Cross-Cultural Communication

Posted: April 25, 2011 by lexx45 in Uncategorized

For about four years now I’ve been going to the same Dominican salon located in the heart of Poughkeepsie. Like any inner city salon it’s hardly comparable to any upscale salon, like a Marlene Weber’s only 5 minutes down the road. It boasts tacky decorations and unconventional customer service. There’s no front desk or separate waiting area. Instead upon arrival you could wait 1 minute to 1 hour to get your hair done. And don’t expect to get out within the hour… OH NO! Here beauty is an all day affair filled with friends, music, dancing, food, and endless amounts of rum. For me this was quite the culture shock. Here I am, the half white half black “comfortably Caucasian” girl with kinky hair walking into what seemed like an entirely different world. But after four years and maybe a few swigs of rum, I’ve come to love the place. However on this particular visit, I really unearthed a whole new level of traveling; not necessarily leaving one place to arrive in another, but going past that line in the sand to something foreign.

As I walked in the door all of my senses were under assault; the thick smell of relaxer in the air, followed by the blaring sound of salsa music. “Christ” I think, “It’s only 9 a.m., do these people ever just enjoy the sound of silence”. After several “Holas” and kisses on the cheek, I make my way to the back where the same woman whose been washing and blow-drying my hair for four years awaits. She rarely smiles and I rarely speak yet on this occasion she seemed… different. While washing my hair she suddenly stops and asks me if I have a phone. I hesitantly answer “yes” and proceed as if nothing had happened. Yet something did happen, and something even greater was about to. She again stops, smiles at me, points to her stomach, and in broken English says she is going to have a baby. I, in shock, give her a big hug and in my broken Spanish begin to congratulate her. I ask if she wants and boy or girl and she shrug’s as if either would make her happy. She then hands me a ripped napkin and motions to write my number down. It all became clear.

Here I thought I was just another onlooker, yet in those four years someone had seen me as more; a member of some large completely unorthodox family. I had gradually crossed beyond cultures, beyond language to something much greater. And just in case you’re wondering. She’s having a boy.

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