Monday, April 18, 2011

English as a Second Language

I would like to preface this blog by once again saying how difficult it is for me to learn a new language. My brain isn't built for it, and often results in a painful experience for me, and anyone involved in teaching me. I totally get how difficult it can be, and how equally hilarious it can be. Before I regale you with stories of my Arabic speaking colleagues, I'll tell you a story from my previous job in Seattle. Picture my Spanish speaking patient who has just started bowel prep for a colonoscopy he is scheduled for and speaks ZERO English. Now picture me with minimal Spanish vocabulary, but knowing how to ask "How much does it cost?" and "in the bathroom." Now picture my brain thinking I am a bilingual genius and compiling these 2 phrase together to ask my patient what I think is "How often are you going poo-poo in the bathroom?" But, is actually phrased as "How much does it cost for you to go poo-poo in the bathroom?' Honestly, I couldn't understand why he appeared to not understand me- until I proudly told my friend how I had used my Spanish, and she almost peed herself and told me what I had actually said. The answer to the question is that it's free to poo-poo in the bathroom sir!

Anyhoo- moving along to the constant hilarity that is my life in Saudi. I work with many co-workers for whom English is their second language, and honestly some of the things that are verbalized are pure magic. Its like God himself wants me to have a good day when some of this stuff gets said. I realize I am childish- but honestly with all the nonsense in this place its stuff like this that keeps me going!!!

So picture a staff meeting, and during the question sections an older man I work with who is from Sudan raises his hand to ask where the nursing mail slot is, and instead asks "where the nursing slut is?" Because I am a child, I almost wet myself, and I have to ask- Why was he looking at me when he said it?? I'm just sayin :)

I work with a Swedish nurse with a thick accent, and every time she asks for the chart she says "shart." This is funny on many levels, none of which she finds funny. She also has a very catchy phrase for diluting her medications- she says she is "saluting" them.

A Jordanian male nurse called me over to the computer the other day to describe to him an article about exercises he was reading on MSN. He wasn't sure what a 'lunge' was and thought it was the same as a squat- so I showed him what a lunge was. Next on the list was 'chest press' so we talked about what that on the list was 'keigl exercises.' He asked me to show him what they were....seriously no joke. I made him read the description of how the article said to do them. He turned a million shades of red, and I laughed till tears formed in my eyes. You're welcome for that little gem.

I work with a Saudi nursing student who worships Michael Jackson, and channels the King of Pop in his clothing choices. He means well, but his constant pick-up and hit-on lines need some work. BIGTIME. The other day he told me "you make my hormone go up and down, up and down." Hmmmm is that what we're calling it nowadays??

It is important to note that my Arabic patients, and the staff I work with laugh at my attempts at Arabic on a daily basis- am pretty sure I haven't said anything truely offensive....yet. Mostly they just regard my attempts like that of a small child and repeat "Ahhhhhh"

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