Sunday, September 30, 2018

The silver lining of being lost in a foreign language

That language gap can sometimes be hilarious, and other times catastrophic. When I first landed in Japan, speaking nothing of the native tongue, I remember having lunch and taking the wonderful waitress outside the store to point at the plastic bowl in the window I would like to order. She smiled, nodded, and explained to a (somewhat surprised) real waitress what it was I was looking for lunch. She then rejoined her family. And I felt a little bit of a wombat. The language barrier is real but the communication not so much. I still got lunch, and also, realized how kind people can be.

And then there's the story of my friends ordering pizza. But getting the number wrong. Repeating the order and hanging up. The pizza always arrived but the family they were calling by accident was, understandably, becoming a little tired of taking the order and passing it on to the delivery place. Living in a foreign language can be an interesting experience, especially one you don't really realize the immersion.

And then we lost the boss last week. Placed in a car to come to the hotel the driver hadn't received the updated message. And didn't speak English. And no one in the car spoke Japanese (except the driver obviously). And so, an hour outside Tokyo, he realized things were't quite going to plan. As I had realized, waiting at the hotel to pick him up. Making the best of the situation I decided to take the opportunity to have a little breakfast, as one does. And there, at the table next to me, was Alice Cooper having a coffee. There is always a silver lining...