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April 18, 2001 PROBE

April 18, 2001

QUESTION: I had an ugly experience today. I went to a beauty shop in El Centro with my two small children to get haircuts for all of us.

Before she cut any hair, the stylist yelled, "I don't speak Spanish!" and threw her towel against the mirror.

I said, in English, "I am leaving!" and left. I am pregnant with twins and I was in the beauty shop with two little kids and that woman was so rude! I feel sad. — Untrimmed, El Centro

Why do you feel sad? At worst you ran into a woman in a bad mood! Ignore it. In a multi-cultural community, we have to give each other a little slack.

Would it surprise you to hear that the on-duty manager said that's not what happened?

She said you came in with your children. The stylist said, "Who's first?" You didn't understand and the stylist asked the manager for help.

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"The stylist said, ‘Will you translate? I don't speak Spanish.' There was no yelling, no throwing towels or anything," insisted the Hispanic manager.

"There must have been a misunderstanding because the woman took her children and left," said the manager.

That could be, but we think there might have been something subtle happening. Maybe both women were tired.

The client was a pregnant young mother hauling two kids in to get haircuts. Who knows what kind of day the stylist had? We know people were standing in line for haircuts last week.

Even a quiet voice can have an edge. People who have endured insults can hear an insult when none was intended.

We talked to you for 20 minutes and you speak English. If the stylist had been patient, she could have understood you.

We speak considerable Spanish when we're comfortable. Otherwise, our Spanish is so bad Spanish speakers learn to speak English on the spot. That's why the whole county is becoming bilingual!

QUESTION: Bill Macklin was my attorney in a civil lawsuit. Just before he died I gave him $3,000.

Can you find out who is handling his cases? I have an important hearing coming up. — Litigant, Brawley

Call attorney Lance Korten, president of the Imperial County Bar Association and the Macklin practice administrator. He can arrange to give you your file.

You will have to file a claim against Macklin's estate to get back your money.

You might get your money through the state Bar Association's client security fund. Call (213) 765-1140 and ask for an application form.

MAN WITH PADDLE — The man with the STOP paddle at Highways 111 and Evan Hewes is not a Caltrans employee. He works for the construction company. — Caltrans Employee, El Centro

Thank you.

TIRE LITTER — The piles of old tires seen along some country roads may have been left there for a purpose. Farmers use them to cushion heavy equipment when crossing roads. Otherwise the weight would damage the pavement. — Rural Resident, Imperial County

You're not supposed to leave the tires on the road. Hereafter, pick them up.

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