Today is Tuesday and that is bread day! Well, bread and apricot tart day, to be exact. Tuesday is bread day since the bread that I eat has to be gluten free and this is the only day of the week when I can buy it fresh. You may have had the misfortune of eating gluten-free bread. Bread lovers will insist that it is not real bread at all. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t taste like real bread. But every Tuesday I make my way to a local organic bakery that supplies me with delicious, fresh gluten-free bread, and, when I feel like a treat, apricot tarts!
Since I’ve been going to this bakery every week since moving to Germany, the friendly women who work there know me and before I can say ‘Guten Tag’ one of them disappears in search of my bread (and apricot tarts) at the back of the shop. Sometimes I’ll have a quick chat with the lady serving me and it struck me last time I went there how different our conversation was compared to my first visit.
The first time I entered the shop was a Friday. I had prepared a few sentences in German, partly memorised, but also written on a piece of paper. I knew dialogue would be difficult with my limited German, but I wasn’t worried because I thought I had a 50/50 chance of buying the bread because either they would have it or they wouldn’t and I could recognise ‘ja’ and ‘nein’…. couldn’t I?
When we’re unfamiliar with a foreign language we can prepare what we want to say. We search for words in a dictionary. We practise saying it out loud. I remember pacing outside a pharmacy in France once as I repeated in my head how to ask for headache tablets. But how do we prepare for what they will say?
That first day in the bakery, I heard ‘ja’ but then I heard four other sentences that I did not at all comprehend. I tried in English, but that didn’t work. I looked at the paper in my hand again (for moral support). After a few minutes another lady came over, and she spoke French. ‘Ah!’ I was ecstatic, ‘I speak French too!’ About 7 minutes later I left with a loaf of frozen bread and the knowledge that Tuesday was bread day. I also left them thinking that I was French and every Tuesday after that, each time I entered the shop, one lady would smile and say ‘Bonjour’.
A few weeks ago, I plucked up the courage to confess that I am not French and we laughed about it. That day, I placed an order for the following week, asked about the Easter opening hours and explained why I spoke in French on my first visit. As I walked home I smiled to myself remembering that first time that I walked into the bakery with my paper in my hand.
- since* = because (see Word spot below)
- misfortune = bad luck
- a treat = something nice or special that you buy or do for yourself or someone else (e.g. I usually eat very healthy food, so today I had a treat and ate an apricot tart.)
- it struck me = I suddenly realised
- pacing = walking up and down in the same place, usually because you are nervous
- ecstatic = extremely happy
- a loaf of bread = bread before it is cut into slices
- pluck up the courage = force yourself to be brave/courageous and do something
Did you also notice the phrase 'make my way'? It was used in an earlier post here 'To market, to market.
You probably already know that since means ‘from a time in the past’, for example ‘I’ve been living in Germany since October’. But did you know that it can also mean ‘because’? Read the first paragraph again and use ‘because’ instead of ‘since’. What about the second paragraph?