Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My parents’ English is “music” to my ears

Posted by Andria, but written by Reece:

I was complaining to Paul the other day how my parents had gotten bilked by the ambulance service that took her from the hospital to the rehab center. It’s a trip that is *maybe* 6 miles. And she told me that the bill she just paid contained a charge of $30 for music. I was outraged. How dare they charge her for music of all things!!??!! She wasn’t asked if she wanted music, she didn’t remember if they even played music. I was convinced that the older, not-as-fluent, Hispanic woman was being taken advantage of by some fly-by-night ambulance service. After pleading with my mom over the phone to get the bill so I could call the company and rant/rave about the charge and get reimbursed, she relented. She’d have to call me back with the information.

Meanwhile, I am having AT&T network issues today so her return call went straight to voicemail. The phone never rang, but I was alerted that I had a v-mail waiting for me. I listen to it – it’s my mom. Loosely translated as follows: “Son, this is your momma, I got the bill out and it wasn’t $30, it was $22 [at this point, I am still very mad and very determined to get my momma’s $22 back!!], and the line item on the bill says ‘m . . . i . . . s . . . .c . . . .’, so I think that means it’s a ‘miscellaneous’ charge, so maybe the charge was for some miscellaneous items . . . . maybe it wasn’t for music . . . . .call me.” At this point, I was not mad any more and I’d lost a lot of the determination I had earlier in trying to get my momma’s $22 back.

I haven’t called her back yet. I am still reveling in the beautiful reality of my parents.

Which reminds me of the Fall of 1977. I was starting the 2d grade here in Houston after having moved from NYC. The school wanted us to fill out some form with a bunch of information. One of the lines we were supposed to fill in was for “Bus. No.” For some reason, I knew that “No.” meant number. But for the life of me (at that time), I had no idea why they wanted my bus number. I mean – we owned a car now, we didn’t rely on the 46 Crosstown bus anymore, or the 17 Queens Express bus as we had in NYC, or *any* public transportation. I didn’t even ride the bus to school. Why on earth did they need a bus number? This was also before I knew that “N/A” would suffice if the information was “not applicable” – of course, that would have been the wrong answer in that instance. The neighbor was having the same issue with their paperwork, but somehow they figured out it was asking for a business number, as in phone number. Oh. Right. See, I (as a 7 year old) didn’t know that. Keep in mind, however, that I was FRIGGIN SEVEN years old at the time, and my PARENTS are looking to ME to fill out our paperwork.

I was only slightly older in the Spring of 1980 when the US Census forms came out. The forms didn’t ask for our address. I knew what “address” meant. But it didn’t ask for address. Nope. It asked for our “street number.” I had no idea what the number of our street was!?!? I mean, it was just called “Langdon Lane” – not like 82nd Street where we lived in NYC. That street number was easy . . . 82! But what was the number for Langdon Lane? Where do you start counting? From what landmark/starting point!! I had no idea. Cuz I was TEN YEARS OLD and in the FOURTH GRADE!! Nevertheless, I had to figger it out on my own cuz my parents had no idea – and it’s not like I could walk to the teacher’s desk to ask her . . . we were sitting in our kitchen. So, I put all my years (months?) of life experience into play and determined that we were 3 streets over from the bayou. That was the nearest I could get to figgerin’ out the number of our street. So, in the 1980 Rondon family Census form that is sitting in some US Government warehouse somewhere, there is an indication that our street number is “3.”


Tammy said...

Yeah, this was hilarious.
1. Music. I can just see Reece getting all bent out of shape for Enya or Dido playing in the background for relaxation purposes or something of the sort.
2. Andria was not alive yet in 1977. Neither was I. I know I shouldn't laugh at that. But I did.
3. I read Bus.No. as Bus (as in school bus), No (as in negative). I was confused. I am telling you this to assure you that it is not just your parents language confusion. I also struggle with forms and bills. There. I said it.
4. 3 streets over from the bayou?! HILARIOUS.

Sam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andria said...

In a desperate attempt to protect my sister from her loving husband, I deleted his comment. They were both reading the post together and laughing at her 'Bus No' mistake and he wrote the following comment:

my wife's a friggin' idiot.

Yes...I know my brother-in-law. And yes...I know his intentions are to never hurt my sister, but I panicked ok? OK!!??