Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Reading & Directions

I am extremely grateful that there is no oral language barrier. Every person we have encountered has seamlessly transitioned to English once we grinned at them sheepishly and said "Hello"; however, there is lack of written material in English. All the forms we have had to sign or fill out, including the immigration paperwork, have been in Dutch. For instance, when signing the computer access form I asked the nice lady what it said and she waved her hands over and said "some computer rules". I have probably signed away my first born child and agreed to work the land in the last week.

Now some things I do not need directions or instructions for, such as:

I would like to think that I would have known not to take my motorcycle up the elevator, mainly because I am not sure what I would have done with it once it was up there.

But I would like to know:
  • How to open a door. There are endless combinations of ways to open a door here. Some doors push open. Some doors pull open. Other doors open by pushing a button. A few doors only open with the correct set of keys. Many doors automatically open on their own, but only when standing in the precisely the correct spot. Bathroom doors open only after inserting a 50 cent coin. Special doors open by pushing a button and waiting for the person inside to determine that you are acceptable and then open. Still other doors we have been unable to open. The problem is that nowhere on the given door does it enlighten you as to what type of opening mechanism is used on that particular door. So I push and pull, wiggle around, look all over the door for directions, try to insert money, and then dejectedly go into the next shop instead.
  • How to use vending machines. They look like they accept coins, but no. Is there some special order of steps that must be followed to get a mere Cola Light out of the machine?
  • How to use the thermostat. We were given directions on how to use the intercom, the washing machine, when and what to clean in our apartment, but not how to use the thermostat. As I sit here typing this in two sweaters, wool socks, a jacket, and a scarf, I happen to think this was the most important set of instructions needed.
But, alas, I do know not to take my new shiny motorcycle up the elevator and ride it back and forth across the very narrow balcony.

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