Dear Mexican: My company''s customer-service department uses a phone-tree system that asks callers to press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish and a few other numbers for commonly spoken languages. I handle customer complaints, and I hear from a surprising number of people who feel they shouldn’t have to press a number to be spoken to in the “normal” language of English. You seem to have a fairly high readership of people who are offended by Spanish-speaking people — would you please deliver a message to them for me? The phone tree is for your own good. If we didn’t ask non-English speakers to identify themselves at the beginning of the call, English-speaking people would have to wait in line behind them. Those non-English speakers would get on the line with a non-Spanish- (or other language) speaking representative and then have to wait to be transferred to a representative who speaks their language. All of this speaking of the wrong language and call transferring would make customer-service calls take far longer, and would irritate everyone. There is no law against not speaking English in this country — companies have English-speaking customers and non-English-speaking customers, and a company isn’t going to give up revenue by refusing to serve people who don’t speak English just to please you jingoists. People should just be grateful that they’re asked to press 1 for English, and not 8.
—Press 2 for Tough Tamales
Dear Gabacha: I get this question mucho, and yours is as good a respuesta as I can ever scrawl. Can I pick you up at Home Depot if I ever need a cheap replacement?
If a Mexican were working at a coffee shop, would it be racist to call him a “beaner”?
Dear Gabacho: No, but no es funny — about as clever as Minutemen chanting, “No se puede!” Try “burrito-ista.”
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