Friday, March 18, 2016

A wrong call and the next 10 minutes

"Hej, det är Lisa..."

I'm sure that is not the proper way to answer my phone in Swedish, but that is my American-English-translated-into-Swedish greeting and it has become automatic—proper or not.

"Umm, hallå. Det är ________ och jag har jobba i Tumba....<<undecipherable Swedish mumbling>>... (long awkward PAUSE)"

My mind is racing and all of these thoughts ping through my brain like the small white ball in a pinball machine. Ding ding ding.

He must be waiting for my response. Oh shit, I didn't catch his name or who he works with. Where is Tumba? Isn't that south of Stockholm? Why is someone from Tumba calling me? This has nothing to do with the kids because I would recognize their doctor's name. No...this may be someone calling for our house? I don't know. Someone always seems to be calling about our house, asking for money. Does this guy want money?! We don't have any. Should I hang up now? The pinball machine ball stops pinging around for a second.

"Förlåt, jag kan prata lite svenska, kan vi prata med engelska nu?" This should nip it in the bud. He'll switch to English once he learns I can't speak any Swedish...

...he continues in rapid-fire Swedish

"<<more Swedish words I don't recognize>> kompaniet....bolaget...(long pause)"

Is it my turn to speak again? Jeez! I have no idea what this guy is talking about. I'm registered as a sole-trader so maybe he has a business question? I don't know how bolaget has anything to do with this conversation. Gah, I wish I understood more Swedish. Normally they switch over into English by now but this guy won't quit.

"Förlåt, jag förstår inte." I'm sorry, I don't understand.

"Uhhh, hejdå..." Umm, goodbye.

The call ends and the hang-up is weird. I wasn't sure what had happened. Did he really need to talk to me and just gave up because I couldn't understand his Swedish? Ahh, screw it. This chick can't figure it out. Let's give the post-card lottery to another lucky winner. Or was it a misdial? I needed to figure this out. I CAN do this. I will!

With a flash of renewed enthusiasm and perhaps too much desire to right this wrong, I open up Google Translate and type in all of the words I think I heard during our very weird interaction. I reverse Google his phone number—yes, he has a business of two people in Tumba, doing what I'm not sure. The business name is generic and uninformative. No clues there. Moving on.

I type the equivalent of, "So sorry, my Swedish is horrible. You called me before and now I am prepared to answer your questions." into Google Translate. With my fingers poised over the empty Google Translate box, they are ready to translate our conversation as it happens. My fingers will attempt to transcribe the conversation so that I can keep up with it real-time. I am NOT an idiot. Technology will save the day!

As I press redial, I'm already smug. I was caught off-guard before but now I'm set. I have a tool at my fingertips and I practiced my little apologetic phrase twice. I even improved on the inflections provided by the Google Translate robotic voice. Easy peasy.

"Hej, jag är Lisa Ferland. Du ringde mig? Jag förståd inte innan men hur kan jag hjalpa dig nu?"

"Oy, nej. Det är okej. Jag ringde fel."  --- Oh no. It's okay. I called the wrong phone number.

And that, my friends, is how someone wastes 10 minutes trying to decipher all of the communication during a simple "Oops! Wrong number!" phone conversation.

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