Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adventures In Italian

Back when I was in the Navy, I spent three years stationed in Italy. While I never became fluent in the language, I did pick up enough Italian to carry on a decent conversation. I've forgotten almost all of it in the intervening 15 years, so don't ask me to speak to you in Italian today. Any time you're dealing with a language barrier, there's bound to be some misunderstandingss, and often they can be humorous.

In Italy, at least back when I was there, there were no self service gas stations. The attendant came out and filled your tank for you. Somebody told me that the reason they did that was because so many people were stealing gas. Filling their tanks and driving off without paying. But I don't know that for sure. Nevertheless, you didn't fill your own tank.

I pulled into the gas station one day, rolled down my window, and told the attendant, "venti litri" --that is, twenty liters. The man walked back to where my gas cap was, but came right back to my window and began saying, "Kiss? Kiss?"

"What the heck?" I'm thinking. Was this guy going to make me kiss him before he would fill up my tank? I'd heard Italians were very romantic, but this was ridiculous. Seeing the dumbfounded look on my face, the attendant made a specific gesture with his hand. That's when I understood what he was trying to say:




Bag Blog said...

I had a terrible experience at the gas station in Italy - I put reg petrol in to my diesel Ford. The guy screamed at me in Italian, which made me cry. Then he felt bad, I felt bad, I worried all the way home that my car would burst into flames - all very stressful.

Just think, if you had kissed that man, he would have been the one shocked.

Becky said...

OH, no! I hope your car was OK. Yep, in retrospect, it would have been funny if I'd kissed him!


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