It’s the European elections here in Spain today. I expect they held them a couple of weeks ago in Britain, France, Germany and so on, but nobody thought to let us know the results. We always seem to be last in Spain; unless we’re talking about football, of course.
The good news is I finally received permission from the Spanish authorities to vote ‘abroad’ – well, I have been living here for the past 30 years – and, besides, it was about time I took my citizen’s duties more seriously, don’t you think? Life is no joke, you know.
So, anyway, I was terribly excited when, accompanied by my dear wife, we set off for the polling station, even if the party I would have liked to have voted for – the Anybody But Those Corrupt Ruling Crooks Party – doesn’t actually exist yet.
We found the polling station without any trouble whatsoever, probably because our kids went to that school for the best part of a decade. We strolled in, greeted everybody at the door, and located the rooms where we had to vote. I bade my wife a fond farewell, sensing that I might never see her again. In retrospect, I was probably being a little overdramatic. I took out my ID card, approached the lady on the desk, and then the fun began…
- You’re not on my list. You can’t vote. Sorry.
- Well, there’s clearly a mistake. Here’s my polling card.
- That doesn’t mean a thing. Is your surname John?
- No, it’s Church. Try looking under C.
- No, you’re not here.
- Well, I’m going to vote.
- Oh no you’re not.
- Oh yes I am.
- Can somebody call the police, please?...
- What seems to be the trouble, Madam?
- This man wants to vote but he’s not on my list.
- Is this true, Sir?
- No idea, but I’m going to vote.
- Oh no you’re not.
- Oh yes I am.
- Hang on, I’ll call the town hall secretary…
- Hello, Sir. I’m sorry about this.
- You will be if you don’t let me vote.
- Look! Here’s your name! You’re on the other list!...
As it transpired, I had a whole list to myself – the Immigrants’ List or whatever it’s called – but the lady on the desk hadn’t even noticed it. Whereas all my fellow citizens, including my beloved wife, had a piddling four-digit number and had had their names blurred into one massive soulless printout, I had a unique list all to myself, and I had even been assigned a special code: “Church, Michael John: X0001”. Impressive, eh? After that, it was apologies all round, uncork the champagne, and would I like to vote five times to make up for the long wait?
Unfortunately, there was no “How do you rate your voting experience today?” online customer survey at the exit, but it could have been worse, I suppose. At least, they didn’t make me take my belt off and put all my belongings in a plastic tray.
–Oiga, ¿es ésta la cola para facturar?
–No, es la cola para los servicios.
–Excuse me, is this the queue to check in?
–No, this is the queue for the toilets.
–¿Hay algún problema?
–Los problemas no existen, señor. En esta vida, no tenemos problemas; tenemos retos.
–Is there a problem?
–Problems don’t exist, Sir. In this life, we don’t have problems; we have challenges.
–Su pasaporte caducó ayer, señora.
–Pues, ahora tiene un reto enorme, señora.
–Your passport expired yesterday, Madam.
–Well, now you have a huge challenge, Madam.
–¿Hizo usted las maletas, señor?
–No, las hizo mi cartero. Es broma.
–Limítese a responder a las preguntas, por favor, señor.
–Did you pack your bags yourself, Sir?
–No, my postman packed them. Joke.
–Just answer the questions, please, Sir.
Ya te dije que no teníamos que haber metido esas salchichas.
I told you we shouldn’t have packed those sausages.
–Si me quito el cinturón se me van a caer los pantalones.
–Pásame la cámara. Quiero grabar esto.
–If I take my belt off, my trousers will fall down.
–Pass me the camera. I want to record this.
¿Y por qué esa mujer no tiene por qué quitarse los zapatos pero nosotros sí?
How come that woman doesn’t have to take her shoes off but we do?
¿Vamos a tardar mucho? Es que tenemos prisa.
Will this take long? Only we’re in rather a hurry.
¿Quién manda por aquí?
Who’s in charge around here?
–Ya lo siento, señora, pero no puede subir al avión con ese cuchillo.
–Pero no es un cuchillo, es un juguete. Mire.
–I’m sorry, Madam, you can’t take that knife onto the plane.
–But it’s not a knife, it’s a toy. Look.
Spanglish for Impatient People, Lesson 2, “At the airport”