Thursday, August 6, 2009

McDonald's, Italy, and Language Barriers

We just got back from our vacation to Italy, and since we haven't upload pictures onto the computer, I thought I would share an experience I had at McDonald's. (Yes, we ate a McDonald's once -- okay twice. I know, I know. Really though, it was the only good option at the time.)

In America one often experiences trouble communicating with some McDonald's employees because (1) they're foreigners who don't speak English well, or (2) they're American citizens who don't speak English well (or are entirely without the capacity for abstract thought). Turns out this is not an exclusive McDonald's-in-America phenomena. No, in fact, it turns out McDonald's employees have trouble speaking the dominant language of whichever nation they happen to work in. For example, I had the following conversation with an Asian girl in Bologna.

Me: How large is a medium drink?
She: Two euros.
Me: No, how large is the cup in which the medium drink is served?
She: Medium drink costs one euro seventy.
Me: Yeah, how large is the cup? Can you show me the cup, please?
She: (She shows me a cup).
Me: Is that the medium cup?
She: No, large.
Me: Okay. Can you show me the medium?
She: The medium's here (pointing to the mediums instead of actually taking one out and showing it to me).
Me: Fine, I'll take the large.
She: Two euros.
Me: I got that, thanks.