After a long gaze at the different fonts and bright colors, my father, a Chinese man in his 70s, concluded in English, “The menu is different.”
“Yes, it’s new. Today is the first day,” replied the clerk, a Latina woman in her 40s. Standing next to her was a young Latina woman, perhaps not yet 20 years old.
“It used to be K5,” my father murmured in Chinese.
“Do you want what you usually get?” I responded in Chinese.
Though my father has an excellent grasp of English, the new orientation and colors of the fluorescent menu perplexed him.
“Chicken legs, right? You want K1.”
My dad found K1, too, and nodded with approval. He directed his attention to the cashier.
“Can I please have K1?” he asked.
The older woman nudged the younger woman to show her how to enter this order. “Ask if he wants original or extra crispy,” she advised in English.
“Original or extra crispy?” the young lady parroted.
“Original,” my dad said. The older woman then began to give instructions to the young woman in Spanish.
“It’s her first day here,” the older woman offered. The young woman smiled sheepishly; we all smiled back at her. No big deal.
And so it went: Spanish behind the counter, Chinese in front of the counter, with English connecting the two sides, and people helping people in all directions.
This is what makes America great.