01 June 2010

Tales from the Sale: Not From Around Here

This Tale from the Sale starts with me -- me in high school and college. As you may or may not know, I have a bachelor's degree in Linguistics, which I chose to pursue after seeing the overlooked Disney film Atlantis when it came out in 2001. I had always found grammar and foreign languages interesting, and since I had to get a degree in something, I figured that would be a fun way to do it. Languages are like puzzles to me -- something to mull over, to work out on paper, and to marvel at the cleverness of.

Also, until very recently, I considered myself a shy person with no social skills. (I am no longer shy, though I do have moments of social awkwardness. But doesn't everyone?)

All this to say that, although I took 5 years of Spanish, 3 years of Russian, and one year of Creek, I hate speaking foreign languages. Especially to native speakers. I read Spanish fairly well, and I can understand a fair amount of spoken Spanish if the topic is right. But speaking it scares me to death. I don't know enough words. I'll sound like an idiot. No one will understand what I'm saying. I might ::gasp:: be wrong.

Which is why I am so impressed with people who come to this country from somewhere else. From where I was sitting at my garage sale, immigrants are some of the bravest, most intrepid, most frugal, most family-oriented people you'll ever meet. I want to be more like them. I want to go up to strangers and do my darnedest to talk to them in their own language with my 100-word vocabulary. I want to always be on the lookout for the best deal. I want to haggle with people and not take no for an answer.

I'm nowhere near any of these things, and I'm not saying the immigrants at my garage sale are perfect. But the same weekend as the sale, I heard some pretty offensive and derogatory things about people from other countries. They're changing America, apparently. Well let me tell you right now -- from where I was sitting that weekend, it should be a welcome change.

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