This post is in answer to the Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking. The challenge invites writers to write something regarding regional accent, dialect, or slang. My post is a flash fiction story.
The Bad Phone
Recently, my phone has been on the fritz. Connections have been poor, and often I can barely understand the person I’m talking to. The most troubling part is the phone appears to call completely different numbers than the ones I dialed. I call for pizza, I reach the Chinese buffet. I call the chiropractor, I reach the local pub. This happens randomly so I never know what to expect.
Even worse, my car had problems too. The engine was sputtering and coughing a lot. The problem got worse each day. I need the car to get to work, and that’s why I decided to tackle the car problem first. This was a mistake as I would later learn.
Since I am new to the area, I didn’t have any recommendations for an auto mechanic. I had to look one up and take my chances. I have a Mini Cooper so it only made sense to go to a British repair shop. After a quick google, I found “British Tyre and Motors.” Aside from their misspelling of “Tire” they seemed to know their cars. I called them first. The call went something like this:
“British Tyre and Motors. Good morning!”
“Hello, I need some work done on my car.”
“What make is it, Guv?”
What is “Guv” and why is he calling me that?
“It’s a Mini”
“Uh, a Mini Mini. Not sure.”
“Right, not sure. Alright. Is the engine under the bonnet?”
Bonnet? It’s a car, not a dress!
“No it’s not in the ‘bonnet.’ ”
“So it’s in the boot. Right.”
Boot? Did my phone call the clothing store?
“No! It’s not in the ‘boot’ either. It’s a car!”
I could hear him yelling to someone else, ” ‘Ere now. Got some boffin on the blower. Doesn’t know his kerbside adornment.” And then someone responded with, “Bloody punter!”
I heard most of that and understood far less. My phone was really bad today, obviously. Still I felt the off-phone conversation was rude.
“I heard that.”
“Sorry about that, Guv. Just bring it in and we’ll give it a look. You can relax and have a fag while you wait.”
“More, if you’ve a mind to.”
I’m sure I misheard him. It seemed like I was talking with a cross-dresser support line. Who knows where the phone sent me or if the phone just garbled everything. I decided to try another number. This time I called an American shop, “New York Motors.” I hoped to have better luck. It went like this:
“New Yo-uhk Motuhs It’s yo-uh dime.”
What did he say?
“Uh, is this the car shop?”
“Yeah, hurry up. What’s the problem.”
“Uh, my engine needs work.”
“What kyna cah?”
“What kyna cah? Jus’ tell me.”
I have no idea what he’s asking, so I just guess at what he wants.
“It’s a Mini. The engine’s in the front.”
“Ha-ha. You’re a funny guy. Okay, jus’ bring it in tomarruh. We open at daw’uhn.”
Daw’uhn. I’ve never heard of that. Is it a time? Some kind of festival?
“Bring it when?”
“Oy! Yeh givin’ me a hat-attack, heah. Jus’ bring it in, okay?” *click*
He hung up on me, and I still had no idea when to bring in the car. And what was the thing about hats? Crappy phone. It made the guy seem unintelligible. Well, the phone didn’t always garble the calls. I decided to try another number. This time I called, “Texas Motors.” It went like this.
“Mornin’! Texas Motors”
“Hi. I need my car worked on.”
“Yes, sir. What make and model?”
At freakin’ last! A clear, un-garbled call.
“It’s a Mini.”
“So it’s a littleun’?
“As opposed to a biggun’.”
“I don’t know…?”
“That’s alright, sir. Just bring’eronin and we’ll give’er a gander.”
A gander? What do geese have to do with it? And the rest of that was gibberish to me.
By now, I was developing a migraine. Getting my car fixed was harder work than I expected. With the phone screwing up every call, I was getting nowhere. It was almost noon and the stress was making me hungry. I called the local pizza parlor. At least when I reached them I could always understand them. The phone rang a few times and then…
“Chu’s Chinee! We got Flied Lice on special with Po’ and Biff. You li’?”