19 June 2012

On Becoming Those People

A few years ago an American friend told me a story about a couple they knew who lived in their same village in Africa. When they were all Stateside, they got together so they could introduce them to their friends at home. She said they acted totally different and became incredibly socially awkward. "It was like they had totally forgotten how to interact in American society!" This is the anecdote I replay in my mind every time I'm in any sort of social setting. Do not become those people. Do not become those people.

Here are some signs we're becoming those people:

I had never in my life driven either of my children until this past week. I can easily go an entire year without operating a motor vehicle of any kind. Thankfully my sister was in the car because, I-honest-to-goodness, had to ask which was the accelerator and which was the brake. She was kind enough to explain the "one on the right makes the car go." And then we drove from one side of the parking lot to the other. And that was the extent of my career chauffeuring my children. Lucky for them.

Porsche 911 GT1 engine subsystems cartoo by wbaiv, on Flickr
Driving again kind of feels like this.
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  wbaiv 

We went to Target within the first 24 hours of being home (obviously) and the Starbucks there had free samples of some sort of whipped cream topped-caramel-drizzled-macchiato-pumpkin spice-chai tea substance. Adam got absolutely giddy and confirmed several times with the poor teenager working the cash register that they were in fact free. He then found a bar of designer chocolate for only $2 and brought me to see it. We both agreed Target should really consider charging more for their products.

jack johnson:better together by visualpanic, on Flickr
It's free. Just take it!
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  visualpanic 

I am about to become one of the oldest people in history to have their wisdom teeth taken out. As the receptionist at my dentist explained to the oral surgeon why I had waited so long, "Well, she lives in Africa." And then whispered, "and keeps getting pregnant." Honestly, compared to the medical events of last summer (read: giving birth) I'm looking forward to the drug-induced nap in the dentist chair.

I am completely shocked how long it takes to fold a laundry basket of baby clothes. It doesn't look like a lot, but you can get at least 50 onesies and hundreds of pairs of baby socks in one load of laundry. Dear god, how do the Mamas do this everyday and then iron it all? Note to self: give Mamas a raise for tedious, never-ending baby laundry tasks.

And lastly, Adam and I actually have discussed, at great length, on several occasions how culturally inappropriate it would be to bring either of the Mamas home to help us. Exactly how much would we be judged? How difficult is it to get an American visa for a Congolese woman? We're proud of ourselves for compromising on only feeling the need to bring one nanny.

So in this, our summer in the States after our sixth year abroad, we're trying to blend in as much as possible. But I still think it's thrilling that at any time of day you can walk into Costco and feed your entire family with samples for zero dollars. Yep, did that two days in a row last week. God Bless America.


  1. Lol what a great post! Smiles all the way in England haha!

  2. I always try to hit Costco around lunchtime when I'm feeling peckish. In the rare case that no samples are available, I march myself over to the food counter and order a Costco-sized hotdog and drink for $1.50.

  3. I bet you seemed normal and looked nothing like "those people"... while you took pictures of all the free food samples you got while in Costco :)

  4. While that would have been awesome (and not weird at all) if I took pics of all the samples, our expert graphic designer snagged those from some other loser who's obsessed with Costco samples.

  5. This post made me think of this: http://www.wanderingearl.com/if-youre-a-socially-awkward-nomad-you-know-it-clap-your-hands/ Must read.

  6. Oops, folks. I forgot to link that Costo samples photo to it's rightful owner: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evanbrom/sets/72157617974842924/


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...