Can you say "Swiffer?"

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Today I went to a new mesticheria (household goods/hardware store) on via dell'Agnolo near our apartment. I've walked by before on my way to the market, but I usually go to a different mesticheria . The one I normally go to is so busy that you have to take a number and when you try to pay, you have to push your way through about 10 people to reach the cassa (cash register).

This quieter and much smaller mesticheria is run by a mother and her daughter (I can only guess since they look similar, but there was a remarkable difference in age). When I walked in the woman looked up at me and said, "Mi dica." I smiled and asked, "Posso dare un'occhiata?" (Can I look around?") They're not really used to people looking around the shops; however, they are accommodating if you ask nicely.

The shop is more than a hardware store, you can buy toothpaste, dishes, drinking glasses, pots, paint, bleach, brooms, hair color, shower curtains, and so much more. I looked around for the "Swiffer" thingy that the cleaning lady Sali asked me to purchase for her so she can dust the hardwood floors.

As I decided to go toward the cash register in the front, the woman came out to help me. I suddenly realized that I didn't know how to say, "Swiffer thingy." I didn't even know how to say broom or mop either. Well, I do know how to say broom, but the word is also a bad word (scopare=f-word). I couldn't bring myself to even utter it for fear of a slight giggle on my part. I normally would look for the word in the dictionary before going, but I thought for sure that I'd just see it and pick it up. I did look in the window before entering the store and saw a bunch of mops/brooms together in a big basket toward the back of the store.

I quickly picked up the package of similar "Swiffer" pads and said, "Sto cercando la cosina per questi." (I'm looking for the little thingy for these.) She understood what I meant and said, "Vado a prenderlo nel magazzino." (I'll get it in the storeroom.) I'm sure she said the word for "Swiffer thingy", but I didn't catch it. When she brought it to me, she said, "Ecco il set Puliginex." (Here's the Puliginex kit) which is an Italian-type "Swiffer" for wood floors.

To not seem like I was completely ignorant I talked to her about something that I knew the words for, zanzare (mosquitoes). "Devo essere pronta per il ritorno delle zanzare." (I have to be ready for the mosquitoes when they return.) I told her as I picked up a zanzariera (screen for the windows) and an antizanzare elettrico (electric diffuser to ward off mosquitoes). She agreed and said, "Sì, c'erano tanti fino a dicembre perché faceva caldo quest'anno." (Yes, there were a lot of them up until December because it was hot this year.)

When I got home, I read the package, but I couldn't find the word mop or broom. Oh well...maybe it's not important, I mean, I have one now.

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February 2005


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