Broken English

Dec 2010
The Custodian at my office, a very friendly Argentinean woman, just told me some of her life very broken English. She came into my office and asked how my holidays were and then started talking about her experience with having two different New Years' due to her mother and father being of different religions. We established that her father is Jewish and her mother is Catholic.

As I strained to understand what she was saying I noticed her lovely complexion for the first time and her slender figure under the standard custodial garb. She told me back in Argentina she worked in child care and then for many years in fashion...I'm not sure in what capacity, however. She mentioned Benetton and a few others..."Very good money," she said.
Her Jewish father was a doctor, who died recently from what I could decipher, and left her nothing. He was Canadian and worked in Argentina many years ago, where he met and married her mother who was 16 at the time. He was 54. She has 9 siblings. Her siblings, all but one who has passed away, still live in Argentina.
I'm not sure why she came here to Canada at all. It sounded like she came on vacation and then just stayed. It sounded like she said Pedro a few times too, who I assume is her husband. Boy, she talks fast. I'm pretty sure she said, while putting a garbage bag into my recycling bin, that there are no good jobs here if you can't speak English. I believe her. My mother was a Custodian, I'm not knocking her current occupation, but we both agreed it's very hard work.
In the New Year she plans to take a facial massage therapy course, that can't be right, but that's what I thought I understood her say. And she plans to get the heck out of here and go back to Argentina where she doesn't feel like an idiot because people can actually understand what she's saying there. She said the free English lessons offered in Toronto were too out of her way and not an option. I didn't ask if she had kids, although I did wonder. I didn't want to drag the conversation on any longer by asking questions. I'm not a mean person, but my head was starting to ache trying to understand her half Spanish and quarter English dialogue (the other quarter being hand gestures).
She concluded her speech by saying she is a strong woman, flexing her right arm for emphasis. Then she leaned down where I sat on my chair and kissed me on both cheeks. "See you later." she said and headed for the door. As I watched her throw an extra garbage bag onto her cart and push it down the hall, I wished I had asked a few more questions after all.
- It is now two years since I wrote this account of my chat with the sweet custodian from Argentina. She is still working in my office building. I wish she would have gone on to better things. She calls me Princess when I pass her in the halls.
Good luck out there - JB
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