Something a little unusual today…two of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompts were things I wanted to write about! That doesn’t happen too often, some weeks I can’t think of a single thing. So this is the first post…the next one will be in a different post. I tend to get a little long winded!
1.) Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you.
My kids now say that Mama’s job is taking care of them and cleaning the house (lol), but it hasn’t been too long ago that I worked crazy shifts in a busy hospital unit. I’ve been a nurse for almost 11 years now. The majority of that time, I worked as a postpartum nurse…a job which I absolutely adored most days. To me, there is nothing better than being a part of a new family’s first days!
In our hospital, we got quite a lot of Spanish speaking patients. Now, I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. Okay, well, maybe a tiny amount, but really…it’s just words that I’ve picked up here and there. I learned how to ask about pain, feeding babies, and DON’T PUSH! (Since L/D was an another floor, that one got used a lot when one of these patients went into premature labor.) But most of the time, it was okay that I couldn’t speak the language, because we had this handy little interpretor phone thingy that we could use.
But something I discovered was that, sometimes, a handful of the patients could actually speak English. Maybe not a lot, but enough to communicate with us. For whatever reason, we discovered this by accident a LOT of the time. My best friend accidentally pinched a lady’s arm while wrapping a BP cuff around it…she apologized and said she didn’t mean to pinch her. The lady (who had not spoken a word of English to anyone in 2 days) said, “Oh that’s okay it didn’t hurt.” Huh.
Eventually, it became something of a joke around our floor that I had the most trouble with the Spanish patients. I could take care of these women for two, three days and they would never say anything to me other than Spanish through the interpretor phone. And then someone else would go into their room, say a lactation consultant, and come back out saying the patient spoke English to her. It happened ALL the time! The nurses I worked with said maybe my little blonde self went bouncing in their rooms, announcing who I was and that I would be their nurse, and my Geico pothole commercial accent threw them off. I disagree. I have never bounced.
One day in particular…I had taken care of this one lady and her baby all day. Near the end of my shift, I went to her room to see if she needed anything from me before I left. I caught her speaking in broken English to one of my coworkers. Naturally, she had not done that for me! She was funny about it though…she grinned at me and said “oops!” And then she pointed at the TV screen and started laughing, and saying something that sounded like “that you!”. My coworker and I looked up and saw the movie RV playing. We were completely confused, and then little Miss Kristen Chenoweth came onto the screen….and she kept saying “That you! That you!” We eventually realized that my funny little patient was trying to say I reminded her of Kristen Chenoweth. I can see the resemblance…short, blonde, and blazing southern accents.
So maybe my coworkers were right, maybe that is how they perceived me when I entered their rooms…but I never bounced.