Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Language Barriers

Yumm. No matter what it's called . . .
We live in Canada.
French and English are spoken here.
Quite often in the same sentence.
But that doesn’t mean that all of us speak both languages fluently.
Or at all.
Oh, and my second son, Erik, worked at the local Sobey’s grocery store.
I realize that these facts seem to be irrelevant.
Wait for it . . .
It was a normal day at work.
Erik, one of the numerous stock boys, had spent the day uncrating merchandise.
Stocking shelves.
Packing groceries.
And helping customers find things.
Sometimes, this last duty was the most demanding. And amusing.
A woman had been wandering up and down the soft drink aisle for several minutes.
And had enlisted the aid of at least one other stock boy and, finally, the store manager.
She was growing impatient and a trifle red-faced.
Erik set down the box he was carrying and went over to see if he could help.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” the manager was saying. “We simply don’t carry that kind.”
“I got it here!” the woman burst out. “The last time I was in this store! Right in this aisle!”
The manager shook his head. “I’m afraid you’re mistaken, Ma’am,” he said quietly. “We’ve never carried that.”
“Young man! I took it right out of this aisle. Right here!” she pointed. “See? There with all of the grape juice.”
The manager followed the pointing finger. Then shook his head. “I’m sorry, Ma’am,” he said. “Grape juice is all we carry. We have no Raisin juice.”
The woman dropped her arm and frowned. “Are you telling me I’m stupid?”
“No, Ma’am, no!” the manager was quick to disagree. “I just think you may be mistaken. Something that happens to all of us. Me, in particular!” He smiled.
Erik stopped beside them. “Anything I can help with?”
The manager looked at him. “This customer is looking for some Raisin juice,” he said. “I’ve told her we don’t carry it.”
The woman glared at him, then turned to Erik. “And I’ve told him that I got it here,” she said stoutly. “Right here! Raisin juice!”
Erik looked at both of them for a moment. Then he reached out and turned around one of the Grape juice boxes.
‘Raisin’ was plainly visible on the label.
‘Raisin’ is French for ‘grape’. Just FYI.
Both of them stared at it.
“Oh,” the manager said.
“That’s it!” the customer said happily, grabbing the box and departing.
The manager looked at Erik and shrugged.
“Who knew?” he said.
Who indeed.

16 comments:

  1. Siiiiiiigh. I recall only too well customers like that...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you can definitely speak from experience!

      Delete
  2. I hope Erik got a promotion and a huge pay raise! I was wondering where this was going at the beginning and then even with the raisin juice (was thinking "ew" myself). Great story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I could think when he was telling the story was: How would they get juice from a raisin? Aren't they, by definition, rather . . . ummm . . . juice-less?

      Delete
  3. I used to enjoy getting my tenth grade French teacher exasperated. I'd pronounce all the French words by sounding them out Anglo-style. For example, Spinach was pronounced 'Eppinnards.' Grapes were 'raisins.' Orange juice was 'Juss-duh-oranges.' He would go crazy. Of course we all know that's why I did it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HeeHee! I can SO see you doing it! And then I had to follow you through those same classes. Sigh.

      Delete
    2. Hahaha - hopefully the teachers were open-minded when little sister came along!

      Delete
  4. What a fun story. EriK must have loved that moment when he got to turn around the bottle of grape juice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was definitely a 'Ta-Da!' moment. :)

      Delete
  5. I shall forever remember that raisin is French for grape. I hated my French lessons at school, mostly because of the teacher, so I never learned much French. I remember helping customers find stuff when I was injured and unable to man the checkout. I really enjoyed it as I knew the store inside out, so we could find things quickly, then there'd be time for chatting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was the best part about working in a store. The chatting! :)

      Delete
  6. I had to laugh as soon as I hit the part where the woman said raisin juice :) I knew right away what the problem was there :) Great story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm. They could probably use you at our neighbourhood Sobey's. Want a job? :)

      Delete
  7. Great story! I wonder if that lady ever figured it out?

    (How did I miss this post? Will have to check your listing more carefully!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure if she knew WHY it said 'raisin' on one side and 'grape' on the other. She only knew it did! :)

      Delete
  8. Ah the miseries of a bilingual country.

    ReplyDelete

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