Friday, 9 January 2009

Some actual Spanish

Today was a red letter day in the development of my Spanish linguistic abilities. I managed an actual conversation with someone and - possibly even better - won an argument with a supermarket checkout girl.

Admittedly, neither exchange was especially complex, but it's progress. Numero uno (see what I did there?) was a short chat with the nice man who copied the keys to our flat in efficient fashion while I waited at the counter. He asked which country I came from, if I was English and told me he came from Cuba. I answered all that and explained that I had only been in Spain for five days. I observed that coming from Cuba, he at least was able to speak Spanish already - he agreed that that made it easier and I said I hoped so. At least, I think that's what we said to each other. As near as dammit, anyway.

The argument with the checkout girl concerned my ID - to pay for something by credit card in Spain, you have to show your ID, in the case of us foreigners, a passport or driving licence. But when I proffered my driving licence at the till in Hipercor, the chica on duty told me it wasn't acceptable and I had to at least show my passport. Having previously paid for goods in the same store by credit card - and indeed, having used my tarjeta de credito twenty minutes earlier in other departments to pay for the keys and a new jumper, I was pretty sure of my ground. But my insistence that a passport wasn't necessary just wouldn't wash with said chica - even when I held up my store bags and credit card receipts from that same day, she still wasn't convinced. I must have a dishonest face or something.

In the end, it took a phone-call upstairs before she would deign to believe me. Now, despite my limited Spanish, I do know most of the words used to make an apology and I don't believe she availed herself of any of them. If you've read my previous observations about Spanish shop assistants, you'll understand why I wasn't all that surprised by the omission. But I was feeling far too smug about winning the argument to care.

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