An inspiring encounter

I write for a humor blog with two friends, James Malins and Cherie Michiko, called Misusing Big Words. This post was originally published here:
http://misusingbigwords.blogspot.com/2008/01/inspiring-encounter.html
I was sitting in my office when the office cleaning lady came in.

"Hello," She said.

"Hello," I said.

This particular cleaning lady comes in almost every day, so we've become friendly with each other. However, she speaks very little English, so I don't ever make much conversation with her, despite knowing some Spanish, because I feel like if she doesn't know what I'm saying she will be disappointed and embarrassed. Probably nothing like that would happen, but oh well.

The gentleman that used to share the office with me was a very talkative fellow, and would often engage her in conversation, often beginning the conversing with this phrase "Es correcto decir...?" (Is it correct to say?) and then ending his sentence with a very mangled bit of Spanish that would be most accurately described as correct, but not right--not right at all. While I enjoyed their interchanges, I am not comfortable enough with people to act his part, the part of the lovable doofus. I wish I could, but it's just not me. Not that I'm not lovable, or a doofus, I just don't think I could pull off both together.

Anyway, after exchanging greetings, I continued working, which on that day meant cleaning and organizing the office a bit. And my way of cleaning usually means everything gets a lot messier and dirtier and more chaotic before anything actually gets clean, so there were piles of paper and binders and paper clips stacked everywhere, as well as mounds of rubbish thrown away in the garbages.

"Cleaning?" She asked.

"Yep," I said, and gave her one of my "Oh yeah, you know it" smiles. You know, the ones that look remarkably like the "I'm smiling at you but I really wish you'd leave" smiles. This time, though, it was meant to be the first type of smile.

"Cleaning good," She pointed out.

"I know it," I agreed heartily.

"Trash no good," She explained.

"Oh I agree," I replied thoughtfully.

We continued doing our own respective work for a few more minutes.

"Okay, bye," She remarked with finality.

"Bye. Thanks," I told her, gratefully.

To this day, this has been the longest exchange we've had. I still I don't know her name, but I learned more from that cleaning lady than any other person might learn from any other cleaning lady in any other office anywhere, ever. I don't know if that's saying much, but, well... I'm saying it anyway.
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