The pretentious illiterate
I take mostly Spanish-language customer service calls for an auto insurance company in the US. This was a few days ago.
Him: I need to add a vehicle to my policy.
Me: Of course. What’s the VIN (vehicle identification number)?
In most dialects of Spanish both the letters B and V are called “bay.” This is easy to clarify though when you just say a sample word that starts with whichever letter. Normally people say “B” like burro (donkey), bueno (good), Belinda, Bernardo. “V” like Victor, Victoria, vaca (cow).
Me: Do you mean “bay” (v) as in Victor?
Him: No, no, the other one.
Me: “Bay” (b) as in “bueno.”
Him: (Laughs) No no, the other one.
Me: What…? What other one…? Do you mean… U like universe?
Him: (Still chuckling.) No no, the other one.
Me: Do you mean W like as in Washington?
Him: No no, the other one. I can tell your Spanish isn’t very good, honey. (Laughs).
Me: What other one? Which letter are you talking about?
Him: “Bay,” the one with the two things on it.
Me: With the two things on it…?
Him: Yeah yeah, “bay” like in “vaca.”
Me: OK….I already asked you if… never mind, that’s fine. V as in vaca..
So we go through the whole VIN and our system can’t recognize it. I ask him to repeat it a few times, then I read it back to him and he says it is correct, but I’m still getting an error message. I tell him we can’t add the car without a valid VIN.
Him: It’s probably the letter “bay”, you must have put the wrong one in, honey.
Me: You said “bay,” like the first letter of “vaca.”
Him: Yes exactly, “bay” like as in the name “Berta.”
I change the letter V to B and the VIN number goes through, it comes up as being a car with the exact make model and year he had said.
Me:… I ASKED YOU IF IT WAS B AS IN THE WORD “BUENO,” AND YOU SAID NO.
Him: No no no, Honey. “B” like in the word “vaca,” “vuelta,” or the name “Berta.” Can I speak to someone who speaks better Spanish?