It's Madhouse this week and I haven't participated for a couple of weeks so here goes. Not really a hero, but perhaps a role model of sorts. I must admit that work and schedules have left me time poor so there's a tenuous link here:
I have no aptitude for languages. Seriously. Apparently as a 14 year old I showed some promise in French class for intonation and syntax tempered somewhat by my crush for Swiss teacher Mr Christie but due to my constant moving from one school to another and the bizarrely inconsistent curriculum interstate, I never pursued French as a language. I did once enter into an unwanted conversation with a french speaking Genevan because I asked for two strawberry ice creams in such perfect French that he thought I was a local. Big mistake, don't get it too perfect because the jig is soon up when they realise you can only speak essential phrases.
Language is a weird thing and I've been fortunate through the blog to meet people who speak, one, two, sometimes three or more languages. Ted from Buen Viaje is a Taiwanese American who's currently learning Spanish, Quickroute is an Irishman with an Argentinian wife, Ropi speaks English more perfectly than he realises and even corrects my grammar, Candie speaks Italian, French and English, Renee French and English, Gaye at least Turkish and English, Ces, well I'm not sure what Phillipino language but probably more than one, Ebony the sweetest little Finnish girl with a wonderful command of English (and I suspect other languages that she doesn't let on!) I'm sure there are many more who are bi-lingual without my being aware.
Nup, all I do is speak English . . Australian English . . far from perfect.
One thing I have learned though, is the difficulty of understanding your second language when colloquialisms appear. It's one thing to learn the grammatical nuances of a language but I have undying admiration for those who catch on to the colloquialisms . . .in fact young Ropi and I have the odd fall out over colloquialisms. We mistake each other for being critical when in fact we are joking . .it's so, so, easy to do. Now here's the tenuous link, not so much because this man speaks more than one language, he doesn't but he does speak a 'different' language to me and most of his workmates.
There's a guy at work . . . he has an astute limp due to cerebral palsy, which has affected his legs, his hips propel one leg in front of the other, but he manages and has an amazing if not a little 'blue' turn of phrase. He's rough, he's friendly, he calls a spade a fucking shovel. This is important because it affects the way people 'think' and interact with him. He might as well be a foreigner.
He's the sort of guy that my boss comes over and asks "Is he annoying you . .? " as if he has some intellectual disability or there's some communication difficulty or language barrier. I think after 40 years of living with his affliction, he's quite comfortable in taking liberties and knowing that nobody's going to challenge him.
I like Rick. He's one of the few who are friendly and speak to me each day and he's very funny. He tells me what he's cooked for lunch and the combinations are a little odd . .banana, ham and honey toasted sandwiches! Lost me at the Banana! He has an interest in horses but rather brutal and economic as it's purely from the racing scene and is a part owner in three would-be money-earners so it's not unusual for him to say . ."Helen, come and look at my filly . . look at the legs on this girl!" Of course, we're looking at the latest 2 year old hopeful for the Golden Slipper. He's unafraid to voice his opinion or to ask questions . .someting NOBODY has done in my four weeks of working there. . not one person has asked me what I'm doing.
As he bumps his wobbly and lop-sided way from his desk to the kitchen, he pops his head over my partition and passes gems that you'd think could only be heard on a weird website for Australianisms:
"So, you got ankle biters?"In a workplace of pleasant but largely uncharismatic people, he's very refreshing. Sweet, obnoxious and flirty . . he's regarded as 'old school' by the younglings but I rather like him.
"What does your old man do for a crust?"
"Time for me to rack off and get a banana"
"Sold a ripper of a block for a motzah just now"
"Bought a fillly the other day, one run and she's rooted"
"If you want us to buy your land, you'll have to come across"
"God the train fanged past me this morning and I missed it"
"Hooroo . .I was in early so now I'm on the bus"
"Scored the trifecta with that one!"
"Had a good bash on the weekend, how about you"
"Ok time to do a runner and get a sanger on the barbie"
"Get a gander at me gourmet sarnies . . ham . .cheese . .banana and honey!" (gag)
If you have a clue what he's saying and English isn't your first language, I'd love to know what you make of this . . .if you don't, then walk a mile in the shoes of the millions of migrants who live here and have to understand conversations like this!
Don't worry my multilingual friends, you will get your revenge. I will travel and you will make total fun of me . .maybe I should develop a 'sympathy' limp!
And as for Rick. . .well when this assignment is over, I probably won't see him again but whilst he's not probably a role model, he's a little hero and definitely one of those people who makes an impression and I'll let him know before we part.