22 June, 2011

habla?

You would think for as long as I lived in California I would've snapped a picture of a Spanish sign somewhere. Oh well, Italy was the last place I felt completely out of my element due to a language barrier. But, oh it was wonderful. 
"We're in America, speak American."
I can't tell you how many times I have heard that unfortunate and incorrect statement. Seriously, American?  That's not a language. I've understood, to some degree, why people are frustrated by language barriers with foreigners/immigrants/new-citizens, but I've never cared that much. "Why do they have Spanish signs at the bank? We're in America." As if the bank on Main Street in Libertyville, USA didn't know they were located in the United States of America. And if the Spanish signs replaced the English signs, I might take issue, but both languages are represented. I understand perfectly well where the line starts, what the rules and regulations are, and how to correctly deposit my check at the bank. The Spanish "infiltration" doesn't really bother me.
In fact, it slightly excites me.
Take today for instance, two women and a young girl came into American Eagle today (did I tell you I got a job there a couple weeks back?), they looked like three generations: a grandma, a mom, and a daughter. Grandma didn't speak English, Mom got by in broken words, and the little girl was in and out of the store too often to tell. They came to the register to check out and my co-worker was helping Mom and I got to help Grandma. 
"Do you have an American Eagle Rewards card?" I asked, kicking myself as I realize everything I just said sounds like gibberish.
She just smiles and nods her head. Then I decide to break out some of that Spanish I have been working so hard on for the past month. This decision does not come about without reservations. Will she think I am patronizing her? Will my broken Spanish offend her? I jump in anyway. I strain my brain to remember any and all words that will help me explain what a rewards card is. And she understands! And she signs up for one! She smiles at me gratefully as I finish the transaction and she leaves the store. My shift is over so I clock out and as I leave the store I see Grandma and granddaughter sitting in the mall chairs. I look at her and wave, she smiles at me and waves goodbye. And that simple interaction, when cultural and language barriers were breached, is why I have no problem that Spanish has crept into our society.

I also posted on the sister blog today. 

2 comments:

  1. You're such an awesome and big hearted person.  I really admire you :)  Dan is a very lucky man.

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  2. Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete