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Our Great DiscrimiNation, Part 4

, | Working | June 5, 2016

(I am a medical lab scientist. I have a coworker, also a medical lab scientist, who is Brazilian by birth, but speaks perfect English. She has a slight, gorgeous Brazilian accent, but is entirely understandable. She also has a very roll-with-the-punches, sweet-hearted personality. A nurse calls my coworker’s lab bench phone. Because her hands are full/covered in bodily fluids, she hits speakerphone, so I can also hear the conversation.)

Coworker: “Lab. This is [Coworker].”

Nurse: “Ugh. Can I talk to someone who speaks English?”

Coworker: “I speak English. What can I do for you?”

Nurse: “No. Not someone who kind of speaks English. Someone who actually does.”

Coworker: “I actually speak English.”

Nurse: *enunciating like she’s speaking to an idiot* “No. When you were a baby, running around in a diaper, what language were your parents speaking to you?”

Coworker: *being honest* “Portuguese. But I speak English as well.”

Nurse: “Get me to someone whose parents were speaking English.”

(My coworker peels off her gloves in frustration, puts the phone on hold and turns to me.)

Coworker: “Can I transfer this to you?”

Me: “Sure. Transfer it to my bench.” *answering phone* “Lab, this is [My Name].”

Nurse: “Where did you grow up?”

Me: “Seattle, mostly.”

Nurse: “Thank the skies! Okay, I have a question about the urinalysis for [Patient]—”

Me: “Okay, I’m going to stop you right there to let you know that I can answer general questions about that, as I am certified in urinalysis. However, if you have any questions about that patient’s urine specifically, you’re going to have to talk to [Coworker] as she has analyzed all the urine today. I’m doing blood counts today. So, it might be better for her to answer your questions.”

Nurse: “No. I need to talk to an American about this. I need to know [proceeds to ask a question very specific to that patient’s urine].”

Me: *such that the nurse can hear me* “Hey, [Coworker].” *I repeat the question, and then directly relay the answer as she says it*

(After hanging up the phone.)

Coworker: “Well, that was different.”

Me: “No. That was offensive.”

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