The week is half over and is going fast. I had another realization today that made my issues not look so bad.
Since Bunkie (I decided I would not use inmate’s real names) speaks fluent Spanish, she has a lot of friends that come by the cube and speak in Spanish. One of her friends, we will call her Lucy, seems to be a really sweet lady, someone that I think I would enjoy talking to, but her English is very limited. My Spanish consists of my memories from high school Spanish, so needless to say, conversations are not happening. Bunkie made the comment that Lucy needs to practice her English and actually seems to know more than she speaks, due to feeling insecure. I told Lucy that she can feel free to practice her English on me, and I will practice my Spanish on her. She has taken this as a challenge, and insists that when we talk, I have to respond to her in Spanish. I successfully told her the names and ages of my children, parents and brothers (yay for me!) and she was able to tell me the same about her family. I have found out that she was a professor at a university in Puerto Rico (now I understand her desire to teach me) and Bunkie can’t understand why she feels more confident talking English to me, than to her, who is a native Spanish speaker. We decided that since she feels she is teaching me at the same time, she has more confidence in speaking to me. What ever it takes, she is a really nice lady. The other day, when I was heading to work and saw her walking, I said Hola Lucy, yo soy trabajo-ing. I was trying to say Hello Lucy, I am going to work, but by the look she gave me, I figured I was way off. When I talked to Bunkie later and told her what I said, after she finished laughing, she told me that I cannot add -ing to a Spanish word, and my whole sentence was off. I am glad I gave her a laugh for the night, and will remember not to add -ing to my words.
I realized that Lucy, along with several other women are in a very tough situation and I feel really bad for them. There are no prison camps in Puerto Rico, so they are sent here. So not only are they away from their families, they have been placed in a different country that they don’t speak the language. Most of the staff here is bilingual, but still, what a horrible feeling. I am determined to be able to have more than a two sentence conversation with Lucy by the time I leave here.
On a happy note, I found out I got a raise today. My whole month of August will be at my new pay rate, $.29 an hour, yes that is 29 cents! It is a big increase from the $.12 I received in July. I read somewhere that it costs an average of $87 a day for each person here. I wonder if those figures, count the labor that they are getting. Even on the low end, an electrical helper (since I am never in my tool cage anymore) would be making at least $9 an hour. Oh well, just look how much fun I am having. That was sarcasm, which by the way, my sarcasm does not translate well when I am talking to Bunkie, I tend to confuse her.
Have a great rest of the week!