De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.

14.9.05

The Candy Bar

Several years ago, I was in a large grocery store and found myself in line behind a man who had a young boy in tow. Without being specific, I'll merely say that both were members of an officially sanctioned minority group.

As I waited, I noticed that the boy in question was making every effort to steal a candy bar from the display rack. But what really got me was that the older one, instead of correcting him, kept trying to distract me by trying to make small talk. I was having none of it, and said nothing. I just kept my eyes on the boy. We were at an impasse. The boy couldn't steal the candy bar, because I was watching him like a hawk. The older one couldn't draw me into conversation, because I wouldn't speak. And I refused to do anything but watch the boy.

The longer we stood there, the more irritated I got. And the older guy was getting more and more irritated at me because I wouldn't respond to his attempts to draw me into conversation. It got to the point where I was just about to say "Instead of trying to distract me, why don't you tell this kid not to steal?".

Then I had a flash of inspiration. I know exactly one sentence in Swedish, and I used it. I looked the guy dead in the eye and said "Pratar du svenska?" ("Do you speak Swedish?"). The look on his face was priceless. As he took his change and started to turn to leave, he made some caustic comment about "foreigners coming here and don't even speak English".

As he walked out of the store, the clerk was nervously ringing up my purchases and glancing up at me. As soon as he was all the way out the door, I smiled at her and said "Don't worry. I speak fluent English. But that kid was trying to steal a candy bar, and he was trying to distract me." With a relieved smile, she thanked me.

2 Comments:

At 06:01, Blogger The Superstar said...

and what exactly does Pratar du svenska mean?

 
At 20:37, Blogger T. F. Stern said...

Way to go Jahn!

When I was still wearing the PD uniform I happened to walk into a room where several Nigerian fellows were talking, apparently it was something they preferred I didn't hear as they made sure to speak in their native tongue, Igbu, I have no idea how that is spelled. I know two or three words in that language, Hello and Woman come to mind. I stood there and acted as if I were disinterested as they looked over at me and quietly wondered if I were listening in. Their body language indicated that they were making remarks about me or my job as a cop. I laughed as if I had understood all they had said and then greeted them, "Kay-doo?" (hello)as if I expected them to respond. They would have blushed except their skin was very dark. All the same they went wide eyed on me and shut up entirely. It was way fun as I stood there and they decided to leave.

 

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