Joyce Whitis

Teresa Rangle opens her shop at 1590 N. Graham six days a week and during every hour that her front door is unlocked, she is busy. If there isn’t a customer relaxed in a comfortable chair, black waterproof cape draped around his shoulders, while she cuts his dark hair, with other customers sitting around the room, reading newspapers written in Spanish, Teresa is listening to CD’s repeating Spanish phrases followed by English translations.

“Every day I study English,” the pretty young woman tells me with a broad smile. “All the years I lived in California, I never learn English. In Texas I learn. I study every day in Texas.”

Teresa’s shop is in the building where I once had a pet shop, “Joyce’s Animal Farm”. I stopped in right after she opened for business. I needed someone to do my hair that day and she takes walk-ins. Also I wanted to learn Spanish and she wanted to learn English so we hit it off immediately although our conversations are somewhat limited. She cuts a lot of hair for men and boys but I think I am her only Anglo customer. This is probably due to the language barrier she is trying so hard to overcome because she is very talented.

The Rangle family consists of husband, Rodrigo, son Rodrigo Jr, and daughters, Melissa and Suieima. All other family members speak English. The family lives in Dublin and the children attend school there.

Teresa opened her shop one year ago in June after completing courses at Stephenville Beauty College. “In California I worked 12 years at Isuzu, sewing upholstery,” Teresa told me. “My patron liked my work and he was very nice to work for but I wanted to have my own business and we decided to come to Texas.

“All the time I lived in California, I didn’t try to learn English because everyone spoke Spanish but in Stephenville, I really try to learn. I practice every day, every day. In order to become a United States citizen, I have to learn English and take a test. I want to learn.”

Besides giving customers haircuts and styling hair, this U.S. resident is forever looking for other ways to get ahead in her chosen country. She offers members of the Mexican community other services. In the next room, the room that was my office when I was in business, bilingual workers help immigrants with their taxes.

A bright spot in my week is stopping by Teresa’s shop to get my hair done. We enjoy trying out phrases we’ve learned in Spanish and English. The pleasant chatter continues in two languages, sometimes there is laughter, sometimes frustration as two individuals struggle to overcome the language barrier that separates them, yet draws them together. Understanding becomes a test of patience. I have the feeling that Teresa is outdistancing me when it comes to learning another language. Just last week as I turned to leave, I said, “Muchisimas gracias, Teresa. Buenas tardes,” To which she smiled and replied, “Okay dokay”.