North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

June 26, 2013

Danielle Cater: To gripe in English, please press "1"

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — You know it’s rough when you find yourself going through your restaurant gift cards to get the balances before going to lunch. It’s not really that tight around my house, I’m just that thrifty. But something struck me as odd while making the call to get my card balances — they all asked me to press “1” for English.

This may not mean anything to anyone else, but to me, that struck a nerve. Why am I living in America, calling a company based in my home country, and having to press “1” in order to speak with someone in my own native tongue?

I don’t agree with us making it practically impossible for foreigners to become American citizens, but it should definitely be required for them to be able to communicate in English before becoming a legal citizen. If that is the case, then there should be no point in time that I have to go through an extra step on a phone survey in order to get English representatives. They should all speak English and this should be the standard, not the exception.

English just so happens to be the official language of the United States, and as such, this should be the language that we use. I understand that many people speak different languages, but I wouldn’t go to India or Mexico and expect them all to cater to my English needs. I expect the Indians to speak Telugu (or one of the hundreds of languages of that country), the Mexicans to speak Spanish and the English to speak English.

Call me crazy, but I just happen to believe that we shouldn’t change all of the rules because people don’t want to abide by them. We shouldn’t all learn Chinese because there is an influx of Chinese immigrants and since they don’t want to learn English, the English speakers should learn Chinese.

I would be sorely disappointed if I went to Russia and expected all sales clerks and business owners to reference me using my English dialect. No, I would expect them to speak Russian, and they should, in return, expect me to speak English if they come to America.

It’s painful to watch a country bend over backward to accommodate people who aren’t citizens, aren’t paying their dues and aren’t being a positive addition to society. We shouldn’t give in to every whim of outsiders who aren’t contributing to the well-being of America. If you are a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen of America, then you have every right to make your voice heard. Go through the proper channels and make things happen. But it is ridiculous for us to sit by while people who don’t do it the right way, run all over the people who are trying to go through the proper chain of command to make a difference in their country.

I know I sound like a preacher on a soapbox in the streets, but it really gets under my skin to feel like an outsider in my own homeland. Our forefathers fought hard for the rights that we have, and we would be doing them a great injustice if we sat by and didn’t stand up for what we believe in.

I believe in America. I appreciate our rights and freedoms in this great country. I love the freedom of a fair trial, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms and every freedom that has been afforded us. I think it would be a shame for us to give up on keeping the English language as our primary language.

Yes, I do speak English. And no, I do not wish to press “1” in order to continue to do so.