Don’t Judge A Voice By It’s Accent

Continuing my therapy sessions, Terry had asked me to go through some of my journals to evaluate my mental state at different times in my life.  The purpose of this was so that I could find something that I wrote about other than Lestat.   I have a lot of journals, the last I counted I had over 42 hand written journals and almost all of them about Lestat.  But as I skimmed through a couple from early on in my relationship with him I found a couple of entries about other things happening in my life at the time.   One entry was about a group of guys I worked with, here it is.

Back in 2002 I was working at a fire suppression company, I was the only female in the entire El Paso office.  We had a crew of fifteen service and installation techs, a sales manager and our regional manager that was based in our office.  The company’s headquarters was in Westminster Massachusetts and I spoke with our headquarters often, almost twice a day every day when it came to our office financials and tech support service calls.  We were busy for one of the smaller installations in the company, our Albuquerque office was a lot busier than we were and El Paso is considered a lot bigger, population wise.  All the service and installation techs were good guys, they had a wide variety of personalities which made our monthly staff meetings interesting and sometimes hilarious.  The service techs had to call the service support at headquarters whenever they needed new parts or service call-ins for return maintenance.

I use to talk to a wide variety of people at our main office, and after being there a couple of years I got to know them pretty well, I mean over the phone that is.  I could recognize their voices by the way they answered the phone, and vice versa.  One day one of the ladies I spoke to in our service department called me and asked me about one of our technicians and his call for some out of stock parts.  He was one of our best techs and she called me because she said she didn’t understand what his order was for.  Perplexed I called the tech over the radio and inquired about the call-in he made earlier in the day.  His name was Julian and he was a really good service tech and articulated very well over the phone and via email.  So I couldn’t understand why Maryanne (our headquarters contact) was having issues.

I got all the information from Julian so I could email her the items Julian needed for his service call the following week.  As soon as I hit send, she called me to thank me for getting everything straighten out with the tech.  I said no problem, and then out of curiosity I asked her what she didn’t understand when Julian had called her.  She said “Oh well you know what those Latino’s are like, sometimes we can’t understand them very well because of their thick accents” I was floored and a bit pissed off at the way she said what she did.  I said “Oh really? Well Julian’s been with the company way before I got here and he’s been talking to you for quite a while so why can’t you understand him all of a sudden?”  She said she’s always had a hard time understanding a lot of our technicians and that she was grateful that they finally hired a white girl for the El Paso office because now she could talk to me instead of talking to the techs herself.

I told her that out of the fifteen techs we had only six of them were Latino/Hispanic, and the other nine were white, African-American and we even had a tech from Germany.  I asked her if she had a hard time understanding them, she said “Well no, it’s only the Mexican techs.”  I could feel my blood boil underneath my skin, and I thanked her for her help and hung up.

I didn’t set her straight about her misconception that I was white, and that was on purpose, I had a plan if she continued with this attitude of hers.  I too made the assumption that she might think I was white because I didn’t have an accent, I never have.  I don’t have a regional accent, a Texas drawl or even speak “Spanglish” at work, a mix of Spanish and English, code switching if you will, I hardly speak Spanish at home.

Julian’s parts came in the following day and he came in to pick them up, he thanked me for helping him and I just told him that’s my job.  He said he didn’t understand why Maryanne would have such a hard time, and I shrugged my shoulders and said I didn’t know either.  Now I made sure to pay extra attention to how Julian spoke to me, he did not have a think “Mexican” accent, he spoke very well.  Which made me wonder why Maryanne would say something so inconsiderate.

The following couple of weeks were the same, call-ins to headquarters and return calls to my office for clarification, but only from Maryanne.  The rest of the service reps didn’t call me for help it was only her.  Then came the day when she asked me a question she’d regret for the rest of our time working together.  She called me to ask for clarification on a different tech, and then said “Oh girl I don’t know how you do it working in that border hell-hole, you should apply for a transfer to headquarters or at least to the Albuquerque office” and again my blood boiling I said nothing and finished the conversation.  In her mind she was talking to a while girl in the midst of a bunch of uneducated Hispanics with thick, incomprehensible accents.  I was tired of this racist chick and I was going to do something about it.  At that time called ID wasn’t readily available but we had a dedicated line for each of our service reps and I knew which one was Maryanne’s when she called.

The next time she called I answered the phone like this.

Me: “Tank ya for callin’ Simplex, it’s a wicked deay in El Paso, this is Veronicah how can I help ya?”

Maryanne: Um, can I speak to Veronica?

Me: It’s me, sup?

Maryanne: Are you okay?

Me: Perfect why?

Maryanne: Are you making fun of me?

Me: What mahks ya think Imma making fun of ya?

Maryanne: Well for one your fake Boston accent, it’s pretty obvious…

Me: Oh, I didn’t know I was speaking Bostonian.  What, can’t I say that I’m wicked smaht to a townie from Bahston?  I mean this mornin’ I had a hard time finding mah khakis so I was late to work….

