I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Friday, September 24, 2010


At this new place that I work they found out I speak Spanish: the Office Support people, the typing pool word processing unit... the lady who makes the coffee (I think we have a person solely devoted to doing that...), my secretary... the weird thing is... they all insist on speaking to me in Spanish, and want me to speak back. There's no "of course you speak Spanish. Everyone in the world does."

It's really weird. They treat me like I'm some sort of novelty. Like I'm a unicorn, and everyone wants to touch my horn. (That's what she said.) Or like I'm in some club - it's like when I was in summer camp, and we'd speak in "Gibberish," which, to this day remains one of the most satisfyingly difficult "kid languages" to speak -- I really don't see any reason to converse with my secretary in Spanish (she has a Jewish last name...) but they're all super impressed with my skillz, so... I guess I humor them. To a point. Then I give up because it's hard and I'm in the middle of something else that's mentally taxing, and, "yes, the bullfights in Sevilla were magical. Can you make me a copy now?"

Maybe it's because very few of the other attorneys speak Spanish so it's a common-thread that they share with me. That's cool, I guess. But the awe that people have at the fact that I can spit out a sentence in Spanish is unnerving. If I lived in Montana, it would be one thing, but this is Miami. Everyone speaks Spanish here - you have to. At my old firm, it was a requirement that I spoke Spanish. That was... hard. Making the law understandable is difficult enough in English... let alone Spanish. Eventually I got into a rhythm where my clients would speak to me in Spanish, and I would answer them (slowly) in English.

At the end of the day, it's flattering. You should have seen the Office Supplies guy's face light up when I asked him where the "boligrafos" were. I guess it's probably like Christmas when one of the future "Old White Guys" walks in and doesn't behave like an "Old White Guy." But I'm NOT an Old White Guy. I'm a young(ish) Jewy Homo, who happens to be in an Old White Guy line of work.

And even in Baltimore or D.C. I would understand the awe that these lovely people demonstrate when I tell them that yes, I was a double Spanish and Journalism major in College and yes, I lived in Spain, and thank you for the compliment on my ability to speak Spanish. But we live in Miami. This is a city where it's just assumed you speak, understand and read Spanish, and if you don't... move somewhere else.

The best was when I was doing a research project for a partner about something involving Panama, and I needed to read the underlying documents, and asked for them. He was explaining them to be and then said, "Wait, you speak Spanish, right?" "Yup." "Here ya go." That was pretty awesome. Only one of the other associates speaks Spanish, and I don't know whether he can read it so... one point for the 'Bee.

I'm not complaining. I like it. I like that I'm making my "ins" with the people who can push the right buttons for me, and get me what I need. It's just strange that going from a place that was like working in Havana, I'm now working in a place that's like...Raleigh.


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