Shoot L’Avion

There are people from every walk of life, and from every corner of the globe working here at Bill and Dave’s. I take advantage of this by talking as much as I can with employees from countries that I will never go to see. I learn so much from them because I ask questions until they get tired of it and tell me to go away. Most of the time though, once I get them talking you can’t hardly get them to shut up. It’s fun. Dung has been no exception, but he’s been difficult to understand a majority of the time because his English is bad.

Dung grew up in the South of Vietnam during the height of the war. He’s told me stories about when he was a little boy, he would walk out of his building into the streets to see people lying face down dead along the roads. I can’t begin to imagine what that must have been like, how it made him feel. What would a child think upon seeing death that close? Would they become scared, or would they accept it and become accustomed to the death all around them? I’ve been thinking about it alot over the past few days. I don’t know how I would have reacted as a child experiencing such things and I’m fascinated pondering about it.

As a young man he decided Communism wasn’t where it was at. His brothers, both younger and older than he was also wanted to escape Vietnam and hopefully make it to a country in Europe or to the United States. Dung said there was only two ways out of the country, either by crossing a heavily mined border or by boat. One of his older brothers tried the land route with two of his buddies a few years before Dung himself got up enough courage to try to his own escape. His older brother was killed by a land mine, so he decided it would be better to attempt the boat trip instead. For many years I’ve heard stories about Vietnamese boat people. I didn’t give it much thought until Dung told me how many of them never make it to another country. People who attempt the perils of travelling on the open sea to leave Vietnam behind fall prey to pirates. Pirates know these desperate Vietnamese will carry anything of value to use as currency for bribes or whatever when they make landfall someplace else. So the pirates catch their boats, ransack their belongings for their valuables, and then sink their boat and leave them to drown. Dung’s trip out was lucky though, he made it to a refugee camp in another country and got a sponsor who invited him and one of his brothers to Atlanta, Georgia. They’ve been in the United States for about ten years.

Dung is a total screwball. We talk late at night on the line about all kinds of insane shit. I don’t know where he comes up with this crap, but it’s funny as hell and very strange at the same time. The other night he walked over to where I was working and said to me, “You seeeeee you cannot seeeeee. You eat the shitfish!” As he was announcing this to me he made a sweeping gesture into the air with both his hands. “I eat the shitfish, huh?” He looked at me and said “Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah.” This is how most of our evening conversations start off.

“Shoot L’Avion.” Dung said to me.
“Shoot the what?”
“Shoot L’Avion. Yeah. Yeah yeah.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Shoot the plane. You seeeeeeee.”
“Shoot the plane? Shoot what plane and what do you shoot it with?”
He went on to explain in a very roundabout way that in his home growing up as a little boy he had to share a bedroom with one of his brothers. They had a model plane one of them built and hung it from the ceiling over their beds with string. They would lie there on their beds at night and pull on themselves to try and blow a load, and hit the model airplane with their spunk. I couldn’t believe he was telling me this shit like it was all normal behavior. I laughed at him. “Shoot the plane. I get it. Nice.” I said to him.
“Yeah, yeah yeah. Shoot the plane!”
Fuckin’ crackpot.

I asked him to start teaching me some Vietnamese. I said to him, “Dung, how do I say in Vietnamese that I like very young women?” He thought about it for a few moments and said, “You say, TIK-CON-GUY.”
“Tik-Con-Gai? Just like that?”
“Yeah. Yeah yeah. That mean you like VERY young women.”
I practiced saying it over and over again while he perfected my inflection and enunciations of the words until he was satisfied I was speaking it like he would. Didn’t take too long and we were both laughing like fiends. Then I asked him, “Okay. So how do I say I like to grab big tits?”
He thought about it for a minute. Then he said, “You say BOB-YOO-BUH.”
That really cracked me up. It sounded like clown language to me, not Vietnamese. Then I started thinking to myself, hey what if this shit he’s telling me to say is completely different shit and he’s just setting me up for a serious practical joke? I had no way of knowing until I tested my Vietnamese out on some unsuspecting victims. I went with it, for the time being.
“Bob-U-Buh.” I said it over and over again until Dung assured me I was speaking it perfectly. I practiced it methodically saying it in a low tone of voice as I worked at my benches in the assembly area each night for the rest of the week.

One evening I got a perfect chance to try out my Vietnamese skills. Late in the shift two older Vietnamese women were walking down one of the main aisleways. I spotted them heading towards a coffee station near the cross junction at the center of our floor in the building. I recognized one of the women, but I didn’t know her well. Her name was Wah. The other lady I knew as Wah’s walking partner, but I didn’t know her name. Each night they would walk together around the building to get a little excercise on their two ten minute breaks. I crept over to the edge of our production area and stooped down slightly behind a cubicle wall so neither woman could see me. I listened to them chatter away in Vietnamese for a couple seconds and then I said in a loud booming voice “BOB YOOO BUH!”

Their chatter instantly ceased and I heard their feet pattering around in the hallway back and forth. It seemed they were looking for one of the lecherous Vietnamese technicians that worked in the production areas, and they yelled one of their names a couple of times to see if he was working. Heh. Guess I said it well enough for them to get it and I maybe framed some old guy in the process. Sweet. Just to be sure they didn’t think I could ever have possibly said such a thing to them, I calmly stepped out of the area and into the hallway where they were. I pretended to get a cup of horrible gas station coffee from the nearby coffee stand and watched them. For a split second I caught the women looking at me and then looking at each other as if to say, “Could whitey round-eye have said he likes big tits to us in our own language?” But then they dismissed the thought as quickly as it had come and continued looking for old Vietnamese guy.

Man, this is gonna be amusing to no end. My screwball Vietnamese coach will be teaching me all sorts of badness to say to them in no time. Sometimes, I really love where I work.


~ by factorypeasant on June 18, 2005.

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