Recently, I went to the pharmacy to get a prescription refill. When I entered, there were two people ahead of me: a lady and a man. As I stood there, I could see that the young lady waiting on the gentleman had…the LOOK. The deer in headlights expression that I sometimes see when I try to explain or ask for something in my getting-better-but-still-needs-work French. She had no idea what the guy was saying to her. I heard him use some French and some English and at one point he starts tapping his forearm with his fingers and saying ‘the blood, the pressure, it’s high.’ Something clicked and the girl went back to the stockroom. I smile and say to the guy, “Brit or American?” “Brit,” he replies. The girl comes and gives him his meds. As he passes me, I tell him, “Next time, tell them you have ‘hypertension‘. That’s the French word for high blood pressure.” He thanks me and leaves.
It’s my turn and I get the meds without any issue.
Then…I go next door to Carrefour Express, a smaller version of a regular Carrefour grocery store. Our ice maker had stopped working so I wanted to see if they had an ice cube tray. Unfortunately, I had forgotten the word for ‘ice cubes’ (it’s glacons). So I stutter a bit and say “J’ai besoin de quelque chose pour faire de la glace” – “I need something to make ice.” The French language being what it is, glace can mean ice, ice cream, mirror or window. Now it’s my turn to get the LOOK. The cashier calls to one of her colleagues. He comes up and try a variation: “J’ai besoin d’un plateau pour faire de la glace” – “I need a tray to make ice.”
Something clicks and he takes me back to the freezer section, where he opens a door and grabs a bag of ice. Close but no cigar. Trying again to say that I want to make ice for myself, he now understands: “Désolé. Nous n’en avons pas” – “Sorry. We don’t have those.”
I thank him and return home. I go to Google Translate and discover what I should have said is: “J’ai besoin d’un bac à glaçons.”
Serves me right for laughing at the poor guy with high blood pressure.