December 07, 2008

Plus Ça Change...

When I first started blogging (a little over five years ago now!), my seventh ever post was about an experience I had at a breakfast place in Beacon Hill called The Paramount. They have an odd system there, where you go in, immediately get in line, give your order directly to a short-order cook, and then wait while he cooks it right there in front of you. Only once you have your food, fresh off the griddle, do you pay and find a table.

Anyway, they've had the same cooks there ever since I found it six years ago, and every time I go in I'm in constant awe of what they do. Without ever writing anything down, they manage to juggle up to ten or fifteen orders at a time and always end up getting the right thing to the right person within four or five minutes. They also manage to do this without ever flinging hot egg in their irritating customers' faces, which may be the more impressive feat.

See, being in Beacon Hill, their clientele is made up largely of insufferable upper-class douchebags who have more money than manners, and because, day to day, they manage to insulate themselves almost entirely from the working class, they have no idea how to act appropriately when they are forced to interact with them. This means that, because these particular short-order cooks are Hispanic, anybody who ever took a bit of high school Spanish (or watched Univision once "for the cultural experience") attempts to converse with them in Spanish. Here's what I had to say in 2003:
Hey! I have news for you, Mr Linguistic Genius! Not only will a short order cook be perfectly aware of the words 'two' and 'please', but a native speaker of Spanish is not going to be impressed by your knowledge of the words 'dos' and 'por favor'. Maybe if you knew the Spanish word for omelette, or, you know, any Spanish word that you couldn't pick up from watching Sesame Street, he would have been a little impressed, but frankly I doubt it. If a Spanish person came up to you and said 'Two omelettes please', I don't think you'd be too astounded (probably just a little confused).
I'd like to reiterate that sentiment now. Because yesterday when I went to the Paramount, the guy in front of me said:

"¿Cómo estás, amigo?"

And then continued to pepper his order with such masterful linguistic flourishes as "grazias", "bien," and, when three minutes had elapsed without food being placed in front of him, "¿Dónde está los huevos, hombre?" (n.b. *I* realise that it should be "¿Dónde están los huevos?", but Dingbat McRicherson apparently did not. And "hombre"? Don't even get me started.)

So, listen up, would-be Friends Of The Worker: I know you live in Beacon Hill, which means you probably voted Democrat and think that this makes you a socialist (and also, this year, that you are entirely un-racist). But whatever the hell it is you think you're doing by speaking your mangled, inaccurate Spanish to the guy cooking your omelette for minimum wage, it's not impressing anyone. In fact, it's about the most irritating fucking thing that anyone can do during a social interaction as seemingly innocuous as ordering breakfast. So do us all a favour and save it for your maid.

1 comment:

Heinz Healey said...

Dear Sir:
I live in Beacon Hill, but I skipped every Spanish class in 7th grade (I would have been kicked out of boarding school if it weren't for that trust fund). If you're going to stereotype, make sure you do it right, ie Scots are the only race of people who can be gay without actually being gay (and, yes, I said race because somehow generalizing anything other than an entire ethnic group seems frivolous).

Oh, and my maid speaks Norwegian thankyouverymuch.

H. Fontelroy Schruben, III

Post a Comment