Or, at least that’s what you might think.
Judgement hurts in too many ways to count.
I stand in the local thrift market
looking for trinkets and such with my father.
He came here to look for vintage picture frames
to put up on our pastel coloured walls.
He brought me to be a translator,
of his broken English.
I see the looks some give him
but I am proud of my father.
And angry at how our society works.
Looking at my father you think
he probably only knows his own mother tongue
had lived in poverty before.
But you are wrong.
An Italian man sits by this booth
selling picture frames.
I point and tell my father, and he walks over.
“How much for frames?”
I taught him how to say that well enough.
The man says fluently,
“$40 a piece,”
but behind it you can hear a faint Italian accent.
My father hears this and his face lights up
and he replies in Italian
“Great, but can you lower it to $30. For me, man?”
The man seemed shocked to see a dark-skinned man
speaks such fluent Italian.
The man got up with a smile on his face
and told my father
“Man, I was born in Italy, but you speak it better than me,”
My dad laughed.
Next time you see
a strange man
struggling with his English
stop to think
he might be able to speak to you in
German. Italian. French. And in a tiny bit of Spanish.
And of course
his mother tongue.
He might have learned the culinary arts
in a world-renounced school.
He might be able to do anything.
And he might even be a little more impressive
than you will ever be.
But all it takes is you to stop it.