Reverse Xenophobe

October 19, 2009

When we arrived in Houston for our layover before coming to New York, I had a tough time communicating with people there.  We went through customs and stopped to get breakfast.  Scott happily got potatoes and biscuits and bacon and sat down to eat.  I was looking for a buttered roll and an ice coffee and had a hell of a time getting it.  I had to go over to the sandwich station, and just before I could get the guy’s attention another woman swooped in before me.

“Is that your chicken salad?”

“It’s this one, ma’am.” Indicating a tub of bland glop.

“Is there much mayonnaise in that?”

“No ma’am, not too much.”

“Hmmm, and what about the tuna?”  It’s 7am.

“About the same, ma’am.”

“And the turkey?”

This went on for another five minutes until the woman told me to go ahead while she wrestled with processed proteins.  I asked for my roll, which then went to get heated.  Then he didn’t have butter, but said the cashier would.  The cashier didn’t.  She said I had to get it “over there,” without indicating where “over there” was.  She said ask someone.  There was no one in sight behind the counter to ask.  Finally I got some.  Then I asked if they had ice coffee, she looked at me like I was crazy.  Then she asked what I got.  A roll.  She had no idea what to charge.  Time to call a manager.  The whole interaction took until it was time for us to board our plane to La Guardia and we were almost going to be late.

I walked down the jetway berating Americans, recounting the idiocy of the past half an hour.  No interaction in Brazil has been that frustrating, mostly because I’m more patient there, I should have difficulty communicating.  Scott called me a reverse xenophobe.

I’m happy to say that a few wonderful days in Philly, a super fun wedding, and a full day in New York today went a long way toward restoring my faith in my communication abilities.

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