Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Totally not (well, mostly not) work-related.

Walp, I learned something today.

We have two Chinese intensivists at work. I had always wondered why, when they ate lunch with the nurses, things like "Pass the salt" were said as "Pass the salt", while things they said on the unit were prefaced with "please" and "thank you". Turns out, thanks, NPR! that "pleases" and "thank yous" are considered a more formal sort of address in Chinese, and that using them in a social situation (which lunch is, given that The Manhandler is showing us what she learned in pole-dancing class) is considered offensive. It's sort of the difference between "Dear John" and "My Dear John" for those of us who read Victorian lit.

This helps explain why they're so formal on the unit and so abrupt off of it. Especially when we're all at Joe's having a beer, and things....devolve.

All of which helps me not at all when it comes to the relationships between Eastern European or Indian doctors. One of the things I love most about working at Sunnydale is that I work with people from all over the world. One of the things I hate most is not knowing jack about the cultures that these folks come from. With the folks from Eastern Europe and India it's especially hard, as customs vary from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood, depending on where you're hailing from. When two of the Indian docs are apparently in the middle of a shouting match and about to go hand-to-hand over something, it's a little disconcerting.

It's even more disconcerting to find out that they're merely discussing where to go to lunch, say, or who's got the better cricket team.

Likewise, when one of the docs from Moldova or Chechnya or Bjorkistan starts frowning and talking through her teeth, I'm concerned that something must be Very Wrong about something I've done. It rarely is; mostly, it means that the doc in question is merely concentrating, or thinking (again) about lunch, or is working differential equations in her head.

Noti bene for my fellow nurses in this situation: accept any food offered you; it will be uniformly delicious. Do not attempt to guess where somebody is from. If you guess "Russia" and it's actually some tiny offshoot of the Soviet Union's breakup that you've never heard of, and that only came into being in 1997, you will be in the doghouse.

Also, never, ever, ever drink with Russians. You will be sorry.

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I've had three days off of work, which has given me plenty of time to think about these things (if I had actually been thinking about them, which I wasn't). It's also give me plenty of time to stand, chin on hand, and consider how exactly I'm going to hang the typewriters from the wall. This has become my new Holy Grail: hang the typewriters in such a way that they're both interesting-looking and accessible. Given that I have 24" on-center, sorta, wall studs, this is going to be a challenge.

Oooo. Maybe I could hang them in a straight line, right down the middle of the wall to the side of the arch going into the dining room.

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I did squats yesterday and ran for the second time in months. Today I ran again. I am sad and sorry today; I will be sadder and sorrier on Friday.

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My massage therapist, when I walked in yesterday, didn't even say hello. All she said was, "Who's Adam?"

I told her that Adam is the husband of Friend Rob (not Abilene Rob; he's not been holding out on you) and a friend of mine. She'd heard that I'd gone to dinner with some Adam guy the other night, and was hopeful. I hated to disappoint her, so I told her instead that both Adam and I had come to the conclusion that we could be brother and sister: both stocky, redheaded, freckled, and short.

We wandered around the shopping area where he works and then went to a teeny restaurant for dinner. I waited until after we'd consumed chicken and cheese and greens to hit him with the dessert selection. His eyes bugged out. It was marvelous to see somebody with an actual sweet tooth enjoying little tiny hazelnut cookies and caramel and berries.

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I need a stud-finder-finder. Mine is somewhere buried in the shed, and I need it to hang those typewriters. Except it's too hot to go out and paw through the shed.


bobbie said...

Add Aussies to the "Never drink with..." list!!
There is NO WAY you can keep up with them!!

messymimi said...

Depending on the individual, it is okay to drink with the Germans. That's how my dad passed German in college, the drunker they got the prof the more of the upcoming test answers he would tell them.

I'm going to spend occasional moments over the next several days thinking about the whys and hows of hanging typewriters...

Just My 2¢ said...

About drinking with Russians...
I have a bunch of friends that worked around Russia helping them repair their oil fields. After being put into general anesthesia by vodka, they launched a counter-attack and found most Russians' Achilles Heel - tequila. For some reason, they have absolutely no immunity to it whatsoever. Next time, fight fire with fire.

Heidi said...

Our hospital also has lots of interesting folks from lots of interesting countries, but I'm a little mystified on the etiquette of asking where someone is from. I want to ask because I'm curious and want to know more about them (and their country) but I feel like "So, where are you from?" is a little bit ... awkward at best? Xenophobic-sounding at worst? And then what are some appropriate, non-awkward follow-up questions?

(Yes, I'm a bit of a socially awkward moron, if that isn't already obvious...)

BB said...

@2cents - I second that from first hand experience, tequila is like vodka on rockstar for Russians - one caveat though: fight fire with fire at your own risk!
@Heidi - I've spent a lot of time overseas and had many people just flat out ask "Where are you from?" It never bothered me. I tend to go with "Where are you originally from?" if I know they're residents of the US now. Most people love to talk about themselves and you can learn a lot about another culture just by opening with one of those questions!