There is an attribute that I have always wanted but do not have, languages. I love the idea of walking into a foreign country and naturally hear the personal stories of the community. Without a filter (even the good ones), I would understand the nuances of her/his steps. I could ask questions leading to more texture and details.
The other advantage, as I was reminded yesterday, would be the ability to avoid and resolve conflicts.
I arrived on time for my MRI appointment. When the lab technician came to pick me up, it was clear that his native tongue was not English. Initially, everything was easy to follow. As I stashed my metal objects in a locker, responding to his directions, I sensed that our conversation could derail at any moment.
“I’m sorry, what am I supposed to do?”
“Pardon me, could you repeat your instruction?”
I was running out of ways to be patient. I wish I knew his native tongue! It would be so much easier. Things took a turn for the worse when I informed him of a prior bad reaction to a contrast medication injection.
“I’m sorry. We will not be able to do a contrast MRI today.”
“But I need it for the diagnosis.”
“I know, but you reacted.”
“I understand. However, if I do not get this procedure the Doctor will not be able to give me the answers I need.”
As I heard another “but”, I began searching for another way to communicate. I remember the story of how one person’s failure gave way to another attempt. In that case, a “town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, ‘Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere who doesn’t know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven?’” (Acts 19.35)
“I know you are trying to help. What can I do to work together with you on this?”
“Let me check.”
“Would you mind signing a release?”
“Good, let me get the form.”