I was on my way back into Prague about 10 this morning, and in possession of a completely valid ticket, thank you very much. It was warm. To say my mind was wandering would be disingenuous because it would imply that it is ever not, which is not, in fact, the case.
Anyway, when the conductor came over to check my ticket, I said “Just a moment,” and started to fish my wallet out of my pocket, which was a bit awkward because I can be a bit awkward, and she started in on me, as if I was deliberately stalling, and when she saw I had a ticket she didn’t shut up, like a normal person would have, but I guess (my Czech is far from perfect, I don’t catch every word) she was saying that I should have had it out and ready as soon as she walked into the carriage, and I reacted the way I usually do in those circumstances, by giving her the blankest, most uncomprehending look possible. She said “You don’t understand me, do you?” and I said “No, I don’t understand.”
Now, here is where Czechs are different from everybody else on the planet. Pretty much any train conductor in any other country on Earth would have realized, from the few words we’d exchanged, that I do speak a little bit of Czech, because saying “No, I don’t understand” in the language she’s accusing me of not understanding her in is a de facto admission that I DO know at least a couple of words. It’s like when somebody asks if you are asleep and you say “yes.”
But, satisfied that no communication was possible, she punched my ticket and moved on. Just as well.