Lost in Translation
Just when I feel that my entire life is destined to be like Rat’s in “Pearls Before Swine”, I realise that maybe I’m the odd one out. Despite the fact that it’s not used too often, the washing machine/dryer decided to give up the ghost. We call the shop to get it seen to. It is, after all, still under warranty.
The repair man arrives and I begin to panic just as I open the door. I realise, you see, that I am not quite sure how to explain things in French. While I can do simple things like order beer and say “Ooh-la-la!”, I have not yet mastered enough vocabulary to do much else. He can not speak or understand a single word of English (I am a bit skeptical about this to be honest) and so I show him to the bathroom and point at the offending white-good.
“Ne functionnez pas” (Literally “Does not work”) I said. He nodded so I suppose I have not insulted him.
As he pulls and grunts at the machine, I make a coffee. By the time the kettle had boiled, I find him kneeling in front of the machine with a pleased look on his face. Figuring he was not praying for inspiration, I give him what I hope is an inquisitive look and say, “Tout ok?”. (“Do you toot well?”)
He nods, beaming even more. I try to ask what the problem is and he bursts into a volley of energetic French expressions and hand waving that is beyond me.
I shake my head and his smile wanes a little as he realises that his performance is not being appreciated.
He pauses and says “A-Ha!”
I look at him. He points at the machine and says, “Grunt, Hnnr, phew, Pfft!” (“The machine had a very heavy load and this caused the drum to be mis-aligned”). He throws his hands up theatrically.
“Floof, spurk, hur, hur” (“All I needed to do was re-align the drum and calibrate things so that it is now as good as new”) He rotates his arms to prove the point.
Pointing to it, he continues, “Grunt! grunt! Hmm” (“These sort of machines are rather sensitive to the weight of the clothes, so might I recommend that you carefully consider how many items to wash at the same time”)
“Grrr! Fish! Fish!” (“While the manufacturer claims that you can dry 5 kilos worth of clothes, we do tell our customers that 3 kilos is a more reasonable weight for the dryer”)
I nod and smile.
For so many reasons.
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