Adventures in Cross-Cultural Communication

Living on a farm is not always the idyllic life as portrayed in the film Cold Comfort Farm. Currently, we are surrounded on three sides by strawberry fields (which, contrary to the drug-addled perspective of the Beatles, are not forever, but are typically in for 13 months at a time).

Back to the non-idyllic part of it all. The strawberry pickers usually knock off around 4pm. For some reason, they have a fondness for congregating for a while around their cars, hallooing cheerfully to each other and sometimes honking their horns out of either good humor or some mysterious agricultural ritual that I am unaware of. Those sorts of noises I don’t mind. Occasionally, however, one of them will fire up their car stereo and treat the surrounding twenty square miles to a selection of accordion music.

I misrepresent here. Slightly. The music is actually accordion, supplemented by bass guitar played by and for whales. Which means that the bass guitar is played at a sonic level so deep that it causes earthquakes and also rearranges the internal organs of anyone within the surrounding twenty square miles. Obviously, whales enjoy this sort of music, as do our strawberry pickers.

Normally, I’m fairly indulgent of other people’s taste in music (unless it is gangster rap, death metal, speed metal, cheese metal, Belgian opera, most forms of indigenous Chinese/Korean/Japanese music, Hindu temple music, polka, Wagner, anything sung or written by someone who’s first name is either Mo’ or Lil’ or Angus, all folk songs featuring weeping maidens pining for their lost lover over the sea, and Lady Gaga). But when the music wakes up my 9-week old baby and sends him into screaming fits, my tolerance weakens.

Of course, going from pleasant silence to instant BOOM OOMPAH BOOM! tends to catapult me right up onto the ceiling. The last time this happened, I had to peel myself off, locate and reinstall my kidney, which had ended up in the next room, and then march outside to confront the musical miscreant. I explained to him in broken Spanish that el bebe necessita dormir porque his heart was bad necessita el surgico en el hospitalmuy silencio por favor. Gracias.

He looked blankly at me, got into his car, peeled out and shouted a quaint obscenity in Spanish at me through his open window.

Ah, the joys of cross-cultural communication.

11 thoughts on “Adventures in Cross-Cultural Communication”

  1. Sorry man – that’s actually my bass rig that you’re hearing. I’ve been trying out my new subs (2 cabs each with 2 18″ speakers) that I just bought. I’ve been trying to liquify solid objects at close range (probably not the best idea in seismically active Puget Sound, but you know – those Mayans were pretty smart, and the universe IS supposed to end in December of this year, I just figured I’d help lend a hand…), but didn’t realize you could hear me that far away. My bad…

    1. That was you? I’ll have to sue you for my kidney replacement costs. Though, if you and the Mayans pull through by the end of the year, I don’t suppose the lawsuit’ll have made it through the courts by that time, so you’re probably safe (other than having to live through the end of the world, of course).

  2. Loved it – despite the grand incovenience of the music waking your precious son, loved your description of everything. Word weaver that you are, thanks for making me smile!

    1. Glad you liked it. I certainly wasn’t smiling at the time, though, it is nice to humorize such incidences after the fact… I spoke with the ranch foreman after that particular incident and the crews have been really polite about their stereos ever since.

  3. This has caused much amusement over the breakfast table in this here family. You’re very funny. I sincerely hope El Bebe went back to sleep, and the kidney reattached successfully.

  4. I have the same problem in town, but you need to add in renter who has a electric violin. That he does not know how to play….but he tries with the amp turned on.

    1. Aargh. I would be in a mental institution by now if I had that kind of neighbor. Violin is one of the most beautiful instruments if played well. But, if not, it’s basically a Spanish Inquisition-level tool of torture. I hope you have a large supply of earplugs.

        1. Probably the same one that taught Mexicans to play the accordian. Nice article on the berry pickers audio entertainment.

          1. I’m slowly evolving to the point of view that accordions should only be sold to someone after an extensive background check, similar to buying a handgun.

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