At work, there is a young woman named Janice. I do not know her last name yet.
She has been in this country for about three months, after being sponsored by her husband to live here. She moved from a town I missed the name of just outside Hong Kong. She has been speaking English for about as long as she's lived here. She carries around a small device which translates words from her native language to English. She says that she tries to learn one new word every day. She even tests herself now and then.
She is the happiest person I have ever known. Sure, there's other happy people--you're probably one of them. I'm prone to a lot of smiling, a lot of jokes and making bad passes at co-workers. She's different. She is happy without pretense of any sort. She smiles because it is a new day in a new place with new friends and new life. We should all do this. In short, she's just about the awesomest person ever.
I work in the back. I'm a full-time baker, part-time anything else at my store. I don't go out front except to replenish product. Janice works full-time up front with all the rest of "the girls". As a result, I get to see very little of employee-consumer relations, but I do know how that goes, as I've been working up front for two years already.
It pisses me off, almost puts me into hysterics, when customers ask her for things, and she doesn't understand, and they get mad at her because her english isn't up to snuff.
"Look, ALL I WANT IS A COFFEE, alright?" Then, a frump, a huge I-am-so-hard-done-by kind of sigh, and a rolling of the eyes. As if Janice is the asshole here. I walk out, and they look at me as if I'm going to extricate them from this horrible scene. The next time I am pulled away from my job to tend to some customer who is stricken with a plague of non-English, I'm going to say, "Look, ALL I WANT IS FOR YOU TO SPEAK SLOWLY SO SHE CAN UNDERSTAND YOU, alright?" Then I will frump, sigh as if all the world is placed squarely on my shoulders. And I will roll my eyes.
Funny. You never really know people. If only they spoke to Janice for a few seconds, saw her as a human and not as an immigrant, they would realize that she is one of the most excellent humans on earth.
"English is hard, Devon." she's told me. Except with her accent, it comes out engreese is hod, Dayvawn. "I try veddy hod. I weese peepoe could unnastan."
"Yeah, I spoke a different language, too, when I was a kid."
"You know," she says, "Deese ignorant peepoe ah cunts." Cunts is spoken with no detectable accent.
I don't know who taught her her swears, but oh man, does it make me laugh.