the day before i left valencia
i visited the train station to buy a ticket for barcelona. after standing in line for a few minutes i looked around and realised everyone had numbered tickets in their hands - so i went to get my own ticket and took a seat. i must have remained seated for a good 30 minutes before i was served, as though everyone else was competing to be the most annoying and indecisive customer. one guy however, who was served immediately before me, comfortably took the crown. i could see him having a heated argument with the server behind the counter, and as his temper rose so did his volume, so it became audible to the waiting others. he kept on repeating the same two english phrases: but it's a reservation
followed by i don't understand
. i could see the employee behind the counter become increasingly frustrated as he tried to explain the situation, only to hear the same two lines parroted back to him. this circular conversation went on for many minutes until something happened which was simply unbelievable. the tourist picked up his ticket, turned to walk away, and in a thick american accent exclaimed you should learn to speak english!
seriously, this happened. an american guy was angry at a spanish guy for speaking spanish in spain - incredulous that the spanish guy wasn't speaking an acceptable level of english... in spain. i sat there with my aussie friend and a bunch of other spaniards, open-mouthed in shock. i've met lots of tourists in lots of different countries and i've never, ever, ever heard one speak to a native in that way before. as i was processing the ignorance and idiocy of those 6 words i realised my number was called. i nervously approached the counter hoping beyond hope that my brain would provide my mouth with the best spanish i'd ever speak.
i did a bit of creative cloning with the sign in this image to make the english words stand out - here's the original