A few years back I decided that I would like to learn a foreign language and that language was Italian. I don't know why, maybe it was to better order food at Olive Garden. My problem was that the first thing I learned was to say Eo non-compisto L'Italiano, la capece L'Inglese (if I can't speak it, you really don't think I can write it). Once I learned that I decided I knew everything I needed to know in Italian. Flash forward to last week. I ran into some Italians holding the door to the dining facility. I regaled them with my excellent grasp, albeit with proper Southern drawl, of the Italian language. I nailed it. They knew what I was saying. Neither of us understood the rest of our conversation and we waved our hands a lot. I've noticed that other countries talk a lot less than we do. Or maybe it's just their communications with us. Either way, the waiters at the Olive Garden understood less than the guys at the door.
Flash forward again, this time to a few days ago. Jack, a Scottish contractor, came by with an Englishman named Sean. After one sentence I knew Sean was English and not Scottish so I asked where he was from. It was a town named D something that Jack described as down south. Dawlish, Dartmouth, Darlington, something like that. Sean said it was practically france. This caused me to sit back and say, "Wow! You practically just said this to him." And proceeded to show him my first two fingers in a V sign with my palm towards me. The British equivalent of the American middle finger. Well rounded person that I am I can drive in 3 languages because I can show my social finger(s) in the US, Great Britain, france, and Afghanistan. This humourous gesture quickly got me into a familiar ease with these guys and we laughed about it a great deal.
That brings us to today. Today I ran into my Security Liason Team leader, Patrick from Newcastle. Having already earned his respect by talking of bringing coals into his hometown (no, not really, he's smarter than that but I'm the client so he lets me think that) I relayed the story of Jack and Sean's visit to him. As I got to the offending gesture he laughed. The others at the table had no clue, but there was more. The best is yet to come. I left him by saying, "Well, that's all the English I know."