The Gumshoe: Adventures in Español

GUMSHOE-DANNY-PITOCCO[su_dropcap style=”flat”]G[/su_dropcap]REETINGS! (¡Hola!) once again from Gumshoe.  I thought it was time to share some of my adventures in trying to learn Spanish when I worked in the City of Santa Ana, California as a uniform patrol officer.

Just to give you a wee bit of background about the City of Santa Ana; it is located in Orange County (same county that hosts Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, etc.) but, Santa Ana could be compared to South-Central Los Angeles due to the reported crimes of gang-homicides, robberies, rapes, serious physical assaults, burglaries and other “quality of life” issues.

Santa Ana is about 27 square miles and it has a reported population of about 329,427 residents but it is probably closer to over 400,000 if you count the “undocumented” citizens from Mexico and other parts of Central America.  Needless to say, (I’m saying it anyway) it helps the street police officer to “Habla Español” just to figure out what was happening at the scene of a 911 call (of course, if you already spotted the bleeding body, it did not take Señor Sherlock Holmes to deduct the circumstances).

Well, I always thought learning Spanish would be fun since it is, after all, considered a “romance” language.  So, with my trusty pocket-size edition of a Spanish-English dictionary, I hit the streets with the confidence that I could “hablar” with the best of them!

Okay, I did take a few “Spanish for Tourists” and “Survival Spanish for the Gringo” classes at the community college to back-up my back pocket language “diccionario”.

It was day watch and I was wearing my class A (long sleeve shirt with tie) blue uniform since I had just left court on a noon lunch break when I decided to go to one of my most favorite Mexican fast food restaurants known as “El Pollo Loco” (The Crazy Chicken) for my Code 7 (meal break).

I pulled my black and white into the very crowded “El Pollo Loco” parking lot on 17th Street (main arterial within the city) and I walked into the very busy and noisy restaurant with great confidence because I knew that I would request my complete “take out order” in Spanish to the very lovely female manager and really impress her!

Before entering, I did a quick check in my pocket “diccionario” for just the right words to place my order:  two chicken breasts; medium coke; rice with no beans and flour tortillas to go!

“Por favor, yo quiero dos pechos, medio coque, arroz sin frijoles y tortillas de harina para ir, gracias!”

Immediately, there was a harmonic shift inside the restaurant!  The cooks stopped chopping the chicken on the grill; the customers at the service counter stared at me in disbelief; and the customers at nearby tables stopped chewing their food.

I thought, “What in the good Lord’s name had happened?”  The young, beautiful and well-endowed manager looked at me and grabbed her breasts as she exclaimed in pretty good English and in a very loud tone:  “These are breasts!” (pachos)  She then picked up a plucked chicken as she further exclaimed: “These are the breasts of a chicken – pechugas de pollo!”

Mortified, I realized I had confidently ordered two tits to go as part of my lunch. I sheepishly picked-up my order (forgot my coke) and slinked out of the restaurant while the customers and workers had a pretty good laugh at my feeble attempt to order in Español!

This gringo later returned (on another day) and was able to successfully order lunch to go in flawless Spanish with the same pretty señorita manager – but I only ordered tortillas and salsa to go – minus the breasts.

Well folks, that’s my story and I am sticking to it, this is Gumshoe signing off until next time.  Be well, be safe, people love you!


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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