a smile. for the first time since i've been shopping at the neighborhood market on glebe road, a cashier made eye contact with me. it wasn't terribly busy, and we were the only customers at any of the registers. she didn't say a whole lot else. she probably knew that i didn't speak a whole lot of spanish and saw my eyes scanning the register in the off-chance that she told me how much in spanish.
"six seventy-five," she says. i pay; she give me my change.
all the more reason for me to sharpen my spanish. as has been the case for years, i understand far more than i can speak, so long as the speaker isn't a rapid-tongued cuban. i watched a primetime special earlier this week called "what would you do" on abc. it was a candid camera kind of show, though not for comedic effect. the first situation was a cashier at a lunch counter who refused to serve day laborers because they couldn't speak english. both sides were actors, but they wanted to see what the real customers would do. some did nothing; some agreed with the cashier; few helped the "laborers". when the host interviewed a local laborer, he tearfully told him that situations like that happen more often than not. it ain't right.
"we are all made of flesh and bone," he opined (through the translator), "treat me like a human being."