Monday, April 6, 2009

Come, Be Our Minions

My library has cleverly and wickedly devised a way to punish the public. It’s so cunning and brilliantly disguised as a service to the community that no one suspects a thing. But I’m going to tell you the secret right now, and if you choose to use it against your own community, I would not feel a bit guilty.

It’s no secret that we have large Hispanic population, and because we are trying very hard to embrace the Latinos and ingratiate our services with them, we have incorporated a Spanish translation into all signs and documents we offer the public, as well as offering numerous services and a large collection of materials. But it’s the Spanish translations that have led to our evilness.

At the end of the day, various staff members are charged with making announcements of the approaching closing, starting a half-hour before, then fifteen minutes, ten, five and a final one at closing. As an equal opportunity entity, we make the announcements in English and Spanish. But here’s the rub: sometimes, when a Spanish speaker isn’t around to do the closing announcements, someone who doesn’t speak Spanish must stumble through reading the Spanish words. Without fail, the only two people on staff willing to inflict this pain upon our ears are the people equipped with the mad skillz to impose the most emotional damage. That’s right, the crackers do it. The whitest cracker-ass-crackers to ever work in our building are the ones who stumble through reading the Spanish announcements, with their brutal, obtuse English pronunciations, ending their long and agonizing announcement with a very American accent of “poor favor”. FSM help us, it’s fucking painful.

This is one of those situations that could very well be more distressing to the English speakers than the Spanish speakers. Not only is the Spanish translation of everything seemingly twice as long as the English version, but our crackers can’t get the entire sentence out in one breath, and the hesitation to inhale causes doubt, which sometimes makes them backtrack and re-butcher the words already sufficiently slain.

    We are gathered here today to celebrate the lives of some very useful and beloved Spanish words, slaughtered senselessly by a vicious cracker at the local library, who had no idea how to pronounce them.

I may never be able to hear the word “ahora” again without hearing one of our crackers in my head pronounce it “ay-whore-uh”.

A fair estimate would be that only about once a week a cracker is called upon to make an announcement in Spanish, and yet, they have not picked up a single bit of the correct way to pronounce Spanish words from the Spanish speakers who make the announcements in their presence all the rest of the time. Each time it’s like an introduction to a whole new paragraph in a whole new language they are asked to read aloud, and often times they employ pronunciation which doesn’t even get used in English, in any dialect. It’s as if their brains shut down completely and they just start saying the letters out loud, one after another.

One particular reader is the worst, and often, when it’s over, I will turn to anyone near me and ask if my ears are bleeding. If not, I ask that someone please stab them so that I never have to hear that again.

People of all walks of life listen to this booming, ominous, bodyless voice take perfectly reasonable Spanish words and phrases that everyone should know, like “de nada,” instead it is pronounced “dee nay-day”, and the cringing and wincing can be seen all around. Our library clears out by the second announcement, and I can’t help but wonder if it is to avoid having to hear the remaining three. I certainly would if I had the opportunity.

While this act of evil is meted out to staff and patrons alike, you have to admire the balls of the person who decided that this was to be done. I mean, aside from raining acid down from the sprinklers, I can’t think of anything more simultaneously painful to a building full of people. And like many situations in my life, I’m left wondering if the crackers who do this bidding are part evil too, and participate knowingly, perhaps even embellishing their part, or if they’re just the clueless crackers who they usually are, finding humor in their own shortcomings and assuming others might chuckle as well. Either way, it’s a marvelous blueprint of malevolence. Despite being a victim, I have to sit back and admire the absolute model of iniquity we have created. If it had a scent, it would reek of sulfur, smoldering flesh and rancid bile. It is crystal clear that in putting our worst translators on the job to read in another language, through a microphone, broadcast to every nook and cranny of the building, we have carved our niche in history as one of the cruelest institutions known to man.

Though I now plug my ears when I hear those familiar cracker voices start to make the announcements, I take a bit of pride in knowing that there are handfuls of people in the building wishing someone would also stab them in the ears.

And no one would ever suspect we’d do that on purpose.


Rachel said...

Hahah, that's great :)
We don't have a PA or anything of the sort (we get to yell...), but since our library's so small, it's not too bad. However, no one has ever even talked about forcing us to do it in Spanish. Which I suppose is a bit odd, being that about 70% of the population is Hispanic.

Lummox said...

Ho Lah! My Ammo is Lummox.

Anonymous said...

Since you apparently consider yourself a better spanish speaker, why don't you volunteer to make the announcments? LOOFA

Anonymous said...

We did the easy thing and hired employees that are fluent Spanish speakers but staff also took some basic Spanish lessons. I think MLS had a grant for an intensive course, Spanish that Works, that was very good.
Here's a list of phrases for library employees.

Happy Villain said...

Yelling? Man, sometimes I think we have it tough and I realize we're spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.

Well, I am immune to your ammo since I like your ammo. BRING IT!

Anon #1:
Did you miss something? I think you did. Go back and read what I wrote about people who DON'T SPEAK SPANISH finding it more offensive. I'm not saying I could do better. I'm saying it shouldn't fucking be done. WTF: Loofa? Did you just call me a cunt to boot? There are days when I think I should password protect my blog, and today is one of them.

Anon #2:
We have many Spanish speaking staff members, but once in a while, none are around. Or the ones who are there refuse to make announcements. That link list is handy, kinda like the big box of PolyTalk cards we have at the desk. They just don't make the cards for things I need, like, "Please refrain from viewing porn" or "Your child just shoved a crayon in the floppy drive and we need for you to leave."

Anonymous said...

Are your bad spanish announcemnt makers southerners or rednecks? Cause that's what crackers are. LOOFA

Magnoire La Chouette said...

Careful about using the word Crackers because you could get shot down here in the Deep South.

Happy Villain said...

I have to count on people not to take this blog too seriously because there are a lot of things I joke about, and there are words I use here that aren't really part of my vocabulary in real life. If I have learned anything in my life, it's that I'm going to offend someone no matter how careful I am or how conservative I play it, so what you see here is a caricature seen through a fun house mirror. It's not real. It's an exaggerated, warped version of me presented to laugh with and at. Sometimes I get tired of explaining this, so I'm sorry if I offended and I'm sorry if I'm defensive. I'm sincerely tired of asking people to realize this is just a dumb blog and it doesn't matter.