Sunday, September 02, 2007

Riding the train down from El Barrio

There is a guy at work who looks like a hispanic version of the "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld. He is the first generation of his family in the United States and is very proud of his mexican heritage.

He's funny because he likes to have deep, meaningful conversations even when nobody is willing to listen to him ramble. And he chooses to talk about things that most people aren't interested in. Like tortillas. He'll talk for hours about tortillas. He says things like, "It's a sin to cook a tortilla in the microwave." I don't prod him for more information but if that is true than the catholic church is even stricter than I previously believed.

He also talks about "Spanglish" a lot. It sounds like this when someone speaks Spanglish, "Ba la da la ba CAR INSURANCE. Ba la da ba la da BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO." He says that when people speak Spanglish it is because of their own ignorance. He says there are words in the spanish language so you can say practically anything but people aren't willing to learn any words they don't already know and they end up speaking Spanglish. Lazy and ignorant, he says. He tells me, "You will never, EVER hear ME speaking Spanglish."

A little while ago I was working with a temp from Mexico. He spoke very little English and I speak very little Spanish but we still seemed to get along pretty well. When I work with mexicans I try to speak in Spanish and English just to make sure things are getting done right. This temp starting teasing me because he heard me say "kwa-chro" instead of cuatro (which should really be said more like kwa-throw) and he started speaking in ebonics, saying "fo'" instead of four. After that I kept saying kwa-chro on purpose and then adding little touches like saying "Uno-cientos" instead of "cien" (one one-hundreds instead of one hundred).

We saw the Hispanic Soup Naze while we were riding around and I explained how he felt about Spanglish. The temp agreed. He said it is a dumb way of talking. He said he's heard guys on construction sites using words like "truckay" for truck and "rightay" for right (as in, right-handed).

Later, I was still working with that temp and I was yelling out instructions, using words like frente, en medio y atras (front, middle and back) and the Soup Nazi heard me. His face lit up and he yelled, "Emmett! You're learning Spanish. That's great!"

I said, "Yeah. This guy is teaching me all kinds of stuff! He taught me TRUCKAY, he taught me RIGHTAY..."

The Soup Nazi didn't saying anything to that. He just shot me an icy stare with those spanish eyes that seemed to say, "NO BIRRIA PARA USTED!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice story