“Today’s word is ventana,” announced Cleotilde, our self-proclaimed Spanish instructor. She hails from Central America and she’s full of zest for life. She tells us countless stories about how she managed the arduous thousand mile trek across the desert to come here. It took her a couple of years, working odd jobs along the way, scrimping and saving. And, here she is.
“Okay fine, but what does ve…, or did you say wenta…” one co-worker began to ask.
Cleotilde cut her short. “Oy… listen. I said, ventana, the ‘v’ is pronounced with a ‘bea’ sound, not ‘v’ as in ‘Victoria’… O keh?”
“So what does ventana mean?” asked Isidro, our Filipino accountant.
“It means, window,” replied Cleotilde. “So today, we learn window… ventana. Ventana… window.”
A voice from the mail room joined in. “You mean like Windows? Like Windows 7?” Laughter.
Cleotilde was not amused. “That is windows,” she said. “More than one. So ventanas.”
“Yes. Sem ting,” chimed in Lee Ku Huang, our senior sales clerk. “Window is window. So ventana is ventana. O keh?”
Huh? Oh boy, this lesson is quickly turning out to be a UN meeting. But the lesson is free, so we keep going.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea.” It was Cleotilde. “A quiz.” She comes up with these pop quizzes – like clockwork. She says it’s good for understanding and word recognition. “Okay. So Windows is ventanas and 7 is siete.”
I think she lost the whole office crowd at this point. We went back to work. I thought about the word for the day, “ventana”. Good word to know. Ventana is window. Window is ventana. I mentally repeated the word – even silently mouthing it, you know, like Milli-Vanelli. I had the sudden urge to use the word. Why not? All they can do is laugh at me, right?
“Hey Lee, do me a favor and open that ventana,” I looked at Mr Lee Ku Huang who sits by the office water cooler. “Yeah that one,” I said, pointing at the window by his desk above the water bottle.
“O keh. I open ventana,” Lee said grinning as he reached up to crack open the tiny window. “Ventana… window,” he mumbled the words to himself.
Later that afternoon, Linda, our executive secretary came in after attending a corporate luncheon meeting. “Hey guys,” she waved as she zipped by our desks. Slowing down, she looked back our way. “Oh… ya’ll want to know where next year’s presidential awards will be held?”
“Sure, we do… but who all is going?” asked Cleotilde.
“You guys are eligible,” replied Linda. “All depends on the sales, the profit margin, you know, the bottom line.”
“Okay where?” we all chimed in. “This better be good.”
Linda, with dramatic flair said, “In Costa Rica… and… ta da… drum roll please. We’ll be staying at a place called… let me see….” She opened her case. “Ah… here it is. At a resort called Las Ventanas. Ain’t that cool?”
We looked at each other. Well, well… we know what that word means… ventana… yes, Ventanas… windows. We surely learned a good word today.