Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Help at the supermarket

A few weeks ago I was at the supermarket doing some shopping. I tend to go to nicer supermarkets because they have more American and "luxury" products like veggie burgers and tend to be close to my house.

I was in the toothpaste section when an older woman approached me. She handed me a piece of paper and asked me to help her find what was written on it. Not quite sure why I was chosen- in spite of speaking fluent Spanish a lot of people here speak English to me because they assume i don't speak their language (although I almost speak their language better than they speak mine!) and I wasn't wearing the market's uniform, but I was happy to help. I quickly gathered that she didn't know how to read and that she must have been an empleada (cleaning lady) sent to the store by her employer.

The employer wanted a specific type and size of toothpaste- they had the brand of toothpaste, but not the large size, only the smaller one. I showed the woman where it was and explained that they didn't have the large size that was written on the paper, just the small one. She got very worried and said, "Are you sure they don't have the large size? That's the one I have to get." Again, I explained that they didn't but it shouldn't be a problem to get the smaller size since it costs less. "No, if I don't get what they want then they will be unhappy and fire me." I offered to let her use my cell phone to call the person but she didn't know the number. She decided to risk it and got the smaller one.

I'm not sure if she was exaggerating or worrying for no reason, but the situation made me grateful for two things:
  1. I have been lucky enough to be born in a country where I received a good public education and don't have to rely on others for the most basic of things.
  2. Thanks to this education, I have been able to get jobs with good supervisors who respect me and don't make me afraid to lose my job.


beth said...

I'm totally procrastinating (I think I'm supposed to working...) but it's fun to see what you're up to.

Leslie said...

hee! I am always glad to help with procrastination efforts!

Laurie said...

Yes, I understand the employee/employer situation. I have heard and seen people in Hondudras who treat their hired help like little children. I had a person who offered to help train my servants. (like I had any?) She was especially interested in teaching them to bow when leaving my presence. I felt like I was in an old British movie and I was really creeped out.

Leslie said...

Wow, Laurie, bowing? That's horrible!!