Thursday, February 24, 2011

The International Sign for "Help!"

A few summers ago, I did an immersion program in a tiny Quebec village, Trois-Pistoles. While I was there, I did a lot of biking up in the rolling hills of rural Quebec, which is an absolutely gorgeous part of Canada.

One day, I was biking by myself and passed a farmhouse while out on a gravel road. All of a sudden, three big pit bulls, barking and snarling, came bolting out of a barn and raced towards me with murder in their eyes. I guess the girl on the bicycle was seen as a clear threat to them or something.

With my imminent death approaching, I froze in terror. The only thing I could do was yell, "Au secours!"

The house with the evil dogs.

Luckily, the dogs stopped right at their property line (maybe there was one of those invisible fences installed?) All I knew was that I was lucky to escape with my life, and I promptly bolted. As I pedalled furiously back to my host mother's house , I realized with a rueful laugh that the whole raison d'etre of me doing this immersion program had been achieved - my first instinct in the face of death had been to yell for help in French! I was pretty proud of myself!

Flash forward to today. Instead of a bike ride, I'm out running. And instead of three lean, mean pit bulls, there's a mangy, starved-looking stray dog growling and yapping at my ankles. This time, however, I was too scared to formulate words (I think Russian for help is pronounced "pomaGEETye").


At a decibel level that was loud enough to attract the attention of everyone on the busy, bustling Lyotnaya Street in Mytishi.


(Not only does everyone already think I'm a freak for running - apparently the only suitable form of physical exercise for women here is light swimming/floating and walking around in stilettos - now I'm the freak runner who SCREAMS. Great.)

Anyways, some woman shot me a baleful glance and muttered something to the dog that caused it to trot off, looking as harmless as the Easter Bunny and making me look like a hysterical dog-hater. To be clear, I don't hate dogs. I just don' them.

At least I figured out today that knowing the Russian word for "help" isn't necessary. When you really need help (or when you're just convinced a stray dog is going to take a bite out of your calf)...

Screaming works.

1 comment:

  1. Poor dog, all it wanted was to have a foreign friend and there you are screaming at it :( Obviously its gonna growl and yap, its not like it can talk people...just growl and bark back at it next time :)