Today was one of those days when every customer interaction felt like a struggle to make myself understood. I attempt to explain how to take a Medrol Dosepak or a PrevPac or use an Advair inhaler and the person (of Asian, Hispanic, East African, etc., origin) nods and (sometimes) smiles. We complete the transaction and I walk away feeling very uneasy.
Sometimes it feels like the number of prescriptions and the complexity of the directions is inversely proportional to the recipient's ability to understand English. It especially worries me when a small child or baby is involved --- I point to the "1.5 mL" mark on the syringe and hope it's sinking in. Some pharmacies have the ability to print labels in other languages but I'm uneasy not being able to independently verify what the label says. And even if a translator or other family member is present, how do I know they are correctly translating what I'm saying?
I know, people should learn English when they come to this country. It takes time, though, and for some it may never happen, for whatever reason. I try to imagine if I had to learn Mandarin, or Thai, or Arabic, and was uneducated to begin with. Pretty tall order. I don't know what the solution is, other than trying to do the best you can under the time constraints. Come to think of it, we all know how frequently good old American English-speakers can screw things up --- I guess it can't be too much worse.