Maryanne: Veronica I don’t appreciate your making light of my accent…..

Me: Oh really? Well then maybe you shouldn’t do the same to my techs, I know you can understand them and I also know that before I came along you were able to understand them just fine!  I don’t appreciate you making them feel second class for any reason.  And by the way I’m not white, I’m a Latina with a WICKED bad tempah, and now that you know I’m a “border town” girl you’ll guard your tone from now on!  Also, I have a hard time understanding some of the things you say as well.  That’s why I ask for you to repeat the service call tickets back to me, so maybe now you know how it feels.

Maryanne: *silence* Um, I’m sorry I didn’t know…..I just assumed that….. I have to go…*click*

Me: *in my head* That’s right bitch!

The next day I got calls from all the other service reps as normal all except Maryanne.  For three weeks after our little incident I didn’t hear from her.  Then one of the other service reps told me that Maryanne had asked for a transfer to international service, which I found ironic.  A couple of months later we had our annual Christmas gathering and we were all having a good time then Julian and Cesar came up to me and said they wanted to thank me for sticking up for them.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  That’s when Julian said that Carlos one of our other techs was in the warehouse when I had my little phone confrontation with Maryanne and heard the whole thing.

I was embarrassed to be honest, I didn’t think anyone was in the office when I decided to do what I did.  Carlos told Julian and from there all the techs and our district manager found out, and for Christmas that year they all pitched in and bought me and my boy’s fourth row tickets to go see the Transiberian Orchestra when they came to El Paso that December!  I had been talking to Julian about being able to afford to buy tickets for me and the boys, but I resolved myself to buy the boys something small for Christmas that year since I was a single mom and barely making ends meet.  I tried not to cry but I couldn’t help it, I lost it completely in front of all the techs and my manager.   From then on all of the techs and I became closer and saw them as fifteen big brothers I didn’t have before, and I appreciated them for what they did for me that Christmas.

After two and a half years with the company, they bought out another smaller company and our office was being merged with the other local office for the company Simplex took over.  I and a few of the techs were let go because they had more employees than they needed.  I got another job and lost track of those guys as we went our own separate ways.  But to this day, those were the best bunch of guys I’ve ever worked with, and I hope they are all doing well, wherever they are!

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22 thoughts on “Don’t Judge A Voice By It’s Accent

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how many people think it’s perfectly fine to be racist as hell just because they think they’re talking to someone who they think is the same race as them. Even as the Whitey McWhiterson that I am, I can’t tell you how many times other white people have said theeeeee most racist stuff in the world and expect me to agree with them.

    You know that move, where they look side to side to see if the coast is clear, and then say something HORRIBLE? It makes me sick that so many people assume everyone is just as racist as they are by default.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My husband gets that alllll the time. It makes his blood boil. Caucasians say the most racist, anti-minority, anti-immigrant things to him not knowing his wife is black and also an immigrant. It blows my fucking mind when he tells me these things. One day he came home so irate, he almost got into a fist fight with a co-worker over his very racist remark. You just can’t make this stuff up. It’s a damn shame really.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh girl tell me about it, I live in a city that borders Mexico and even the Mexican’s are racist, if you can believe that? Especially the ones with money, they look down at someone who is of Mexican decent and born here. It gets on my last nerve! Your husband must have a high tolerance for stupidity, I would have already stabbed someone in my office for being like that, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Awww, that was such an awesome story! It made me tear up a little. What a sweet thing they did for you. I love Transiberian Orchestra, but I haven’t listened to them for a long time. ❤ I hope that racist b*tch learned a lesson. I'm almost certain that she is still haunted by that phone call! I've got to say, I like you more and more every day! You've got moxie! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Get it Girl! I love seeing and hearing strong women standing up for what they believe in! The Maryannes of this world are what’s WRONG with this world. Hopefully you made her check herself. Thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would laugh, but, seriously, it annoys me to deal with people like Maryanne. Fortunately I don’t that often–and I consider myself lucky to work in a place where I can go for a stroll at lunch and overhear conversations in at least three different languages. Not that I’d eavesdrop–that would be rude, even if I could understand what was being said.
    Years ago I had a coworker from South America who was still learning English, and working damn hard at it. One day she tried to explain something to me and I apologized for not understanding her and she apologized for not being able to be clearer. Later a guy asked me why I’d been apologizing. He said it was her job to speak English. I still wish I’d said that she was working hard at her job, unlike him–he was sitting on his ass complaining about things that were none of his business.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! People who aren’t native speakers will try hard to communicate. Then we have the idiots who say they are in the US and they need to speak English. When in reality that melting pot that IS America is culturally diverse.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So is English. I have sympathy for people learning to speak English because it’s a weird language, although one of the fun things about it is it’s taken words from just about every other language there is.

        Liked by 1 person

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