Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Can You Say "Miscommunication"?

One of the advantages of being a female engineer is that there aren't that many of us so we each basically get our own bathroom. The ladies room on my floor is almost right across from my office and it's a rarity that I every encounter anyone in it, with the exception of the cleaning ladies.

The closet where the cleaning crew stores their chemicals is adjacent to the restroom so once in a blue moon, the four cleaning ladies on my floor will all be in there at the same time.

So, on Monday, one of the machines was broken and had been broke all weekend. After 15-20 minutes of trying to repair what is arguably the dirtiest machine in the lab, I had developed a layer of filth from my fingertips to my elbows.

I walked into the bathroom to wash up expecting the whole place to myself only to run into four of the hispanic cleaning ladies. I scrubbed myself clean and let them have their conversations behind me, all in Spanish.

Three of the four left as I was drying my hands, leaving me alone with one of them. One thing I've learned about the cleaning ladies is that the older they are, the less english they know. I was alone with one of the older ones.

I headed toward the door, past her.

"Excuse me," she said. I assumed she was saying it because she was kind of in my way.

"Excuse me," again she said. She wanted my attention.

Now, I don't speak any spanish and she had a very thick accent, so I'm going to write it as I heard it, mainly a lot of gibberish. Please take no offense.

She asked, "Thoaknmlc oaienjat awiuhron picture upstairs?"

I stood there, trying to figure out what the hell she was talking about. Had my work used my image for a poster without my knowledge and it was upstairs? After racking my brain for a few minutes, I realized where she would have seen my picture.

"Oh, yes. That is me. That is my picture in my dad's office." My dad works upstairs and has pictures of me and my sister in his office and she must have seen them when she was cleaning his office.

"Ekjnt pokyts ifgebnr baby pweois plsvc?" Again, I stood there trying to decode this language puzzle.

"Yes, that is me," I said, pointing to myself. There are a couple of baby pictures of me in my dad's collection.

"Ronmigh oiernlkg eorijg baby? Congratulations!" And then she hugged me.

Uh oh, I thought. Did I just somehow tell the cleaning lady that the baby in the pictures, which is actually me, is my baby? And does she think my father is the father of my baby?

She told me congratulations again and I didn't know what else to do, so I bolted. I just turned and sprint-walked out of there. Once I got back, I messaged my dad so he would be aware in case any awkwardness came up on his end. He just thought it was hysterical and couldn't understand, in spite of my numerous attempts at explanation, how I had gotten myself into such a mess.

Oh, the joys of multi-language incestuous miscommunications.


  1. Absolutely friggin hilarious.... I love your is one of only two or three that I try to read several entries of at a time.

    The Jurassic one is great too...all for movie costuming!


  2. Thank you so much! You just made my day!