Friday, December 19, 2008

My interpreter

I have an interpreter. The day we met, our team was discussing what we'd imagine our perfect interpreter being...he'd have to fit in with our group, and thus probably be young, or be an older grandmother type who could keep us in check. When I went to pick him up, he opened the door revealing a man who seemed to be pushing seventy with the same look Grandpa Simpson has in the cartoon every time he thinks Homer is coming to visit. He stood there, not saying anything, and we looked at one another awkwardly until he finally said, "Hello! I am in-ter-pret-er." He slowly said the word in syllables.

On the way home, my driver, who has already deployed, wanted to test his boundaries and tells the interpreter, in Arabic, "Man, you have a nice ass." There was an awkward pause, until the grandpa laughed and replied, "Yes! Yes I do! By the way, do you all like to play poker? I do...but it's not as fun when there's no beer."

He has since become a part of our team. He is very good natured and reminds me of my old Arabic teacher who always responded with, "mmm...OK." It seems as though nothing bothers him and he's been translating in Iraq for longer than most soldiers have been here over multiple deployments.

When people "support our troops" I wonder if they think of people like my interpreter. An American, who spends his years here helping soldiers communicate. I will from now on, because he's done more than I have over the last few years, and I never would have known about him, or others like him, had I not come here.


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