July 10, 2005

Reconnected to planet earth!

At last I am able to write down a few words in my beloved weblog!
I have just gotten through an unbelievable work marathon, and I daresay I've sacrificed my time entirely for work lately. All my spare time has been spent on sleeping, in order to have energy for the hours I've been putting in. But now I shall finally get to enjoy a couple of days off. A couple of days that will be packed with a million little things that I need to do.. But days off, nevertheless!

Since all I've done is worked, most of the things I have to say will inevitably be work related.. As I have previously mentioned, I work in a tourist shop. I sell souvenirs, and I assist tourists (foreigners) by giving them directions, and helping them with all kinds of incredibly strange problems and questions that they come up with.
Working in a tourist shop is not like working in a regular shop. In order to work with tourists one will be expected to do all kinds of strange things. Here are some examples:

-Be multilingual. Preferably speak all the world's languages. Except Dutch, since everyone in Holland (including young children and old people) speak English fluently, for some reason.
-If you don't speak a language, learn basics, body language, to speak with your hands, and be extremely resourceful when it comes to communication.
-Have figured out all the exchange rates of all the major currencies
-Have figured out the European, American and British clothing and shoe sizes.
-Not get nervous about how to reply when Americans greet you with "how are you?" (even though it's completely inapproriate, since they're complete strangers and couldn't care less about my health).
-Have learned to convert celcius into fahrenheit, centimeters into inches, and kilos into pounds.
-Have learned never to give a discount to anyone from China (then they will turn out to have 40 Chinese friends who will all demand a discount as well).
-Not to tell a joke to a German. They won't appreciate hearing anything that isn't of use to them. After spending much time observing German behavior, I have noticed that they do occasionally tell each other jokes and laugh, but their jokes seem to always be about money. And they're never very funny..
-Not, under any circumstances to shout at, insult or physically injure dumb Americans, no matter what they say. Even if they point at a Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt and ask if that is the Icelandic flag, or ask you what it feels like 'to be colonized by the United States'.
-By God, don't tell a Canadian that "Canadians and Americans are just the same" (although lets be realistic, it's true).
-Show an immense amount of patience when dealing with the Japanese, who speak virtually no English, and appear to mostly be like overgrown children with a mad laughter and a strange obsession with 'Hello Kitty' (which, sadly, seems to be becoming quite a trend here as well).
-Not try to understand how a French person thinks, or what a French person says. Just try to understand that God put the French on earth to TEST MY PATIENCE AND MAKE ME A STRONGER PERSON, SO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING SO THOUGHTFUL!! Okay I'm calm now...

But don't get me wrong, there are some nationalities that are absolutely delightful. The British, for instance, hardly ever make any trouble at all, and say the cutest things like "I beg your pardon", and "oh thank you ever so much".
Due to my attachment to Israel, my favorite tourists are the Israelis. It is quite interesting how many Israelis are visiting Iceland. I run into many each day, and they almost always like to talk. There was a quite amusing incident that occurred today while I was (once again) playing one of my Israeli cd's at work. A young religious Israeli couple came into my shop, and simultaneously began singing their heart out. Then they walked around the whole shop singing. They talked with me for a while, and then they photographed the huge viking troll that stands outside the shop, like everyone else does.

Posted by Maria at July 10, 2005 11:03 PM | TrackBacks
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"-By God, don't tell a Canadian that "Canadians and Americans are just the same" (although lets be realistic, it's true)."

Here's a quote by Robin Williams (the actor) taken from Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com):

"Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party."

And I have to tell you about whom we encountered earlier today...actually yesterday I see now...on the airport in Athens. We were just checking in Leons (my youngest sons) perambulator. When that is done we turn around...and there is the entire Twisted Sister!!! :)
The singer, Dee Snyder, is half jewish, I think.

Posted by: Torbjörn Karfunkel at July 10, 2005 11:59 PM Permalink

I won't be baited into the American/Canadian debate... I WILL NOT be baited, damnit..... I will not.

Posted by: celestial blue at July 11, 2005 04:42 PM Permalink

What sacrilege! You don't like Hello Kitty? LOL, actually I quite prefer Choco Cat myself.

CB Canadians and Americans are really about to be the same dahling because when the new Supreme Court gets composed there may well be more Americans in Canada than Canadians. Though they'll be the good sort of Americans so maybe it'll be alright.

Posted by: katie-yael at July 11, 2005 05:15 PM Permalink

Americans use Phillips or slot screws, Canadians use Robertson heads. Ask any one who used all three types, and the over whelming preference is Robertson heads as a first choice.

If anywhere in the world you come across construction with Robertson heads, it is Canadian in origin.

So there!

Posted by: Harry at July 11, 2005 09:50 PM Permalink

Hey M, great post! I also met two Israeli kids today here in Amsterdam and although My Ivrit is limited I was informed I have a perfect Israeli acccent so I was quite pleased with myself. Also as far as the whole America/Canada thing goes you shouldn't even discuss it in the presence of Canadians, it's just too delicate of a subject and did you know our friend celestial blue is canadian? I just don't like confronting anyone these days that I like with exception to people that have any sort of opinion on Israel, in which case they had better have their facts straight or they will regret ever having met me. ;-)

Posted by: HasidicG at July 11, 2005 10:54 PM Permalink

Hey guys! Yes I do indeed know Celestial Blue (as well as Harry) are Canadians. But as a Europeans I must confess that I don't see a difference between people who speak the exact same language..

Posted by: Maria at July 11, 2005 11:49 PM Permalink

You write English better than many an American or Canadian. Does that make you an American?

If your quite high standard is typical of Iceland, does that make Iceland a Canadian province or an American state?

There are Indians (the Asian variety) here whose command of English is so high that they feature among the leading Canadian authors. Does that make India part of the US? (more paranthesis - India has a very high opinion of the US and close ties to Israel).

We have close ties to the US, but we are not the same beast.


Posted by: Harry at July 12, 2005 02:50 AM Permalink

Dear Harry,

to begin with.. my native language is not English. I still remember my father teaching me to say 'yes' and 'no' when I was 6. Canadians on the other hand, are raised (with those who have French as their native language excluded) to speak English, and it sounds pretty much like 'American English'. (There is no way for me to tell apart an American and a Canadian tourist, except for a slight different in their pronounciation, and the fact that Canadians seems to constantly wish to stress the fact that they are NOT Americans. Wearing clothes with pictures of the Canadian flag is a huge trend, for one).
Also, USA and Canada live side by side, and have (or so it seems), a culture that is pretty much identical. They also look the same. Indians, and even Icelanders, look different.
I suppose I've never fully understood the purpose of the Canadian/American borders. But perhaps my ignorance is to blame. I'm sure I would if I were a Canadian..

Posted by: Maria at July 12, 2005 01:00 PM Permalink

I have a very strong deja vu. Not long ago someone here complained that people don't tell between different types of Scandinavians...

Posted by: Orly at July 12, 2005 01:43 PM Permalink

Orly come on! Icelanders live in a remote island, and speak a language incomprehensible to the rest of Scandinavia. It is absurd to say that it's the same country as Finland, for instance.
But seriously, I am sure there is a difference between Canadians and Americans, eventhough I fail to see it.

Posted by: Maria at July 12, 2005 01:55 PM Permalink

"Icelanders live in a remote island, and speak a language incomprehensible to the rest of Scandinavia."

So if you speak superb English and don't understand Finnish, your culture is closer to American than to Finnish?

But seriously, I'm sure you know that there are differences between Americans and Canadians. You probably deliberately rased this issue because you wanted to provoke a debate.

Posted by: Orly at July 12, 2005 02:11 PM Permalink

Forgot to add ;-)

Posted by: Orly at July 12, 2005 02:12 PM Permalink

"But seriously, I'm sure you know that there are differences between Americans and Canadians. You probably deliberately rased this issue because you wanted to provoke a debate".

Hehehe. Perhaps :-)

Posted by: Maria at July 12, 2005 02:50 PM Permalink

I will not get sucked in... I WILL NOT GET SUCKED IN!!!

Posted by: celestial blue at July 12, 2005 03:17 PM Permalink

Celestial: How else are the rest of us supposed to learn? We need Canadians to educate us!

Posted by: Maria at July 12, 2005 03:25 PM Permalink