Speaking English in Miami

It's lunchtime.  I brought my lunch today but every once in a while, I just need to step outside of the office.  For a little while, I want to not breathe the recycled, recirculated, germ-laden air in our office.  I want to see the sun, feel a breeze.  (I work in the South Beach area, which means I'm breathing the urine-scented, probably even MORE germ-laden air, but I digress.)

I step outside into the nice warm air that is a million times warmer than the refrigerated air that is pumped into our office via a vent directly over my head.  I contemplate crossing the street but I don't want to walk to the corner and a Miami Beach officer just pulled up and it would be just my luck that he'd harass me for jaywalking.  (On a side note, do police still do that?)

SIDEBAR: If you haven't had the pleasure, opportunity, bad luck to venture down Washington Ave during the day, here's what you're missing:  real homeless people asking for money, pseudo-homeless people asking for money (the fake ones are way too clean and tend to have new sneakers on), sorry to be so un-PC, but crazy people, talking to themselves and bumming smokes, driving on the sidewalk (bikes, boards, skates), walking in the streets, and about every half block, someone trying to give you a flyer for something be it a club, religion, new music, whatever.  Get on a plane!  This can't stay here forever!

I think that I've made it through steps 1 through 6 and am about to take step 7 outside the building when I am approached by a flyer guy.  It went a little something like this:

FG: Aaaaaay, mami, you peaki pani?

Translation: Pardon me miss, do you speak Spanish?

Me: rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (while squeezing my eyes shut and shaking my head like a dog that just got sprayed with the hose)

FG: Uhhhh.  (walks away quickly)

I am one of the few people in Miami that doesn't speak Spanish, apparently.  Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing against the language or the people.  I lived in Mexico for almost 2 years (and yes, I still don't speak Spanish) and the love of my life is of Cuban decent.  It's such a melting pot here, but I can't quite understand why people automatically think that I speak Spanish.  Granted, I don't look like Buffy from the country club (African-American, loc-ed hair, sadly, no ghetto booty — why am I the only black girl on earth with no ass??), but why not shoot for English first?  Honestly, if I'm in Mexico, I shoot for Spanish when I ask questions.  In France, I'd give French a shot, but give up quickly and head on home for some Freedom Fries from McDonalds.  So why, in the US, can we not go for English first? 

By the way, it isn't just Spanish that people assume I speak.  I think that I get mistaken for Dominican and that's where it comes from, but I also get mistaken for Haitian because often enough, someone will start going on in Creole until I start giving them the dog spray.

I'm not going the way of the lunatic from Colorado who thinks that Miami is a "third world country", far from it.  I hope.  I certainly don't want to be seen as "that girl".  I just want people to respect our country and our language just like they would any other country or its language.  Is that so wrong?  Talk amongst yourselves.

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