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, , , , , , | Working | April 5, 2020

(I’m on a four-day high school trip. After we stop for lunch on the way home, I go with a friend to a nearby gas station/corner store so she can buy some candy for the remaining fourteen hours of the bus ride. While she gets her candy, I start looking for a cheap souvenir, since everything in the hotel gift shop was either ridiculously expensive or simply impractical to travel with. I’m still looking when my friend pays for her candy, so she stands outside the store while I try to pick something out. Finally, I pick something and bring it to the counter. The cashier, a friendly young black man, has been cheery with my friend and absolutely nothing at all notable has happened so far. Neither I nor my friend look even remotely Latino or Hispanic, so I’m a little surprised when he starts speaking to me in Spanish, just as happily as before.)

Cashier: “¡Hola! ¿Como estás?”

(I’m surprised, but I smile and speak with next to no trace of my American accent.)

Me: “Cansado. ¿Y tu?”

(The cashier is clearly thrown off.)

Cashier: “Oh, s***.”

(His coworker, who heard everything in the back room, started laughing so hard that I thought he was going to fall off the small ladder I could see him standing on. I quickly told the cashier that I spoke English and was taking Spanish as a second language. He said that he sometimes did the Spanish to have some fun with customers, and he definitely didn’t expect me to try to start a conversation. The back room employee kept laughing about how “you showed him!” while the cashier rang up my souvenir. He was still laughing when I said, “¡Gracias, adios!” on my way out. I sometimes wonder if the back room guy ever let the cashier live down that little Spanish encounter or if it became some sort of cautionary tale about not trying to confuse customers.)

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