Washington Crossing the Language Barrier to Get to the Other Side of Pecos Street
I noticed a new business by the corner where I wait for my bus, but I couldn’t tell what kind of place it was. The only sign read: “Se Habla Español.” I thought maybe they hadn’t had a chance to put up anything about who they were or what they did, so I just went in to find out.
“Buenos días, Señor,” a man behind a counter inside said. “Son dos dólares.”
“Two dollars? For what?”
“Por hablar español, Señor. Eso es lo que hacemos aquí. Que habrá dos dólares más.”
“Seriously?! You charge people for speaking Spanish to them? That’s ridiculous. Why would anyone pay for that?”
“Oh, nunca se sabe, Señor. El español es una lengua de gran belleza. Tal vez algunas personas simplemente quieren oír el español hablado. O quizas aprenden el español por sí mismos y quieren un poco de práctica. No es nuestro lugar el preguntar, simplemente hablar. Lo decimos claramente en nuestro letrero que está afuera . . . por cierto, ya estamos hasta seis dólares.”
“What?! Two dollars each time you say something in Spanish?”
“Esa es nuestra tarifa, Señor. Por cierto, ahora son ocho dólares.”
I cut my losses at that point and got out as quick as I could. Then I remembered…I don’t speak Spanish; why did I understand what the clerk said? I really need to find a less disorienting allergy medication.
David S. Atkinson is the author of books such as “Roses are Red, Violets are Stealing Loose Change from my Pockets While I Sleep,” “Apocalypse All the Time,” and the Nebraska book award winning “Not Quite so Stories.” He is a Staff Reader for “Digging Through The Fat” and his writing appears in “Spelk,” “Jellyfish Review,” “Thrice Fiction,” “Literary Orphans,” and more. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/.
Featured Image by Josh Calabrese