November 8, 2011

A language problem impacts selling Darryl Strawberry cards


In around 1975, we set up at our first baseball card shows. Mostly they were on Long Island, where we were living at the time. One of the other dealers we got to know was a younger guy, Dave Goett.

Goett was in the military but seemed to have time to sell cards on weekends. At a show he reported that he had been assigned to a post in Germany and being a career officer, had no idea when we would again see each other.

At least 10 years later, we were selling at a show in Southern California where we had relocated in 1982. And lo and behold, Goett, strolled over to our table and said, "Do you remember me?" Well, of course Vivian and I remembered our homeboy and we caught up on what we had been doing in the intervening years. He concluded the conversation with, "There is someone I would like you to meet."

A few minutes later he came back with his recent bride. He had met Farida while stationed in Germany where she was a college student. Farida was from Iraq and didn't speak much English. Despite the language barrier, they seemed to be getting along quite well and she was assisting him at his table.

Late in the afternoon as the crowd at the show thinned out, he told Vivian and me that he wanted to walk around the room to see if he could find anything for his World War II collection "Please keep an eye on my table. Farida doesn't know much about baseball cards and as you are aware, there is a language problem."

A few minutes later, a collector was at the Goetts' table and he seemed to be having some difficulty. So I walked over and inquired, "What's the problem?" With a big smile on his face, he said, "I asked if she had any Strawberrys?" Farida had replied, "Vee dunt zell froops, only bezball cards."

When Dave came back to the table he got a big laugh out of the story and was quite understanding. Within a few years, he was a civilian and she spoke perfect English.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Leonard said...

Great story...