Monday, April 6, 2009

lost brazilian

I was having a pretty good Friday night when I took a guy back to a hotel in Crystal City at around 1:45 am. Before he even got out of the cab, another guy jumped into my front seat, begging me in broken, hammered English to help him out. He told me that he was out that night and had left his suit jacket somewhere, and it had his cell phone and, more importantly, his passport, because he had a 5 pm flight the next day. Here's the problem - homey had no idea where he had been that night. He knew that they had gone to dinner in Crystal City, and then they went to a club in DC. It sounded like we were gonna be the plot of a buddy movie - language barrier, impossible task, possibility for adventures....and then we're friends!

I asked him where they ate, and he said "It was a place where buffalo." What does that mean? "You can eat buffalo, it has buffalo. Buffon [that must be buffalo in Portuguese]." So we drove around Crystal City until it hit me - he had been at Ted's Montana Grill (check out the logo at the top left). We went and knocked on the glass until the people cleaning up came out. They searched around but didn't find it. That was a strikeout.

I asked him where he had been in DC. He had no idea, and the poor guy was practically crying. He begged me to take him to clubs in DC where people would go.
"It was club. There were girls dancing."
Was it a strip club?
"No no no, not strip. It was club, it was disco."
OK, where was it?
"I don't know. You have to help me! I have wife, she's pregnant."
I'm helping you buddy, who were you out with, do they know the club?
"I don't know them, I was just here for conference. OK you have to help, if people are in Crystal City, where do they go in Washington DC?"
Well....I mean, there are hundreds of bars and clubs in DC. A person could go anywhere. Can you remember the neighborhood?
"No, I don't remember. Oh....why am I so DUMB!? What did I do, God?"
Was it Georgetown? Dupont Circle? Midtown? U Street? Chinatown?
"Could be Chinatown, maybe it was Chinatown, yeah."
OK, let's try that.

We drove up to Chinatown and meandered around, seeing if he could recognize the bar or club. First one we drove past on 6th St he didn't recognize so we went to some other place on F in between 9th and 10th. He thought he might recognize it....he got out and sorta wandered around the entrance until he came back and with a hang-dog look said "That wasn't it. What other clubs are there in DC?" We went to Midtown, where there are some clubs on Connecticut and some other bars where girls might have been dancing. He got out around Lucky Bar and roamed around for a couple minutes, and when he got back in, I made the point for the third time that not only would he have to recognize the bar, but he'd have to actually go in and find his jacket. There was no way that his jacket would have made it to a lost and found yet - there were still lines for people to get in, the clubs were still open. So he finally gave up, and I wrote him out a list of things he should do first thing in the morning - 1) Call the Brazilian Embassy, 2) Call your wife, 3) Find the other guys you went clubbing with, 4) Call Ted's Montana Grill to see if they'd somehow found his stuff.

Well, as you can guess, we never found his stuff. I finally convinced him to let me drive him back to the hotel before we spent all night doing a hopeless task with the meter running. I wonder if he made it back home.


  1. you are a good american tpl

  2. LOL I gotta show your post to my Brazilian student who's just been on travel for two weeks, "See how important it is to know English!" And it doesn't sound like that guy cared too much about his pregnant wife when he was out at the club dancing with girls or girls dancing for him hahaha, it almost serves him right for losing his passport then :p

  3. Oh btw, "buffon" is not buffalo in Portuguese, it's actually "búfalo" so pretty much the same in English but it probably sounded close to your first guess with how it's pronounced. Also, the Brazilian accent can make it very hard to pronounce English correctly, think of it as if someone from the Deep South was trying to learn another language. But indeed you were a good American for being patient and trying to help :)

  4. am from the deep south and speak french and german with great ease...