I realized today that I have spent the past few weeks overlooking a valuable strategy. I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me earlier. The language barrier has been frustrating me to no end for weeks. Instead of being frustrated, I should use it to my advantage.
This morning, my vice principal came to me and asked me for some help. This is generally how he leads into asking me for a big favor. He tried to be slick and trick me into covering his class: “William, I have question. Am I say this right? ‘Will you cover the fourth period class to me?'” This is a setup, of course. This time, I got smart. I said, “no you’re not saying it right. I don’t understand what you mean.” He tried about ten more times before giving up. He said it correctly almost every time, but I had no intention of doing more of his work.
I parlayed this into another small victory after lunch. A colleague asked me to go to dinner with him and his parents (weird, right?) on Friday night. The fact that his English is weak would make it double awkward. We are rarely able to hold a conversation for more than about 90 seconds. I don’t have specific plans Friday night, and I didn’t want to lie to him, so I tried to confuse him. “Well, I have given some serious consideration to formulating social plans with my friends, but we have not committed to a particular schedule at this juncture.” Silence. It must have worked, because he said, “okay….next time.”
Boom – problem(s) solved! I’m learning to maneuver.
Until next time.