I'm at Jenny Lou's, the grocery store down the street, practically every day. I spend way too much money there. Cereal, for instance, ranges from about $5 a box to well over $10. Needless to say, we don't eat too much cereal anymore.
Anyway, they all seem to know me there. The manager, John, is a nice guy who speaks great English and always asks after my kids. Once, when I was having trouble getting a vendor in a neighboring store to refund my money for a broken toy, John took me over there, argued with the guy in Chinese for a minute, then said to me "he will give you your money now." And the guy did. Don't know what John said to him.
So I try out my Chinese on them all the time. At first, I just said things like "thanks" and "how much" and "excuse me." Then I got to where I could say "how are you?" and "today is very hot" and "do you have any more yogurt?" But still, my Chinese is fairly limited. This despite the fact that I've just hit my 1 year anniversary in China today. Somehow I assumed that, given the fact that I can speak Russian without too much trouble, Chinese would be a breeze.
Not so. One year later and I still struggle to be understood. But I'm still trying.
Yesterday I was in J Lo's, talking to one of my usual sales guys. Mid-conversation (if you can call it that), he paused, then said in English "Your Chinese.... it's... it's getting better."
I've been cheerful ever since. I'll take the smallest of compliments, whereever I can get it.
Happy Anniversary to me!