants during the season, but most of them close come winter.

There is one nearby run by a local man and his British wife. There are a number of ex-pats living locally and, as it stays open all year round and the food is pretty good, that may explain why their customer service is so poor; there aren’t many other options for half of the year. It’s common for it to take an hour to ninety minutes for food to arrive; deliberate on their part, we’ve learned, as they figure you’ll spend money on drinks while you’re waiting.

Even if you ask for food at a particular time, it will be late. Some friends of ours booked a birthday dinner at 7:00 pm and got their food at 8:45 pm.

The following is a pretty typical example of what happens every time we visit.

Us: “Could we have one fish and chips, please, one chicken burger, and a lasagne?”

Owner: “We don’t have any fish; [Husband] has gone to do the shopping but I don’t know if he’ll bring any back.”

Us: “Okay, make that a cheeseburger and chips instead, then, please.”

Owner: “We’ve only got one bread roll left. So you can’t have a chicken burger and a cheeseburger. Also, I haven’t made any lasagne.”

Us: “Okay. How about a cheeseburger but without the bread roll; just chips and salad?”

Owner: “I can do that but it will be the same price.”

Us: “That’s fine.”

Two minutes later:

Owner: “I don’t have any burgers.”

Us: “You know what? Just tell us what you do have, and we’ll decide from there.”

If there was anywhere else open within a half-hour drive, we’d go there.

Getting It All In Español, Part 4

, , , , | Right | June 22, 2020

My wife and I are on a coach tour in Spain. We are at the bar in our hotel for the night in a town that is a bit off of the beaten track. My Spanish isn’t very good but I know a few words. 

Another member of the tour is ordering at the bar. This member has been a bit loud and obnoxious.

Tourist: “Can I have two beers?”

The barman answers in Spanish. My Spanish isn’t good but I work out that he’s saying something about not speaking English.

Tourist: “I don’t understand Spanish. Can I have two beers?”

The barman repeats what he previously said.

Me: *To the tourist* “I think he’s saying that he doesn’t understand English.”

Tourist: *To me* “Oh, okay.”

The tourist turns to the barman, in English, but putting on a Spanish accent.

Tourist: “TWO… BEERS… PLEASE!”

The barman repeats what he previously said, again.

Me: *To the tourist* “To ask for two beers in Spanish, you need to say—”

Tourist: *Cutting me off* “Oh, we haven’t got time to learn a different language!”

The tourist storms off. I turn to the barman and speak in broken Spanish.

Me: “One coffee and one beer, please.”

Barman: *In perfect English* “One coffee and one beer coming up. Is there anything else?”

I just burst into fits of laughter and bought the barman a drink.

Getting It All In Español, Part 3
Getting It All In Español, Part 2
Getting It All In Español

Why DID They Have Belly Buttons?

, , , , | Learning | May 23, 2020

I’m a private English tutor in Spain, and from time to time I help my students with other subjects they are also being taught in English.

During an intense lesson in science and the reproductive system:

Me: “So, do you remember what we said about Adam and Eve, and why they have a belly button?”

Student: “Yes, I do. I also asked about it in religion class.”

Me: “Oh, really? And what did they say?”

Student: “The nun kicked me out!”

I high-fived him. Hard not to laugh! Question authority, little man!