My mother is from Cuba and I studied Spanish in High School and Spanish Literature in college. I can write a ten page paper on El Poema de Cid and carry on a fairly basic conversation in Spanish but today was a bit hard. About 5 minutes before clothing I get called to the book information desk as the manager on duty. It appears that the bookseller had a customer who needed a book to help her learn English but she spoke no English at all.
She shyly ask, "Hablas espanol" and I reply "Si you hablo un poco" (Do you speak Spanish, yes I speak a little). She immediately brightens up and launches into a full fledged explanation of the book she is looking for. At first I was able to get the gist of the conversation but as she felt more comfortable with my ability to understand she began speaking faster and using some vocabulary that was above my head so the interaction began more difficult.
Twenty minutes later I think I had exhausted all of my decent (not rude) words and directed this woman to the Boston Language Institute, no for those of you who know me, you know I am awful with directions in English, can you imagine where she will end up after I gave her directions in Spanish!
I think next time a customer asks if I speak Spanish I am going to have to say no because, Yo hablo un poco espanol, no mucho! (I peak a little Spanish, not a lot). But I guess it was good practice.