Miscommunication

Yesterday I had an incredibly stressing incident at work that had me shaking for hours afterward: We had a couple come in and needed a shuttle to a hotel, however they didn’t speak English, only Spanish. I tried to explain to them with drawings, sign language and what little Spanish I remember from high school how much it would cost to go one way and for a round trip. Well, apparently he didn’t comprehend and when I printed out his round trip ticket he started pounding on the desk and yelling No, No, NO!!! He tore up his receipt then grabbed all the scraps and stalked off. I had the supervisor cancel his order. A few minutes later he comes stomping back with the police in tow. We had to explain the circumstances to the police while the man was screaming at me and pointing to my drawings and costs. He then went to another shuttle company who quoted him $2 less which seemed to infuriate him further so continued to yell at me from across the airport. Apparently they were better at drawing so he bought a ticket from them. His wife got involved by wanting to make sure the credit card was cancelled, but spoke no English and started yelling at me to speak Spanish. I had had about enough so I said, “‘olelo Hawai’i ame pelekane au. Keia Hawai’i ma ‘o Amelika, ‘a’ole Espana kakou! ‘olelo pelekane kakou!” Then I translated it for her, “I speak Hawaiian and English. This is Hawai’i in America. We don’t speak Spanish, we speak English!” I wrote a note telling her the charges had been cancelled, told her to give them to someone to translate. They left.

I love working in transportation at the airport. I so enjoy meeting people from all over the world. But, occasionally we run into people who have just had a bad day, don’t understand or are just curmudgeons. I’m thankful they are few and far between.

So, this weekend I’m going to go to Waianapanapa State Park to camp overnight. I’m so in need of some time away from work, my sewing machine and a new place to explore. I will take photos!

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5 thoughts on “Miscommunication

  1. Can’t wait to see pictures!!, but so very sorry to hear of your stressful situation!! It’s so very sad that there are such rude people in the world.

    • Sorry for your traumatic experience. There are a few places here where some Spanish speaking employees, with limited English, get angry when asked to repeat themselves because I couldn’t understand what they were saying. “This is America”, isn’t it? I believe the national language is still English.

      Kudos to you for relating in Hawaiian. You are such an AWESOME woman. There is no escaping ignorance. We just have to pray for those people. Miss you kiddo. Sister Beth

      • Aloha Bethy,

        Nice to hear from you. As you can see neither my Hawaiian nor Spanish (espanol, not Espana–Spain) are great, but I think they got the point. I hope all is well with you and Jerry. He was pretty sick there for a while as I recall–better? So, when are you coming back to Maui? Would love to see you again. Actually, I’ve not even seen Sissy for quite some time. I’ve been so busy. Keep in touch. I’m going to write a piece on Waianapanapa in the next day or so.

  2. I’m sorry to hear this. There was no excuse for their abusive behavior. The security and your boss should have handled the situation so that you didn’t get harassed or threatened. He may have been from Mexico. In Mexico it is common for people in police or airports to steal from customers. But in America its rare. So he must have assumed things about you based on his perceptions because of where he is from. In any case, it was unacceptable behavior. I’m glad to hear that you handled it professionally. When I worked front desk at a hotel and was approached by a harassing customer I just called security up immediately. I don’t have your patience.

    I look forward to your photos of Waianapapapa.

  3. They were from Argentina which surprised me. But, maybe being more south, maybe English isn’t spoken as much, but to expect it in Hawai’i was even more of a surprise. I think if I were going to travel to a foreign country as well as a different culture, I would brush up a little on common phrases and pleasantries.

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