My first class started at 1:30 this afternoon and the training center is only 10 miles from my hotel. I decided to leave the hotel at noon thinking I would arrive at the training center right after everyone else left for lunch and thus have my choice of parking spaces. The high was 102 degrees here today so if there was a shade tree, I wanted a chance at parking under it!
I left right on time and proceeded to get myself thoroughly lost in downtown McAllen. I never thought of McAllen as a big town. I have never been here before but the way people talked about The Valley (McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr), it was just a border area made of a lot of small towns. Well, I can't speak for the other towns around here, but McAllen is a BIG TOWN to me. I wandered around some side streets for a while, counting down the minutes until I would actually be late for my first class. I finally came to Business 83 and decided that had to be a main drag. I learned many years ago that if you need directions in an area, find a fire station or a rental car company. They both are in the business of knowing where things are in their immediate vicinity. It can be intimidating walking into a firestation, so I was happy to see an Enterprise Leasing office almost immediately after I turned onto Business 83.
The agents at the Enterprise office were very helpful and it turns out I was only two blocks from the intersection I had been looking for. I was safely parked under a shade tree in front of the training center within minutes ...plenty of time before my class started. The training class was good. If the next few days are as good as today, this week will have been a good investment of time. I have a stressful job, the sheer volume of work can be overwhelming at times, but I like the job itself. Even if I didn't like my job though, I would not want to lose my job in this economy. So whatever I can do to entrench myself in the position, I will do.
I still find it amusing that I am well within the borders of the good ol' U.S.A. and yet English is the not the primary language. I stopped off at a Payless Shoesource store on the way back to the hotel this afternoon and was greeted by the clerk with, "Hola. Puedo ayudarle hoy?" (Hello. Can I help you today?) I answered in English that I was looking for dress shoes, flats with no heel and open in the back. The poor clerk looked dumbfounded for a moment and then said with a thick accent, "Wha' sieez, pleas?" I told him and he led me to the correct aisle and pointed, a hopeful look on his face. From there the conversation was limited to point the finger and shake or nod the head. It seems my Spanish was several notches better than his English. Wow. I can say 'shoe' but have no idea how to say 'heel' or 'flats' (in reference to syle of shoe) ...otherwise, I would have just switched to Spanish. The store did have some open heeled flats in my size but nothing dressy enough for my purposes so I thanked him for his time and left. I think he was relieved. I had stretched his vocabulary to beyond his comfort zone. Ha!
If I happened to be up north, still in America but within 4 or 5 miles from the Canadian border, would I expect to walk into a chain store and find only a non-English speaking clerk? If I ever move north, I better take some classes in French ...just to be safe!