Lingua Franca

Originally posted as a status update on Facebook that people seemed to like. 

So the bar owner sent a ‘Spanish’ to sit with me – I’m there, having a few beers, minding my own business, listening to the poor Spanish happen around her as drunk Trinis attempt to… well, I dunno, impress her.

So she sits next to me. I want to be left alone, enjoy my beer and go my way. She doesn’t want much to do with anyone either, so I strike up a conversation with her in Spanish.

She’s from Santo Domingo, Republica de Dominicana. She doesn’t speak enough English to get what’s really going on in the bar; she’s focused on her work in the Salon in San’do. So we talk for a while – she laughs at my Spanish now and then (she might as well, I do) and we just give each other enough space to allow us to be human. She does what is required of her boss, she can speak with me a bit, and she does her job while I contemplate life and death. She has no idea my mother died last week – why should she? – and while she’s attractive in her own right, it’s clear she’s doing a job.

Good for her. She’s doing something to better herself, doesn’t speak enough English to be insulted by the idiots… and she comes and sits with me when things go wrong.

She listens to me, speaking in English, about my mother. Doesn’t understand a word. Pats me on the back.

Hands down, more empathy than anyone carrying my last name.

Hands down, the best person I have dealt with since it happened. She has no idea what I said, and I didn’t bother with speaking in Spanish about it.

And sometimes, that’s all you need. A reassuring pat on the shoulder, a little empathy, and you keep pressing forward.

Meanwhile, drunk men try to catch her attention. It’s slightly amusing.

She doesn’t want to be there. Frankly, I don’t want to be there but I needed a break from pushing myself into the ground.

Humanity transcends language.

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