And you're not afraid? I hadn't stopped to think about it. Afraid? No, the truth is that I am not, I told Maria, while we were leaving a Deli with a coffee in hand on the way to the subway on 3rd Avenue and 23rd Street. I had no money and needed to survive.
The next morning I showed up at the Hilton Hotel on Sixth Avenue. Agustín Balaguer was waiting for me in the lobby. I knew the name because the day before they had given me all the details in the ICEX (Foreign Trade Institute).
A week earlier I had been called from that office to ask if I was interested in working as an interpreter. I didn't hesitate for a second. Yes, of course I wanted to. Where do I have to go? How much do I get paid? What I didn't say at any time to the lady who called me and gave me such a generous job offer, is that at that time, I spoke almost no English. That's right... nothing at all. But I didn't care. I'll figure it out anyway, I thought.
And there I was that morning with Mr. Balaguer in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel. I will always remember his kind face when he explained to me that he represented a Catalan textile firm and that he needed an interpreter to present his company to another very important one in New York, since he didn't speak English. I remember that at that moment I choked on the third coffee I was sipping at that moment and that brought me back to the reality of the situation. Oh crap!, I thought.
I don't know on which floor of the company building, the director's secretary received us and took us to a rather small office. Thank goodness, because if it had been bigger I would have had room to run away. But in that mini office there was no escape. Agustín sat down on my right and I was surrounded. A cold sweat began to run through my body. Then the good gentleman began to speak in Spanish (thank goodness) and when he finished he looked at me. And he looked at me again and looked at the director who also looked at me. And then, I don't know where I looked, but suddenly I started talking. I don't remember if in Russian, Chinese or Arabic. I didn't speak any of these languages but my tongue gave free rein to words that, to me, sounded distant and foreign. I will never forget the director's face when he politely let me finish.
Then we left and I think that I was either very naive or Mr. Balaguer thought we had closed the business deal of his life. I remember him fondly and I hope all of his business has gone very well.
I have had a great time remembering this story of what happened to me in New York back in 1999 and I hope it has amused all of you as well.
The intention of this anecdote is to reflect on what fear does not let us do. On many occasions the fear of risking, of changing, of advancing, leaves us paralyzed. And girls and boys: fear has to be fought. Fight it as well as you can, but fight it.
There is nothing more wonderful than achieving goals, objectives, challenges and dreams. Surely, they are many and varied, but we can achieve them. You are invincible.