No Dear, I’m Not Looking for the Maid

So, I got to thinking when I read this article yesterday. One of the issues is that if you have a heavy accent, the Arizona Department of Education doesn’t want you to teach English.

Whatever a heavy accent means.

I’m from New York, youknowwhatImean? Fughedaboutit – we’ve got accents like nobodies’ business!

However, the Arizona Department of Education got me thinking about my mother.

In the late 70’s, my family and I moved from Jackson Heights Queens, to the North Shore of Long Island.

Yep kids, the North Shore sounds like everything it represents.

So it’s the late 70’s in the North Shore of Long Island. My Mexican mom most definitely stood out, for a whole bunch of reasons.

One day, the phone rang. A telemarketer from a local jewelry company asked to speak with “Mrs. —–.”

My Mom’s married name was a decidedly Jewish one.

My mother answered, “Jess? Spicking?”

The telemarketer cooed, “No dear, I’m not looking for the maid. I’m looking for Mrs. ——, your boss. Can you do me a favor and put her on the phone?”





But yes, that damn telemarketer did. And she got more than she ever bargained for from my mom.

In the years following that phone call, my mom went back to school, and completed her undergrad studies in the US. Then got her Masters in Social Work.

She graduated with a whole bunch of academic honors. All of this in English, her second language.

But you know what?

If a telemarker calls to speak with her, she’ll still say, “Jess? Spicking?”

So Arizona Department of Education, can you be dear and do me a favor?

Back the hell off.


6 thoughts on “No Dear, I’m Not Looking for the Maid

  1. Great blog (wait, this isn’t one of those spam comments).

    Really. I just stumbled here through one of my friends on Facebook I guess. I don’t even know how. My husband was also banned from the U.S. some years ago. We got a waiver and he is back though. About ready to apply for citizenship.

    Anyway, love your writing style and this post is hilarious. Good for your mom!

    Accents forever!

    If I ever get back to blogging I’ll link you.


    1. LF,

      Thanks for your comments:) I think that what’s becoming clear is the more that I blog, the more people I find with similar immigration experiences.

      I hope that you get back on the blogging bandwagon:)



  2. While I agree that anyone that thinks they have a right to expect people in Mexico to understand them in English should be shot, especially after living there for 30 years, you’re dodging my question. Are you to tell be Spanish speakers enjoy hearing Americans butcher the Spainsh language and go merrily about the countryside proclaiming that there is no ‘right’ way to speak Spanish?

    Of course there is a correct pronounciation of English words. It’s not just Canadians, by the way, I have been told by people from the south and mid-west, that I have ‘no’ accent. While it is true that people from many parts of America speak with different accents, they all know which pronunciations from the other accents, and even from their own is wrong. No sountherner will correct a northerner for saying “Yellow” instead of “Yaller”, nor will a Bostonite correct you for saying “Harbor” instead of “Hahrbuh”.

    The correct pronunciation of any English word can be found in the Dictionary.


  3. Giselle,

    I hope your mom got that telemarketer fired.

    But, there is such a thing as elocution. A prime example is that although I grew up in New York, my father insisted on proper pronunciation. A few years ago I worked for a Canadian company and my collegues all said they were shocked that I didn’t speak with a New Yawk accent.

    Is it such a bad idea to require that a person teaching English to Spanish speakers not speak English with a heavy accent?

    Shouldn’t we want the people learning English to get the best education they can, and won’t they be more successful living in the United States if they learn proper elocution than if they do not?

    What do you say to a person in Mexico that speaks Spanish with a heavy American accent?


    1. Glenn,

      So what is the “correct” accent in English? A newscaster’s accent from Middle America? A newscaster’s accent from Northern England? Australia?

      Someone from the US who speaks Spanish in Mexico with a heavy accent is going to impress me a hell of a lot more than someone from the US who has lived here 30 years and still is surpised when they’re not understood in English. Trust me, it happens all the time.

      And what’s the problem with a New Yawk accent? I wear mine with pride.


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