Meet my very friendly and beautiful ice cream lady:
I don’t know her name and she doesn’t understand English, but I consider her a friend. Iris, my language tutor, went with me to get ice cream tonight and helped me ask if I could take pictures for my blog. My ice cream lady made up this colorful cone just for the picture. She KNOWS I eat chocolate ice cream! Then she carefully replaced the scoops in the proper containers.
The small booth is located in the entrance to Carrefour, a market in the Teinmu area. The ice cream is tasty, very reasonably priced, and comes in many varieties. It is served in 1, 2, or 3 scoop sizes in bowls or cones. There are only a couple of flavors that we can’t understand and haven’t tried.
These prices are for New Taiwanese dollars, so no, we are not buying $40 ice cream cones in US dollars!
A couple of weeks ago I went to get ice cream, but she put it in a cone before I remembered to ask for a bowl. I had always gotten it in a cone before my bicycle crash. It wasn’t too complicated to ask her to put it in a bowl, but I felt bad. I had learned some vocabulary to try to communicate about my accident and there were no other customers at the moment, so I thought I’d try to explain things. I told her I had crashed on my bike and pointed to some of the marks on my face. Obviously, I didn’t phrase it right to give a sense of when this had happened (it was about 3 weeks since surgery, 5 weeks since the crash) because she immediately rushed over to the customer service counter directly across from her stand and asked for a first aide box. I know this because they got the kit out and handed it to her.
At this point I was fairly consternated that I had caused her undue concern and created a scene. I waved aside the first aide attempt and asked the young lady behind the counter if she understood English. She said, yes, a little. So I tried to tell her that it was okay, I have already seen the doctor and I’m just not allowed to chew anything yet. Well, all she understood was “doctor.” She hurried to pull out the phone and apparently try to call one!
Things were obviously out of control. One other person was standing near looking like they understood and wanted to help, but the few words I said to them were likewise counterproductive. I think they wanted to call an ambulance. So – I smiled, walking away while waving my hands about some saying, “No, no, no. Its okay.” Most people seem to understand “no” and “okay.”
My bowl with the upside down ice cream cone in it was still on the counter at the ice cream stand, so I went to pick it up, having already paid. A fourth young lady was approaching hesitantly behind me. In a soft tone, she said, “I think I understand.” and we were able to communicate enough for her to explain things to my ice cream lady. Sigh of relief.
The next time I went for ice cream, my ice cream lady smiled a very friendly smile. With some simple mime and tone of voice, she asked how I was doing. I told her just two more weeks until I could chew. She seemed to understand. I honestly don’t remember what words or language I was trying to use at this point. However, I didn’t have to ask for a bowl.