The other day I was wearing an old striped golf shirt that was covered with Logos of the Tabasco Pepper Sauce company and when a friend noticed my shirt he asked me, “You been there?” I was confused. I had no idea what my shirt said. My wonderful wife, Jean washes and folds my shirts and I just wear ’em. I don’t read em. I said “Where?” and he said, “Tabasco,” and I said sure, Halliburton flew me down there one time to do a safety meeting. It is almost down as far as Guatemala. They have a little community right in the jungle for oil drilling and they flew me in there. My friend was talking about the Pepper plant down at Avery Island, Louisiana. My mind was down at a meeting room in the jungle in Mexico somewhere.
Well that meeting flashed into my head. There were about a hundred folks engaged in oil drilling gathered together in this hotel and I had an hour presentation scheduled. Maybe twenty five percent spoke English. They had hired two interpreters, one for Spanish and the other for Portuguese. I met them early and spent about a hour coaching them and they were appreciative and most receptive. I explained to them how important they were to making my talk successful. I gave them copies of some poems I would be including. I told them most of my jokes and sort of explained them. I read them my Declaration of Interdependence document and they had time to do a quick translation for themselves. When I finished they pretty well knew what I was up to. Well, after my introduction which they had a copy of, I just went at it as if they were an English speaking audience and darned if they didn’t act like it. Most of the attendees were wearing head phones but they seemed to laugh in all the right places and when I finished, darned if they didn’t rise to their feet and give me a standing ovation. Well, I waved the applause down and brought on the two interpreters and said to the audience, “I don’t know just what these women said to you while they were translating but it must have been the right thing.”
Who knows. The folks with the ear phones might have heard a much, much better presentation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all carry a couple of interpreters along with us all the time, one that could get our messages across to those in command, another to help us with our nations youth. And maybe we could call in a miracle interpreter to communicate with those folks in Washington, D.C. so that we might begin to understand what in the world they are thinking and doing, or not doing and why.