Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Foreign Tongue

I didn’t speak the language and I was nervous.

Oh, I had taken some lessons and all, but I was not what you’d call fluent.  So I took my handy translation phrasebook with me to the computer store. 

The line-up was long and I wound through the cattle fencing slowly.  I tried to hear what people were saying but it was all geek to me.

When it was my turn I glanced at my phrase book, trying to remember how to start a conversation.  I then confidently approached the young man behind the counter.

“Hello to you, Mr. DOS System!  My computer is sick with the output diarrhea!  I am amorous for your charms!  Can you tell me how to print the hospital medicine taxi?” I asked.

“Ah – a new Windows user,” he said.  “You’ll have to reboot your PC and then install an anti-virus program.  You might also consider adding some more RAM…”

“Wait wait!  Please – I do not speak tech too well yet!  One moment...”

I looked in my phrase book to determine what he had just said. All I wanted to do was check my email.  I’m getting old and it is hard to just ‘pick up’ a new language like kids can.

“Ah!” I said.  “And after I RAM Windows I can Pong on my laptop?” I asked.

“Pong?  What is this Pong you ask please?” he said, confused. 

I consulted the book again.  “Would you like to come back to my blog with me?” I asked.  “I have a big screen, baby.  May I buy you a cell phone?”

That brought a strange look from the kid behind the counter – clearly I wasn’t getting through.

I tried other phrases.

“Oh your hard drive is so big!  Can you fix my network you big pink pomegranate?”

The person behind me in line then came forward with an offer to help.

“I speak fluent geek sir – perhaps I can assist,” the good Samaritan said.  “Let me see your book.”

“I see your problem right here.  This book is version 2.0 – they only speak in dialect 3.0 or higher here.  You’ll have to go online to find the program you need.  Use Google – it’s very helpful. Maybe you could get a newer phrase book too.”

I only understood a little of what he said. 

“Excuse me please?  I do not understand,” I said.  “What is this goggle you speak of?”

“Google.  Use Google to look on the internet to find a newer phrase book,” he said patiently.  “You need to speak the language and your book is out of date - its six months old.  They cannot help you here.  These people are young.  They don’t understand what you are saying.”

I thumbed furiously through my book.  I wanted to thank the man for his clarification.  “There is a gecko in my chassis!” I said.  “When is the next In/Out bus?  My, what lovely cabling you have.  Do not drink the software!”

“Sir, if you’re going to learn how to speak the geek dialect, you’re going to have to get something electronic for translating for you.  Books are analog – they don’t work anymore,” my translator said.

It was hopeless.  I was a stranger in a strange land, surrounded by people I could not understand.  No one could help me, and I felt terribly alone.

I wandered outside and approached a stranger…

“Excuse me, sir?  I wish to send an outlook to fondle my Aunt’s underwear.  Can you direct me to the post office toilet museum please?” 

He shook his head.  “I’m terribly sorry but I don’t speak geek,” he said.

This was going to be a long journey.

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