Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Learn to Speak English Or Else Part III

For those of you who don't know, my mom owns a nail salon. She speaks very broken English, but she does understand it. Some of her employees haven't quite grasped the full meaning of the language but they're getting close. That's what makes for a decent laugh sometimes.

My mom had some customers come in to have their nails done. In order to minimize their wait time, the customers were split up among everyone in the salon. One of the customers explained to one of my mom's employees, we'll call her Jean, that she was getting her nails done for her father's service because he had just passed away.

Jean said, "Oh really? Congratulations!"

Obviously, the customer was furious. She called out to my mom, "Gwen! Did you hear what this person said to me?! She CONGRATULATED me on my father passing away!"

Calmly my mom asked Jean in Vietnamese what happened. Jean said that the customer told her that her father completed something. She's not quite sure what. Realizing the mistake, my mom quickly explained to Jean that the customer's father had died. Jean cupped her hands over her mouth in humiliation. Then, my mom turned to her long time customer.

"I'm sorry about that. When you say he 'pass away', they think you mean he pass a test or something like that. You have to say that he died. They don't understand 'passed away'."

For at least a short period of time, Jean unintentionally got someone who was in mourning to completely laugh her ass off.