August 5, 2008

Speaking in Tongues

We checked in to our hotel last night, and it was interesting. It's a huge complex, and even though we were warned to go to building 6, not building 9, after traveling all day of course I mixed them up.

It didn't help that we were trying to get into a hotel where we technically had no reservation. Paul bought the hotel room at a fire-sale price from the Tribune company, which had booked too many. Normally, a news organization books its Olympic hotels at least a year, sometimes more, in advance. Tribune clearly didn't see the apocalypse coming (and let's be frank; who did? slowdown, sure ... but mass layoffs?)

So we were tired and delirious upon arrival, but the volunteers were as helpful as could be. While Paul was checking in, one of the young Chinese students started to chat with me, presumably to try out her English. I told her I had a list of Chinese phrases I was practicing, and showed her the printout.

As it happens, my printout was French-t0-Chinese, because I had asked my French teacher, Yvonne Charron, who speaks French, German, English and Chinese, to offer some helpful phrases. The Chinese girl was stunned to see my instructions in French. She revealed that she spoke French, and so instead of practicing her English, she practiced her French.

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