Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Same Language

Teenagers often reach a certain age when following the request for money from their parents they are given the response, "You need to find a job". At long last, I have finally found one. I have recently been employed at a local seafood restaurant in my hometown. I have never quite known hard work outside of school and sports, and I will admit, this job is a challenge. When I was hired, I had imagined taking orders behind a counter and handing back change, I was surprised when I showed up to my first day of work and was told to put on an apron. I was being trained as cook. Now after two months of work I feel as though I have a firm grip on things in the kitchen, and although it can get ferociously busy I seem to do just fine.

It seems as though the hardest part was not cooking, but overall communicating with the other cooks. With the exception of myself, the entire cooking staff is Greek and cannot speak English very well. The first few weeks I found myself lost, unable to communicate with those who were experienced. To be honest, they scared me. They yell and grimace when I mess up, and do nothing when I complete my task properly. They keep to themselves, speaking only to each other and obviously in Greek. Finding a common ground was difficult, the only thing that we shared was our theft of hot dogs which occurs when the manager isn't looking.

The day was slow, I had made less than five fried doughs and cooked an occasional burger and dog. The wall of the two Greek cooks stood cross armed, as they often do, across the back counter as I sat on a milk crate in the corner. The only words they ever said to me were, "No no no, like this"(And then proceeded to show me how to do do it properly). For the entire day, work for the two foreigners  appeared to be second priority and whatever they were bickering about seemed much more important. Suddenly they had turned to me, in a heavy accent, and declared "Dirk or Lebron"? Right then and there I knew. I had made a connection without even making a response, I could communicate. "Dirk" I replied. The taller of the two continued to repeat, "Dirk, the best ever"and the other repeated "Lebron has it all". I knew they wished to include me in the conversation because they were speaking in English. I could analyze and debate the issue until the cows came home, but it would be awfully useless considering my audience would be unable to comprehend. I simply gave my support to the German wrecking ball and gave my predictions for the NBA Finals. 

Unlike any other language, sports is spoken all over the world and beyond. Although my ability to understand and communicate with my fellow employees was weak, I could fully comprehend their point of view on basketball simply by them telling me their favorite player. I didn't need a rundown of stats and analyzation to understand how they felt about sports. Following the NBA Finals, I entered work the next day. The stone cold Greek stood in the back with a smile, looked at me with a thumbs up and said, "Dirk".

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