Thursday, May 24, 2007

Less salsa! Less salsa!

I wanted a taco salad today for lunch, so I went to a Mexican food chain restaurant called Qdoba. How do you pronounce that, anyway? I'm never sure. I just say I'm going to get a taco salad, since that's all I ever get there.

I was standing in line, and the way the place works is that it's kind of cafeteria style - you move down the line, telling them what you want. It gets packed and noisy at lunchtime. While waiting for my order to be finished, the Hispanic-looking girl assigned to hooking you up with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole initiates the following exchange with a guy behind me:

Girl: What kind of salsa would you like, sir? Mild, medium, or hot?
Guy: A little bit of the mild.
Girl adds a small amount of salsa to the burrito
Guy: A little less!
Girl: (straining to hear over the din) Excuse me?
Guy: A little less! (sounding impatient)
Girl must have heard lettuce, because she reaches for it.
Guy: (loudly, and in an exaggerated accent) mayyynos! mayyynos saaalsaaaaaa! (less salsa)

I turn around and the guy is shaking his head, as if to say "Can you believe this? Can't even speak English".

This bugs me. Girl can obviously speak English. She has been addressing you in English with no problem at all. Ya think maybe because the place is loud, she just mis-heard you? Why must it be that she can't speak the language, previous successful exchanges in English notwithstanding?

So many times I see people approaching someone who looks Hispanic, and immediately speaking slowly, assuming the person can't speak English. Or even better, employees at the hospital where I work assuming that patients with Hispanic names cannot possibly be on Medicaid (because they're here illegaly, obviously, so they wouldn't qualify).

Many of us are here legally. Many of us speak English. I know that's a kooky notion, but there you have it. It happens.

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