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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Language Barriers

Interesting that we experienced a language barrier with the transportation company we worked with this week. On Friday, their dispatcher called to confirm a Monday, 7 a.m. delivery. Not being the morning mongoose that I once was, compounded by a later daylight-savings sunrise shift, I had been lobbying for an 8 a.m. receiving time. However, with the warehouse in close proximity to the bustling school playground, seven sounded better. The sparse traffic at the earlier time would give us more elbowroom, for backing the big rig up to the warehouse locker.

I requested that the dispatcher ask her driver to call me for better directions, so we could save him some trouble of winding his long truck around the unfamiliar town and its narrow intersections. Instead of meeting us at the store, he could pull straight up to our warehouse dock. Immediately, I sensed that this simple request had turned very complicated, due to lack of English comprehension on the part of the dispatcher. Actually, there was more to it than that; my intuition told me that the dispatcher was acutely aware of her driver’s lack of English skills. Which he later confirmed when I met him in person, then asked him some simple questions about traveling conditions, etc.

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