Spanish for living ’round here

It’s time for me to take a refresher course in Spanish, because trying to give directions to a little Latina grandma I forgot the word for “Yellow”. I was trying to point out the yellow line on the metro. All my brain could give me was the German word for yellow, “gelb”.
Apparently she couldn’t speak a lick of English and it didn’t help matters when another non-Spanish speaker tried to help out. A quick scan of the Shaw/Howard platform, there were no other people who might, might have a stronger command of Spanish…. and my train was coming so, I left her, feeling really bad. But She didn’t speak English and I don’t know enough Spanish to gove useful directions and there really wasn’t any more I could do.
So thus it was a reminder that my Spanish is rustier than my bike, and I need a tune up. I mentioned the whole incident to some friends who reacted negatively to the Spanish speaking woman, “if you’re going to come to my country illegally you should learn the language,” blah, blah, blah… To which I say, while she’s on the waiting list for the ESL classes, that I hear are backlogged, I can try to meet her halfway and learn some Spanish.
However, what I need is Spanish for my world, my hood. I don’t need to know how to tell Maria that Jose is having a party or ask how Carlos is doing. No, I need Spanish for trying to give directions on the Metro or Metrobus. While we’re at it I need cleaning and construction crew Spanish. I need the following phrases:

Could you please not dust while I’m still sitting at my cubicle.

This counter is a 1/2 inch too short, can it be fixed?

You need to cross the street to catch the 70 bus to Silver Spring.

4 thoughts on “Spanish for living ’round here”

  1. Why don’t you hire a Spanish worker who will teach you these phrases and expressions? They are much nicer than the mean Americans who expect too much for peanut wages.

  2. yellow: amarillo
    Don’t clean while I’m here: Puedes regresar luego? (Can you come back later?)

  3. Reminds me of the time I was in NYC last year.

    For someone who had only been to NYC once prior, I did a good job navigating the train system. Some Latina woman asked a White woman for directions in Spanish. The woman yelled “I do not speak Spanish!!!”

    I, with my rudimentary Spanish 101-102 education, tried to help, but to no avail.

    The only words I can remember are avogada (female lawyer) and cerveza (beer)…and heck, the latter is useless to me because I don’t drink alcohol!

    It sucks to learn languages (nearly nine years of French, one year of Italian, and that year of Spanish) to forget them just like that.

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