When I was in high school, I took French for two years. Prior to this, I took an exploratory language class, which included general instruction in French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese. I sure could have used Chinese this past week.
I just returned from my San Francisco trip. It was great, and I’ll detail it in a separate post. One afternoon, I hung out in Chinatown. It is quite massive, covering many blocks. I stopped in one corner pub and asked the proprietor what kind of wine she had. “Red and white wine.” was her response. I was trying to get her to tell me the brand of wines she carried. I’m a wine snob and am usually quite picky with wines. But I could never communicate with her well enough to find out the brands she had.
“I have red wine and white wine.” is the only response she gave me. She was obviously becoming as frustrated as I was. So, I asked for white and called it a day. The only Chinese word I remember from that language class is, “Nî hâo.” That’s hello. Too bad I couldn’t recall anything else. The wine was alright, probably a B-.
As I was leaving, the woman said, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t understand what she meant. Now I do, several days later. She was apologizing for the communication lapse. I must have seemed like a jerk, because I didn’t reply in kind. I should have apologized too. But, I didn’t realize until now why she apologized. Communication is a two way street.