Most, 95% say, of the Fairway bakery staff speaks Spanish. Of those Spanish speakers, maybe 3 people (out of 70) speak enough English to have a conversation. I don't speak Spanish. I speak fluent French which comes in handy an over-estimated ten times annually. The delivery drivers at Amy's Bread were African and they all spoke a French patois but they understood my French which made it easy to communicate with them as they spoke little English. The screaming chef I worked under at the Ritz Carlton was from France. I never let him know I could understand every word he dictated to his sous chef who was the only one he would give helpful hints on how to handle his antiquated formulas thus making it possible for me to figure them out when it came to my turn to make them. One day he started screaming obscenities in French and I dropped the egg I was separating on the floor. Busted! That's when he asked if I spoke French, in French and I fessed up to my language skills.
If I played my cards better in college, I would have double majored in Spanish and French but alas I took classes like 'Floral Arranging' and 'Women, Work and Family' instead. I was able to make my own floral arrangements for my wedding reception but otherwise my elective choices have proven to be pretty useless.
My day is spent playing a never ending game of charades in which I'm allowed to talk but no one understands me. It is mentally exhausting! When I lived in France, I became fluent pretty quickly only because I love to talk and I couldn't stand around mute. I'm hoping this acquisition process works in a similar fashion at Fairway. Fluent by next month!
After a long day at work, I come home and get to play the same game with my daughter who is little by little learning to talk. She knows the basics and she is starting to put them together into sentences. My husband has a thick Irish accent which most people can't understand. Josie pulls words from his brogue and pairs them with mine to make her own language. For instance, no one 'leaves' or 'is gone, they are 'away'. Josie spends endless amounts of time saying 'Mommy away,' 'Daddy away,' 'milk away,' 'fuck (that's fork) away.' Kevin is trying to teach her to say 'fork away off' but, thank God, it's not taking. Yesterday she said 'Mommy away work push.' Which translates to 'Mommy is away to work for push.' 'Push' is what Josie calls money. She has a piggy bank that counts the change as you 'push' it through the slot. When she began to understand, we would call her over to help us 'push' the coins into the bank. Now she raids our pockets for push so she can fill her bank. Good thing too, as that's the only way she's going to save for college!
The language acqusition at the bakery works much the same as Josie's. Our health inspection was last week and every food item had to be accurately labeled and dated. While checking the cooler to make sure this was taken care of, I noticed a bin of 'hold dough' from March 9th. I was trying to figure out what we were holding the dough for when it dawned on me. It should have read 'old dough,' as in 'pate fermente,' as in the starter dough for one of the formulas. It made me chuckle at the same time as it warmed my heart to know they were trying so hard to please. It took me back to the time I found a tub of 'robster bisque' at the Ritz Carlton. The Asian intern had labeled the lobster soup he made earlier that day. I also thought back to the time I informed my French host family that my friend was off fucking their daughter. I meant to say he was kissing her and I meant it as a joke but my mispronunciation changed 'bisou' to 'baiser' and everyone gasped. As least I can sympathize with my new Mexican friends.