Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Patience + a Smile

My sister, Lisa, sent a package awhile back. We were concerned that someone else was enjoying the contents as we had not received the package yet-over 4 weeks had gone by.

I headed to the post office to inquire about the package. Now, this may seem like no big deal....think about this. You head to the post office (which is no fun to begin with) and they speak no English. There is a different floor and different window for every possible transaction. You just hope that the woman who is going to help will be patient as you butcher her language and mispronounce every possible word....Oh yeah, and on top of it, you do not have the slip of paper that they leave in your mailbox that lets you know you have a package.

I headed to the post office prepared that this would be one of many trips to try to find this package. I get to the counter (only one person waiting behind me) and say with an innocent sweet smile...
"Bocsánat, nem beszélek magyarul. Nem szamla. Box." (using sign language to show I should have a box). (the translation..."sorry, I don't speak Hungarian. No invoice. Box")

The very nice woman gets out a book and starts looking for my address to see if there was a note left by the postman about this package. Not in that book. Another book comes out. Line behind me is now 3 people. She looks through that book. Not in that book. Number of people behind me-5. She looks at me, shrugs her shoulders and says to me in Hungarian go to the 1st floor window 4. I say "Nem" (no). I keep signaling and saying over and over "box, parcel, box, parcel". She looks at me...her eyes get huge and she runs off. A few minutes go by. People behind me-6. I am getting impatient and feeling guilty that I am holding up this line of people.

Next thing I know, she is running back with package in hand! I say over and over with a huge smile, "Köszönöm szépen! Köszönöm szépen! Köszönöm szépen!". (Thank you very much! Thank you very much! Thank you very much!) I sign for the package and race home to open my first care package!

So many goodies! The one I am savoring at this very moment....Highlander Grog Coffee. It tastes like home:) Thank you Lisa and Kevin! We are enjoying the books, the coffee and all the other goodies you sent. And the jeans fit perfectly!

Over the past 2 weeks, I have experienced the bank (4 times), immigration (4 times), the tax authority (3 times) and the post office (3 times). And all I had to do was accomplish one thing at each place. Why did it take so many tries...I don't speak the language. The one things I can say about Hungarians-they are extremely patient and friendly.

It is an interesting concept to think of Steven and I as immigrants. So, I have a favor to ask of you. The next time you are in line somewhere and the person in front of you does not speak fluent English or their mispronouncing every word...think of us. Be patient and give that person a smile.


Lynn said...

Ah yes, say it like ya mean it and it gets done. Having traveled through many Eastern European countries, I've learned that shouting works, no matter what language you're shouting in.

Lisa said...

I'm glad you got it and it made you smile.....just sorry it was such a hassle. Hope you like the cook book - I expect you to cook me a good Hungarian meal sometime - more meat, less veggies please - you know me....and why can't I lose weight?. (-:

love and miss you,

Diane Kappa said...

Thanks Lynn for your shouting advice. I will keep that in mind next time!

Lisa-they love their meat here! But all parts-they eat it all! No part of the animal is wasted!

Anonymous said...

Hey Diane and Steve,
I don'tknow if you heard but Sarah and Bill had a little girl this morning, her name is Alexis. Mom and baby are doing great! Make sure you refer to Sheri as Granny!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Diane Kappa said...

Sheri is Granny! WOW! Congratulations!!

Audrey said...

After struggling with the basics of post offices, banks and immigration offices like you guys in Prague, I have a new empathy for recent immigrants in America. It's made me wonder whether my future job should include something related to helping refugees and/or immigrants settle and adjust to America.

Diane Kappa said...

Hi Audrey,
Yes, I totally understand. Being on the other side makes you realize how difficult it is to adjust to a new culture. Not just the language but the body language, the foods, the little things that you don't notice when you live where you have grown up.
Hope you are enjoying the USA.