Friday, May 25, 2012

Que Sabrosa, Gracias!

#59:  Eat at a Spanish restaurant and speak no English while there. 

When I'm speaking Spanish at work, native speakers sometimes will compliment me.  "Oh, your Spanish is really good, Virginia!" I know that I understand better than I speak, and sometimes I lack the confidence.  Often I make a joke that I'm really good at "housing Spanish", if it has to do with leases and rent, I'll totally rock it.  But put me in a restaurant and I'd be lost.

Well, I can't make that joke anymore.  Yesterday was a late lunch day, with a to-do list as long as my arm. Finally at almost 2pm I was so hungry I might eat anything. So I grabbed my keys and said to Jose, my maintenance man, "I'm going to Maria's Kitchen for some lunch."  I knew what I wanted to do, but Jose insisted on walking down there with me.  Since work isn't in the greatest of neighborhoods, I acquiesced.  But once we got to the restaurant, as we crossed the threshold I entered a different world.  One that I speak no English.  Before Jose could even order for me, I went to the counter and the lady behind it said hello, what can I get you?  And without much thought, I said "Good afternoon.  Do you have any pernil today?"  "She said that she did, and I said "I'd like that please."  She asked if it was for here.  Now, here's where I ran into my first roadblock, I had no idea how to say "to go"  or "takeaway."    Well, if I was in Spain or Mexico, I'd have to make myself understood, right?  Figure it out, or go hungry.  So I did.  It wasn't perfect:   "I take to the office."  She understood, and I got my to-go box.  She asked if I wanted rice, and I said "Of course, and some beans too."  (Good Lord, how I love rice and beans!!!)  I grabbed a Pepsi from the cooler, and Jose was picking out some ribs.  I told the woman that I'd be picking up whatever he was picking out as well.  She rang up my order, bagged it up and then took my money, and I said "this is for you" and handed her a tip.  Off we go, mission accomplished!

Only when I got outside did Jose tell me....."she asked you if you wanted yellow or white rice, and you just said "yes."  So she took a guess, hope you like white."  Oops.  I didn't hear her say that, it was pretty loud in there.  But look!  I procured food using the Spanish language!

Important lesson:  the language doesn't need to be perfect.  I trip over that a lot.  She got the jist of what I was saying, and I got the food.  With time and practice, it'll get easier.

Next time, I'll get a different food.  Pernil is my favorite and they make a mean one, but I already know how to say it.


Sara Marks said...

This totally makes me want to do the Day Zero thing!

Sara Marks said...

This makes me want to do the Day Zero project!