One of the cool things about living alone is that my kitchen is full of little bottles of grapefruit juice, single-serve yogurts, instant noodles and beer. And that’s it. One of the less cool parts is that after I finally bought a new DVD player, I had to hook it up myself.

I’ve never had to do that before. I’ve always had a boyfriend, usually a computer geek or an engineer who regards anything with cables as his domain. I think Eric would have taken serious offence to me setting up my own PC. Zorro told me that all I have to do is match up the colors, and if I really can’t get figure it out, he’ll set it up for me when he comes over after class.

He was right, actually. But when I got the picture and sound of Harry Potter 2 on my TV, I still felt like I was splitting the atom!

When I changed jobs, I had to give up my DVD player and move away from my little corner market. I finally got the shopkeepers in my old mini-grocery trained to talk slowly and use short sentences. Basically, if I ask “Where’s the milk?” I can understand turn left, it’s on your right or we don’t have any, but not “Unfortunately, the supply truck is running late this week and we are expecting a delivery midafternoon. Why don’t you come back around 4?”

I found a new mini-grocery, but it’s not the same. The shopkeeper gasped when I spoke to him, and stammered “You speak Chinese! Listen, she is speaking Chinese!” which is flattering, if not accurate. But when I came up to the counter to pay for my warm Sprite, bottled water and yogurt, he punched in my total on a calculator and showed it to me. I just don’t get it. Does he think I learned “Where’s the strawberry yogurt?” and “Do you have any cold Sprite?” but not “15 kwai”? Or is it some kind of misguided politeness? Maybe treating me like I’m slow is an attempt to make things easier for me?

Hello? I can hook up a DVD player by myself! I’m not stupid!

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0 Responses to Connections

  1. ?? says:

    good luck, if your dvd player is anything like mine you will have to learn the characters for pause, stop, menu, skip etc… whats wrong with the little icons? They’re universal.

  2. acidelic says:

    I think that people do that with the calculator to make sure there is NO WAY IN HELL that you didn’t understand the negotiated price. My wife gets the same treatment and she is Chinese.

  3. Wabres says:

    Hey, i liked playing with cables, and I thought it made up for how you translate Engineer to English for me.

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