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A failure to communicate

When I lived in England I worked for a department store called Marks
& Spencer. Not all dressed up nice and selling quality merchandise,
but in a small warehouse loading trucks. Not loading quality
merchandise but rather, shop fixture and fittings, toilet rolls and
paper goods, stationary and anything else to do with the operation of
the stores.

This was unskilled labour, and everyone except me
was Irish. One day I was working with Paddy and Paddy (that wasn’t
their real names but to Aussies all Irish are Paddy and all Scots are
Jock, interestingly the Scots call everyone Jimmie). Old Paddy had
lived in England for a long time and spoke quite clearly. Young Paddy
was another matter; he had only been there for a couple of weeks and
was near impossible to understand.

We had to load one of those
(heavy) refrigerated deli display units onto a truck. This was one big
mutha and it would be a tight squeeze getting it onto the loading dock.
I was at the back pushing and young Paddy was at the front pulling and
guiding it through the door. “Weet! Mairnscart!” he called called out
to me. Not being fluent in Gaelic, and seeing no sign of a Wheatman’s
cart, I took this to be Irish for “Push harder!”. This was not the time
to discuss the Irish language, so I just pushed harder. “Asset weet!
May Airn Scart!” he repeated (this time a bit louder) and once again I
complied. It was then that Old Paddy, who had been alerted by young
Paddy’s increasing volume, came rushing over and shouted at me “He said
wait! His hand’s caught!”. Which, I now saw, it was.

In fact all
I could see was four fingers sticking out between the fridge and the
door frame. Unfortunately we were laughing so much it took us another
couple of minutes before we could free his hand. (It didn’t help that
while we were pulling our guts out trying to get the unit off his
fingers, I yelled “Pull man! Pull like you’re pulling an Arab off your
sister!”). Until then I had never seen an old man’s knees buckle and
collapse in hysterics on to the ground. That’s one thing about the
Irish, they not only tell a good joke; they appreciate one too. Oh
yeah, no broken fingers, just bruising and swelling.

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One Response

  1. That was fantastic. Nothing like a good laugh in the morning.

    I came across the language barrier myself while in Ireland last year. In a pub, a guy was blathering on about something. I knew it was english but didn’t realize he was trying to pick up on my until he had his tongue in my mouth.

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