Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Success Story

I am the first to admit that my Spanish is no where near the level it should be for as long as I have lived here.  There are two main reasons for this: one, I spend a lot of time in the office by myself and two, Nicole and Karen both know Spanish and it is too easy to rely on them.  I have studied and do study.  I have a huge vocabulary.  I understand more all the time.  But, I cannot put together nouns and verbs and adjectives into good sentences.  I want to speak correctly, not like a baby.  I can pay our employees, pay the bills, cash a check, buy the groceries and the things I have to do.  But, when it comes to an unusual or unique situation.  I can't do it.  Maybe there is a third reason I am not speaking better and that would be I don't have the confidence to do so.

This unusual situation did arise.  The houseparent has a different work schedule from all the other employees and, thus, a different pay schedule.  While I was in the States, Karen accidentally paid her when the other employees were paid.  When I saw this, I showed Karen and, together, we talked to the houseparent.  After she left the office, she became quite hysterical and said some unkind things about both Karen and me.  Strange how those things have a way of getting back to us.

I knew we had to deal with this.  I sat down and wrote out for the whole year all the days the houseparent had been off and the times we had paid her.  We all knew the houseparent was one paycheck ahead, but Karen and I thought with the pay in August, she was two paychecks ahead.  When I wrote it out, somehow, by Karen paying her with all the other employees the whole time I was gone, she was just one pay ahead.

With it all written on a piece of paper, I said a little prayer and went to ask the houseparent if she could go to the office with me.  Usually, when Karen and/or I talk to the employees, we sit behind the desk and the employee sits across from us.  I sat down on the same side of the desk as the houseparent and said I am going to try to talk and explain without Karen.  And asked her if that was ok.  She said yes. 

I started at the first of the year and slowly explained each pay period and each time she left.  When we got through April.  I said that was easy, now it gets more complicated.  We went through May, June, and July.  And I said, now it gets even more complicated and she agreed with me. 

Before I got very far into it, she began raising her voice.  I do not like to be interrupted.  By anyone.  I said wait, please and continued to talk.  Karen walked by the office while the houseparent had her voice raised and rushed on by.  Karen did not want to be called into the situation.   The houseparent insisted on getting her calender.  I allowed her to go get it.    She came back armed with her calender and was ready to do battle.  I allowed her to make her explanation, which was very close to mine.  Then I insisted she listen to me. 

All of a sudden, she realized we were saying the same thing.  She asked me a couple of times before she was really satisfied.  I apologized.  And I tried to say I should have written this out before we talked to you the first time.  There was no way I could use the proper tense for I should have.  I just hate it when I have to use the infinitive because I don't know the proper tense.  But, I got the point across.  I apologized again and said the misunderstanding was my fault.  She did not apologize for the way she acted, but she said she was very emotional when it happened.  That was an understatement.

I had allowed plenty of time for this meeting.  I talked slowly.  I asked frequently if she understood.   I had a splitting headache when I finished.  But, the meeting was successful because I explained what I needed to explain without relying on Karen.

Who knows?  I might conquer Spanish one of these days.


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