Recently I posted a link on my Facebook page to an article that is so profound that I want to write a little bit about each of the things to do that we won’t regret later.
#2: Not learning Another Language
‘Bark, bark, bark, bark’ means ‘I’m mad that you won’t give me your cheeseburger.’ ‘Bark, bark, bark, bark’ means ‘I’m glad that you’re finally home…I’m hungry.’ It’s the fine nuances of how these 2 lines of communication are delivered that make me fluent in dogspeak.
Dogspeak is the only other language that I can say that I’ve truly learned. Now, way back in 1979, I did take Spanish I and Nancy Wilson would get most frustrated because I couldn’t roll my rrrrrrrrssssss. But way back then, there wasn’t really a reason to learn Spanish. There were no Hispanics around me except the ones I had heard of at Panoply and my greatest adventure would be to the Great Smoky Mountains. So I did what was only necessasito to get by and pass that class.
Over the years I’ve learned a few bits and pieces along the way. But I’ve never gathered Hispanic words in a complete sentence enough to say say that I’ve learned the beautiful language of a beautiful country; Donde esta los banyos?, si, piquito, jajaja and no guacamole por favor. And I’ve struggled through a few other lines as needed.
Years ago, a patient I was taking care of could speak no English at all. None, nada. He looked at me and said ‘yo hablo Espanol?’ I replied,’ umm, piquito’. He started spewing out string of Mexican words like Ricky when he got mad at Lucy. I just stood there completely mortified at what I’d gotten myself into again. The grown man was very scared about his life and began to cry out of frustration of not knowing what was going on. He kept holding onto my arm. So, I leaded up and did what any red blooded American would do and stood directly under fluro for the duration of his procedure while this scared soul desperately clung onto my arm for dear life. It was 2 am and no time to wait for a translator to come in, no family. The only human interaction this man had was with a room full of extremely American people. Yes, this man should have known better English if he lives here. But he didn’t. It is what it is and this poor grown man was absolutely scared to death.
This was one of those moments in my life that I’ll always remember. It sort of transcended above usual life things in life. Although he and I could not communicate verbally at all in this intense medical situation where he didn’t know what we were doing, why we were doing it, why his chest was heavy and what the machine was whirring around his head, we were able to communicate as human beings and as men. And we both quickly became perfectly comfortable with the physical exchange of this stranger clinging tightly to my arm. That physical connection offered peace to this scared human being and after all, that’s why we are here for each other as humans on this planet.
At the end of the procedure, he cried again as he repeated ‘gracias senor, gracias senor’ and he reached to shake my hand. His wife and family later showed up.
On my travels, I could easily have ended up like him at a hospital in Mexico somewhere. In most of the Mexican areas, some speak fluent English except in a couple of places where we were. Had I needed medical attention in Belize, I might have had to hang onto some strangers arm to make it through a scary procedure.
We have access to learning another language pretty easily now. However, we Americans believe that the world revolves around us and most of us don’t feel inclined to put ourselves out enough to learn to be fluent in another language other than what our dogs mean when they yap at us over a piece of bacon left on the stove top.
As we get ready to look towards a trip to Europe in 2018, and when I find out exactly where in the world we’ll be, I’m going to make efforts to learn a little about the language of each country that we’ll be in.
Something necessary such as ‘Can you tell me the best place here to get good bar b que?
That’s the best I can tell about it.