Language Difficulties

‘Can I have some tea please?’ C. asks.

‘Tea? Okay.’ The flight attendant’s English seems a bit sketchy and she was visibly straining to make out the key words. She disappears and it’s several minutes before she comes back with a cup of hot black tea.

‘Oh.’ C. is pleased and disappointed in equal measure. ‘What about milk?’

‘Milk?’ The lady looks confused.

‘Yes, can I have some milk with my tea?’

‘Okay.’ This time the flight attendant vanishes for so long that C. reluctantly drinks the tea black, convinced that the lazy hostess has deliberately forgotten the request.

And then she reappears. With a glass of milk.

‘You wanted milk?’

‘Oh, erm, thanks.’

But the milk remains untouched, after all the tea has already been drunk and there is no drink more disgusting, as far as C. is concerned, than milk on its own. Nevertheless, feeling guilty at putting the flight attendant to so much trouble, and probably also feeling guilty about thinking she was lazy, C. insists on apologising. When the food trays are collected she hands back the still full glass of milk.

‘Sorry, I only wanted the milk for my tea.’

Once again the puzzled look crosses her face as she is clutching for words that she can understand.

‘The milk was for my tea.’ C. explains again.

‘Tea, okay.’ And the tray is collected, the glass of milk removed and all is forgotten.

Until, that is, the flight attendant returns ten minutes later.

‘You wanted some tea?’ She proffers another cup of black tea.

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