If you’ve waited at a bus stop, stood in a supermarket queue or been anywhere where patience is a requirement, you’ll know that the Maltese don’t like to suffer in silence.
Try as you might, someone will always want to strike up a conversation with you while you wait, and these are the early warning signs that shit’s about to go down.
1. The tssk
Translation: Something is annoying me and I feel you should be aware of this.
It starts with a tut, or a tongue pop, or simply sucking their teeth loudly.
2. The huff
Translation: Please acknowledge the increase in my discomfort.
They sigh – a long, powerful sigh that is usually aimed in your general direction. Once they’re done, they’ll look away.
3. The side-stare
Translation: I feel you should know the above noises are being directed at you.
Quick glances in your general direction help them to gauge whether you’re paying any attention to their plight at all.
4. The ħeq
Translation: I have accepted my sadness but would appreciate your acknowledgement.
They’re growing more annoyed now, and no longer making natural noises. They’ve moved on to short words, a clear sign they are ready to converse.
5. The conversation with the wind
Translation: Don’t mind me I’m just sharing my thoughts out loud. If you wish to react though, you may.
They’ll mutter ‘to themselves’ making sure to clearly outline the key talking points they wish to expand upon. “Ili hawn mis-sebgħa ta!”
6. The ‘mhux vera jew?‘
Translation: I see you have overheard my private conversation with the wind. Now you must answer by agreeing with me.
The dreaded final stage, and the first time making direct contact.
The split second you let your guard down and allow them to see you heard what they were muttering, they’ll lock eyes and force a follow-up sentence out of you whether you like it or not. You’re theirs now, and there is no escaping this conversation.