Learning is not always hard, but for one of my Chinese friends who is highly intelligent, his time spent learning English hit some rough patches. First, he knew that idioms were tricky, but his first knowledge of that came with a harsh reality. Pay at the pump or pay the piper.
He told me this story one day:
When I learn English, idiom da hardest thing to learn. Make you feel idiot some time. For instance, you don’t know how many times I was thrown off by a simple road sign. I see sign on road, it say, ‘Watch for ice on bridge.’ Seem fair to me. So, I go to Seven-Eleven, buy 2 bags of ice. When I get back to the bridge, WHERE’S DA GUY WI- DA WATCH? I wait two hours, he no come. Meanwhile, ice is melting. Then, I see another road sign. “Watch for water on road.” Yeah, I just bet. I learn my lesson.
Another sign, put out by liars galore. “Speed Limit, 55” I look down, say, “No no no, I goin’ 70 now. I don’t feel dat limited.”
Well, dis car come to me with blue light, red light, so I guess he wanna talk. I pull over, he walk up to my car, and he say, “Sir, are you aware the speed limit is 55?”
I say, “Yes sir, but I think we both know that it’s WRONG! After all, you caught up with me.”
He say, “Well, I’m gonna have to give you a ticket.”
I say, “Great, I love football. I hope I get to see A & M play.”
When I report to buy the ticket at downtown, I say, “When will I get my ticket?”
They say, “That was it, you just paid it.”
But I say “When do I get the football ticket?”
“Anytime you want.”
“OK, I take it now.” I held out my hand under their window, and the man laughed and left his office. Of course, it was lunchtime.
I have a feeling I’m not going to the A & M game.
Another sign, “Deer Crossing!” Well, how dey get doze deer to cross right at dat sign? Is dere some little doe crossing guard with reflective orange vest on? Seems like you could just put a feeder stand close by and just shoot ’em up. Of course, you’re only allowed one. Game wardens!
By the way, how do game wardens keep all those animals from roaming free? Of course, they in wider area than the regular prison camps for humans. Game wardens don’t need walls, or too many fences. Dey have a fine job, and dey share their finds (and fines) with many citizens.
The next sign I see, “Reduced Speed Ahead”. It always say dis just before you reach town. Of course, drugs always cheaper in town, VOLUME DISCOUNT. Den, another cop stopped me, (I had learned dat word “cop” when I was downtown), and he say “Sir, did you notice the “Reduced Speed Ahead” sign?”
“Yes, sir, I did. And I agree whole-heartedly.”
“Then why did you not slow down? You’re doing 70 in town.”
“Oh, I just thought dat was a business advertisement.”
“Well,” he said, “I’m gonna have to give you a ticket. You’re lucky, these are my final four.”
“FINAL FOUR? Great, I love basketball too. Houston, I’m a comin to see you…”
I not get to go to Houston either. I just need one more road sign.
Of course, my favorite of all, the sign after you finally pass all the delays at the road construction sites. It say, “End Construction.”
I just want to spray paint the bottom of that sign with, “Yes!-AND WOULD YOU HURRY UP, PLEASE?”
That was my friend’s story, amusing to be sure. We tried to get him straightened out on road signs. We told him, “You have to take road signs very literally.” Well, he thought we said “literary,’ so he started taking road signs down (literally), and he’s making a compilation of them. I sure hope he doesn’t get caught. But whether he does or does not get caught, he will learn. I have no doubt about it.