I got my first telemarketing call the other day. It was from my internet company, she was trying to offer me a “special promotion” for telephone and cable services. It seems that no matter where you live, you can’t get away from telemarketers. Anyways, I was quite impressed that I actually understood her enough to know what she was trying to tell me and able to respond to her that I didn’t want any additional services beyond my internet.
I’m able to speak pretty coherently with the pharmacist, supermarket cashier, doctor, taxi driver, hairstylist and now the cable company. I can also talk with contractors at my house. But understanding Spanish on the phone is so much more difficult than in person. And one thing that makes it so much more difficult and confusing is that no one introduces themselves when they call me. Normally, you would call someone and say, “Hi Chrissy, this is ____”. But no one says that. Most of the time, I have no idea who I’m talking with for the first minute until I can figure out what they’re saying and why they’re calling – then I piece it together!
For nine months before I moved, I took classes at Colors of Spanish in Petaluma which has helped my tremendously. Having been to Costa Rica ten times before the move, I knew some basic vocabulary but it was really the classes that gave me the advantage I needed to settle in and feel comfortable here. I know a lot of people who don’t feel like they need to learn the language but personally I feel that’s disrespectful. When I’m talking with someone here and they apologize for not knowing English, I tell them: Estoy en su país y entonces tengo a hablar español. (I am in your country and so I need to speak Spanish). I know that the sentence may not totally be grammatically correct but it’s close enough and they understand and appreciate what I’m trying to say.