Mucho Mas “Adventures in Espanol” . . .


[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]ELCOME KIND readers, back into my past Gumshoe world where my memories seem to flood back to my brain-housing group. I was asked by a few readers to provide “algunas historias mas” (some more stories) about my adventures in my fractured learning of “street” conversational Spanish back when I worked “patrol” for the Santa Ana Police Department in Southern California.

Some of you kind folks who read my most recent posting “Non Sequitur,” may recall my felony-car stop with the “cholos” who obediently responded to my shotgun orders to wash their hands. I also referred some of you fine “la hente” (people) to one of my past articles “Adventures in Espanol” about my “meal order to go order” that could of resulted in an international incident.

Here now, without any further explanation, are two brief accounts from my “gringo boca” that I trust will tickle your funny “hueso” (bone).

It was a very hot Sunday afternoon (90 degrees plus in the shade) type of Southern California day. I was driving a black & white with over 100k on the odometer and the air conditioner only blew out hot air.

(Note: The car was scheduled to be swapped-out soon, but it was the only “police ride” available due to some recent crashes that kind of, sort of, depleted the “hacks” to choose from.)

I had a partner officer this day watch gig (very rare to have a two officer unit by the way) but this was due to the car shortage. It was about noon when we received a dispatch call of a found lost male child. We drove to the dispatch location that was located in a residential (barrio) neighborhood on the south side of the city that was also situated on the west side of Bristol Avenue that was a major north-south traffic artery that ran through Santa Ana.

I arrived at the dispatched location in which I met with two elderly Hispanic women “abuelas” (grandmothers to be sure) that had in their combined custody a little boy who appeared to be about 5 years of age and very scared. They advised me in very broken-English (see, I did not have any street Spanish fluency at the time – just my trusty English-Spanish book in my back sap pocket to rely on) that they had found this child wandering along the sidewalk.

Normally, in these situations, SAPD dispatch would have already received a frantic “911” call from the boy’s parents to report a missing child. No such luck thus far on this call.

Well, my partner and I figured that due to the small statue (little feet mind you) of the child and the hot weather, he had not to have wandered too far from his “casa.” I picked-up the little guy and I attempted to engage him in some small talk but he was too scared to reply except in some quiet sobs as he rubbed his eyes.

I had my partner take the wheel and I sat in the right passenger seat with the boy in my lap. My plan was to have all of us drive in a “grid search” up and down all of the residential blocks in a concentric and expanded (if necessary) search with the goal of the little lost guy pointing out his home.

We were driving very, very slow and our grid search proved fruitless after about 45 minutes. We did drive slowly enough though, for the two “abuelas” to keep pace with us. Finally, we made the decision to cross-over Bristol Avenue even though we both thought that there was no way this little lost guy could have crossed this major boulevard with a lot of speeding traffic. However, anything is possible.

The “abuelas” continue to follow us (we used our overhead emergency lights to stop both north and south traffic) so that these two “abuelas” did not become possible flat tortillas.

Within five minutes we proceeded up a residential cul-de-sac at which time, we were instantly surrounded by the entire neighborhood residents. I learned that they all had been celebrating a “Quinceanera” (a girl’s 15th birthday traditional birthday and rite of passage in the Hispanic culture) when little “Jesus” had just wandered off without anyone taking notice.

“Jesus” was handed over to his parents (No, their names were not “Mary” and “Joseph!”). I noticed the two “Abuelas” standing on the near-by sidewalk (no shade) and I decided to pull out my trusty English-Spanish dictionary to ask them in Espanol – “Would you ladies like a ride back to your neighborhood in my police car?”

The verb or infinitive for “ride” was listed as “montar” and so good old Gumshoe asked in what I considered flawless Spanish, “ Te gustaria un montar en mi coche de policia detras su vecindario?” Immediately, (it was not the heat or the high humidity) both “Abuelas” turned red in their brown faces and shook their heads sideways as they laughed like young girls asked to the prom.

The father of “Jesue” told me that I had in reality asked these grandmothers if they would like to be “mounted” inside of my police car?   You see, “Montar” means to ride or mount a horse. Needless to say, they refused my unmeant “sexual” offer and with that, I quickly bid everyone a “adios!” as our black & white seemed a lot hotter inside as we backed-out from among the laughing neighbors.

My second “adventure in Espanol” is very short kind readers and to the point.

This time I was back in a one-officer black and white working a graveyard patrol shift in the “Central” barrio district of Santa Ana when I got a dispatched call of a family disturbance.

I arrived about a block from the location (officer safety always a priority) and parked my unit. My follow-up officer arrived (he spoke Spanish by the way) and we both quietly walked-up the sidewalk to the sounds of yelling and screaming emitting from the third story balcony of a large multi-dwelling apartment complex. I saw several young children standing on the balcony and they were loudly crying and beckoning to us for help since there were more screams and shouts coming from within the adjoining apartment.

Now, the work for “fear” in my trusty English-Spanish dictionary (that I tried to recall) “meido”. So I shouted out to them, “No mierda!”- “No mierda!” with the intent of calming them down until my partner and I bounded-up the staircase to handled the situation.

Well, my partner started to laugh as we made haste; he asked me why I was shouting my plea to them “No shit!” – “Now Shit!” My shouted verbal instructions to the “ninos” did have the desired affect in calming them all down simply because they were probably wondering what I was telling them to do!

Ok my kind readers, there you have it again from my thoughts and memories put to paper and then to your respective “brain-housing groups”.

Till next time, love your loved ones!

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.


  1. It is interesting, and unfortunate that we don’t do a better job of teaching languages in our schools. Europe does a much better job at that, and most kids know at least two languages before they are in their teens. The fact that the European countries are relatively small and thus multiple languages are around them all the time may have something to do with it.

    I got through school, even college without having a language course. They were electives and I opted to take other courses from that group.

    • I found out the more I learned Spanish the more the folks trusted me Ken. My belief is that all highschool students should at least attained conversational fluency in a language other than English. Sadly, a lot of them do not possess conversational fluency in English upon their graduation. Don’t get me started on writing skills!

  2. Jane: I’m just lucky that I didn’t tell her to beat me over the head with the broom. I have recently been studying my Spanish book. After another hour of it I have learned how to order vino blanco.

    • OMGoodness, Ken, I can see how that could happen. My best friend in Jr. High (today’s middle school) had never lived in the United States. Her parents were missionaries to Bolivia and she lived there for 11 years. She spoke fluent Spanish. She tried to teach me simple words and learned a few, but my range of vocabulary is casa (house). And I think maybe benita is beautiful. But I never got brave enough to say one word out loud – because of the potential incident of being beat over the head with a broom. LOL

  3. Hey Danny, I wasn’t one of the “few readers to provide “algunas historias mas” (some more stories) about my adventures in my fractured learning of “street” conversational Spanish ” but I want to hear all your stories. As many as you write, I will read. I’m looking forward to lots more of them. At these two stories I am literally screaming laughter. Lucky for me I work alone and my office is downstairs where nobody can hear me. If they could, it would be me with a black & white unit out front.

  4. Danny, I can appreciate your adventures in the Spanish lingo. I have zero capacity in languages and the few times I’ve tried it have been total failures. The best I can do is order coffee, scotch and water, and find the men’s room. I’m still struggling with English.

    When vacationing in the Dominican Republic we had a maid that spoke no English. When she asked me what I would like her to do that morning I suggested she sweep the leaves off the front veranda. She looked at me like I was loco and took the broom out side where she began to dance with it.



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