I'm a half-mexicana, half-gabacha working as an appointment scheduler in a medical office. I'm one of a handful of schedulers there who speak Spanish. I've noticed in the years I've been working in this field that about seven to eight times out of 10, when a Spanish-speaking patient calls, gets one of the schedulers who doesn't speak español and waits for myself or someone else to call them back . . . the patient actually speaks English well. I find this out only because (since mi mamá mexicana always told me to never assume someone can't speak English and do him/her the courtesy by waiting until he/she requests Spanish) I call back speaking in English, and they respond in English. I don't mind speaking Spanish with any of my patients — in fact, I'm happy I can be of service — but it makes me wonder why would anyone would want to wait and waste precious time to get their health situated by not speaking English if there is no Spanish speaker available at the time (given they have the capability). Some of my patients really need the help and I am ready para hablar, but others probably have better English skills than several of the gabachas I know.
Appointment Desk, This is Chiquita Curiosa. How Can I Help You?
Sometimes, Mexicans who can speak English pretend not to so they can gain an advantage over their gabacho adverseries — the classic "No espeak English" ruse when either trying to get out of a situation or trying to make the gabachos think they're a stupid Mexican. Other times, the English-knowing Mexican will still prefer Spanish because they can be more exact. That seems to be the case here, especially given you're in a medical profession and some Mexican health practices just don't translate well into the King's English — how do you tell your doctor, for instance, that your mom's remedy for a broken clavicle is Vicks and 7-Up?
Ask a Mexican on the "No Espeak English" Ruse and the World Cup
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano, or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
For those of us living in California, the FIFA World Cup is a big deal. Since we have such a huge Mexican population that has been here a while, is it a safe bet that they root for the U.S. team and the one from Mexico? I know that I tend to place my hopes on Mexico once the Americans get the boot in the first round. Couldn't we get a little more love going for our SoCal community by making our support in the World Cup international?
Historically, no Mexican in the United States would ever root for los Estados Unidos — not so much because it was considered traitorous, but mostly because the team was middling at best and über-gabacho. That has changed in the past generation, as the U.S. has not only become a mid-level power that consistently whips Mexico's ass on the pitch, but also because the squad is now diverse. At the same time, El Tri has underachieved behind the fresa foot of Javier "Chicharito" Hernández ("Little Pea," so nicknamed for the size of his huevos) and the most overrated Mexican since Maná. Most Mexican-Americans will still root for Mexico over the U.S., but there's at least a grudging respect for the norteamericano side — and at least brown members of Uncle Sam's Army don't get pelted with urine bags anymore . . . much. Nevertheless, I don't see a fruitful Mundial for either team, so Mexicans will probably do what they did during the last Cup: suddenly discover their Spanish roots, and go for the goal-getting gachupines.
¡Ask a Mexican! Videos are back!: Gentle cabrones: after a years-long hiatus, I've relaunched the video version of this columna. Follow my weekly rants on Twitter by clicking the hashtag #askamexican and ask away. Enjoy!