Allo ? Allo ?
The thing that throws up the greatest language barrier for me is talking on the phone. I hate it. I very rarely answer the phone when it rings at home, and it takes me days to mentally prepare to make a phonecall, which I’ll put off for the slightest thing :
Gee, I should ring the doctor to make an appointment. Oh the skirting boards are a bit dusty, better do them first. The magnets on the fridge are messy, better rearrange them nicely. Ooooh, something else pointless and irrelevant needs doing and oh ! Is that the time ? It’s too late to ring the doctor, I’ll have to do it tomorrow.
But the time finally came that I needed a new prescription, and I had to bite the bullet. I’ve only been to the doctor once by myself, and even then Sim rang and made the appointment for me. Doctor G-D has a practice in an apartment building on the main street rather than in a medical clinic. She was recommended to me by Sim’s cousin, on the basis that she spoke English and was super nice. It’s true, so I rang her secretary to make another appointment.
The conversation went something like this :
Moi: I’d like to make an appointment with Doctor G-D, please.
Secretary: Yes of course. Have you already seen Doctor G-D ?
M: Yes, once, a year ago.
S: What is your name ?
M: Jayde Clements.
S: How is that spelled ?
M: Jayde J-A-Y-D-E Clements C-L-E-M-E-N-T-S
S: Yes, but what is your name ?
M: Jayde Clements…
S: Yes, but what is your LAST name ?
S: How is that spelled ?
M: (Really ? I repeated the spelling of my name – both of them…)
S: OK. I have an appointment at 12:30 on Monday February 18.
M: No, that won’t work sorry. Do you have any evening appointments ?
S: 5pm on Wednesday February 20.
M: Nothing later ?
S: No, there are no free places.
M: Nothing on Saturdays ?
S: No, you have to go to the nurse on weekends.
M: OK, I’ll take that appointment.
S: Very good. What is the appointment for ?
M: I need to renew a prescription.
S: Yes, but what is the appointment for ?
M: Er, my prescription has expired and I need to renew it… (maybe she didn’t understand me the first time)
S: You do realise that you need an appointment to do that ?
M: What ? Didn’t I just make an appointment ?
S: Yes, but it’s obligatory to have an appointment to renew a prescription.
M: Er… But… What ? (By now, I’m both confused and flustered, forgetting all the French I’ve ever learned and just want to hang up)
S: Pfffft. Wednesday February 20, it’s noted, au revoir.
And up she hung ! I just stared stupidly at the phone, looked at my diary and realised I have to work at that time anyway and promptly burst into tears ! Bloody hell !
So now I have an appointment that I can’t keep, a bruised ego and an even deeper hatred of making phonecalls ! I’m going to have to find a clinic that I can physically go to and make an appointment face to face. Sorry Doctor G-D, but your secretary is a con***se !
I just have to ask Sim nicely if he’ll ring and cancel my appointment for me first !