Tuesday, August 16, 2005

West Side Story

Standing in the long line as the only non-Hispanic in El Toro, the cashier points to me.

I ask "me?" and the nod from her indicating "yes." I ask for tacos and that went well on my part except I was in the wrong line. I was in the pick up your order line. This caused a little confusion compounded by the fact that my Spanish and Spanglish is about toddler level. Hola. Como esta? Gracias. Muy bueno.

Consequently we were quickly developing a sizable gap in the language and communication department. And the line was getting longer with every passing gesture.

I know that she is asking me how many. The hitch was it depended on whether the tacos were made with small tortillas or regular size. So I try gesturing with my hands and trying to indicate a question with tone of voice. This big? or this big?. I don't think I did the loud voice thing.

The people behind me, and by then there were a lot of them, may have thought a collective groan of 'oh no,' but there appeared to be only patience on their faces.

The still cheerful cashier indicated with hand language to wait until she asked someone to translate. The customer standing next to me steps up to take the job on.

With flawless unaccented English and perfectly accented Spanish he quickly took care of the order. After being shown the size of the tortillas, it was easy. Dos. Pork. Carne. Everything? Si.

Handing her my money we encountered one last obstacle. She used more hand gestures, which I took to mean not to pay until the order gets there. But my kind neighbor in line said something, which I did not understand, and she took my money. I think he knew he would be gone when it came time to translate again.

Venture west on Main Street to the last stoplight. Look for El Toro. The food is too good to miss just because you can't speak the language. --Margo Viers

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