Lifestyle of the retired: Time to Learn Something New

by Jane Curtis aka texasjane

Someone asked me the other day what I liked the most about retirement. I answered that now I have time to learn anything I want to learn. I can even learn to speak another language if I want. Then I was reminded of the last time I tried that.

Have you ever done something that proved without a doubt that you were just a bit crazy. You never told anyone because you were afraid they might mistake crazy with really dumb. Well, like I said many times before. I was not the sharpest crayon in the box, but, according to my grandmother, I was the most colorful. Age did not change that. You would think I would stop doing these things... but if I did you would not know it was me.

When I was a young teacher when ever I wanted to make extra money I would work a second job at night and on the weekends. One of those jobs was working for a company in the fur business. They made a whole line of fur products from coats to sweaters.

They sold every thing from mink to rabbit. Back in those days it was okay to wear fur in public without fear of someone dumping paint on you. It was a big business. This company had several leased outlets in one national department stores. I worked in the fur department.. selling fur coats, etc. I had gone through training in the fur industry to learn as much as I could. I actually worked for the fur company and not the department store.

The store where I worked got a lot of international trade. The first night I worked with a young girl from El Salvado. We became fast friends. I asked her to help me with my Spanish. I knew there was a big convention coming up soon and I wanted to be ready.

I wanted to learn enough Spanish to be able to help, answer questions, and sell a coat to someone from Mexico. We had a lot of dipolmates from Mexico City that were going to be there for the convention. I had patted myself on the back for doing this.

I worked and worked with her for several weeks. I had gotten to the point I could describe almost every coat we had, in Spanish. I knew the convention would be starting the following week so I was ready... just in time.

I practiced at home. I practiced on the way to my day job. I practiced on my lunch break. I practiced all the way home. I was ready.

The first night of the convention started with a style show at the store. I knew we would be getting some traffic through the department.

The department was in a small enclosed corner of the store. All along four walls merchandise hung. We had several round racks in the middle of the room. There was a small table just between two doors. One door led to dressing rooms where the custom fitting took place and the other door led to the vault and stock room.

I was sitting at the table when a wonderful family came in chatting back and forth to each other. I instantly started to speak Spanish to them. I showed them several coats. I smiled and kept going. I did not see the confussed looks on their faces. I went on and on and on... My friend was in the back room. I finally realized I must not have answered the questions or did not say it right. I was so sure my Spanish was right.

I decided I would ask my friend for help. I went into the back room and she was holding her side she was laughing so hard. I looked at her so funny. I left the door open and went back to my customer.

I tried to say, in Spanish, my friend can help you she knows more Spanish than I do. The father of the family was just exhausted trying to get through to me. "Does anyone here speak English?" Yes, that is what he said. I looked back at my friend who was still laughing. She said... Jane, they are from Egypt. They have been trying to tell you they do not speak Spanish. I looked again at the customer and said, "I speak English."

The man grinned from ear to ear. He introduced himself as the an Egyption diplomat who had been visiting the Mexican convention on a trade deal with Egypt. I understood very little Spanish but had given his interrupter the night off because they were going to be shopping and knew how to speak English. We all had a laugh.

I do not mind laughing at myself. I learned to do it often. I enjoyed the memory and hope it helps the next time you do something that is not so smart afterall. Don't be afraid to tell about your mistakes. Mistakes can teach us a great deal. Especially, if we all we learn is to laugh at ourselves.

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