“No hablo español”

woman bus stopThere’s a middle-age Hispanic-looking woman who I see standing at the bus stop outside my neighborhood most mornings when I run. I usually waive and say, “Good morning!” She usually smiles back.

Yesterday morning as I was running past she started talking to me, so I stopped and strained to listen. I picked up a few words but after several sentences I realized I had no idea what she was saying.

“No comprendo,” I said. “No hablo Espanol.”

“You speak Spanish?” she replied.

Straining to remember something from my 2 years of high school Spanish I replied, “Muy poco.” (“very little,” I think)

She replied, “I don’t speak Spanish. Romania is my country.”

LOL! I don’t know if there’s a lesson in that – maybe something about the assumptions we make. If you see one let me know.  I just thought it was funny. 🙂

Tomorrow I’m going to try to remember to say, “Buna dimineata” which is good morning in Romanian.

7 Responses to ““No hablo español””

  1. I think there were both lessons and humor in your story. And I will say that I assumed incorrectly what the blog would be about (e.g, what your opinion on non English speaking immigrants was) based on the title. I guess biggest lesson is “don’t assume”.

    • Thanks Adam! “Don’t assume” is a good lesson. 🙂 And then when we do anyway, be open to revisiting and challenging those assumptions. And hopefully we can laugh at ourselves in the process.

  2. Funny, I thought the same thing as Adam, based on the title of the post.

    Several years ago I knew a woman who took pride in being bi-lingual. In addition, she assumed that anyone working construction had to be Hispanic, so while taking me on a tour of her house under construction, she began speaking Spanish to a man working outside. He looked at her, less than pleased, and said, “I’m not Mexican. I’m from the Middle East.”

    Assumptions–we all know what they do. 🙂

  3. The title threw me too, because I couldn’t imagine you being on a diatribe about foreigners! I had a Danish co-worker, and I along with several other coworkers made the mistake of saying very basic German things like auf weidersen (or however you spell it). We were all guilty of lumping her in with a very broad region of the world — thanks for the reminder that our daily interactions deserve a bit of care and finesse even if we are in a hurry.

  4. Thanks so much for your honesty in sharing this Paul! It’s very true that we can make assumptions about people and usually they are wrong!

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