A Hopefully Entertaining Hodgepodge…

So it’s been an unusual long while since I wrote a blog entry. Not exactly sure why but I have a few thoughts and explanations. Firstly, I took on a GIGANTIC topic last time and while I’m glad for the comments and conversation it started I realize I need to be wise in my choice of what to write about. Secondly, while I always have a lots of thoughts in my head at all times it’s important that I don’t spew out all of them all the time. That would probably offend people a lot plus make my blog unbearably long. When I write an entry I really strive to make it something worth reading, pondering and talking about. And sometimes just to laugh or giggle a bit. Fortunately I’m a Christian and overseas and this creates lots of topics and ideas. So with that in mind here are a few thoughts about life in the Czech Republic.

  • Being overseas without a TV has made Youtube and similar sites a godsend. I can access newspapers, sports events, not to mention my friends via the glorious World Wide Web. Easily abused? Of course. Incredible thing I can’t imagine people overseas did without only a few years ago? That too. (Hulu and NBC’s Olympics coverage are notable exceptions to the internet’s awesomeness. Apparently these sites think Americans don’t live abroad. Lame.)
  • Pleses (Graduation Balls) are really sweet versions of prom. Prom was a lame extension of the popularity gauntlet that is High School. A ples is a community extravaganza/dance/graduation ceremony that anyone young and old can attend. I love its fun and egalitarianism.  I have one more ples to attend this month. I expect it to be epic.
  • My town has a pretty similar winter to New England so no big deal. That’s all I have to say about that.
  • I hate when I spell a word so wrong that the spell-check, i.e. the machine that is supposed to detect and fix mistakes, has no suggestions. A real downer for the self-esteem.
  • Fun fact: Beer is cheaper than water here and IDs are NEVER checked. Ah cultural differences.
  • Czech houses generally look profoundly ordinary on the outside and are CRAZY nice on the inside. I know because I went in one yesterday for lunch. It was fantastic.

That’s enough for now, hopefully I’ll have something a bit more substantive next time. Until then, peace.

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What are cell phones preventing you from achieving in life?

So this is my second fluff entry and it’s about cell phones.

Full Disclosure: I own a cellphone and use it relatively frequently from time to time. However the impolite, odd and unsafe way people use this technology amazes me sometimes. The other day (during the same shift as the “check” lady) the following occured.

A young woman walks in. I would guess she is similar to my age. She young, fit and I think, reasonably attractive. The bonus however is she is wearing a Boston Marathon jacket. Can you say perfect conversation starter? However, there is a red flag: she has a cell phone glued to the side of her face.

She walks around looking for stuff and I take a few customers. Dear society as a whole: listening to you talk when you aren’t talking to a real person is annoying and confusing. Finally after 5-10 minutes and still on the phone she comes up with one bag of almonds. Now in a perfect world I would say “So did you run Boston this year?” She would say “Why yes I did, did you?” and a lively conversation would strike up about running.

Instead she informs her friend she is in a mini-mart getting a snack.

Again Dear, Dear society: Don’t do this! It’s admittedly a small thing but it really is dehumanizing. When you are running a quick errand, hang up the phone and treat whoever you come into contact as a human being, not as a mere conversation add-on.

But lets take this a bit further just for fun. Suppose (in the perfect world) our lively conversation turns into the very unlikely event that we connect on an unseen level. I ask if she wants to hang out sometime and she leaves me her number. Our date parlays into an incredibly successful relationship and in a few years time, marriage. We start a habit of running the Boston Marathon annually.

Instead, she pays for her almonds and leaves, no words exchanged between the two of us.

So I ask what fantastically improbable joys in life are you missing out on because of overuse of cell phones?

On a Side note I have less than a month till I leave for training and hopefully will have some exciting (and slightly more serious) updates soon. Stay tuned.

Etiquette at the mini-mart

When you write on a blog enough you can afford to have a few entries that I like to caterogize as fluff. They aren’t really important but they are just fun to write. This is a fluff entry, I hope you enjoy it.

So since I have been home I managed to get a job at that finest of institutions, the mini-mart. I provide people with their cigarettes, lottery tickets, cheap milk and eggs, and over-priced anything else. Now you may be thinking at a place that you are generally in for no more than a few minutes you wouldn’t have to worry about ettiquette, but you underestimate the many impolite and generally lame things that customers do when they reach the doorway of my store. I offer two examples from just yesterday’s shifts.

Yesterday our server was down so we could not process credit or debit card transactions. We were cash only and that is bad in today’s society. We put up large yellow paper signs on the door and at the register informing customers of the fact and I waited for the backlash. And soon it arrived in the form of that scariest of creations, the stressed out suburban soccer mom.

She plants her milk, some M&Ms and some gum on the counter. I ring them up, tell her the price and she casually holds out her American Express Card, oblivious to the world. I inform her that it is cash only and why, and suddenly a bit flustered, she asks if we take checks. I inform her sorry, no we don’t. At this point a normal customer would 1) get out cash or 2) offer to put the milk back and leave. This woman informs me she has a three year old in her back seat. I have no idea how having a kid in your car will fix my server but apparently the woman thought it was worth mentioning. She than tries the check route again, complaining that she lives right down the street and lamenting the fact that if she uses our ATM it will take 2 bucks from her account. I stand there apologetically and awkwardly waiting for her to realize I am helpless to help her. Finally she walks out.

I then go to put the milk back in the rear of the store. Barely a second after I return from my milk errand she returns with just enough cash to cover her purchase. I am forced to annoyingly and sheepishly retrieve her products and ring her up. She complains about checks some more while I do it. Than after the transaction is completed and I’m excited inside because I think I have escaped from her terror she asks for one last thing: a bag. Dear society as a whole: when you have two things that fit in your pocket and a large thing with a handle, you do not need a bag. I bag her goods and than as she takes them she looks straight at me and with a smile says “Thank you!”

So there you have it. A classic example of what not to do at a mini-mart. Stay tuned for the sequel tomorrow.