“Speak English”

So, this kind of ticked me off.

A few days ago, I was waiting for the public bus, heading to a park with my friend. Even though it was a weekday, the bus stop was packed with older folks who probably wanted to take advantage of the sunshine. So finally one of the smaller buses stopped in front of us and we both got on near the back.

I should probably mention that the other people at the stop were all Asian, speaking Chinese to each other. Not really a rare sight where I live.

Anyways, everyone got on the bus and took a seat. But the bus didn’t move. One of the grannies brought along a small rolling luggage and put it in the aisle. Again, this was a small bus so there wasn’t a lot of room. Because the bag could potentially come flying down the aisle, the bus driver told the lady to move it out of the aisle.

Problem was, her English wasn’t very good. So in a bus full of folks who couldn’t understand what the driver was saying, everyone just sort of sat there awkwardly. The driver continued to semi-yell at the poor lady and exasperatedly said, “The bus isn’t going anywhere until that bag is moved. I get paid by the hour so I can sit here all day.”

Again, no response.

Now the driver, impatient, yelled in an incredibly rude tone, “Does anyone understand English and speak Chinese?!”

So anyways, that really pissed me off. You don’t need to know Chinese to communicate with people. I got out from my seat and gestured to the lady to put the bag in her seat. Of course, she understood me and moved it. It took two seconds.

Wow, look at that. Problem solved.

You really couldn’t do that, bus driver lady?

speak english

Anyways, this all reminded me of that video the other week, where a racist, xenophobic hater started yelling at a man who was speaking Spanish to his mother on the phone. “Speak English,” the moron yelled. “You live in America.”

Learn how to speak English?

How about learn some respect.

While some people are bilingual or even trilingual, embracing cultures from other places in the world, these haters are fluent in Hate and Ignorance. And why? Are other languages so threatening? Is not understanding the words of another person so terrifying?

If you’re that fearful of foreign words, you need to broaden your world.

I’m hoping this might resonate with a lot of you guys. If you’re a traveller, then you understand what it’s like to be in a foreign country where you struggle to communicate. You understand what language barriers are, and how to overcome it. You know that communication is more than just words.

All it takes is just a little bit of patience and empathy.

Anyways, the message I’m trying to share here today is pretty basic: be a little open-minded. The person who you’re talking to, whether you understand them or not, is still just that – a person.

Just because they don’t know what you’re saying, doesn’t mean they don’t understand what you’re saying.

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12 thoughts on ““Speak English”

  1. Thanks for sharing this story with us. And good on you for helping out that poor lady on the bus! I can definitely identify with this. My dad is from Central America. He is very fluent in English but he has an accent, so sometimes when we’re out in public, people talk to him as if they don’t expect him to understand English… sometimes even people we know act like that. :/ Anyway, this was a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Why is it always bus drivers? Not to stereotype, but I’ve had my share of rude, cranky bus drivers too. I’m with you Kana. It doesn’t take much to be respectful, be kind, to stop for a second and think about what you’re about to say. Some people are just too caught up in their own world, and think everyone else should accommodate their way of thinking. I’m mostly sorry for them, cause that’s a really shitty way of thinking, and it’s going to take them a long time to change that. Ignorance runs deep :/

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think that a lot of this “learn to speak English” crap comes from people’s insecurities, or feelings of being less than. It makes them uncomfortable to not know what other people are saying, and that it could possibly be about them. That and the whole “they’re stealing our jobs” nonsense that some people believe. I think that also, there are a little t of miserable people on this world, and since misery is all they know, it’s what they go around spreading. Really sad if you think about it. This situation makes me feel sad for the lady who couldn’t understand (thank goodness you were there!) and it makes me feel sad for the bus driver, who is too caught up in her own misery to realize that a change in attitude would improve her life greatly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perfectly written.
    You simply brought out the meaning and that too so well. I don’t understand why people give so much importance to any particular language.
    And yes, respect is the first thing that we need to learn these days!

    Liked by 1 person

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