Sunday, March 20, 2011

Language Barrier

Men: do you know what this is?
One of the things I love most about my life and work is the multi-cultural element. Not only do I get to travel and meet interesting people, I’m constantly surrounded by ex-pats from  all over the world, each with a different story and perspective. There’s no doubt that my life is infinitely richer, and my world view wider, as a result of this experience.

I was sat with two extremely interesting individuals last week. One was a global consumer head (female, British) the other was a research professor (male, American).  We were having a good chat about families and children (you can’t talk work all the time), when the lady had to take a call from her husband.  It seemed an animated and rather urgent discussion.  She re-joined us in a fluster.  Her husband, apparently, was having an issue with the children's packed lunches in her absence.  “How hard can it be to make a packed lunch?!” she exclaimed.  The male American looked utterly perplexed.  

“What the hell’s a packed lunch?”  We stared at him. He’s incredibly clever, I thought he was joking.  But he clearly didn’t know. “A packed lunch” she repeated.  “What do you think it is?” He remained perplexed.  “A lunch…that you pack?” he asked, stating the obvious, but clearly not understanding at all.

We burst out laughing; I’m still not clear if it was lost in the English/American translation, or lost in the woman/man translation.  Anyway, one lesson learned here: if you’re a woman, a high powered job and international business travel does not let you off mother/wife/household chores, wherever you are in the world. If you’re a man, you will probably never need to know what a packed lunch it, let alone have to make one after a hard day’s work.  Take note, universe, and please ensure the father of any potential children knows his way around a kitchen....

No comments: