When you need a translator

“What do you think this says?” my husband studied a small box he’d lifted from the shelf at the grocery store. “Do you know any of these words?”

I browsed the ingredient list.

Story_squareBrowsed in the sense that I tried to put letters together to make words. I knew the letters but I didn’t know the words.

Humbling for an English major.

“Well, this picture could have something to do with an antibiotic,” I said.

His frowned. “That picture could be a pumpkin for all I can tell.”

He was right. The printing was not clear.

We should have brought a translator but the available ones weren’t, well, available. They were tending to our son’s wounded knee. Somehow, in the construction of the new church, his knee had connected with something rough and hard. We had been sent in search of antibiotic cream while they cleaned the gash.

We went, confident that we were reasonably intelligent adults but we were in a Spanish-speaking country where we didn’t know the word for antibiotic. We didn’t even know the word for first aid or bandage.

Finally we settled on a slender box that appeared to have an image of a wound along with the brand name printed on the front plate. It could have been a logo of a whirlwind, too. We weren’t sure but there was a tube in the box. Close enough.

We took our find back to the church and handed the box over to the nurse. She pulled out the tube.

Sometimes you wish you had a translator and you don’t. Sometimes you have a translator and wished you didn’t.

She translated for us then. In between giggles.

Instead of buying antibiotic cream for our son, we’d picked up a tube of Preparation H.


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