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Lost in Translation

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I know I’ve said this before, but I’m Australian, or an Aussie, for short. I live in Manhattan now, so I often find myself staring into quizzical faces when I open my mouth and swathes of Aussie slang spring forth. The people I work with now have no idea what an arvo is when I greet them g’day. I just sigh and repeat it in their version of English: Afternoon. Then they smile and say it back and I walk away chuckling, having forgotten that I’m no longer working amongst my blokes from the bush, or down under, or whatever Americans are calling Australia these days.

I once mentioned a B&S party, which arouses some pleasant and amusing memories in me, and people assume I’m referring to BS which is, well, a lot different from the Bachelors’ and Spinsters’ Ball. I didn’t bring it up again, although I do think this office could use one. I talked up some bloke outside the elevator one morning, noticing he was carrying one of those coolers for his lunch. “Nice esky,” I told him. “I usually just brown-bag it or do Maccas.” He had no clue what I was talking about so I pointed to the cooler in his hand, then to the McDonald’s across the street. Then he figured it out and laughed until the door opened at our floor. I have no idea why.

Once I told a secretary to avoid her boss as he was mad as a cut snake. She got the idea but I knew she didn’t know just how mad that was. I think she avoided him for a week just to make sure. Another time I brought my lunch to work in a plastic bag. The same secretary couldn’t take her eyes off it. I just said it was my tucker and went to my office. I came back later and found her staring at her computer researching the word. I secretly wished her good luck and left her to it. That’s how confounding I can be to my co-workers at times. I will always regret not telling her that my sandwich was made from damper. In my world, that’s bread made from flour and water. Sometimes speaking a different language is fun…even if it is technically the same language.

I joke with my boss sometimes. He’s a great bloke. I told him one day that I felt like chucking a sickie, and he didn’t know I was talking about calling in sick the next day. I confessed and then he admitted he wanted to do the same thing. Like I said, a great bloke. We often take smokos together even though I don’t smoke, he lets me stand around outside with him while he enjoys a smoke on our coffee breaks. I think I’ll go buy him a slab of grog sometime, that is if he can handle a 24 pack of beer on my dime. Maybe he’ll think I’m brown nosing, but nah, I’m just being friendly.