Do you speak English?

On the way to the park, Maxim and I stopped by for a cup of coffee in Starbucks. I was waiting for my turn in queue, while I was standing right behind a woman, who was flipping through a semi-sick pocket book.

Suddenly, she was asked to step aside and let me order. I was puzzled. Only than I realized that she wasn’t here for a coffee. She was holding a multi-language phrase-book, looking for a word.

Starbucks employee asked me if I speak any languages except for English and Greek (those they’ve already tried and they didn’t work), and if I could help out the woman. I looked at her. She looked very European. Maybe German. Maybe Swiss. Or something like that.

She spoke first. I guess it was something short like a ‘Hello’ or something. But it sounded very Asian. Like Chinese or maybe even Korean. I was puzzled. I tried greeting her in a bunch of languages (Russian, Bulgarian, English, Greek, German, French, Spanish), but none of them rang a bell.

She said something else, but I couldn’t even understand which language she was speaking. Not even close. It was like nothing I’ve heard before. I guess I have to brush up on world languages – my knowledge is very outdated.

Anyway, with no success, we both turned bac to the phrase-book. It had like six or seven languages. It was totally disorganized – words and phrases from different areas of life were just listed without any particular order one after another.

She flipped a few more pages, scrolled with her index finger, and pointed to some word, which had few Latin letters in it. Moved her finger to the right, to the column with English, where the translation was. The word was ‘crane-operator’. “Crane-operator?” I asked her. Now she looked very puzzled. I said “Building?”. She didn’t understand. I looked back at the phrase book, but didn’t find any other words related to building and construction.

She waved her hands like a crane. Than she showed something like a tall building. Or maybe I was misinterpretting it. I looked around. Through one of the windows I saw the sign of Zavos Group office. Zavos Group, as far as I know, are somehow related to buildings and constructors. I pointed to that direction. The woman smiled in apprecciation and disappeared in the building across the road.

Starbucks employee told me that she was standing there for about half an hour, flipping the pages of the phrase-book, pointing to words with totally different meanings. Noone could make any sense out of it. I am not sure I succeded either.

I still feel kind of weird. On one hand, the whole episode was somewhat funny – waving hands, pointing to things, speaking slower and louder, smiling, confusing. On the other hand, I feel pity for that woman. She is lost and she doesn’t speak any of the local languages – not the best situation to find yourself in.

Hopefully she made to wherever she was heading. Hopefully there is someone who can help her better…

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