I Need My Secret Decoder Ring

The woman at the laundromat is trying to tell me something. I don’t mean psychically, and I’m not cracking up. I mean that she’s actually trying to speak to me, but due to the fact that she is Haitian and I don’t speak patois, I have no idea what she’s saying.

She seems to think we’re friends though. She’s always delighted to see me. And I can sort of tell from the inflection of what she’s trying to say that she approves of my sartorial choices.

We did have a bad patch there, when I threw an empty box of Tide into the trash outside instead of the indoor trash at the laundromat, but I think we’ve moved past it. She spoke English that time, for a couple words. I managed to make up out “NO” and “BUSINESS TRASH” and “INDOORS.” I’d like to reciprocate, and learn a couple words in patois, just in the name of politeness.

I’d start with whatever the translation for “I’M READING” is, or maybe: “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE SAYING. PLEASE GO AWAY.”

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

2 thoughts on “I Need My Secret Decoder Ring

  1. Patois is usually the Carribbean bastardization of English. Since it’s very similiar, I doubt you’d have trouble figuring it out. (“What dim say, mon?” and “Gimi da wee!” and stuff like that.)

    It sounds like she’s speaking Haitian creole (kreyòl ayisyen). Try writing “v regret mwen pa ka domi mwen pa two byen kite m souple” on a piece of paper, see if that works.

    The grammer is almost definately proper fucked but the general idea should be, “I’m sorry, I didn’t sleep and I don’t feel well, please leave me alone.”

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