Today I was walking to one of my classes with a colleague at the high school. As we moved toward the staircase, a boy—about 12 years old—was walking down the stairs directly toward us. He cocked his head to the left in that telltale way and spit. People spit all the time here (mostly men), but usually outdoors. Usually.
“Wow,” I said aloud, in English. “Real nice.” I said this dryly and sarcastically, in the same way that my dad would always reprimand me for using language that he thought sounded ugly coming out of his daughter’s mouth. It rarely matters what I say aloud at work, since 98 percent of people don’t understand me (or don’t make an effort to understand me). My colleague—a Spaniard—responded more strongly than I did. She confronted the young student, visibly angry.
“Eso no se hace,” she told him sternly, narrowing her eyes and using a teacher voice, the kind of voice that would have sent me into a panic if any authority figure used it with me when I was that age. The boy kept walking at his regular pace, looking ahead and saying nothing.
“Eso NO se hace,” she repeated more loudly and angrily—loosely translated, “We don’t do that.” She began following him down the hallway.
“Yeah, yeah, I know we don’t do that,” the boy said, refusing to make eye contact. He walked with his back to my colleague as she clicked behind him in her heels. He may as well have said nothing and given her the middle finger.
This says just about all there is to say about how I spend my Monday-through-Thursday mornings.