Sometimes I'm a little intimidated when people come to the door and deliver stuff, or I don't always understand initially what they need me to do, kind of like we're speaking two different languages. Well today, that was exactly what it was like.
We have been waiting for the check for the rent so we can in turn pay our landlady. Tom keeps checking up on it and they finally told him they mailed it yesterday so it should arrive today. The mail came this morning and there was no check! So when Tom left for work he asked me to keep my eye out for it. Around eleven our doorbell rang and thinking it must be someone delivering the check I scramble to unlock the door and run downstairs. When I get down there a young man shows me what I am sure is a very official badge and starts to ask me questions in Czech. I tell him I don't understand and that I don't speak Czech. He looks crestfallen. Still thinking he is here to give me the check I wait for him to just hand it to me. Instead he says "Voda" and shows me a little form. I slowly realize he is a serviceman here to check something in the apartment having to do with water. So, after I knock on Ludmilla's door and she doesn't answer (she is the landlady, and she conveniently speaks Czech) this young man and I start to play charades. I feel that I should mention he is somewhat intimidating in appearance as he has multiple piercings and appears to have recently been in a bar fight since he has a black eye and a huge bandage on the side of his face. However, he was almost adorable when he developed a little pout and pointed at me and said in Czech "you don't speak Czech and I don't speak English." He then put his hands on his hips and a puzzled expression on his face and looked up to the heavens for inspiration. Suddenly he grabs a piece of paper that has many official looking diagrams on it and lets me know he needs to check the water and he has to go inside. In the hall he then points down, to say he needs to go to the basement. I point to the landlady's apartment and say she is not there and I do not know where the basement is. He pouts. Then again he flourishes that same piece of paper and starts underlining parts of it and writes down a date and then a number and makes a gesture with his hand saying I should call it. He then leaves and I tuck the important paper in Ludmilla's door, hoping I have not done something horribly, horribly wrong.
This fun language challenge was actually my second for the day. I'm going to Bratislava in Slovakia tomorrow for a little day trip (I love how a trip to another country can be a day trip here!) and I needed to look up the times of the trains. I was going to go into the train station later to buy the actual ticket but the tellers there don't often speak English so it's helpful to have the date and time and destination written down for the train you want. However, looking up Czech train information when it is all in Czech added an extra challenge. Luckily for me I found a great translating site to help. Still though it was a bit of a painful process to look up each word and since one Czech word often has multiple meanings, to figure out what they meant together in a sentence. In the end though I did get my train tickets, and I also figured out what the gentleman this morning wanted and I found that two things that I sometimes find challenging in English, I was able to navigate in a foreign country... it just took charades, a dictionary, and a little more time!