I am American, I speak English, since when is it a crime to speak English in America? What? You ask, a crime? Well according the public I serve the fact that I don’t speak Spanish fluently because I appear like them and have a Mexican surname well that’s not only a crime, but a sin! I speak Spanglish and for the most part I get my point across however phonetically or grammatically incorrect it may be. I was recently reported to my Cities transportation department…I am a bus driver of public transportation in my town, for being rude and not understanding my passenger….What the fuck? Understanding you? I don’t need to understand you, you live in America, although most folks here would have you believe it’s akin to Lil Mexico, which to some degree is the truth. My town is predominately Hispanic, a good percentage of which is the illegal kind. I have nothing against someone coming here to work and do jobs Americans on welfare won’t do, but when you are here illegally and collecting welfare, getting free housing that I don’t qualify for and a host of other benefits and using my name to do it, well then, there is a problem. And if you do not speak English and yet expect me a second and third generation American to speak Spanish then I really have a problem. So apparently this customer who was already in a bad mood did not like the fact that I closed my doors on her. She made a complaint to my city and my boss showed it to me and I was like “really, I don’t give a fuck, this paper is bullshit” my exact words to him….”If I was black or white, she would have no legitimate complaint, and I know this would never have even been called in.” Because I chose to close the door and not listen to her tell me “Escuche me, usted no intiendes, no intiendes, no intiendes” over and over again and the simple fact that SHE believed I should have understood her because I appeared MEXICAN, I got reported. What irritates me is that she does not make any attempt to speak English to me so why should I speak Spanish to her even though I did and got her where she needed to be? If I went to China and needed to get somewhere on a bus I am pretty sure they would expect me to know where I am going, and expect me to speak their language if I needed assistance. My point is that this was ONCE a part of Mexico, not anymore, so why we cater to Spanish speaking people is beyond me. Some local signs are solely in Spanish or Spanish is above the English translation. I even go shopping and get spoken to in Spanish and I say “Excuse me I am American I speak English” To which I usually get no response at all, but downcast eyes as if they are telling me “chinga tu madre” in their heads.
Honestly I wish I spoke more Spanish, it is a beautiful language, but I am not going to be Selena who was adored by the Mexicans by the way. I am Krisann Gonzales, American of Mexican descent and I speak English, because my parents never spoke Spanish to me. My mother who went to Catholic School was wrapped on the hands by the nuns for speaking Spanish, and my father, who was a second generation American didn’t speak Spanish until he was in his 30’s because he realized as a self employed mechanic he could make more money. My eldest sister on the other hand grew up next to my Mothers parents and learned Spanish at a young age, my brother and I only ever knew cusswords. Doing this job I have learned more and can assist someone pretty well, but it’s not perfect. The difference between me and my complaining client is that I at least am making an honest attempt to speak to her and if she cannot appreciate that, then too bad. I feel bad for her, because she will never gain the benefits of trying to speak English, communicating primarily through her child whom she will use as a translator who will speak both English and Spanish perfectly, how wonderful Is that?What I love is watching someone come into our office and say perfectly “Do you speak Spanish” and if someone says "no" they speak in English and with no problem. Maybe their hesitation or reluctance is because they will be misunderstood or look silly, but make the effort people. You will gain so much more. I don’t get the tenses correctly in Spanish but I make the effort and I think that should be appreciated. So what if I say something wrong or incorrectly, I usually preface it with “Como se dice ummm?” whatever word in English I cannot say in Spanish. That usually emits a correct pronunciation from a more helpful passenger and also assistance if I cannot communicate effectively. To which I am very grateful. I try to learn more and more every day from my coworker Irma who teaches me Spanish phrases and speaks to me in Spanish, I help her learn more English. Now if only we could get her to say the street FALCON correctly!