Home Depot: Juan from Guatemala

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Image from: http://onlyhdwallpapers.com/nature/condensation-rain-on-glass-desktop-hd-wallpaper-473575/

Wednesday brought rain, a lot of it. It was still raining when I headed to the Home Depot parking lot for class. I was unsurprised to find that there were no students from my classes and only three men standing around, waiting for work.

Two were from Guatemala, and the third was from Chiapas. The small man from Chiapas headed for cover as soon as the rain picked up. The older man from Guatemala also left on account of the weather.

Juan and I were left chatting in a mix of Spanish and English, mostly Spanish. At one point, I tried to role-play with him — something about an angry customer. He wasn’t sure whether I was acting, and so he thought I was actually angry at first. Then, he said, “Oh, I get it.” And, he played along.

He confessed that he hasn’t been the best citizen in the past, and he told me about how he’s going to church now. He wants to be better. He asked me how to say this phrase in English.

He showed me on his phone that he has an app with English classes on it to help him expand his vocabulary and know how to pronounce words.

And, so I asked if there were any specific things he wanted to learn. He blurted out, as if he’d been waiting for me to ask, “How do you say tortuga?” I said TURTLE slowly, enunciating the tur and then the tle. I know the last part was going to be the hardest part. I said TURTLE again.

About forty-five minutes in, he asked, “Why aren’t you afraid of me, of coming out here?” I immediately asked him: “Should I be.” He, laughing, said, “No, but you don’t know that.” I had to agree.

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