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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN, IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME

The Location: A cafe downtown. One of those places with a French name you have to struggle to pronounce where everything is made of wood. There's a big community table in the center with smaller two-person tables along the walls. You can order at the register, but then you're not allowed to sit down.

The Waitress: A heavyset black woman who appeared to be in her mid-twenties. A very cheerful, upbeat kid. She's an actress. I know this not just because she's a waitress, but because I overhear her talking to the frumpy woman in her fifties, sitting two tables over. The frumpy woman who is somehow involved in the production of an all-black soap opera will be back next week, so that the waitress can give her a head shot. This makes the waitress giddy, as she walks over to our table.

Waitress: Hi! So you guys ready to order?
Me (looking at the Colombian): Are we?
Her (the Colombian): Yep. What's the soup of the day?
Waitress: Spinach.
Her: Mmmm...Sounds yummy. (Then to me) Would you share that with me or would you like your own? (I mentioned being interested in soup as we perused the menu, but spinach? I wasn't sure I'd ever had spinach soup, and I wondered if it could actually be any good. I was on the fence until I saw it was $6 a bowl).
Me: I'll share.
Her: Cool. We're eating spinach. Like Papaya.
Me: No, it's spinach. Not papaya. You know what spinach is, right?
Her: Like Papaya.
Me:(inching in closer to the Colombian so the waitress can't see as I give her a "what the fuck are you saying look?") Papaya is a fruit. Spinach is a vegetable.

The Colombian looks at me confused. The waitress doesn't know quite what to say. I jump in and order my sandwich, and the waitress leaves.

Me: Papaya? What was that?
Her: You know, you eat spinach and you get strong like Papaya.
Me: You mean Popeye? The sailor man?
Her: Yes. That's what I said.
Me: You said Papaya.
Her: I said Po-peh-yeh.
Me: That's how you say Popeye in Spanish? Po-peh-yeh?
Her: Yes.
Me: If this were a first date, I would've walked away thinking you had some kind of brain injury.
Her: If this were a first date, I would've walked away thinking you were an asshole.
Me: Fair enough. Sorry. (It's just easier to apologize).

The waitress was entering our order into the computer a few feet away and heard the whole thing. I saw her smirking. Maybe she'll re-enact it during her audition for the frumpy lady.

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