When we first moved to Arizona, I had a series of terrible temp jobs. No one wanted to hire a recent graduate who had BA in German Area Studies and another BA in Comparative Literature.
There were very few interviews I went to that didn’t ask this as a final question:
“So, do you speak any Spanish?”
I could tell that the question was a comin’ when the interviewer’s eyes lit up as I walked in—it was my dark hair and olive skin. There’s a glint in a person’s eyes when you look like you’re a part of their group or an “insider.” I got it lot from older women at the grocery store who didn’t speak any English. They’d make a beeline for me, immediately launching into their question or asking for help assuming I spoke Spanish. Sometimes, I would get the question, Do you speak Spanish?
Occasionally, I’d get the eye because they thought I was somehow lying or that I should speak Spanish. More often, I’d get a sad look. You know, very disappointed. Why don’t you speak it?
I really wanted to help, but I couldn’t and people didn’t always understand. It’s also interesting that we see what we want to see. There were many who assumed I’m hispanic. (Similar, but not the same is the post on the Mystery Women, but in more of a paranormal “seeing” way 🤷🏻♀️)
I understand there’s a totally practical reason for that interview question, but it was disappointing nonetheless.
One woman told me at the end of our interview that she really liked me and wished she could hire me, but it came down to that last bit of speaking Spanish. You’d think I’d have learned Spanish by now—that’s a story for another time.
So, I went on these temp jobs. I drove far away from the hot apartment we initially lived in where no one really wanted to make friends because everyone was so transitory. Despite living in Phoenix, I was sent to Awatuhkee and Mesa—and to the far stretches of these cities at that. Rarely in Phoenix proper despite my reminders and requests.
I met nice people who eventually turned their noses up at me when they found out I was living with my boyfriend, now husband, while I spent time doing jobs that were mind-numbing.
During my lunch break, I’d look longingly out the giant office windows of the various break rooms at the inevitable hot dog cart below. Not just because I was tired of PB & J, but because being outside talking to a bunch of people, remembering their orders and seeing their smiling faces seemed a whole lot more fun than being cooped up in an overly air-conditioned mega office building in the middle of nowhere with a handful of people who were offended by my “living in sin.”
The hot dog cart has been a joke between me and Chief because if I had the capital at the time, I just might’ve done it.