I have decided that hilarious, uncomfortable, and inconvenient moments happen to all of us, regardless of culture or location. This conclusion stemmed from my own experience today and the blog of a friend in Hungary who is a bit harried.
First, my dear friend already at ICSB scoping out the living conditions has shared the dilemma of daily cooking and laundry. I'll leave her humorous linguistic moments for when I am in the same situation, but suffice it to say she is often feeling awkward or uncomfortable! Anyway, let's just say she's baking without temperature knobs, pilot lights, or thermometers, laundering without instructions or soap, and just hanging in there until underwear runs out. What a trooper she is. Kristen--don't let that culture stress wear you down. Remember, you love Hungary. :)
I read her blog shortly after having an experience that gave me the impression of a stereotypical Eastern Bloc country before 1990. I was at the local County Jail today...getting fingerprints for substitute teaching. No crime was committed, but I felt as though I was being booked. Actually, the officers who worked with me were very pleasant and spoke English fluently, so this experience is already much easier than Kristen's.
On my way in, I tried to walk through the metal detector and did not see the conveyor belt for belongings during my first two tries, much to the chagrin and frustration of the guard. Embarrassing, but could have been so much worse with a language barrier. Then, what was supposed to be a simple in/out procedure on the rad new digital equipment turned into 45 minutes of my life that are gone forever. First, my last name is not Looms. Secondly, I do not have black eyes. Thirdly and most significantly, my fingerprints are wearing off because of perpetual contact with paper. That's right. It took quite a while to get viable prints from me. Apparently, English teachers have an occupational hazard of which I was not aware. Well, after having my hand pressed to the glass time after time, being rejected by the inanimate machine, and feeling nervous standing in central booking for so long, I was finally able to follow one of the kind officers back through the maze of hallways to the lobby and freedom. Miscreants should be aware that crime does not pay. Booking alone will take entirely too much time out of one's day.
But seriously, thanks to the patient law enforcement officers who could have been so negative when I took up so much of their time but were so funny and kind instead. All of us will experience those awkward moments in life. It may be confusion at the DMV or in the infamously long lines of Walmart. Those "self-checkout" machines may beep incessantly at you or the washer may not clean your clothes after two hours. My advice, after experiencing a bit of inconvenience myself: laugh and remember that nothing lasts forever but God is always good. And you are not alone in feeling stupid. Some things are universal.