Wednesday 9 June 2010

Shop Girl in Washington DC

Washington DC is clean.
It’s so clean I’m tempted to drop litter just to test whether a gnome pops out of somewhere to pick it up.
So far I’ve resisted because I’m concerned the gnome may issue a million dollar fine.
We’ve been staying with my sister-in law (to be), her husband and their 3 year old son.
I was so nervous about meeting them that I couldn’t eat my free packet of pretzels on the plane.
I remained nervous the day after our arrival as the immensity of our trip hit me.
Speaking Spanish felt as uncomfortable as the ulcer I’d developed on my tongue and I worried my new nephew would sense my fear and attack me with a plastic Star Wars laser beam.
Of course that initial anxiety is long goneand has been replaced with a good feeling.
I love being part of this new family. It’s so special hearing this smiley child say, ‘Hasta mañana tios’ (‘See you tomorrow uncle and auntie’) to me and the Fiance.
Of course, as an Auntie I feel it’s my duty to teach him proper English.
Eating out recently, I found it hilarious that the American waiter couldn’t understand me when I asked for a glass of water. A table of Colombians and I, born and raised in England speaking English, was the only one who couldn’t be understood
“Water,” I said, again, in my best Queen’s English.
“Wa- Wa- Waaat?” the waiter replied.
“Water,” I repeated.
Still nothing.
“Warra,” my little nephew says, later.
“No, WA-TER.”
“Warra,” he says, giggling.
I shall not give in. Nor, daresay, will he.
Slowly I will introduce ‘pavement’ ‘lift’ and ‘rubbish’ to his vocabulary.
Then I’ll do the same with Spanish from Spain, because with so much Colombian slang around me, I don’t know what’s going on.
A bit of Catalan might not go amiss either.
I’m only teasing really, hearing American accents everywhere makes me feel like I’m in a film.
They’re so friendly too.
In fact, I can’t get over how chirpy they are when they’re working.
Shop assistants and waiters all introducing themselves and wishing you the greatest day of your life, even when you are the hundredth person they’ve served that morning.
What are they all on? I wonder.
As Shop Girl such chirpiness was reserved for special occasions and not for each and every customer.
Then again, I never expected a massive tip.
Is it too late to hope for one now?
I mean, obviously I want you to have a super dooper day!


Anonymous said...

I just love your style Emily. It's so clear and uncluttered and fresh.

Anonymous said...

Such a cute video! I've gotta give it a go :)

I'm American and work for a water company, and they can't even understand me when I say water sometimes, which is a pain in the neck, really, since my work email address contains the word "water", and 9 times out of 10, I have to spell it out to be understood. Different parts of the country say it differently, emphasizing various parts of it.

Have fun exploring the nation's capital and visiting your fiance's family!

Joanna said...

Oh my goodness, it's so funny you told the water story - when I moved here 11 years ago from NZ, my first week here, I was in a restaurant and asked for some water. The waitress looked at me rather funny and said, "Uuuhhh is that some kind of alcohol??" So then I had to do a fake American accent and she understood. So silly! Have fun here!

Shop Girl said...

Thanks Angela! :)

Skye, that would drive me insane!!!Can't u change it to... um.. transparent liquid stuff...

Joanna, my brother got so bored of people not understanding him that now, when he's in the US, he says the whole food order in English and then says 'and some AGUA..'


N.L. Lumiere said...

"Pavement" does exist in American, but it means the road or street. And a cookie is a biscuit. (I'm bilingual, you see).
Will you be blogging from Columbia or are you coming back?

Shop Girl said...

I will definitely be blogging from Colombia! I better get a move on! ... X