Language Barriers
[ Non-fiction : Humour/ ]

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I had been sent to Iceland to do a tour with the military. There were two separate exercises, one the defense of Iceland and the other was a Partnership for Peace exercise. The Partnership for Peace exercise was simulating several natural disasters which had occurred simultaneously. The nations involved worked together to treat simulated casualites and provide for the needs of the citizens effected.
I was escorting the Distinguished Visitors to the exercise. The Visitors were from different countries and often brought translators with them to communicate with them. Since I was proficient in French we often used it to communicate directly with the Visitors and relay information to them about what was occurring at the location we were visiting.
One gentleman was particularly disturbed to discover that a female was leading him around the exercise. He was loud and often made rude comments in French to be sure tha I understood them though he refused to speak or look directly at me. This continued for several days and I blamed cultural barriers for the discomfort but continued to be professional.
At the end of the exercise I was going to bring the visitor to the airport and he said to me in perfect English "I am sorry I was such a pig headed male. You are a fine tour guide and I appreciate your time." I looked at him floored because in the days proceeding I had never once heard him use English. I asked the translator if he had been practicing that particular phrase and both the visitor and translator burst out laughing and said "No the General speaks perfect English." We all laughed at my ignorant assumption and I was deeply greatful I never had been rude in my interactions.
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