GASPERICH — A department meeting was plunged into total English on Wednesday, causing moderate levels of confusion and leaving at least one person severely annoyed.
The monthly gathering — comprising 18 employees from seven different countries — is usually held in French. However, it quickly became apparent that a new anglophone employee was suffering from discomfort.
“Sorry, I don’t understand,” she said a few minutes into the meeting. “Would you mind repeating that, but slowly? Or could we just, you know, do this in English?”
Department head Sebastien Kappel made a quick survey of the room, shrugged, and said, “That should be fine.”
While most of those present were able to continue participating, a few became totally confused. One employee sat with her arms crossed and remained silent for the duration of the 83-minute event.
A junior manager was tasked with preparing a detailed meeting summary in French, and a second, smaller meeting was held in French later in the day to clear up confusion about the first meeting. However, because not everyone was able to attend the second meeting, a third meeting was arranged for the following week.
“True, my CV says that I understand French, and I do,” the anglophone later explained. “But not this morning. I just wasn’t feeling it. You have to be in the mood for that sort of thing.”
“Plus, the coffee machine was broken,” she said. “How can I be expected to understand a foreign language without my morning caffeine fix?”
After the meeting, the anglophone graciously complimented her colleagues on their English, saying that she could almost understand them.