So I went to the fabric store with my wife yesterday. I’m telling you, my wife knows more about fabric and fabric stores than most of the people who work there. She is buds with almost all the little ladies that work in the fabric stores in our area; on a first-name basis, if you know what I mean. My job was to hold her place in line at the cutting table while she picked out the material and the pattern she needed. So mostly I just get to watch and listen; maybe put in a little side-bar or two.
There were two ladies working the cutting tables, measuring and cutting the material. At my table was a grandmother and her late teen granddaughter buying bright picture-pattern fleece material. The cutting lady was showing them how to do some complicated sewing maneuver. I said, “This is a great store. You can buy material and get free sewing lessons.” We all laughed. The grandma said, “We need all the help we can get.”
At the other table was a family of Hispanic ladies, an ‘older’ lady (not as old as me, but older than the others), two younger ladies and two or three children. The cutting lady at their table was speaking Spanish to them, explaining how much the cost per yard was, and how much the total would be for each amount of material she cut. She was also telling them about the patterns and the sewing books they had available, and where they were located in the store. I speak enough Spanish so I got most of what she was saying, except some of the words that were specific to sewing (I don’t do a lot of sewing in Spanish or otherwise). The Latina was very appreciative that the lady was speaking Spanish, since she couldn’t speak much English, and she wasn’t paying much attention to her younger companions trying to translate. The cutting lady used English whenever she couldn’t think up the right word; but it really seemed like the two of them were communicating effectively. I was impressed.
Back at my table, the cutting lady spoke very softly when she said, “I don’t speak ANY Spanish, and I don’t care. I think immigrants should be required to speak English. I mean really, this is America.” I didn’t say anything, but it seemed like to me that the folks at the next table were getting along fine, and the next time the Hispanic lady needed material, she’d be back. Might be good for business.
When we went through the checkout, the lady from the other table checked us out, and as we were leaving, I leaned over the counter and said, “I think it’s nice that you speak Spanish to your customers when you need to. I think they appreciate it.” I was surprised when she stuck out her hand, shook mine, and said, “Thank you for saying that. I’m happy when I get to practice my Spanish; and it seems to make them happy too.” As we walked out the door, I thought, “And I bet it makes God happy too!”