Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Speaking the language

It takes a lot to get me frustrated. Today, I'm frustrated.

Let me back up a bit...

We have puppies due, and I just realized I'm behind on getting my supplies together. There is one item, hospital soaker pads, that work fantastic for new puppies. These are the WASHABLE pads that lay on top of the bed sheet, say, after a mom has a baby.  I used to get them from a nursing home, but they've stopped using this item, and have gone to disposable chucks. Last week my good friend Ann had a baby, and I went to visit her in the hospital. She was laying on one of the soaker pads. If only she knew how close I was to taking it out from underneath her. LOL Most hospitals have also switched to the disposable chucks, so I was excited to see Ann laying on hers. I know, it's sad.

Now, I can buy them online, but they're VERY expensive. But in the healthcare system, they can only be used X number of times before they have to be thrown away. So I called the hospital where Ann had her baby, and asked to talk to the linen department. The guy I talked to said, "I don't think we even use those."  and I'm like, "Yeah, you do, cuz my friend was laying on one two days ago." 

Well, they contract their laundry out to a Cooperative Laundry company (like a large laundromat for hospitals.) He gave me the number, and I called.....

Me: Hi there. I have a strange question. I'm looking for used soaker pads that are being discarded, and am wondering if I could get some from you.

Laundry worker, in an accent I don't recognize: Who you call for?

Me: I'm not calling for a person, I'm looking for an ITEM

LW: Oh what you look for?

Me: Soaker pads

LW: She no work here

Me: It's not a person! Is there someone else I can talk to?

LW: I work machine. I no what you have. Call back tomorrow. Talk lady upstairs. She speak English.

Ok...ummm...Why is someone answering the phone if they can't speak the language? Why, in the U. S. of A, when I call directory assistance, do I have to CHOOSE English? Shouldn't that be the default and all the other languages can push a button? Why, when I go to McDonald's, can't I understand the guy on the drive through speaker? Why must I REQUEST someone who speaks English well enough for me to understand?

Sorry, this doesn't usually bother me. And I'm all for leaving your oppressed country and coming here to find your dream, and give your kids a future. But man SPEAK THE LANGUAGE! In Angela's elementary school, the most ethnically diverse elementary school in the state, there were 27 different language represented! That is a LOT of kids in the ESL programs.

Ok, jumping off my soapbox now. 

And by the way, don't suggest the disposable soaker pads, because puppies shred those in about .10 seconds flat! 


Kathie Brinkman said...

All I can say is--EXACTLY!. If I moved to a foreign country to live and work I would expect myself to learn the language. I wouldn't just assume that the country would accommodate me!

JennyH said...

It drives me crazy to call customer support for anything- cable, phone, computer, etc... and talk to someone who clearly doesn't speak English all that well. Then I can barely understand what the heck they are saying, if I even do understand. Today I have had to talk to 4 customer service people- none of which spoke English as a native language. another thing that erks me- those dang computerized voices for the companies before you get the real person. They never understand you and keeps asking stupid questions when all you want to do is talk to a freaking person, even if they don't speak English!!

And how lucky you got to see Ann and her new baby!!

Tamara said...

Well, different viewpoint here. My grandmother, who I never had the chance to meet, never did learn English. She really didn't have the opportunity. And, I would imagine that many of the people we meet up with are the same. They come here and are doing their best to survive and probably their best to learn the language, but it's freaking hard. I took two years of Italian in school and can't speak it worth a dang. And it's way harder to understand it over the phone than it is in person - I know because when my relatives from Italy call, it's tough on both of us. So, if you're frustrated on one call, figure that the other person is frustrated through much of their day.

The helpdesks outsourced to foreign countries - now that's a different story and it's all about corporate greed.

RoverHaus said...

I hear ya!

But we American's want our pie and eat it too.

We want clean hotel rooms, without the NY City prices.

We want a decent hamburger at the drive-through, without the cloth napkin price.

We want affordable, first rate services. But we want them in perfect English.

When I travel abroad, I sure do appreciate the folks that go out of their way to make me, a guest in their country, feel welcomed and special, even if I don't have the language down.

But I know it is frustrating, especially when you are trying to buy soaker pads. ;-)

Leah said...

I have no problem with "them people" coming here and learning the language. Why is an employer putting the in the position of...say...answering the phone when they're not yet understandable? (and I'm not even talking about outsourcing helpdesk calls, cuz that's a whole other post! LOL) Here's the thing: I'm used to working with kids who are deaf/hard of hearing, and am VERY used to, and very GOOD at understanding garbled speech. I know, that when I can't understand the person at the drive-through window, it's got to be pretty bad. And when I can't understand them face-to-face, it's even worse. Tonight I was at KFC (I'm giving away my fast food habits, aren't I? LOL) gave my order. Got to the pick-up window and a spanish speaking man pops out, "Wenahave cookies, aplatun ova ok?" Mind you, this was all said very quickly, and while he was turning away to do something else. I asked him nicely to repeat it (I am NOT rude in person, only on my blog, cuz I can, cuz it's my blog.) and he did. I still didn't get it all. He was just as frustrated as I was, but why was HE frustrated??? Now if I was in Mexico, or whatever spanish speaking country he's from, then by all means be frustrated with me. But he wasn't. He was in Minnesota. We have plenty of culture clash here. Like a mom I know from south Africa who will undress her 12 and 13 year old children right down to nakedness while they stand in the middle of a public area, with people all around. NO KIDDING! Some of us have tried explaining to her...several times... that this just doesn't work here, but either she doesn't understand, or she doesn't care. Hard to know. I really could care less about the cost, and cheap labor. US teenagers make great cheap labor. Mine couldn't get a job at any fast food place in our town because all the jobs were taken by...guess who????