Weird

It is kind of strange to be a minority… no, that didn’t come out right. It’s strange to suddenly become one, after 29 years of living in the same area. I have lived in the greater Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area my entire life, but yesterday at the Ypsi Secretary of State I felt like I was visiting another country. As I stood in a huge line, the several people directly in front of me were Asian, chattering in their language. The kid behind me was talking to his mom in Spanish the entire time, and as I looked around, I realized that of the 100 people in the Secretary of state, I was one of maybe a dozen white Caucasians. A few minutes later as I sat in the waiting area, one lady went up to the desk with her teenaged daughter. The worker said “Oh good, you’re back with a translator!” And sure enough, the daughter repeated all the instructions in spanish as the mother read off the eye chart. I hear in the news all the time about the many immigrants who don’t speak English, and the big debate about how to serve them, or if the government should make them learn English, etc. but usually it felt like a more distant problem. Yesterday in that dingy SOS office, it no longer felt like a distant issue, and boy was it strange to feel like I was in another country at my own local office!

And speaking of eye charts, you know you’re approaching 30 when you can no longer squint and read the eye chart without your glasses on. The last few times, although I’ve had glasses for years, I could read the top row with some creative squinting. This time? Not so much. After the first 5 letters the lady is like “Do you have glasses?” Me, rather sheepishly “Um yes” Lady: “put them on and read me that line again. And yes, apparently you need them to drive.” Sigh. I mean, I almost always drive with my glasses anyway, but there was something cool about not “having” to wear them according to the secretary of state. Oh well.

In other news, driver’s license pictures suck. I went in looking rather nice, my hair was down, I was wearing my favorite blue shirt, and yet, my DL photo looks like I was just dragged in off the street. Sigh. In my next lifetime, I’d like to be photogenic.

One thought on “Weird

  1. Being here has given me a new perspective on that as well, now that I’m the one bringing a translator with me. I do as much as I can without one, but often it’s just easier. I’ve realized just how easy it is to live somewhere for years and never learn the language. I don’t think the answer is forcing people to learn English, but I do think that offering free classes with easy public transportation access would be really helpful to a lot of people.

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