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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That Not So Fresh Feeling

Today I feel like a big ol' douche. I spent a couple of overnights working in a part of Miami where 99.2% of the population only speaks Spanish. I struggled by using workers on the floor and other customers as translators. I am not comfortable that the level of service was top notch and they all stare at me like a circus freak when I say "No habla."

I lay part of the blame on my high school Spanish teacher who let us watch Spanish cartoons and gave us the "Cancun survival guide" approach to Spanish. I can order cocktails, order food, get directions to my hotel and a bathroom but that is about all. Thanks Mr. F. You really did me a solid since I have never been to Cancun anyway.

The rest of the blame lies with me and my douchey American habit of saying I will learn a foreign language then never really doing anything about it. A friend of mine is giving me his copy of the Rosetta Stone Spanish set which is guaranteed to be the best and fastest at making someone fluent in a new language. So if it really works I will be speaking like a Miami resident by the end of the year and feeling better about my level of pharmacy service. So with that I issue a challenge to all health care providers to learn at least one other language if you are not already fluent in two or more. You never know when it might come in handy.

9 comments:

Guzzo said...

Today I feel like a big ol' douche.

No worries.. looks like you already speak French.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

I took 2 years of it in high school and 3 in college, and can't speak it worth shit.

When I was single I actually bought a guide to learning it, and of course never stuck with it, and it's still collecting dust at home.

Realistically I'll never do it, but would like to. Just too damn busy.

John Woolman said...

I'm constantly surprised at how useful the Latin and classical Greek hammered into me have been. I suspect they would be useless in urban Miami. About as useless as my education in spanish which was directed at learning how to read Cevantes and Fredrico Garcia Lorca.....

Anonymous said...

It's not really arrogance when it comes to not learning another language. It is common sense. I'm a firm believer that if you want to live in a certain country, you need to learn the language. If I decided to live in Italy, I'd learn Italian. If I decided to live in France, I'd learn French.

That being said, I can see how it would benefit public health care professionals to learn other languages. It isn't just about "illegal immigrants." We have foreigners who come to the United States for vacation.

I also agree with you about learning foreign language in grade school. At my school, you didn't start learning foreign languages until 8th grade. By that time, I was more concerned with my math and science homework as well as getting final drafts of English papers ready.

Anonymous said...

I am going to wear a tag that says "no habla espanol-sorry"

was1 said...

fuck all you bleeding hearts. this is AMERICA. if you want to live here, the first thing you need to do is learn to speak English so YOU can talk to ME.

Phathead said...

Why should you feel bad? Last I checked, this country speaks and works with English. Not your fault they haven't taken the time to learn our language. Why should you learn theirs?

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with was1... when I lived in France for a couple of years when I was young, I learned French. Paradoxically, it pissed them off when I spoke it well enough to pass for an expatriate... you're in my country, legally or not, so learn my language. I owe you nothing.

Anonymous said...

I'd get all Pulp Fiction on them like, "English, motherf---ker, do you speak it?"