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Printed from the Charlotte Observer - www.CharlotteObserver.com
Posted: Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2008

Let's learn some useful phrases, mis amigos

Published in: Mark Washburn

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This is America. So speak Spanish.

I'm serious. If you're not going to learn the language, go back to England or Saskatchewan or wherever.

I don't want to hear any more whining about official languages. It's Spanglish from here on out.

Let's learn some useful phrases for the workplace.

Say you're a school superintendent. There's an elected body that oversees your work and some members offer guidance with enthrallingly tangled logic couched in elegantly playful puzzles. An old buddy calls to see how you like them: “Están locos.”

Not bad. Work on your diction. And try to smile when you say it.

You're a teacher and you learn the state hasn't enough money to give you a decent raise, but has pails of cash for the governor's wife to spread enchantment to European nobby-hobs. You need a Spanish idiom to capture all that. Try: “Imelda Marcos.”

Maybe you're the head of some giant charity like United Way. You need to convey to your friends the rewarding glow you get from directing such an altruistic organization. You say: “El dinero es muy bueno.”

Or you run a big company – say, airlines, manufacturing or even newspapers – and you need to let workers know how the spiraling economy will affect them. Use: “Adios.”

For those who conduct tours for executives thinking of relocating their businesses here, it is vital that you be prepared to answer their probing questions with reliable clarity. When they ask why major construction projects uptown are stalled or what's up with I-485 construction or where the workers are in the school libraries, you go: “Siesta.”

Perhaps you get a job visiting people to explain the twist on the American Dream. They defaulted on immense home loans they couldn't possibly afford for so-so dwellings. Explain: “Su casa, mi casa.”

What if you are a banker for one of the big local lenders encouraged to find new work during their ongoing “asset relocation”? Now you've gotten hired by BB&T, which is embarrassing, since everyone in town knows about its intellectually challenged leadership.

They are based in little Winston-Salem ( pueblito) rather than the cosmopolitan money pit of Charlotte ( fantástico). Their business philosophy has always been decidedly conservative.

When subprime lending became the thing, they stood around scratching themselves, unable to figure out how to make money on it.

“Reckon y'all can have it,” they ( imbéciles) basically told their fancypants Charlotte brethren ( elegante), who laughed all the way to the bank.

And now BB&T is missing all the fun. Instead of assuring investors that sometime, eventually, everything will be bien, BB&T just keeps shelling out higher dividends on higher earnings.

To acknowledge your shame in this new position, explain to former colleagues: “ Sí, BB&T es estupido.”

And try not to smile when you say it.

Gracias.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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