From Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

Wrong Channel

Hablando se entienden las cosas.

Latino Saying

Barbarita waited impatiently for her ride as beads of sweat dripped from her eyebrows into her third cup of cold, syrupy espresso. She was headed for the bathroom when she heard the knocking sounds of Mima’s old Impala.

“About time you got here!” yelled Barbarita from the Florida room.

“It wouldn’t start this morning.”

Barbarita got into the car, tilted the rearview mirror and applied enough rouge to her face for a healthier look. She wanted to make a good impression on the doctor who would approve her medical records for her green card. On the way to Jackson Memorial, Mima talked about her grandchildren.

In the waiting room at Jackson Memorial, Barbarita knocked down all the Bibles and Reader’s Digests on the table when the nurse finally called her name.

“Sorry, ma’am, but you can’t come in,” the nurse said to Mima.

“I am her interpreter,” replied the polyglot.

Mima and Barbarita entered the doctor’s office together. “No bueno,” said the doctor grimly as he walked in with Barbarita’s X-rays. He told Mima, “Ask her if she had TB.”

Mima turned to Barbarita. “He says, if you have a television?”

“Tell him yes, but in Havana. Not in Miami. But my daughter has a television here.”

Mima told the doctor, “She says she had TV in Cuba, not in Miami, but her daughter has TV here.”

“In that case we need to test her daughter for TB, too.”

Mima translated, “He says he needs to test your daughter’s television to make sure it works, otherwise you cannot get your green card.”

“Why the television?” asked a puzzled Barbarita.

“How many times did I tell you that you needed to buy one? Don’t you know, Barbarita? This is América.

Roberto G. Fernández

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