Language Barriers
Contributor

Yumm. No matter what it's called . . .
We live in Canada.
French and English are spoken here.
Quite often in the same sentence.
But that doesn’t mean that all of us speak both languages fluently.
Or at all.
Oh, and my second son, Erik, worked at the local Sobey’s grocery store.
I realize that these facts seem to be irrelevant.
Wait for it . . .
It was a normal day at work.
Erik, one of the numerous stock boys, had spent the day uncrating merchandise.
Stocking shelves.
Packing groceries.
And helping customers find things.
Sometimes, this last duty was the most demanding. And amusing.
A woman had been wandering up and down the soft drink aisle for several minutes.
And had enlisted the aid of at least one other stock boy and, finally, the store manager.
She was growing impatient and a trifle red-faced.
Erik set down the box he was carrying and went over to see if he could help.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am,” the manager was saying. “We simply don’t carry that kind.”
“I got it here!” the woman burst out. “The last time I was in this store! Right in this aisle!”
The manager shook his head. “I’m afraid you’re mistaken, Ma’am,” he said quietly. “We’ve never carried that.”
“Young man! I took it right out of this aisle. Right here!” she pointed. “See? There with all of the grape juice.”
The manager followed the pointing finger. Then shook his head. “I’m sorry, Ma’am,” he said. “Grape juice is all we carry. We have noRaisin juice.”
The woman dropped her arm and frowned. “Are you telling me I’m stupid?”
“No, Ma’am, no!” the manager was quick to disagree. “I just think you may be mistaken. Something that happens to all of us. Me, in particular!” He smiled.
Erik stopped beside them. “Anything I can help with?”
The manager looked at him. “This customer is looking for some Raisin juice,” he said. “I’ve told her we don’t carry it.”
The woman glared at him, then turned to Erik. “And I’ve told him that I got it here,” she said stoutly. “Right here! Raisin juice!”
Erik looked at both of them for a moment. Then he reached out and turned around one of the Grape juice boxes.
‘Raisin’ was plainly visible on the label.
‘Raisin’ is French for ‘grape’. Just FYI.
Both of them stared at it.
“Oh,” the manager said.
“That’s it!” the customer said happily, grabbing the box and departing.
The manager looked at Erik and shrugged.
“Who knew?” he said.
Who indeed.

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