So I live in the ‘burbs of Washington D.C., and its a very diverse, cosmopolitan place. Around here it’s common to encounter people from all over the world, who speak widely-varying levels of English. But even given the linguistic barrier, occasionally there are things that just make you go, “Buh?”
This morning, Mrs. Gneech and I were taking our usual 10:45 walk around outside the office when a scrappy young teenage guy carrying a backpack, looking bronzed from much walking in the sun, approached us and said in a vaguely-slavic way, “I am zorry, but can you tell me, vere is Target?”
This is Tyson’s Corner: there is nothing as pedestrian as a Target within 10 miles. If he wanted expensive designer clothes or possibly a diamond-encrusted wristwatch, he’d be all set. So Mrs. Gneech and I blinked at him and went, “Uhh…” as we tried to think of the best option for this wayward pedestrian.
“Oh, no, vait,” he said, and checked his crumpled sheet of scribbled notes. “I mean, vere is Perfect Pita?”
Well, I can certainly see how one might confuse “Target” with “Perfect Pita.” (Wait, what?) Fortunately, Perfect Pita was right in the same Coke-bottle-green skyscraper as our office, so all we had to do was point at it and say, “In the lobby, all the way back, on the right.” He thanked us and went his way, and we went ours.
Naturally, he went up to the side door that read “Lasik Procedure,” and wondered where the pitas were. Fortunately, from there it was easy for him to spot the main lobby doors and go on in. By the time we were finished with our walk and coming into the building, we met him coming out again, after having spent a grand total of maybe 30 seconds inside.
Worried that he might have just stepped into the lobby, not seen the Perfect Pita, and stepped out again, Mrs. Gneech asked, “Did you find it?”
“Uh, yes, zank you,” said the kid, smiled in vague embarrassment, and took off, leaving us to wonder what the story was.
“I’m geocaching,” suggested Mrs. Gneech.
“It’s on my ‘bucket list,'” was my response.
Hell of it is, we’ll never know. But life is like that, around here.