Sidewalk Snippet ~ {6/10/13}

One of the most difficult things about escorting for me are language barriers. I don’t speak any other languages except English. When we have Spanish-speaking clients and companions, I have a list of phrases and we can usually understand each other well enough. There are times when we hear other languages spoken by clients and companions and there is where I feel the most helpless. French, German, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and others are all languages clients and companions may be speaking. There are at least 90 different languages spoken in the Louisville schools.

We had a client this morning who pulled to the curb with two companions. One companion sitting in the back seat was interpreting what I was saying to the client and other companion sitting in the front. The interpreter didn’t speak English well, but we were communicating in a stumbling sort of fashion. I explained the orange vests and protesters, the clinic opening and the $3 parking lot.

Before I moved away from the car so they could pull into the $3 lot, an anti we call TM reached into their open window to hand them literature and started talking. Then he talked to them for almost 5 minutes, arm in the car window so they couldn’t roll it up. He ignored the fact the people who he was talking to couldn’t understand him and looked confused. It was uncomfortable to watch, but trying to insert myself into the conversation would have just added to the confusion.

In the end it all worked. The car was moved to the $3 lot. We were able to walk the client and companions to the clinic when it opened. TM didn’t even approach them again during the walk. Perhaps during the five-minute monologue previously he realized there was a communication issue.

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