Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In Which I Pretend I'm Bilingual.


Before the story begins, you need to understand that the Hispanic population of this area is maybe 2%. Then there's a group of migrant farm workers from Mexico who move from the strawberry farm to the pumpkin patch to the turkey farm, and probably a few places in between. And then there's my lawn service, owned by a guy innocently named Melvin. Melvin has an all Mexican lawn crew. And they work very hard.

Most of my lawn looks great. But, this year, our lawn service has been mowing the 20 foot square area just outside the kitchen with a weed wacker. It's not going all that well. Ryan has been taking Spanish in school, so I asked him if he could look up a couple of words and speak to the lawn service on my behalf. Nothing doing, responded Ryan, unless I wanted him to ask them if they sing well or where the library is. Glad to see that high school language courses are as useful as ever. (I took 6 years of French. I could introduce my dog to you, even now, and tell you that he is a good dog. Also a highly useful skill, don't you think?)

So, it was up to me and my dictionary to figure out how to speak to the nice Mexican man.

Hola! (I have this one down pat.)
No habla Espanol! (I know this one, too. Not for nothing I spent the summer of 1975 in California.)

Then it got tricky.
Tiene una cortadora de cesped pequena? (This should mean "Do you have a small lawn mower?") Evidently the sentence was understandable, because he nodded vigorouisly and said something enthusiastic.
Por favor, usa a la cortadora de cesped en esta area? (Pointing at the 20x20 area, and hoping that this did approximately translate to "Please use the small mower here."). He responded, "Si, Senora," trotted off, and came back with a hand mower, beaming. "Bueno!" I cheered, giving him the thumbs up sign.

Then he pointed at Thor and said something fast and long and Spanish. "Esta Thor!" I chirped. "Esta Bueno!"

"Good Bye, and Gracias!" I added. So my weedy little piece of lawn got mowed properly, and I pretended I could bumble through a tiny Spanish conversation.

13 comments:

Pam said...

Somehow I managed to get through high school without taking a foreign language. Though, I did manage to take "Camping and Float-tripping".

gMarie said...

I took many years of French and I'm not positive I could introduce my dogs or say they were good :)

Glad you got the lawn mowed properly. g

ps -my word verification is 'formi' isn't that italian for cheese?

rottrover said...

Muy bien!

Big Dude said...

Good job

Mango said...

Well done!

Mango Momma

altadenahiker said...

Hahahaha. Mine were weed whacking the grass, too. What's up with that?

Six years of French, here. And in Paris, perhaps my most famous line was to ask, at an impressive graveyard (translation), Who lives in this garden of the dead?

Claire S. said...

So, did we ALL take 6 years of something in school ? with no effect ? LOL Mine was French, grades 4-10 with not much to show for it till I moved to Montreal and worked at my current company for 10 years - at which point said company offered some of us french classes - with a teacher who has us speak 'real' conversations and read current newspaper articles. At least it's useful stuff - I've made progress but bilingualism is a LONG way away.

One thing I've learned is everyone appreciates your attempt to speak their language - even if you butcher it, it's all good :-)

Linda said...

Nine years of French here (I can even read the cereal box) but I'd need Arabic to converse with the lawn service here......if there were such a thing.

Benny and Lily said...

BOL, funny...
Benny & Lily

El'bow and Hauwii said...

hahahaha this was funny

Kissslobbers
El'bow & Hauwii

SissySees said...

Marjie, I want to be you when I grow up. What a fun story with a perfect (Thor!) ending. Who isn't happy with a lawn service that respects the big guy?

Mickle in NZ said...

Hooray for the great, good ending.

Confession - I used to know music, as a language, as a clarinet and alto saxophone player, and all the theory and all the Italian terms too. I even have the NZ University Entrance qualification in Music.

Despite this I can no longer read music. My clarinet and alto saxophone are still here with me - they live in the bedroom closet/wardrobe.

I regret having forgotten the Music language - but I think my clinging onto that alto saxophone says a lot ......

My lawn service bloke is doing a wonderful job to the extent that I want him to clear up a bit more.

Sending care and love to you and Thor, and chilled down huggles to you all,

Michelle and Ol' Zebby Cat (actual Zebby cat age unknown),
xxxxxxxxxxx and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sue said...

Good job. Fortunately Rob is fluent in Spanish so when the roofing crew was here he could complain about the noise in terms they understood.