Imagine that you are at a local place, and it can be just about anywhere (la tienda, el cine, the shower, lo que sea) and someone walks in. Do you say hi or just go about your business? Now for most my readers in big cities stateside you probably think: “Well that’s easy, you mind your business”. At the same time however, my other readers from south of the border you may think: “Pues saludas y sigues con tu onda, cual es el problema?”. Y pues la neta es que si, in those two cases, si fuera más fácil en saber que hacer, but for all my other peeps donde tenemos las dos culturas infused in us, we could find ourselves in a bit of a pickle.
Cómo vinimos de cultura hispana, desde chicos, we were beaten (violentamente a veces) to ALWAYS be respectful! Así que, as kids, we would be like: “Hola, buenos días, buenas tardes, buenas noches” the moment we encountered another human being. Después de algunos años y varias chancladas we were essentially heat seeking plebes that would automatically say hello to whoever crossed our way. Pero pues pa mi raza que está aquí en los USofA (aka EL NORTE), pasa lo que surely has happened to many of us. We begin growing up and as we grow up we begin to learn about our new American culture, and we pick up new mannerisms and by the time we reach high school we are pretty much a whole new versions of ourselves compared to what we used to be. And by the time we reach adulthood we pretty much are the solution of the cultural equation that played out in our lives. AND OF COURSE! That some of these new manners include keeping to yourself, porque en este país Norteño la privacidad es sagrado.
So now that you're older and have a mix of both cultures in you. Here you are in this public imaginary place again, let's say waiting room for doctor's office, and you're skimming through some magazines. Shortly after entra una doña ya mayor, hispana, and you spot her from the corner of your eye, y de repente, you get a wild PTSD flashback to all your beatings as a kid. You start thinking that you should just keep to your magazine and let the lady pass by pero puedes escuchar a tú madre muy claramente gritando: “No seas grosero! Grosero! GROSERO!!!” all while mental images of chanclas begin to circle your mind. You want to keep to yourself but how can you?! You've been broken in and broken in well, you get nervous, palms are sweaty (mom's spaghetti). You even begin to rationalize with yourself that: “No! I am an adult and I am independent and I say hi to others when I see fit and not because of some mechanical response!”. Yet as you try to intensely convince yourself of this little idea of independent thinking, you make a fatal mistake, you make eye contact. Y en cuánto los ojos se miran unos a otros, quieras o no quieras, your body begins to straighten up and you can feel your vocal chords prepping. Almost as if by survival instinct your body gets ready to say: “Hola, buenos días, qué tal”.
Finalmente llega el momento, la doña pasar por enfrente de ti mientras tú te rindes y dices en voz baja: “Bueno días".
Y la doña sigue caminando. Ni siquiera te escucho.