Portuguese: it's a tough language. But some days I think I am doing pretty good. And then others I get brought down a notch or two. This morning I experienced the latter.
I've been needing to go in to the lab and have some blood work done that my doctor ordered. Today was the day; I would go over to the lab and let them take my blood. My doctor told me that no appointment would be necessary, just go in before I eat or drink anything for the day, and they will take care of it. He had written up a lab order, so I didn't even have to explain what I needed - Perfect!
I arrived right about 9:30 this morning after making the 15 minute walk. I took a number, just as the sign told me to, and had a seat to wait for it to be called. After about 10 minutes my number was up and I went to the counter. I handed the nice lady on the other side my doctor's orders along with my health insurance card. She asked a couple questions that I easily answered and then she asked for some identification. I pulled out my passport and I think that's where things started going downhill. When she realized I was American, she asked me if I spoke Portuguese. (Please remember I have already answered a few simple questions, like what's your address, phone number, etc in the native language.) I told her I did but not real well yet. I think that freaked her out a little bit and she quit speaking to me in complete sentences and instead just used short phrases or single words. After she finished entering all my vitals into the computer she told me that I needed to come back tomorrow at 2:00. "Tomorrow at 2:00," I asked, a bit confused since the doctor said I didn't need an appointment. "Yes, tomorrow at 2:00," the nice lady confirmed. "And I return here to the reception area," I asked. "Yes, tomorrow at 2:00 you return here," she assured me. (All in Portuguese, of course!)
So I left, and on my walk home, I realized that I needed to be fasting for the blood work. Oh boy, tomorrow was not going to be fun...no food until after 2:00?
I got home and got started on a project when my cell phone rings. I answer it and there is a somewhat panicked voice asking where I am. Before answering, I asked my own question, "Who is this?" After a lot of fast spoken Portuguese, I finally got the lady on the other end of the line to slow down and eventually (I do have a lot of trouble understanding people on the phone still) I figured out that they were looking for me at the lab.
Turns out, I was supposed to wait and have my blood drawn...and then return tomorrow at 2:00 for the results. Oops! So, my 15 minute walk again later and I was back in line waiting to be called into the nurse's station.
I would like to say that the lady behind the counter never said a thing about me waiting, she just went right into the come back tomorrow part. But I can't really say that with any certainty. So for now, I continue my Portuguese lessons. In the future either I catch the "wait" here part, or I can at least tell the lady I speak fluent Portuguese as to not freak her out and have her forgot those all so vital instructions!