Thursday, January 25, 2007

Please don't talk to me.

I volunteered yesterday afternoon after walking very slowly and carefully through the snow/ice/pooped filled sidewalks to the store which is located in town. Normally, there are 2 volunteers plus me. I usually sit in the corner and watch or chat with the other volunteers or stack items on the shelves or wrap gifts or ring up items for customers. I try not to interact with the customers since they scare me. Friendly, aren't I?

Yesterday, one of the volunteers couldn't make it so it was just me and Anne. I think she was a little nervous because she knew she couldn't run out to grab a pack of smokes and leave me alone in the store nor did I know how to help her close up business before we left for the evening. I told her that it would be alright if she quickly needed to run out (she never did) and also reassured her that I could quickly learn how to help close up the cash register and take care of business before we left. She asked me if I would be okay counting the money from the cash register. Of course...but can I count in English otherwise we'll be here until midnight?

A couple walked in and the gentleman was asking question after question about commerce equitable (Fair Trade) and what it is we do and sell. Anne answered all his questions as I stood there and smiled. The phone than rang and she answered it and then went in the back office to help the caller, leaving me in the store with this gentleman of many questions. I looked at him and was thinking/praying, "Please don't ask me a question. Please don't ask me a question." And then he turns around and faces me and...asked me a question. Oy vey. I immediately respond: "Sorry, I don't speak very good French." That interested him even more than the purpose of our store.

Another customer approached me about some buying some items as gifts. Scared as I was, I calmly helped her. While Anne and I were wrapping her gifts, Anne asks me for du film a bulles. Um, sorry, but I don't understand. I repeat and repeat to her, in front of the customer. She couldn't just scootch around me and grab it herself? After I finally figure out that it was "bubble-wrap" she was asking for, I look at her, like an idiot, and tell her that the words are pretty much the same in English. Duh.


barbara said...

Hi Emily,
Oh boy, isn't life just " hit or miss", overseas ? I have been through it too, in the first years !
I was "structured" in those times; turned my tongue around a lot before speaking.When it was possible !!
Of course, this goes away. We make mistakes; thats OK .
I survived :) and you will too .

You will be learning a lot of things. It's nice that you volunteer. You will meet people, and thats good for language skills.

Hang in there !

African Kelli said...

Sounds like you got the hang of it no problem!

Sam said...

Hi there...I completely understand. My french language class is very focused on oral exercises, and we are taught in french by a teacher who randomly picks someone out to illustrate the lesson. There is no hiding. BTW: thank you for stopping by my blogging world. My email is I would love to practice and correspond but I didn't find your email in the comment you left. Best of luck with your new life in France.

Sara said...

forcing yourself is the way to go! i dont mind sounding stupid with most people here but i still hate giving lab tours to college and high school students and thinking that they must wonder how this idiot is a scientist.