Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Major faux pas

I met this Arab guy today who told me he was going to NYC and asked me what he should do there. In my mind I started walking around NYC and was naming things he should do as I got there on my mental walking tour. I was so focused on envisioning the area and what there was to do in that area that I utterly forgot to think about who I was talking to. I mentioned the Statue of Liberty and then my imagined feet took me to Ground Zero. So I rattled that off, too, not thinking a wink. I stopped when I noticed his ironic look. He sputtered, "Yeah, I have no interest in going there at all." My friend sunk back into her chair and pretended she hadn't heard anything. To add salt to my open faux pas, I found out that he's Iraqi. Great, Heather. Really great. So, this is why Americans are so beloved around the world, eh?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Language confusion

And the results are in. Number one sign you’ve been in a foreign country too long: When you finally get the chance to speak to a native English speaker, you’re still speaking in broken, almost unintelligible English. You might find yourself saying things like, “Oh, it too much hot in here,” or “Ben come?” On other occasions you just might substitute one key word for an entire sentence, leaving that word to be interpreted as it may: “Office?” And then, the confused and unmarred English speaker looks at you pityingly and nods or walks away.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote of the day

“You know, you’re not black; you’re white. But, besides that you look exactly like an Ethiopian.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Ethiopia. It's the country where coffee was invented. Coffee is Ethiopia's main source of income, by a long shot. Coffee is life in Ethiopia.

Now, imagine little old me trying to explain to a bunch of quizzical Ethiopians why I don't drink coffee.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The password is Ethiopia

Oh, CVS. Every time I go there to pick up a prescription - no matter how long they've had to fill the prescription - it isn't ready. I've had to entirely quit myself of the assumption that when your doctor calls in a prescription it will be filled. So, I don't know why I was at all surprised this week when, upon approaching the pharmacist, we began the familiar haggling. "Sanders, you say? When did you drop it off? No, I don't see anything here. Are you sure your doctor called it in?" This is followed by staff receiving the novel inspiration to check their voice messages, which apparently have not been checked in days. Oh! There's that message where my doctor called in my prescription 2 days ago.

This week has been crazy busy and I really didn't feel like I wanted to spend more time driving all the 6 blocks (I know, I know) back to CVS. So, a little exasperated, I mentioned off-handedly, "It's just that I'm going to Ethiopia in a couple days and I really need this prescription before I go." Ethiopia?! All eyes snapped to me, people started smiling, and I began to receive profuse congratulations on my decision to travel to Ethiopia. Everybody stopped what they were doing, wanting to talk to me about Ethiopia and bless me for what I was doing. The pharmacist in the back pulled me aside and furtively said, "I can have your prescription ready in 10 minutes. Can you wait that long?"

So, if your pharmacy is anything like most of the pharmacies I've been to in DC, you might want to casually throw in the word "Ethiopia" without regard to the propriety of its use. You just never know what they might be willing to do when you mention that secret password.