Bob's Bread Story

One of the people we work with here in Turkey, Bob, was hanging around the hotel one evening when he decided he really wanted to get a loaf of bread.  So, he hopped into his rental car and zipped on over to the local grocery, sort of like an independent 7-11 or a mini-mart.  He walks into the store and…

…realizes he didn’t bring his English-Turkish dictionary and has no clue how to say bread.  He looks around the shop in hopes of just happening upon bread, but sees none.  So he turns to the clerk, a large, rough-looking, mustachioed man and asks for bread.

“Bread?” he asks.

The clerk looks at Bob like he’s speaking English.  Which he is, of course, and the clerk is not an English-speaker – or at least he doesn’t know what “bread” means. 

Bob tries again, but with a Turkish accent:  “Bread?”

No luck.

He pauses this scintillating conversation for a few seconds to think.  He has no clue what “bread” is in Turkish, but he remembers reading the menu at our hotel and seeing the Turkish word for “sandwich” is pronounced (more or less) as “sandwich.”  So, he tries, “Sandwich?”

He is still speaking with his Turkish accent, of course. 

The clerk looks slightly comprehending.  “Sandwich?”

Bob begins to feel optimistic.  “Sandwich!”

The clerk shares his optimism.  “Sandwich!”

They start to share a good laugh and the clerk turns around to get the “sandwich,” which he wraps carefully in white butcher-block paper.  He then hands it to Bob.  Now, if you’re thinking you’re receiving a loaf of bread, you expect something light, right?  This package weighs a ton, and it almost snaps Bob’s arms off at the wrists.  “Sandwich?”  he asks.

The man nods enthusiastically.  “Sandwich!”

Bob unwraps it and finds one of the world’s largest blocks of cheese.  This is more cheese than a family of 10 would eat in a year.  He shakes his head in disappointment.  “Not sandwich!” he says.

The clerk cannot think of a reply.

Bob attempts to think of another tactic.  He sees a bottle of pickles nearby and picks it up for visual-aide purposes.  Using time-honored hand-signals, he begins making a sandwich:  bread on bottom, then (gesturing to the asteroid-sized block a cheese) a little cheese, then (gesturing to the pickles) some pickles, and (for the big finish) more bread on top.  Then, with triumph, he says, “Sandwich!”

The clerk is still a little confused.  “Sandwich?”

Bob nods like a bobble-head doll.  “Yes, sandwich.  And…” gesturing to the top and bottom, where the bread goes, “Bread.”

Still somewhat skeptical, the clerk turns and gets a much larger bottle of pickles and offers it to Bob.  Bob shakes his head in despair.  He looks around the shop for another prop he can use to demonstrate bread.  The clerk asks, “American?”

“Yes,” Bob admits bravely. 

“Kurdish,” the clerk offers, gesturing to himself.

“Good,” Bob replies.  There isn’t much else to say in this situation.  He is nearing the end of the shop’s offerings again and can’t find anything else to use to illustrate bread.  The clerk is still working on the problem, too.  Suddenly, as if by divine intervention, the clerk says, “Toast?”

Bob leaps with joy!  Of course, that’s the best possible, most universal way to get someone to think of bread, toast!  “Yes, yes!  Toast!”

The clerk shakes his head.  “No toast.”