Today was another low point in my pathetic use of the French language.

So the lift is broken again, and having waited for four days, in the hope that one of our native French speaking neighbours might be bothered to do the obvious, it seems the job of calling in the lift repair man remains with us.

So I call the lift help-line. The conversation goes something like this (in French).

Me: Hello, the lift’s broken.
Him: What’s the problem?
Me: It’s not working.
Him: Which floor isn’t it working on?
Me: The third floor.
Him: What about the other floors?
Me: Yes, it’s on the third floor.
Him: So does it work on the other floors?
Me: It’s stopped, it won’t move.
Him: On which floor?
Me: The third floor.
Him: What about the other floors?
Me: What? I don’t understand.
Him: What other floors doesn’t it work on?
Me: It’s on the third floor?

The conversation went on like this for sometime, before the guy passed the buck onto a local repair agency. I called them and had almost exactly the same conversation. Eventually they crumbled and found someone who spoke a bit of English to communicate with me (oh the shame of it!).

Her: I speak a bit of English, what’s the problem?
Me: The lift’s not working.
Her: On which floors is it not working?
Me: None of them it’s not moving at all.
Her: Oh, you mean it’s stopped COMPLETELY?
Me: Yes.
Her: Oh well I’ll send someone around to fix it then.

So there you have it. Miscommunication expat style. Had I known there was a difference between “it’s stopped” and “it’s stopped completely” – then I would have said so much earlier!

You live, you learn, you punch the wall, you scream … and you know for next time.