Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Un dia de Nochebuena

posted Fri, 24 Dec 2004

Oh man. Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.

Not my shopping. Harpo’s. I accompanied him because he asked me so nicely.

This travail entailed driving from the Keys back to Miami. Not on the turnpike, of course, because Harpo is mad at the toll takers. We took the back roads. Which were not highways. And have stoplights every ten feet. And lots and lots of traffic. Miami traffic, which is not the same as normal traffic. Miami traffic is insane traffic full of idiotic drivers.

But that’s another story. We made it to Best Buy, which was destination #1. As it turned out, Harpo had arranged the perfect Christmas gift for me.

I got a chance to show off.

A Haitian woman was asking the Cuban clerk about a certain cellphone. I was eavesdropping. Their conversation was not going well – I could tell that the clerk did not understand her questions and she did not understand his answers.

I took the liberty of jumping in at one point, and ended up translating. The woman decided not to buy the phone, but the clerk was OK with that. Turns out it wouldn’t work in Haiti (not AT&T as he’d originally thought) without programming changes, etc, etc.

Then the woman gave me this huge compliment. Huge. She asked where I was from! Not that I don’t want to be an American – thank GOD I am an American – but when a native speaker of French hears you speak French and doesn’t assume you are American, it’s a HUGE compliment to your French.

Harpo gave up on any further shopping, deciding to do it online. We headed back for the Keys, but stopped at a Cuban sandwich shop on the way. There was no menu, but Cuban sandwich joints don’t need a menu. They have Cuban food. That’s all you need to know. If you don’t know what kind of food they have in a Cuban sandwich shop, then you shouldn’t be eating there.

While I was waiting for my medianoche, I sought the ladies’ room. It was occupied, but the men’s room was open. It was a onesie and very clean, so I decided to use it instead. I think that’s morally OK, don’t you? Why should I wait and wait when there is a perfectly good bathroom available right now?

But when I got inside, I discovered that the door did not lock. Hmm. This could be a problem. By the time I came up with a solution – drag the big trash can from outside the bathroom inside to block the door, the ladies’ room was available.

So here’s the interesting part: there was a lock on the ladies’ room. It was one of those slide locks that had been installed separately, so you know someone had thought about this.

Why didn’t they put one in the men’s room at the same time? Male readers, I need your input. Is this a big deal? Do you just not care if someone barges in while you’re in the bathroom? Are you more trusting that a closed door will guarantee that someone will wait? I always test the door. What’s going on?

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