I came to a new cafe for breakfast yesterday and liked it so much that I came back today. As I said down with my food, the young black cashier approached me.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “but I wanted to ask. Do you speak another language?”
I told her I speak a bunch.
“Oh, wow!” she said. “How long did it take you to learn?”
I explained that I started learning English as a kid but other languages later on.
“Were you born someplace else, too?” asked the cashier with a breathless excitement usually reserved for people coming from Hollywood and not Ukraine.
“I always wanted to learn another language,” she said, “but it seems impossible because of… you know, my dialect.”
I assured her we have many students with the same dialect at my school, and they are learning Spanish very well.
People are really excited about languages. It’s funny because I’m quite indifferent, probably because I’ve always spoken several, so it’s not a big deal to me. I don’t even know anybody closely who is monolingual.
But I will never get over how nice and kind everybody is in this country. Everybody is so nice that it puts even the grumpy individuals like me into a kind, giving mood. I even signed up to be a publication mentor to a grad student in Wisconsin.
This is a good country, folks.