Thursday, December 15, 2005


(something's up with the spell-check -- ritual apology for this post...)

Okay, okay, I admit it, I was the kid who loved loved LOVED getting A's. I believed my dad when he said all he wanted for xmas or his birthday were good grades and a good report card. When he was not-quite sober he'd add that we were already all the gifts he could have ever asked for. (He still says that, said it last month when I wished him a happy 60th.)

So today I had the lovely opportunity to advance myself in the Placer County system. Though I still actually have to be approved to have taken the test, more on that in a bit. I got up BEFORE THE SUN, people (weeellll, not actually all that hard to do in winter is it?), so I could be on the road to Auburn to take the Spanish Bilingual Proficiency Exam for Placer County Employees (and applicants as I found out during the test).

There is more construction on HWY 80 than there is road, I'm almost convinced of it, but only if you're going West. So buahaha if you're trying to get home from Tahoe, TRAFFIC is your punishment for getting away from the weekend! Or, your punishment for trying to get to Auburn 15 minutes before your scheduled exam. I didn't know a little Corolla could do 75 on mountain highways....oh HI ANDY, umm, no, of course I'd never drive over the limit in your car, don't be silly!

Amazingly I did park and turn off....(still working on a name for the Corolla) 3 whole minutes before my scheduled meeting with Personnel at the Veterans Memorial Hall. I have pics, I'll try to load them in a bit. The oldest man still working was there, I've forgotten his name, but he helped build most of the building (to hear him talk). He graduated from the elementary school that was once on the spot the hall is now. He still takes care of it, he's 90-something. Looked great but I'm not as camera crazy as some people I know so I didn't snap any shots, sorry. Had I the audacity, or a secret spy camera, you know this blog wouldn't be lacking in visuals.

So, as I stated to the ladies checking my ID and reading me "the statement." The longer I work for this county the more I dislike it. I work at a library in Kings Beach. I'm sorry this community is now made up of ESLs and non-english speakers who work for all the ski resorts and hotels in the area, I really am. Some days I feel like the county is blaming me personally. I'm sorry this is no longer a hippie-haven-commune-rich area, really! But what can I do about it? The reason I was hired at the local branch was because I speak spanish. I think that pretty much put me above the next applicant. I was promised Bilingual pay at the interview, back in June. Then I found out I had to take a test, sure, no problem. It was scheduled in September. Then they cancelled it and rescheduled it to today. All this time I was all about "no worries" cuz I thought (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAaaaa) that as I'd been using my super-power spanish skills since I was hired, they'd compensate me from the beginning. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAaaaauumm.) Right. Well. Umm no. In fact I may lose out on yet another pay period depending on when I get my results. 6 months I've been good and speaking spanish when needed (daily) and I find this out now.

Now I also come to find out that they may not approve the bilingual certificate, even if I pass (more on this in a bit) unless the area I work in really and truly DOES need the use of a second language. I mean, heck, no OTHER branch of the library system needs spanish speakers, why should we be so different? Just because I've already been asking for library card apps in SPANISH and have all the signs up in SPANISH. Nooooooo, not really and truly needed, right? I know I'll get some flack from people who believe in the "this is America, let them learn English" theory. But if we look to history and the Treaty of 1848 with Guadalupe Hidalgo, one of the tennents to California becoming a part of the US actually states that we will not deny the language and culture of the original peoples here. This kinda includes the Mexicans that had made this part of Mexico their home, as well as the Russians, Asians, and OH YEAH, the "Native Americans." But we're super good at forgetting these little tidbits of history. Heck, even I can't point at the specific paragraphs or the actual date of the document, but that's because history is usually rewritten by the winners, and the treaty was about losing.

And speaking about losing...and back to the title of the post...I was told, as I was given the written section, that there were three versions of the test I could choose: legal, medical, or social services. So I could answer questions and translate phrases about legal, medical, or social service topics. Ummm, where does the library fit into this? Oh, there is NO LIBRARY test. Pick one. Yes, you'll struggle through it (she said this) but I'm sure you'll be fine. It's like me going in to take a British Lit. exam and being told it's actually going to be about the Roman Empire. I practiced (with my patrons) any and all questions and problems and phrases that we commonly use in the library (#1 being --I kid you not--"¿Adonde esta el baño?"--Where is the bathroom?). I don't know vocab for a legal office. I don't know vocab for a medical office. And believe it or not, even though my parents are both immigrants from mexico, I do not know the vocab from social services (WELFARE, people). Which is what this lady from personnel recommended I choose, because I would probably be most familiar with it. (As my SIL would say, "SHE DIDN'T SAY THAT, tell me she didn't say that." I only wish I could.)

And, um, what do I need to pass? Is this a hard question people? Is it? Cuz I swear the look on her face was priceless. "Well it's a combination of the written and oral exams." Right. So what do I have to score on them? "Well, that's hard to say because they have to take into account your written and oral exam." Ummm, I missed something somewhere, I know it. Maybe it was part of the test?

The written test was about something from Social Services. I learned something today, everyone! Social Services needs to review the information they give out to their patrons. The paragraph was confusing and lacked a TOPIC SENTENCE. I finished it 10 minutes faster than the 15 total they gave me. Funny thing is they left me in a room all by myself. I guess they trusted that I wouldn't pull out my trusty spanish/english dictionary to help myself out. Or maybe they didn't care? Or maybe they knew the oral part was so hard that I needed every chance I could get?

So, yeah, the oral part. Did you know there is a word for "the documents needed to verify your income for the year?" I guess if I used my savvy experience with social services (i.e. 0) I'd know this. They gave me words and sentences to translate. I think they could have cut me some slack. Maybe if they had picked words from all three areas? I dunno, I did NOT do well when it came to translating welfare forms. HELLO, most people can't figure out the English versions! {sigh}

SO, I may have driven all that way AND BACK(THREE HOURS) for not. I know when I got back all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and forget the whole thing even happened. Why? Cuz I KNOW I am bilingual. HI, español es mi primera idioma! No aprendi ingles hasta que empeze la primaria! (Spanish is my first language. I didn't learn English until I started grammar school!) And hi, do you think you'd be reading this if I wasn't at least semi-proficient in the English language? That makes me bilingual, no? And I HATE failing...or even getting really close to it. I did miserably on this test. I know I did. I did not leave feeling good about it. I felt like a total loser.

Okay, 'nuff for now. NO I did not finish the cards or the gifts, I have failed yet again. But tonight, yes, and maybe tomorrow morning too...overachiever down in the dumps right now. But there's a glass of wine calling out to me so I'll go now.

1 comment:

Birdsong said...

What a hassle! Don't you wish teh bureaucrats who write these policies could spend a day in your shoes?