def: Likewise. As in, “Have a great day!”. Response: “You too!” or “Likewise!” or “Same to you!”.

NOT the “same to you!” we gringos normally think of, where those very words are jabbing at our hands, forcing our middle fingers to stab the heavens.

No. It’s what Spanish speaking people say when they are returning your civility, your kindness, your well wishes. Its manners. I’ve had it directed my way many times. “Igualmente” as far as I can tell also requires smiling.

This mini-cultural lesson is courtesy of my anonymous deed today. I don’t have anything smart to say about it. So here it is.

It’s freakin’ snowing again and EIGHTEEN degrees F outside (NOT, PLEASE understand NOT factoring in the wind chill temperature). Who in their brilliance would get their car washed on such a dirty-dove-gray day? A few people ahead me that’s who. And my car was gross the likes of which defied the justification of how slushy, snowy and dirty it is and has been.

It’s a typical gas station drive thru wash: two to three attendants guiding you in, writing you up, helping you with garbage, vacuuming. I wouldn’t DREAM of asking anyone to freeze their culo off to get a few Goldfish cracker crumbs out of my floor board, so I buy just the exterior wash.

I speak to them in fluent albeit childlike Spanish. The latin people I’ve engaged with are too generous with their praise of my command of the language. I have a good ear. I am also half-Puerto Rican, yo. (okay – THAT “yo” means the marathon Breaking Bad sessions must cease).

My cadence and intonation is good I know, but I still speak mostly only in present tense. I didn’t know any latin speaking folk growing up. I didn’t meet my Puerto Rican father until I was twenty-five.

I digress. I buy just the exterior wash.

I ask the cashier, an elegant, tall latin man with an almost undetectable accent if I can bring the guys coffee. He nods, smiles, thanks me.

I watch through the glass and concrete tunnel, this giant dishwasher spewing cotton candy colored solutions across my car like an angry PETA hurls paint at a fur coat.

There’s four guys drying my car off best they can before the conveyor system shoves my car into the freezing air.

I put the tip in the pool box. I drive to Starbucks. A box of Starbucks coffee serves 8-10 each a tall cup of jo. It’s only $15.00 and change. I spend that easily on gossip and fashion magazines in one swoop. So I buy all nine of the chocolate croissants they have left in the case. All in? Still only about $38.00. That’s an hour in the iTunes store for me no problem.

Without grand gesture, I pull up, run the coffee box, condiments, cups, tops and baked goods in to the cashier. A couple of the guys outside must have caught wind of what I was doing.

They are so layered in clothing, that they have to turn their entire bodies to throw me a smile.

A stout attendant with his warm, affable, toothy version walks toward me and says, “Muchas Gracias!”

I smile back. “Igualmente, senor. Igualmente.”

No really.

Same to you.




Leave a Comment