Mary and I were in Todos Santos, and my 8 year-old granddaughter Righteous was staying with us. Earlier that morning, Righteous’ mother (my daughter Rebekah) Skyped me to say that she had forgotten to pack one of her allergy medications, so off we were to a pharmacy to see if we could rectify the situation.
Many medications requiring a prescription in the U.S. are available over the counter in Mexico. This includes medications like cholesterol and blood pressure remedies, and – we were hoping – this particular antihistamine.
Visiting the local farmacia seemed easy enough – my Spanish and the pharmacist’s English were adequate enough to establish the situation, and as I had suspected, the medication was available for sale without hassle. When it came time to indicate who the patient was, I replied, “mi nieta, Righteous”. The pharmacist switched to English.
“Is that a name?”
“Yes,” I replied, politely but somewhat defiantly, “it’s my granddaughter’s name”.
To break the tension, I went looking for the Spanish translation on my smartphone.
“justa, honrada, virtuosa, justificada“.
“That’s not a name,” the pharmacist said, “that’s an adjective.”
I understood this to be an honest cultural misunderstanding, but Righteous was feeling offended and was clearly upset. At that point, an elderly gentleman waiting in line behind us decided to intercede. He leaned forward toward Righteous and smiled. Then he turned to the pharmacist and said “traducir al inglés, por favor (translate to English, please)”.
In broken English, the pharmacist, suitably chastened, said, “Righteous is not just a name. Like your Grandpa said, it’s your name, and that’s what makes it very, very special”.