Originally posted on the Tembua website on June 5, 2010.
I was at the meat counter discussing steaks with the butcher. As I took my meat and turned to leave, a very nervous middle-aged woman approached the counter. It was quickly apparent that English was not her native language. From the note in her hand, she read slowly and carefully:
“I am sorry that my English is bad. I am taking English lessons. I am good butcher for 10 years. My diplomas are here. I can work hard. Can I have a job?”
The butcher, busy with other things, looked at her and said, “NotonthespotbutgetpastHRwithalltheirforms’ntell’emI’mreadytatalkwithya.” He spoke so fast it took me a moment to figure it out. The women at the counter thanked him quietly in several languages and turned away discouraged. It had taken all her courage to approach the meat counter, and I was certain she would just go home. If she couldn’t communicate with a fellow butcher, how was she to manage with HR? The worst part is that I simply stood there. Had I explained to her what he said, had I walked with her to the HR department, had I given her my phone number to call if she needed to, I may have helped one family out of unemployment. My opinions about the administration’s immigration policies or the State’s unemployment system aside, this was an opportunity to help and I missed it.