Thursday, November 18, 2010
Top Ten Lists for Ex-Pats That Really Mean Something
10. Ordering food in a restaurant from a menu that you can only decipher every 5th word.
9. Shopping for clothes, shoes, etc. in completely different sizes than what you are used to when the sales person does not speak your native language.
8. Buying a bus/train/tram/metro ticket from a machine or person that does not offer your native language.
7. Buying fruit, veg, meat, cheese, etc. from a vendor in an outdoor market in metric quantities
5. Answering someone on the street or in the bus or wherever who directs a question at you in your “new” language.
4. Making an appointment with a doctor/dentist/dermatologist, hair dresser/dog groomer, etc. in another language.
3. Conducting any banking or monetary business in a foreign language.
2. Making friends outside your comfortable ex-pat circle with people who don’t speak your native language.
And, the #1 scariest thing: Getting into a conflict, i.e. an accident, anything involving the police, an irate landlord, etc. in your new language. TERRIFYING!!!
Well, don’t you know, that Mr. Big, who is in no way, shape or form, ready to encounter Scary List Item #1, did just that. Yes. He nailed some poor guy in another car and it involved police and the whole nine yards and it was completely his fault. Later, when he got home and told me of his Swiss Encounter of the Worst Kind, I was in shock.
ME: Mr. Big! What did you do?
MR. BIG: I stood around and looked stupid.
ME: Did you go to the police station?
MR. BIG: No, it all took place right there in the middle of the street.
ME: What do you have to do now?
MR. BIG: I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think I have to do anything. I just signed some papers and they let me go.
ME: What papers did you sign?
MR. BIG: I have no idea.
Top Ten Signs That You Are Adapting to Your New Country (I admit that these are skewed from an American adapting to a European point of view. Sorry!)
10. When you open your closet, it’s like being sucked into a Black Hole. All colored items have slowly been weaned out and only black is allowed to come in. You do not find this depressing.
9. You stop drinking mixed drinks and abandon the idea of ice in a beverage all together. Ice just becomes something you scrape off your windshield or avoid on the roadway.
8. You automatically check that you have at least 50 dollars/francs in your wallet before going out to lunch with your girlfriends. You are not surprised when your bill is 48 dollars/francs for a salad and a glass of wine.
7. You stop worrying that your grown children are going to become homeless beggars without you living near them. You begin worrying that they don’t need you at all. But then, they call and ask for money so you chide yourself for being so ridiculous.
6. Gypsy beggars with one leg and a baby no longer merit a second glance but a fat person does.
4. Loud conversation in public causes you to turn your head to see what all the fuss is about.
3. You come to accept that dressing appropriately for even the most horrendous weather renders it a nonissue and you must now find something else to complain about.
2. You stop practicing anticipated dialogue in your head hours in advance of leaving the house.
And the number 1 sign that you have adapted? You initiate a conversation with a total stranger without a second thought. (I have never done this. Just thinking about it gives me an anxiety attack.)
Now, I am off to America for the Thanksgiving holidays. While I am there I will be attending my 30th High School Reunion and probably gathering material for a new blog entry about people who still act 18 but are actually 48.