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Hostile In Translation

, | Working | July 3, 2013

(My girlfriend speaks Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, but not English. Except for a few words, she doesn’t speak or understand English at all. This happens at a restaurant.)

Cashier: “Is that all?”

Me: *to my girlfriend in Portuguese* “Do you want anything, sweetie?”

My Girlfriend: *in Portuguese* “French fries and three cookies.”

(Before I can repeat her order, the cashier interrupts.)

Cashier: “What did she just say?!”

Me: “She said she wants french fries and three cookies. Make her fries the same size as mine, please.”

Cashier: “No! Why can’t she order herself? What’s wrong with her? She should speak English!”

Me: “Well, she can speak three languages, but English is not one of them. Now, could you please?”

Cashier: “No! Not until she speaks English! If she can’t speak English, she shouldn’t be in this country! She should go back to Mexico!”

(My girlfriend recognizes the word ‘Mexico’.)

My Girlfriend: “No, no. Portugal, Portugal. Portuguese. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese. No Mexico.”

Cashier: “What?”

Me: “She’s trying to tell you she comes from Portugal and speaks those three languages. Her family is blended of those nationalities and that’s why she knows them. But that’s doesn’t matter. Not wanting to serve my girlfriend because she can’t speak English is discrimination.”

Cashier: “Well, you should get some friends who speak English! Not my fault you choose stupid friends! You’re an American woman! You shouldn’t speak anything but English!”

Me: “I can speak whatever language I want. I happen to be very fluent in all the languages my girlfriend speaks. But I’m not going to stand here and argue with you. Please cancel my order.” *to my girlfriend in Portuguese* “Let’s get ice cream instead, okay? There’s an ice cream shop down the street.”

(After we get outside, my girlfriend says to me in Portuguese…)

My Girlfriend: “I have no clue what either of you said, but I know that woman didn’t like me. I’m not mad. We have idiots like that in Portugal too.”

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