There’s a kiosk/shop beside my local train station. Most mornings I have to rush for the train, and sometimes I stop at this kiosk to buy a Red Bull. The woman who works there is African. Literally every time that I ask for the Bull she doesn’t initially understand me. “Can I have a Red Bull?” is met with a look of confusion. Black confusion. I repeat it, and eventually she grasps what I’m after.
Those seconds lost to bafflement can make the difference between me catching the train or not. So, to make it so that kiosk lady understands me the first time, I’ve worked on the language of my request. The “Can I have” has been dropped, so that the sentence doesn’t seem like one long, run-in sentence (“canuhuvaredbull”). Maybe she’s getting her ‘can’s mixed up. Maybe she thinks that I’m asking for a ‘’can of Have Red Bull”. My question is now as short as it can be. So much so that it’s not even a proper sentence. It’s simply “Red Bull?”.
I’ve also removed any hint of accent from the question. Anything that seems dialect specific is gone. The sentence has been pared down, trimmed of anything that might make it confusing. It’s pure. The language is fresh and clean, these are virgin words, born and used without any linguistic interpretation. This sentence shines. It would squeak if you ran your finger along it.
I tried it this morning. She still didn’t understand. I am undone.