Thursday, May 21, 2009
the sandwich lady
Conquered the sandwich woman.
Good lord, this has taken a year.
Ask for a sandwich from this lady (who services the building), and it’s a little bit of a passive-aggressive issue.
Not full on crazy, just that you can sense that you’re being the ultimate pain in arss asking for two pieces of toast, sandwiched for five seconds, and moulded together with a humble piece of cheese.
You can be as sweet as candy coated with 8000 kgs of pure refined cane sugar, but the sandwich will arrive three hours later and you’re tentative to bitch and moan, because you’re concerned it’ll be addled with spittle the next time you order.
I worked as a waitress for a while. I know what happens behind the scenes when people complain.
And even if you weren’t a slave to the food whoreder, you can always at least imagine what happens if you complain a little too much.
South Africans are known for feeling bad if they complain about shitty service or if the house lasagne is too cold, they get wracked with guilt/
At least in my experience.
Until you spill three drinks on their crotch in the space of 45 minutes.
That’s not a good look. I got demoted, not even fired. But that’s a whole other story for another day. And I didn’t experience the manager’s penis in order not to get fired. Believe you me. That would’ve been another kind of punishment.
I’m merely saying that if you’ve worked in the service industry before, you generally respect waitrons.
So after pleading and smiling like an inane idiot, being sweet, but still receiving the dog’s end of crap service (and I understand - sidenote: she has to do it, it’s part of the corporate vibe and she doesn’t get tips. It’s her duty to wrack up sandwiches and wraps), I get it.
I went in one morning and addressed her in Zulu. Maybe I was overly enthused, maybe I was just feeling language-funky, but I waltzed in there during the manic lunch-rush-hour-men-in-chinos-and-blue-collared shirts, and jumped in ahead of them all but filing up for a good old zarm on the double.
Go in, tentatively avoiding the Deep South Stompers which is their chosen foot apparel for day-to-day corporate activities, and skip the line.
Wearing gold golf shoes, a bubble dress and blue stockings (Living.The.Dream), and say something like:
‘Precious! Sisi! Ufuna uSandwich, yabonga gaKhulu!’
But did this woman’s face light up. Clearly I’d said something completely off charter, and perhaps my sentence made no sense whatsoever. For all I know it could’ve been ‘Precious! I’d like one toasted Hairy Bollock Breath, that’s a sad balloon.’
But this woman but starts dancing, giggling like a Thai ladyboy, and ululating around the micro-kitchen.
She was digging it lank.
And made me a sandwich quicker than a taxi cuts in front of you on the apex of Jan Smuts and William Nicol.
Seriously, I suddenly start addressing her in Zulu (all six words. Plus ‘sfebe’ which is bitch. Which is what I love being), and it all comes together.
Peas gets a perfectly crafted sandwich 20 minutes later while the rest of the corporate universe waits for days, weeks, months for theirs. Which, could, suspiciously, be coated in saliva.
End of story, I’ve cracked Precious. I now go in there, with a straight talking-straight-facing-straight-vibing expression – no battering of eyelids, no bullshit, and say I want a sandwich in her language.
I know shit in Zulu. But speak someone’s language, play by their rules, and you’ll get somewhere. [Extra sidenote: if only MTN had their own fucking language, then I wouldn’t be trying to spell I.N.C.O.M.P.E.T.E.N.C.E ALL DAY LONG]
The world hates the French, and I don’t hear people on a general spectrum, being fond of the Germans. But speak their language? And things start to adhere the grand plan more smoothly.
Things roll better. And people who just assume these nations should just fucking speak English are nothing but arrogant. Seriously. Those are their first languages – at least try.
Bridget Jones even tried in the pharmacy when she got a pregnancy test in an Austrian ski resort – it wasn’t pretty, but thank FUCK for Bridget Jones.
So from now on, Precious will get her Zulu. It’s her vibe. However crap and up to shit my grasp of the language is.
And when I’m in France and they stink to the ceiling panels of garlic, I’ll speak French. And when I’m in Germany eating long, hot sausages and drinking beer, I’ll try to speak German. Even if it only stretches to boy band porn terms.
They might not even spit in your food (bonus!) And on the Rive Guache – it’s gonna happen seriously. You might even get a smile. Maybe.
In China I'll just nod and wave.
It's just key. Like a pikey. Except not.