Thursday, June 02, 2011

Confused by the word Caja

Today I ventured into the center part of the city, traversed the infinite number of tents pitched in and around the Zocalo because of the teacher’s strike, and managed to find the store I’d been wanting to go to for quite some time. I’d broken a couple of wine glasses and wanted to replace them.

When I bought my set of four they were sold as a package, a box to be more precise. I was looking for the same box when one of the clerks came to assist me. I asked her if the wine glasses were sold in a package (paquete). “No,” she said.

She said she would take them to the caja (which can mean box) I thought she said in the bodega (which can mean stockroom) there was a box. I waited for her to come back with the wine glasses boxed up.

She returned. I asked her about the wine glasses. She explained they were at the caja, which can mean the cash register.

Then it dawned on me. She was not going to the stockroom, she was taking the glasses to the cash register. Always the teacher I began to explain to her caja had confused me because in English box and cash register are different words and in Spanish they are the same word.

She smiled, she was polite, but really she could have cared less. I must remember not everyone wants to learn a language other than their first.

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