Serviette? Rubbish!

29 Oct

I had a rather awkward conversation with the porter (doorman) yesterday. The first few times I came home he asked which flat I was going to, forgetting that I now live here. Now “Wait, who are you?” seems to be a running joke between us.

He asked me how we were liking the flat. I told him it was great and we were looking forward to receiving the rest of our furniture and belongings.

“Wait, so you have no furniture up there now?” He asked, surprised. “Nope,” I replied. “Just an air mattress.”

“But…what do you sit on?” He asked.

“Um…a box?” I replied.

Yes, for the past few days I have been eating my lunch sitting on top of a cardboard box. The porter could not believe this. He was so shocked I almost thought he was going to send me up with his own chair. Our landlord used to have the place furnished, but removed everything and put it in another one of his apartments. “He could have at least left a chair,” the porter said. Yes, a chair would be nice.

I then asked him the question I’ve been meaning to ask since I moved in. I hesitated not because I was afraid to talk to him, but because I wasn’t quite sure how to phrase the question. I was wondering where we should dispose of our garbage. But in the UK they don’t call it garbage, it’s either rubbish or litter. For some reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to say, “Where can I dispose of my rubbish?” It would be like a British person asking where the elevator is. Brits are not supposed to say elevator and Americans are not supposed to say rubbish.

“I have one more question,” I asked the porter. “Where can we dispose of our …garbage?” I added a quick “rubbish” at the end in case he didn’t know what I was talking about. My use of the foreign word “garbage” did not seem to phase him and he happily told me where to put it.

Now that that’s behind me, I have my next British word challenge: “serviette.” I would really like to just say “napkin.”



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