And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Sammy the Bull had another VERY productive day at Harbourfront, and all is slowly getting right with the world. It was also a good day in the gym, as I tagged 4 miles in 35:43. Now granted, I realize that's just under a 9 minute mile pace. However, given that it was the 3rd day of exercise in a row and the second straight day after the 7 mile run (normally I take a day after my long run), I was still pleased.
And so, given that it was a quiet night, I present you with the second installment of Sammy's "Lost in Translation" moments...
LIT Moment #1: Sammy's 1st Chinese Lesson (thanks for the reminder, Jackie)
So in an effort to a) better integrate with the locals and b) win the affection of my team by showing how rapidly this Ang Mo can integrate, last week during our team meeting I instituted "Sammy's Chinese Lessons for the Week." Basically it's a series of 4 or 5 words or phrases that I'd like to know just for every day conversation. I mean, we all know that I'm already 100% fluent in Spanish and German, so I figured, "What's one more simple language?" Let me give you a brief recap of the conversation:
Sammy the Master Linguist (SML): "Okay, let's start with the word 'hello.' How would I say that?"
Team (uneasy looks around the table before one speaks): "Um, you would say 'Hello.'"
SML (prepared for this): "Yeah, but if I went to the Hawker Center and wanted to say hello, what would I say?"
Team: "Hello." (for the record - NO LAUGHTER. NO JOKES. These cats are NOT kidding and seriously think they're giving me the answer I'm looking for - QUALITY).
SML: "Okay, let's skip that one. How do I say 'thank you?'"
Team: "Ah, we just say 'thank you.'"
SML: (trying to remind calm whilst Jackie fights back the world's LARGEST GRIN beside me) "Riiiiiight. But if the person doesn't speak English."
Team: "Oh, they will. It's Singapore. Everyone speaks English. We just say thank you."
SML "AWESOME. How about 'beer?' What would I say?"
Team: "Beer." (STILL DEAD SERIOUS. I am DYING HERE, FERRIS. MOTHER OF MERCY, I DON'T SPEAK JAPANESE!!!! HELEN, CALL THE EMBASSY!!!!!)
SML: "I'm doing really well here, huh?" (laughter, which means they probably had NO IDEA what I just said) "Let's try - 'how are you?'"
Team: "Ah, that's a good one."
SML: "Oh, that's good." (translation - ABOUT DAMN TIME) "How do I say it?"
Team: "Nee owww ma."
SML: (picture this coming through my molasses accent) "Niiiiiiiii uhhhhhhh MA!"
(SILENCE IN THE ROOM)
SML: "Oh dear. What did I say?"
Team: "Um, you don't do it that way. That way is scolding the person."
SML: "So if I say it that way, I just yelled at the guy feeding me?" (nods all around)
In short - Sammy will stick to English and "Singlish" whilst here - at least until I win the bet on number of days until caning.
LIT Moment #2: Business Card Etiquette
Okay, so I have no lie to tell - EVERYONE IN SINGAPORE HAS A BUSINESS CARD (or "name card"). I have been here a month, and so far at least 47,894 people have given me a business card. Because a) I can't remember anyone's name, b) I can't pronounce the name even when I see it, and c) I still have NO IDEA WHO ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE, I have made it a practice to immediate write the person's role, manger, and relationship to me on their card the second I receive it (it is ALWAYS handed to you with 2 hands, for the record; you should receive it with 2 hands as well. I remember this fact about .0000001% of the time). Once the information is procured, I put the card in my shirt pocket for safe keeping. To date, this has seemed very logical. That is, of course, until I opened the book "Getting into Singapore" (Evelyn - this book is HILAROUS! Thank you SO MUCH), a book written by an American with a specific chapter dedicated to the rules of business cards. He emphasizes 3 key points:
1. When you are presented a business card, ALWAYS offer one back. (NOTE - I don't OWN a business card, so I am about 0 for 237 in adherence to this).
2. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, DO NOT WRITE ON THE BUSINESS CARD, ESPECIALLY IN FRONT OF THE PERSON OFFERING IT TO YOU. Yeah.....about that....do I at least get points for cursive?
3. Stare at the card for at least a minute before speaking. When you do speak, say something nice about the card (title, degrees earned, font size - WHATEVER). Whatever you do, DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR SHIRT POCKET.
Hitman, all I could think about was you dropping the bomb on me that every time I was saying "Thanks a bunch" to Gideon it was being translated to @#$# YOU!!! Good times...
LIT Moment #3: Can a brother get a confirmation?
So as I mentioned yesterday, Muffin Puffin and I are going to Viet Nam for vacation this week. As I hadn't yet received confirmation from our hotel yet about the airport pickup, I shot them an email today. They responded that they couldn't find a reservation for Sam Taylor, which of course immediately prompted a phone call (since it had CERTAINLY hit my credit card). Again, the conversation:
Sammy the Tourist (ST): "Yes, I emailed earlier about my reservation."
Broken English Lady at Reception (BELR): "What day you arrive?"
ST: "Yes - Thursday, 3 February."
BELR: "You bookernut."
ST: "I'm sorry?"
BELR: "You BOOK ER NUT." (clearly getting pissed off)
ST: "My apologies - one more time?"
BELR: "BOOK ER NUT!!!!!" (BEEFCAKE!!!! It's honestly all I could think)
ST: "Ah, yes, I did book on the internet."
BELR: "Ah, I find you. You speak wrong earlier." (THE NERVE!!!!)
ST: "I did?"
BELR: "Yes, you say you Sam Taylor. You no Sam Taylor. You Samuel Taylor. He have reservation. You no have."
ST: "I AM Samuel Taylor. Mr. Samuel Taylor."
BELR: "You no say in email. But it fine now. We pick you up. You pay!"
ST: "Yep - got that part. So I'm confirmed."
BELR: "Thank you. Ba bah......" (CLICK)
Miller - it might as well have been: "You're welcome." (THUD)
All in all, it's just another week in the Sing. :-)
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny