The client and companion got out of their vehicle and let us know right away they did not speak English and asked if I spoke Spanish. I do not and regret it frequently. The escort with me only speaks a few phrases in Spanish. We were able to communicate through a combination of hand gestures, simple phrases and one-word comments that we were there to help them to the clinic.
We were joined immediately by antis pressing up against them talking non-stop in English. I let them know when they started talking the client and companion only spoke Spanish. That was ignored. Their logic was sure the client could understand their words.
One anti was at least 6 inches taller than the client I was walking beside. He loomed over her, pressing literature into her hand and constantly talking about what he thought she should do.
I finally looked at him and said, “Do you speak Spanish? If you don’t you are wasting your words because she doesn’t speak English.” The response was, “We can get an interpreter,” and continued harassing her in English. He was secure in the belief that if he just talked more and louder, she would suddenly be able to understand English.
We managed to get to the clinic door with a combination of single words, gestures and ignoring the chaos around us. It can be overwhelming to enter into the chaos on the sidewalk for any client. Imagine if you could not understand what was being said to you by the people surrounding you.
There’s a comedy routine from BBC about the English approach to the language barrier, where this one fellow is trying to ask a French man if he wants tea, and he just keeps shouting louder and louder “TEA!!! DO YOU WANT BLOODY TEA?!”
This though… wow, ignorance on so many levels.
I never encountered this kind of thing too much up here in Canada where I live, but wow, what you and the other escorts go through and have to put up with. You’ve got a better temperment than I do, that’s for sure.
I’ve seen the BBC routine yelling “Tea!” It was exactly the same situation. Your encouraging words are appreciated. I’m not sure whether it is better temperament or just a necessary thing to put up with the anti actions. We try to stay focused on just the clients, but writing about what happens afterwards does help. We hear that some of the extreme protesting tactics by the antis in the US have been exported to the UK. Hopefully, Canada will be spared.
You’re lucky – Our protesters actually know a bit of Spanish and Somali, but I’ve never been on the sidewalk with an escort who knows either. This mean the protesters could be saying anything to the clients and we can’t counter it. I’ve been bugging our clinic administrators to give us either paper handouts or a short speech in both languages that we can memorize – welcoming clients to the clinic, explaining the protesters, etc.
I can see where that would be a disadvantage to have the antis able to speak Spanish and Somali without escorts understanding. They could be saying anything. One of the escorts did write down some simple phrases in Spanish for us to use, but I never seem to have it with me when I need it.