The dangers of mashed potatoes, and limited Spanish proficiency.
At the School Health offices, in a hallway shared with Price Hill Health Center, a poster is tacked into the drywall. The caption, above an image of a young, expectant mother serving a toddler from a large bowl of mashed potatoes (among other foods spread out on the table), reads “Peligros del plomo”. The bowl of mashed potatoes, in the center of the table, is highlighted by a thick, red circle.
In passing, I usually ponder what the heck the poster is advertising, until interrupted and forced to recall patient names/weekday schedules/WIC clinic phone numbers at will, redirecting mental focus elsewhere and forgetting about the poster until the next time I find myself in that hallway.
What the heck is so bad about serving kids mashed potatoes? I know the root ‘peligro’ translates to ‘danger’ and have no clue what ‘plomo’ translates to, and never get the chance to continue the thought process until back in front of a screen that can solve the mystery for me. This must be what it feels like to have limited understanding of English, living where it’s the primary language. Especially in places where poorly designed advertising abounds.
Today, the poster caught my attention again, and I refused to be interrupted before finally solving the mystery. The remainder of the afternoon found me laughing quietly to myself at the fact that ‘plomo’ means ‘lead’. The dangers of lead poisoning. Not mashed potatoes. Lead can be found in some types of ceramic, which just so happens to be the type of serving bowl in use in this case, I suppose.
Thank goodness. Potatoes are just too good to give up.