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?
Hostess: What would you like to order today, sir?
Latino (muttering): Cheeken platter.
Hostess: I’m sorry?
Hostess: Grilled or fried?
Hostess: Grilled or fried? Your chicken.
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.