I called a company and a bird-like voice answered by saying Annika something or other. On hearing my English voice she seemed to have a nervous breakdown right there on the phone.
‘Errr sorry. I errr. Well, oh you want to talk to Bert Larsson? He’s not here. Can I take a message perhaps or can you call back later some time?’
Her English was not bad. And her pronunciation was very good. But I could imagine she was a shivering wreck on the office floor drowning in her own sweat.
Errr. (OH MY GOD! ENGLISH!!!!), sorry (I feel awful, why did I have to pick up the phone right now and let’s warn him I am not good at this). I errrr (Where’s my English? It’s disappeared! What do I say now? I can’t believe I’ve got gymnasiekompetens!). Well (when in doubt always say ‘well’. It gives you time to think….. a very useful word, which of course means nothing just now). You want to talk to Bert Larsson? (But he’s not here! Oh my God what do I say now?). He’s not here. (there, that was easy enough. Klara besked!) Can I take a message perhaps? (Oh no! I didn’t mean that! Not a message! I won’t even understand his name; let alone what he is calling about! No, I didn’t mean that about the message. Quick! Before he starts….) or can you call back (Please call back! Say yes – anything but don’t leave a message!) later some time (hopefully after 3.30 when I‘ve gone to pick the kids up from dagis)
By Colin Moon from Secretary Magazine.