Monday, February 28, 2005
Bilingual in Lawrence
This last summer we drove down to Lawrence, Kansas, to visit my brother-in-law. They have a beautiful log cabin home in the woods, with a nice creek running through their property, and tons of birds. While visiting, Liz and I stayed in a motel in town. When we checked in to the motel, it was a little rustic, shall we say, and was obviously run by a family of Patels from India, with the patriarch manning the front desk (and I think doing about everything else, too).He must have been just a recent immigrant, as his command of English was not keen, so getting checked in took quite a while, with much back and forth gesturing, but he was a very pleasant fellow. The next day was spent visiting at my in-laws, but my wife and I decided to go back to our room to change clothes before supper. When we got up to our room, the same Mr. Patel was cleaning our room. We asked if he would go clean elsewhere for just 30 minutes, but he was just as adamant that WE go elsewhere for 30 minutes and he'd be finished with the room...at least I think this is what we were saying back and forth, because again it involved a lot of gesturing. We finally gave in, and decided to go enjoy the breeze in the parking lot while sharing a cold beer. Now Liz is the sweetest, friendliest person, always wanting to make people she meets feel at ease, so as we left, she said "Gracias, amigo!" Well, I about fell off the balcony. Mr. Patel looked at us kind of wide-eyed, but smiled warily. I laughed all the way down the stairs.