Uncategorized: banks cultural divide excuses learning spanish signage
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One great thing about being in a country that doesn’t speak your language is no one expects you to say anything. It can be a luxury. Bear with me.
Standing in line at the bank the other day the woman in front of me turned to share some observation she had just had about our teller. Whatever she said was probably clever and on point and I should have chuckled and responded in kind if I had any idea what it was. But rather than ask her to repeat herself five times while I flipped through my dictionary I had to apologize ‘Perdon no hablo Espanol’. On one hand it’s a shame. I miss out on the rawer interactions. I don’t get to share in the passive aggressive whispers of the city’s working constituency. On the other hand I have an eject button for every situation. How often have you wished you could say “I’m sorry I don’t speak English” rather than fake a half-interested noncommital laugh?
In class today the profesora asked us to discuss a time and place in the past (think ancient Greece, Paris in the ’20s..) and compare it to today. To watch me speak it probably looked like I was struggling with preterite imperfect conjugations. Internally I was struggling to come up with some concrete comparison I could actually stand behind. En esa epoca habia mas libertad de vida.. but was there really much more freedom? What do I know? Weren’t women excluded from government? Wasn’t there a severe class system? Actually I don’t know. What concrete comparison can I make without owning up to a sad, superficial understanding of this very very dead civilization? (The textbook helped me out with a cartoon of the Quintessential Greek: impossibly curly beard, orating freely in very comfortable clothing, a jug of wine levitating in the background. “Habia mas libertad que hoy. Eran mas inteligentes.”)
Sometimes I miss the point.