Another embarrassing story:
Years ago I pulled a reefer trailer for a few months. One place I delivered was a potato chip factory in Kansas City, KS. It was actually kind of cool in the end because to unload the potatoes they had me drop my trailer on a platform, open the doors, and watch while they tilted the platform way up into the sky to dump all the potatoes out the back. Too bad I didn't have a digital camera back then (somewhere around 1998 or so).
But when I first got there, I couldn't find anybody I could talk to. Everybody spoke Spanish only, and maybe sign language, but not any signs that I understood. So I kept wandering around getting more and more confused, and finally I decided that I was going to try to remember some Spanish. Two or three years of Spanish classes in high school and a month spent in Spain should help me out of this tight spot, right?
So I decided I was going to tell the next person I met, in Spanish, that I didn't speak much Spanish, but could they help me? So after a minute a guy, who looked Mexican, drove up to me on a lift truck, and like everyone else had that day, just kind of looked at me. I said, "No hablo Inglés."
He said, "You don't speak English?!?"
And I've never tried to use my Spanish in public since. :-)
P.S. I am learning Spanish again, through the wonderful new(ish) technology of podcasting, and an excellent program called Coffee Break Spanish. Check it out if you're interested. Maybe someday soon I'll work up the courage to say something stupid in public in Spanish, instead of the normal routine of just saying stupid things in English all day.