An offer you can’t understand


This column can be filed in the “just when you think you have seen it all” category.
Yesterday, in my stack of mail, came an offer from a credit card company. Now, this is nothing new – banks must send these out like Boy Scouts send out fliers announcing yet another car wash.
Huh? What made this one stand out is that it was written entirely in Spanish. The only thing I could read was my name and address! Why would this be? I have been a singularly-English speaking citizen from the day I was born, living in the middle of Ohio farming country and I can guarantee you that I’ve never signed up for anything in Spanish.
This mail came on the heels of a phone call I had to make regarding some medication for my son. A recorded message immediately asked me to press one for English, two for Spanish.
OK, I certainly do understand the need for good communication. But when did the tide turn to this degree? The mistake our forefathers made, obviously, was never declaring English the language of our nation. It was never an issue in the early years of our development.
Diversity. My community is filled with many cultures and growing. The university is home to a diverse ethnic background and each one is welcome. The blend of cultures makes a stronger community, as each individual brings remarkable strengths and renewed vitality.
That said, it seems just as important as ever that we can all communicate in a universal language.
I know a man who refuses to talk with companies on the telephone when the person who takes his call is impossible for him to understand.
“I just simply hang up,” he told me. “I am too old to try to learn a new language and my hearing is getting too bad to try to grasp an entirely different dialect.”
Strong reactions. I was surprised at the strong reaction I received when I brought this subject up among friends. “I hate it, plain and simple,” said one friend.
He asked what I did with the credit card offer written in Spanish.
“I just stared at it a long time in disbelief and then tore it up and threw it away,” I said.
He told me what I should have done was written across the application form, in bright red letters, “I am an English-speaking, U.S. citizen. What does any of this say? Please send me a translator immediately!”


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.