HAHAHA! I am so glad to find out those four years of German I took (two in high school, two in college) were good for something. I can now ask for directions to the train station, order a raspberry torte with whipped cream, AND read LOLcats in two languages. Yay, me!We lived in Hawaii from 1999 to 2001, and somewhere during that time, we were flying back to the mainland for a family visit. It had been years since I had heard or spoken Germany, but I recognized what I thought might be German being spoken among a group of older tourists, one of whom was seated next to me.
Several hours into the flight, a flight attendant with an amazingly shrill voice came around with a basket of foil-wrapped sandwiches. "You want ham or turkey?" she whined to each of us in turn until she came to the gentleman seated next to me.
His face took on a look of mild panic, as he obviously didn't know what she was asking or how he should respond. Her response was to talk even louder: "HAM or TURKEY?"
I reached waaaaaaaaaay down into the bottom of my brain (the part I use for storing information like my phone number from third grade), retrieved a word I thought might work, pointed to the ham sandwich and explained: "Das ist Schinken."
"Ah, ja! Schinken!" he said and gratefully took the sandwich. It turned out that he and the other members of his group were Austrian, which explained why I wasn't entirely sure they were speaking German and not, say, Dutch. We chatted a bit over our sandwiches, as much as my limited German would allow ("Schönes Wetter, nicht?"), and then sat in silence for the remainder of the trip.
I was quite proud of how I had saved my fellow traveler from a sandwichless existence, and I bragged about it upon arriving home in Florida. "Just think," my dad said. "If you knew how to say 'turkey,' he could have had a turkey sandwich."