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Yesterday I was on a jobsite about 7:00 PM and as usual I made light Spanish conversation with the Mexican laborers. Two of the guys started talking to me, and asked me something. My Spanish is REALLY limited beyond job site stuff (like "I need a hole dug here" or "you need more rebar there"). With a bit of going back and forth, I realized the guy was asking me for a ride. He said he lived near the "Family Dollar" store. I asked him if it was in Lawrenceville, and he said yes. No problem I told him, I was going by there anyway.

Well, I get the two laborers in the car, and I asked the talkative one if he knew the directions about how to get where he was going. He didn't, but he kept saying "freeway" and something about "nine". It sounded like "mumble mumble nueve" which translates to "mumble mumble nine". I figured he meant US 29, which takes you near where I thought he had to go in Lawrenceville. He also said there was a check cashing place nearby, which there is in the area I thought he had to go to.

Well, we get to where I thought he wanted to go, and the store is actually the "Dollar General" and he and his friend got a sick look on their faces. They told me that wasn't the place. Well, we drove around Lawrenceville for a while, and nothing was familiar. I stopped to look at a map, and showed it to the talkative guy (his name he said was "Mike" - which makes sense, I use "Jorge" for my name when speaking to Spanish speakers). Anyway, Mike looked at the map much like a dog studies nuclear physics. He couldn't figure anything, and didn't know any of the cities. He did point to I-85 and said "FREEWAY!" Well, we were getting closer. At this point it became a matter of pride and intellectual challenge. Come hell or high water I was going to get these guys home.

Anyway, Mike digs in his wallet and finds a business card for a taxi place. He told me he lived near it - it was up in Gainesville. Gainesville, GA is a good 30 or 40 miles from Lawrenceville, so I started heading up there. Meanwhile, I got a great idea. I know a Mexican contractor, so I call her to help me. Oh, and I figured out that "mumble mumble nueve" really was "cien vente nueve" - which is 129, and US 129 goes through Gainesville.

My contractor friend talks to the guy for a while, and asks him where he lives. He said "Atlanta Road", hell, there are 10,000 "Atlanta Roads" around here. He tells her a store near him, which came out as "mumble mumble Jalisco". Well, since she speaks fluent Spanish, she could hear him much better. She told me he said "mumble mumble Jalisco", but she finally figured he was saying "Flores de Jalisco". She is trying to figure out where the store is, and she asks him if he lives in Marietta. He says "yes". Seems he says "yes" (well "si") to any city you mention. Marietta is about 100 miles from Gainesville I think, or actually with traffic here, on the other side of the moon.

Well, he hands the phone back to me, and she tells me she's going to call the store he mentioned. Somehow we confirmed he actually lives in Gainesville, so we were getting closer. She called the store, and they told her they were located near the "Georgianna" motel in Gainesville. OK, we were closer.

I called the Georgianna and got directions. Good thing, they aren't a motel that the highway signs lead you to, but I get ahead of myself. I got up to the exit they told me to take and turn off. Mike isn't sure if I'm at the right place. I take a right, which was what I was told by the motel clerk (well, probably the owner). Mike says I have to turn around, or he thinks so anyway. I go up another block and we see Route 13, which the Georgianna motel owner told me to turn left on. FINALLY Mike recognizes something. He gets excited, and the kid with him looked VERY relieved. We are on our way now. Mike recognizes a store, and he is happy.

Mike then starts to chat a bit. Seems him and his friend had completely run out of money, and they got the work in Lawrenceville. They weren't part of the foundation crew on the job, but apparently they got hired for the day and paid. The foundation crew had offered them a ride home, but Mike told them he was riding with "the American" (me). Mike then told me how much he liked American women - blondes in particular. I told Mike I liked Latin women. We laughed. Mike asked me if I lived nearby, I said no, I lived in Lawrenceville. He was sorry, but I thought the whole thing was hilarious. Remember, Mike spoke not ONE WORD of English, except "freeway" and "Family Dollar". He also had the English translation of his name.

We got to where Mike and his friend lived, and they were exceedingly happy. I dropped them off, and headed home. I got home 3 hours after I left the jobsite with them, and was still laughing when I got in the door.

Anyway, Mike and his friend were Guatamalens (SP?), which explains a bit of the trouble I had understanding them - the accent is different. Also in Guatamala, Honduras, El Salvador... the people living in the country are hard to understand anyway, much like our mountain people here. That caused some of the problem, plus I really don't speak a broad range of Spanish. Well, I learned a lot more last night. Mike also pointed out all the good looking Mexican women in Gainesville (construction workers are construction workers after all...)

Anyway, that was my adventure last night. I laugh every time I think about it.

Jorge
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