Slang fascinates me. How did those words and phrases come to be? Who were the first ones to use them? How did it catch on? While some slang can be traced to different people or regions, others are a complete mystery. The one that I can’t figure out, and that has created some awkward situations, is the term “digger”. There are only a handful of my family members that use the word “digger”. It means a fall or when someone trips. I always thought it was a common New England phrase, but I quickly learned that I was very, very wrong.
During spring break on my semester abroad my first stop was in Barcelona, Spain. My five flatmates and I took a three-day vacation there before parting ways. It was a hot day and after spending most of our time walking around town, a few of us decided to take showers before dinner. I forgot my flip-flops so I had to borrow Marilee’s, which were two sizes too big.
Since my showers take forever I was the last to meet with the group in the lobby. I finished getting dressed in the stall and stepped out into the communal bathroom to comb my hair. Standing just to the left of me were three completely naked French women chatting after their showers. I must have looked strange coming out of a shower completely clothed. After brushing my hair I moved toward the bathroom door to leave. I stepped in a big puddle, lost my footing, and fell hard onto the tile floor. The three French ladies stopped what they were doing to come help me up.
I’m a big supporter of personal space, especially when it comes to people being naked, so I felt real uncomfortable. I quickly got to my feet, thanked them for their attempt at assisting me, and quickly walked to my bunk. I chuckled to myself and thought my flatmates would enjoy the story.
When I reached the lobby the girls asked what took so long and I responded, “Guys, I just took a HUGE digger in the bathroom”.
No one was more confused than me when my flatmates had looks of shock and disgust on their faces. Carly was the first speak, “Why would you tell us that.” Apparently, when one doesn’t know what the phrase “taking a digger” means it sounds pretty gross (especially when told that it happened in a bathroom).
The girls were even more horrified when I told them I had trouble getting up after and the three naked French women tried to help me. I thought it was funny; they were probably contemplating how to kick me out of the flat. After a few seconds of awkward silence among the group I finally realized they didn’t understand what I said. Once I told them I actually fell in the bathroom… relief and laughter hit everyone.
I only remember using the term one other time while abroad when I saw a little girl tumble down a hill. After loudly proclaiming, “that girl just took a massive digger” my flatmates told me I should be a little more cautious when and where I say that.