I need Lebanon Levi as a language tutor…

Last Saturday, as I dropped off my artworks and entries at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, I planned for a “driving break” at some point on my way home.  I didn’t feel like stopping at Turning Stone Casino (Exit 33) or Hamilton College (Exits 32 or 31), but by Exit 29 I was feeling kinda wiped.

And sure enough … three miles before I arrived at Exit 29, I saw what appeared to be, in the distance, a huge antique / salvage store.  I need to visit this.  A few miles later, I picked up Exit 29, then drove back to that location – in the little hamlet of Fort Plain.

And after going through the antique / salvage store – there were plenty of items there, maybe a second trip someday will be beneficial – I saw a little country store / delicatessen across the street from the salvage building.  Well, I’m in the area, may as well pick up some food for the trip home.

And as I arrived inside … I noticed that the country store would only remain open until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, and would be closed on Sunday.  I had at least a half hour for shopping.

Baking goods, noodles, pies, scrapple … yes, scrapple.  Because, as I immediately discovered, this was an Amish foods store.  And there was a woman at the cash register – yep, she had the bonnet and the blue frock.

Okay, Chuck, buy your groceries… and try to remember.  How do you say “hello” in Pennsylvania Dutch?

See, I have this thing about me.  If I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I will at least greet the cashier with “Ni Hao,” which is about the only Chinese I can recall.  And if I believe that the shop owner is of the Islamic faith, I will greet them with “As-Salam-u-Alaikum,” which is essentially, “May peace be upon you.”  Again, it’s about the only words I can clearly say in that language.  It’s not to be a big shot or a show-off; it’s to show respect for the culture and legacy.  At least learn a few words.

But I know that at one point in time, I did learn how to say hello in Pennsylvania Dutch.  And so help me, it was because the lesson came because I watched a certain fake “reality TV” show…

Yeah.  You know… that one.

So I’m standing in the checkout aisle with some scrapple, some noodles, a couple of cans of diet cola…

And I can’t remember how to say hello in Pennsylvania Dutch.

Dang it.  I think it’s “Wee bistch glu” or something…

I’m at the register.  And I timidly blurt out to the cashier … “Wee bist gloo.”

And … yep … she laughed.

Was it a laugh of joy?  No.  It was a laugh of “Miller, you mangled an opening greeting to another culture, to the point where you probably said to her, ‘Hello, I have donkey brains.'”

Man, it’s like trying to order food at a Tim Hortons in St-Liboire, Quebec all over again.

“I got it wrong?”  I sheepishly asked.  “I didn’t say something dirty by accident, did I?”

“You were close,” she smiled, as she itemized my purchases.  “Say this with me.  Wie bischt du?”

Wie bischt glu?

Wie bischt du.  It means, ‘How are things going?'”

Wie bischt du.  Okay, I can do this.  Thanks.”

And after we completed the new purchasing tradition of putting the chip-enabled credit card in the chip-reader – and her telling me that the chip-reader doesn’t work yet, so I needed to swipe my credit card through – I had made my purchases and was on my way.

Okay.  Next time I go to this store.  It’s Wie bischt du.  Memorize those words, Miller.  Show that you have respect for the language of another culture.

Trying is not good enough.

Succeeding is the true path to enlightenment.

And whatever you do… do NOT tell them that you were involved, in any way, shape or form, with this old TV show.  EVER.