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It really was a simple errand: run to a store that sells Vodafone top-up vouchers to get topped up and maybe buy a few food items.

Went to the Costcutter a block away, figuring they were more likely than the corner convenience store to sell vouchers. No go. I was told to go to the (mumblemumble) station. "Where?" "(mumblemumble) station." "I'm sorry, which station?" "Petrol—gas—station." Oh. I know what petrol is, if you'd speak clearly.

Walked to the petrol station next door. A van drives up and honks. Turns out they're honking at me. They want directions. I cannot for the life of me make out more than a word or two of their impenetrably thick brogue. I finally shrug my shoulders and say I don't know.

Inside, I confirm that they do, indeed, sell top-up vouchers. I decide to get a few food items while I'm there. As the cashier is ringing me up, I reach into my back pocket and realize my wallet isn't there. Crap. "I'm sorry. I forgot my wallet. If you can just set that aside, I'll be back in five minutes."

I go back home, grab my wallet, return to the petrol station, apologize again. He starts to ring up the items once more, and I add, "Plus a £40 Vodafone voucher." No problem. He rings up the total, and I hand him my credit card. He looks at it and says, "No chip." "No, it's not chip-and-pin." Apparently, he cannot accept a non-chip-and-pin card for vouchers.

Sigh. I reach into another pocket for my billfold. £30. I never needed to go home to grab my wallet. If only I'd known upfront I'd have to pay cash… "Okay, £20 on the voucher." "And the rest on the card?" "No, cash for all of it." Once more he rang up my items one by one, as the queue behind me continued to lengthen and grow restless.

Hey, but now I can make phone calls and send texts again, for the next couple of weeks at least.


Jun. 30th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
For me, the hardest language barrier was understanding non-English-speaking individuals who were aiming for an East London accent. The cashier at Sainsburys had to repeat herself the fifth time, I think, before I understood "Did you want a petrol voucher, then?" because I simply wasn't expecting that collection of words as the end of our transaction.

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