Static

Today my mother-in-law, the kids, and I went out to get the kids haircuts.  My boys, especially, have come away with haircuts a la Dumb and Dumber one too many times when Husband has taken them.  Besides he was helping his mom with yard work.  So it worked out perfectly that I be the one to supervise their new do’s.

Since it only took around 15 minutes to finish our errand, we thought we’d stop by Zaxby’s on the way home for a little treat.  We slid into a booth and enjoyed the funky memorabilia lining the restaurant walls.  We talked about everything and nothing and got free drink refills.  Before we left, my mother-in-law suggested that we order something for Husband since he didn’t get to join us.

I ordered a grilled chicken salad to go and proceeded to wait for our number to pop up.  We waited…and waited.  Then I watched as a shy Latino approached the counter and I listened to his order.  It went something like this:

Hostess:  What would you like today?

Latino:  Heh?

Hostess:  What would you like to order today, sir?

Latino (muttering):  Cheeken platter.

Hostess:  I’m sorry?

Latino:  Cheeken.

Hostess:  Grilled or fried?

Latino:  Heh?

Hostess:  Grilled or fried?  Your chicken.

Latino:  Greeled.

And he stepped back to wait for his number to come up.  He wore a vague smile and his eyes possessed the vacant look of a man who doesn’t fully speak the local language.  The same look I wore for three years in India.

Finally my number popped up.  But before I could claim my grilled chicken salad, the Latino grabbed the salad, muttered ‘thank-you’ and left.  I moved in slo-mo.  That was my salad

So I re-ordered, and it took another forever before we could leave with our food.  But I couldn’t be angry.  Because, the truth is, I know exactly how the Latino felt as he ordered his food.  I know how his mind was preparing an answer in English so that he forgot to pay attention to the next question.  I know how he was listening for key words and paying attention to the body-language cues of the hostess.  I know why, when he saw that some type of food order was ready, he jumped, sure it was his.  Because he was nervous and trying not to look stupid.

I would not have understood him or sighed sympathetically at his plight three years ago.  I would have been annoyed and antsy.  But three years later, thank the Lord, I got it.

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