Translator -Short Story by Ryan A. Loera

I’ve tried to hold down a day job! Really I have! I just don’t believe I am meant for the whole nine to five daily grind.
I worked at a bakery for a few weeks until the main baker told me I was kneading the dough too much and not moving fast enough. He fired me and I stole a box of doughnuts.
Then I worked at some car wash place where all the employees have to smile for the duration of their shift. One day, my supervisor caught me not smiling and told me to smile. I told him, “Fuck off! You can’t dictate my mood! This is not Communist Russia!” He fired me and I stole some air fresheners.
After a week or two, I found employment at some fried chicken joint. I had to lie and tell the manager that I had years and years of fry cook experience. On my first day I kept screwing up peoples’ orders ‘cuz the damn grease kept splattering everywhere! Every piece of chicken that I fried was way too over-fried. That damn grease was hot and burned like a son-of-a-bitch!
Then when the manager had me clean out the grease trap I nearly slipped and cracked my head on the floor. He fired me soon after. I then stole a whole bag of honey butter biscuits and gave ‘em to a homeless guy at the bus stop.
I mourned for a few days then got hired as a security guard at some factory that made potato chips. It was a pretty boring job but I got to take home as many bags of irregular potato chips as I wanted. They were stale but still edible.
I quit that job after a week ‘cuz then I received a call from one of my uncles who said he needed a delivery driver for his pizza business. I’m good at eating pizza but not so good at delivering it. I got lost too many times and delivered too many cold pizzas to too many angry customers.
So then my uncle gave me a second chance. He even bought me some GPS device to ensure I wouldn’t get lost. But it turned out to be some cheap knock-off version that kept freezing up! When it wasn’t freezing up it gave directions in Russian. I swear! The automated voice was of some melancholy Russian guy!
“I don’t speak Russian!” I told my uncle.
“Well, you’d better learn because I can’t afford to buy another GPS thing!” He said.
So, instead of quitting, I went to the local library and checked out every book they had on learning the Russian language. I learned a few key phrases and whatnot but I had trouble with remembering the correct pronunciation of each word.
But I figured it didn’t matter much since I only had to understand Russian and not really speak it. After two weeks of intense cramming, I told my uncle I was pretty sure I could now understand most of what the GPS voice said. He said good because he was seriously considering firing me.
“Povernite nalevo.” Spoke the melancholy GPS Russian guy. Which meant ‘Turn left’.
“Povernite napravo, to srazu dlya dvukh mil.” He said. Translated into English it means ‘Turn right then go straight for two miles’.
I arrived at the correct address pretty quickly. It felt good to not get lost for a change.
I walked up to the front door, carrying two large pepperoni pizzas, and pressed the doorbell button. It chimed three times before anybody opened.
A beautiful middle aged woman opened the door. Her two kids screamed and shouted somewhere in the living room.
“Lacey! Tommy! Shut up! I’m on the phone with Grandma!” She clutched her cell phone in one hand.
“Hello there! How much is it again?” She asked while rifling through her wallet.
“That comes to $20 even, mam.” I replied.
“Okay. Here’s $20 and your tip.”
She handed me the money and I handed her the pizzas. Then just as I was about to say thank you and leave she stopped me.
“Oh excuse me! I know this might seem like a weird question but do you happen to speak Russian?” She had a look of desperate hopefulness in her eyes.
For a moment I considered saying no but then I said, “Well, I don’t speak it much but I have studied it.”
“Really? Oh that’s great! My mother-in-law is Russian and she’s on the phone right now. She’s trying to tell me something about the plane ticket she purchased but she speaks very little English and I don’t speak or understand much Russian. My husband is the one who’s fluent in Russian because well that’s where he’s from but he’s still at work right now. So, could you maybe help translate what she’s saying?” She held out her cell phone.
“Sure, I’ll give it a try.”
I grabbed her cell phone and pressed it to my right ear. I introduced myself to her mother-in-law and she introduced herself then proceeded to tell me about her having to purchase a ticket for a later date because there was some blizzard passing through and it wouldn’t be safe to fly for at least another three or four days.
She said all of this in Russian and I actually understood most of what she said. She had a very thick accent and spoke in a frantic manner but I understood her. I relayed what she told me back to her daughter-in-law.
“Oh okay! I’ll be sure to write down that new info. Thank you so very much!” She took back her cell phone, reached into her pants pocket and pulled out a bundle of cash.
“I don’t think I’ve tipped you properly.”
She quickly stuck the bundle into my palm.
“Oh uh that’s not really necessary, mam.”
I stared at the bundle in amazement.
“Oh you must take it! I know what it’s like being a delivery driver. That’s how I put myself through college.” She smiled.
“All right. Thank you very, very much!” I slipped the bundle into the front pocket of my worn-in denim jacket then waved goodbye.
“You’re very welcome uh… Arnold.”
She squinted to read my name tag. She then closed the door and resumed scolding her children.
I didn’t count the bundle until I got back in my car. It was all twenties. It totaled $660 exactly! Very generous.
I still don’t believe I am meant for the whole nine to five daily grind.
But I might have a promising future as a translator.

All words written by Ryan A. Loera
Copyright 2015


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