Emerging from a church basement thrift shop with my prized haul, I notice a van just pulling up behind my car. More bargain hunters, I thought. As I am about to pull out, an African-American lady’s face bobs down smiling at me through my right front window. Lost? Asking for directions? Do I know this woman? I lower my window. Vivian introduces herself in perfect metropolitan Tagalog .
I respond in the vernacular, challenging her into a light conversation. She holds her own. Sans good practice, I am ready to clutch on to my own to clarify a few things I am unsure of: How does she know the language? How does she know I would respond? Where are we going with this?
Before I could speak further, she reaches deep into her handbag for a clasp of printed material. Oh, now I get it. We’re in front of her church. She’s inviting me to her congregation—for a donation, perhaps. I glance at the clock and brace for an excuse to go along my way. She realizes my intention and hands me two magazine publications from Jehovah’s Witnesses . And, yes, all the text is in Tagalog. I revert to English to say goodbye, thank you and good luck.
I’m both amused and puzzled by this exchange. How sophisticated is the marketing effort of this church to recognize the right audience for their very specific target market? As I pull out from my parking spot, I glance at my rear view mirror. Stepping back into her van, Vivian has started chatting with her companion, a Filipino woman.
Now, how do I know she’s Filipino?