Do I speak Spanish? The jury is still out.

Friday, March 14, 2008 |

Look! It's super-blonde Erica learning her spanish skills- no wait!!! She doesn't speak spanish! And yes the sun did that to my hair.

So I worked at McKinney's community health clinic today and no translators showed up. I haven't yet actually needed a translator in all my other times because my spanish was adequate to find out what was wrong and explain the doctor's instructions.

But today- when there was no translator OF COURSE someone needs something more difficult explained. If anyone would like to know the words for swollen and thyroid they are hinchado and tiroides cause I had to look them up. But this is the great part. I walk in just to get another less complicated lady's vital signs and she is already asking for a translator. I was like WHAT?? I ask you if you know your own height and you ask for a translator? This shouldn't be a problem. Even if my accent were horrible(which it is not) the tape measure is one the wall and I pointed. I think that's the international signal for height if I'm not mistaken. Geez Louise.

SO I get all her vitals and ask what's wrong. No problems on my part but she keeps huffing and puffing because apparently talking to me is torture. So I leave her and the doctor takes me with her to translate later on. So we walk in the room and the lady is all NO WAY NOT YOU!! I need a real translator! (this is a free clinic lady- good luck getting the UN to provide an expert interpreter)So we manage to talk about all of her problems. Only at the point when the doctor wanted to know if her knee was still swollen compared to normal did I have a problem, but I explained around it and said "Your knee was big before so is it smaller now or still bigger than normal?" I think I did a good job frankly. I excel at explaining things when I don't know the exact word having experienced not being able to speak english for 18 months.

So she leaves and the doctor is all.....Erica you are amazing I wish I had you at my office. How can you think you only speak OK spanish- that was great!

So here is the frustration. Every time you feel confident in speaking a second language you meet someone who has issues who claims to not understand a word you are saying or who speaks
their own language muffled or with a speech impediment and you get humbled- harshly.

I mean let's get real. In my own language I have to ask certain people to repeat themselves all the time. Some people just don't enunciate clearly or speak quietly or under their breath. Or speak something that is not quite ebonics, valley, east texan. The point is that we shouldn't beat ourselves up for not understanding everything all the time. I now have enough experience to say that woman was a hose beast and was just being a pain. But she still made me feel bad. It was bizarre to have lovely pleasant conversations with everyone else today telling me I was so helpful to them and then her treating me as if I couldn't get Hola right.

I think everyone has experienced that lovely moment in Spanish 1 (or whatever language) in junior high where you finally know a few words so the teacher makes you listen to language tapes and you're all WOAH !! What language are they speaking??? Or the fun of living in Texas where you want to learn spanish but if you turn on the TV mexicans speak at 90 mph on the news or worse on the radio and are the WORST to try to listen to as a beginner. Which you don't know unless you until you meet people from other spanish speaking countries and you're all....OH.....that IS spanish!! What the Heck happened in Mexico to make them think they needed to talk like professional auctioneers?

Anyways. This is the kind of a day that makes me hesitate to say I speak spanish fluently on employment applications. And the minute the lady walked out of the clinic I had a light go off in my brain and I was all hinchado...the word was hinchado!!! ARG!!!!!!

Ciao mis amigos. Ya me tiene loca este blog.

La To


Alison said...

I love it when you call someone a "hose beast." ha! It makes me laugh every time.

And this is my personal opinion here, but I would think that a period of time where you spoke Spanish for a year and a half, would pretty much qualify you to put "speaks fluently" on your applications. But what do I know? I went to Utah on the mission. ;)

I can say with complete confidence, however, that my French is sad, sad, and pathetic. I admire anyone that can carry on a conversation in another language, because whatever I was able to produce in French at one point is now gone and swims with the fishes.

So...yeah, go on with yo' bad self!

Rhia Jean said...

Ummmm...who cares what the old hinchado lady thinks? Her brain was probably hinchado!