Reader to Reader | Essay | Chicago Reader

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Reader to Reader

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Last Thursday evening a Hispanic woman came into Bookworks, the used bookstore where I work at the corner of Clark and Newport, and slid an English/Spanish lesson workbook across the counter to me.

"Tiene este libro?" she said.

I responded in English: "Are you selling it, or do you want to buy it?"

"Quiero este libro," she said, pointing to the book.

"Follow me," I said, not completely sure I was understanding her. Why would she want to buy a book she already had? I walked her back to foreign languages.

"No hablo ingles," she said on the way.

"Yeah, I kind of figured," I said. I helped her scan the Spanish-language shelves, but we didn't see the book.

"Sorry," I said, shaking my head, "I guess not."

She smiled to thank me, and we were walking back toward the counter when a man, apparently her husband, walked in the door and said something to her in Spanish, too fast for me to understand. She said something back, and then he turned to me and said, in perfect English:

"What's the matter, you don't have the book?"

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