|I had to pop into the post office the other day to mail off a few packages and got behind a Hispanic couple that had wanted to rent a post office box. This is the following conversation that took place:
Clerk: Hi, may I help you?
Hispanic male: Ola'! We want rent box?
Clerk: I'm sorry. You want to send a box?
Hisp male: Si. We want to box.
Clerk in a slightly louder voice: I'm sorry. Where do you want to send the box? Do you have the box packaged already?
With that, the slightly confused couple looked at each other, grinned widely and the female said, "Box."
The clerk, obviously already having a bad day said in a still LOUDER voice: Where do you want to send the box?
Couple: Si. (smiling and nodding their heads)
Clerk absolutely screaming at this point: WHERE DO YOU WANT TO SEND THE BOX? DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? WHERE IS THE BOX GOING?
Hisp male: Ooooh. Here. (And with that he handed over the P.O. box rental application.)
The clerk now understood that he didn't want to send a box, he wanted to rent a box and walked away in a snit to get the process started. The couple began having a conversation in Spanish and I didn't understand any of what they were saying until the man turned around and caught my eye. He looked at me thoughtfully for a second and said, "Why was that lady yelling at me? I no hard of hearing? I just want box."
I just shrugged my shoulders because I have been guilty of that, too. Has that ever happened to you? Have you tried to communicate with someone that speaks another language and found yourself almost yelling at them because they just don't get what you're saying?
Language barriers can be funny and frustrating at the same time.