Saturday, June 18, 2011
A Little Father's Day Story
Dad learned a bit of Turkish in the early 60's when he was stationed in Izmir. Twenty some odd years later, he was building a geothermal power plant in the southern California desert. Most all of the laborers on the project were Hispanic, so Dad bought some "Learn to Speak Spanish" cassettes that he listened to commuting to and from work. My sister and I studied Spanish in junior high and high school and we would roll our eyes at Dad's terrible accent.
One day they were pouring concrete foundations at the job site and the workmen were doing something too fast so Dad accessed his foreign language memories and told the workment to "slow down" in Spanish. Everyone looked at Dad in confusion, so he thought about what he was saying and realized he was speaking in Turkish. (I had a similar experience in Thailand. I spoke to our waiter in Thai and then accidentally switched to Spanish.)
A few years ago we visited Turkey. The first day, we somehow missed our bus, so we jumped in a taxicab. Dad was in the front seat with the driver. Mom and I were in the back seat with a little old lady from our tour group that had also missed the bus. Our driver spoke very little English. I was rummaging through my tour documents, thinking I could show the driver where we wanted to go, and Dad said "blablubblablubub."
And the taxi driver said "Blahblububblahbub."
And Dad said "blublablubbaba."
And the driver took off. It was a 15 minute trip and Dad and the driver conversed the whole way. I'm sure at some point I turned to my mother and told her how impressed I was with Dad's Turkish, especially given that it had been 40 years since he had used it.
We arrived safely at our destination.