Imagine walking into the grocery store to see 2 people playing an intense game of charades. One of which is a woman who works for the store yelling (YELLing) in the local language while the other is miming out someone vigorously mopping the floor, followed by several seconds of silent staring (and judging: “learn the language if you’re going to come to this country!” – “I’m never picking you for a charades partner!”) at each other. Well, had you stumbled into the Valintatalo on Brahenkatu today, that’s exactly what you would have witnessed. (sorry you missed it, aren’t you?)
Britt and I are preparing for our first visiter (yay!) and we needed soap for mopping the floor, so off to Valintatalo I went. It’s very rare that I find myself needing help and not able to find anyone who speaks english, but it just so happened that today, the english speakers were shopping somewhere else.
I greeted and asked the woman for help in Finnish, and then proceeded to mime out mopping the floor while saying the word for soap. Silence. She just intensely stared at me as if trying to telepathically receive the message I was trying to give her, so I stared right back at her all the while thinking, “SOAP! MOP! FLOOR!” After no response in 30 (long) seconds, I led her over to the cleaning isle where I stomped on the floor and mimed out mopping while pointing at the soap and shrugging my shoulders. This is where the yelling started, and I’m pretty sure she was yelling in the same manner that people yell when they’re trying to prove a point to an incompetent listener. “I can hear you, I just don’t understand!!”
The yelling escalated until a friendly looking gentleman popped his head around the corner to see what all the hub-bub was about. She asked him if he spoke any english (that much I understood), and he shook his head no. Everything would have been fine had the woman not pointed at each and every soap, trying to get me to just pick one already and leave. So, that’s what I did. I just picked the cheapest one mimed pouring it on the floor while scrubbing on my hands and knees and she got down on the floor with me (I guess to help out) then smacked the floor, walls and shelves. Okay! All-purpose cleaner. We exchanged about 3 kittos’ (thank you’s) each (both glad to have gotten through this) and off I went. The woman at the cash register didn’t speak english either, so I didn’t get a confirmation on the soap.
Nevertheless, it worked great and now our apartment is spic-n-span and ready for visitors!!
2 thoughts on “3 words. 1st word, 1 syllable.”
Oh dear! Sometime it is really hard. I have had similar experience in Italy where there are alot of people who don’t speak English. It iincredibly frustrating at the time, but hilarious when you tell all your friends about it. I can see the humour from here.