Godbey: What was that you said?

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

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By Jack Godbey


There’s no doubt that language can be a barrier between two people trying to understand each other. I was reminded of this recently when I went out to indulge in some Chinese food. Normally, there’s not much for me to talk about with the restaurant staff so the language barrier is not an issue. Show me where to sit and where the plates are located for the buffet and then get out of my way while I put a hurting on the Shrimp and Crab section. However, this time I decided to at least pretend that I wasn’t about to overeat by ordering a salad first. That way, I could tell myself I tried when I’m at home later with heart burn so bad it feels like the lakes of Hell are burning in my chest.

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I flagged down the server and requested an entrée and she asked if I wanted super salad. I imagined a huge bowl of salad full of croutons, so I just said, “Yes please”. The server looked at me strange and asked again, “Super salad”. I began to wonder if this gal was messing with me. So, in a louder and a bit firmer voice, I again answered, “Yes”. The server spoke in broken English, but I was sure she should be able to understand that I wanted the super salad. She took a deep breath as if she was about done with me and again said, “You want the soup or salad”? It was then that I realized that it was not super salad that she was offering, it was soup or salad. I was worried about the server not speaking English and instead, it was I that had problems understanding.

After turning a bright shade of red from embarrassment, I realized that there are many instances where two people can be speaking perfect English but still not understand each other. It doesn’t help when people use phrases that make no sense and can lead to misunderstanding. For example, people will say, “The sky’s the limit’. I think the folks at NASA would disagree with that. Hello, remember the moon landing? The sky is in fact not the limit.

I’ve heard people say that we only use 10% of our brain. What’s sad is that I use 100% of my brain and I still can’t figure out the Rubik’s Cube. From watching people drive, I sometimes wonder if they even use 1%.

I asked a neighbor how they were doing, and they said, “Sweating like pig”. I thought about telling him that pigs don’t sweat. In fact, they roll around in the mud to keep cool so maybe he could try that. However, I decided to just smile and keep walking.

I had a co-worker invite himself into my office and he volunteered that he, “Slept like a baby” last night. I said, “So, you slept for two hours, woke up screaming for food and then pooped your pants? Sorry to hear that.”

I saw a lady in Walmart yesterday looking at someone’s newborn baby. She said, ‘Oh, it’s as pure as the driven snow”. That struck me as odd because I grew up in the country. One of my favorite things to do was turn white snow into yellow snow. So, essentially, she was saying the baby looked like pee. Strange indeed.

Don’t you love those positive people that say things like, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. However, unless life also gives you some sugar, the only thing your making is lemon juice.