I was quite relieved when I received the reply to my text, from my neighbour, to say that he had returned on Sunday night and it was no longer necessary for me to be tortured by his cat!
Although my weekend had been quite leisurely, I was not looking forward to Monday morning, and did not feel quite rested enough to take on the task of talking to different entities around the state, and further afield. Being Jason for a few more days was not going to be easy. After eleven years, I still speak English English, and despite a large number of people saying they could listen to me talk all day, (and of course, anyone who knows me, knows this is not a problem,) there are few who do not think my speech is endearing. For those few, attempting to understand my dulcet tones is frustrating and they do not have time to interpret!
Emails have been my salvation! I do leave out the 'u' in most words that are spelled without in the American dictionary, and I am very careful when telling someone that something is acceptable. I have learned that here in Texas, (and presumably other areas,) the word 'fine', (dependent upon the tone,) is used to define 'really good', as in 'amazing', the way a person would describe someone to whom they are attracted. Therefore, when one of the ladies working in our building came into the women's restroom, and said that she felt good about how she looked at the beginning of the day, but now felt somewhat dishevelled, (not her term, but I am paraphrasing,) I realised that telling her that she looked 'fine' was perhaps not the best option! Especially considering the emphasis I put on the word! The look of confusion that spread across her face was not comprehended (by me) until she said she was late and had to run! It is true that inflection cannot be heard in emails, but many times it has been assumed (wrongly) by those reading!
Jason returned on Wednesday. His grandma had exited the earthly realm and the funeral was to be held at the weekend. As everything had been prepared prior to her departure, he felt he needed to return to work. Somewhat relieved at not having to run between two desks, I spent the first part of the morning bringing him up to speed on what he had missed. I did explain that there were one or two Sheriff's deputies, with whom I spoke, that were not quite clear on what to do with the papers we had sent, due to the language barrier, but assured him that the good relationship was still in tact, as I had kept the conversation jovial, and managed to get them to see the funny side of the situation.
Losing the excess workload did mean that I was able to make a stop at the supermarket on Thursday afternoon, after taking my lunchtime dip in the pool, (my less than rigorous workout swimming for twenty minutes,) and the unscheduled trip to the post office. Being fourth in the queue at the post office did not cause too much anxiety, as I knew that the emails from our 'out of town' servers would be dealt with in my absence. However, by the time I reached the desk, the queue had started to build. I wanted to buy some stamps. Apparently, the particular denominations I required were not at the counter, and the clerk had to go into the back area to obtain them. Somewhat forgetting myself, I did tell him that the quantity he had behind his desk would be 'fine', but he insisted that he was sure that he had enough stock to fill my order. As he left, so the neighbouring clerk also went to the back to check on a post office box key that was apparently being held at the facility. The natives started to get a little restless. Those entering the building could only see a line about twenty deep, and no one at the counter. Suddenly, an employee appeared from the side door, telephone in her hand, and walked to the desk where I was standing. She proceeded to pull on a wire, and having disconnected it, said into the mouthpiece, "Where do you want me to put it?" I thought I was back in a seventies sit-com! This appeared to be a language to which all could relate. A few stifled giggles could be heard in the background, and the queue came to order, awaiting the next line. "Stick it where?" was enough to make the giggles unstifled, and although the employee was not in a laughing mood, she suddenly realised that we could only hear one part of the conversation, and looked slightly embarrassed. At this point, my clerk returned, stamps in hand, and offered to lend a hand. Rapturous laughter exploded throughout the facility, as he suggested he knew what to do, or more to the point, "Where to stick it", and a red hue covered his face. Eventually, the wire was placed in the correct socket, and he continued with my transaction. As I filled in the blank spaces on the cheque, he asked if he could help me with anything else. "No, I'm fine", I replied, wondering why I used the expression, when I have trained myself to say, "I'm good". Looking at me, still slightly pink, following his expose with the wire, he (ever so politely) said, "Yes, ma'am, you are". It was said in the same way Dustin Hoffman spoke to Anne Bancroft, before the seduction! I left the slightly scared and confused young man, and wondered if he had ever seen, 'The Graduate', and hoped that he had not!
The supermarket was quite crowded, and my purchase of a large amount of blueberries caused the usual comment from a number of shoppers. Blueberries have become a necessary part of my diet. Each day, at the recommendation of my doctor, I eat a few blueberries. They contain the same elements as cranberries, and help prevent various ailments. "Muffins or pies", one woman asked, as I piled the containers into my basket. My answer was that I freeze them for future requirements. An elderly gentleman commented, "You must be making a lot of pies", and I smiled sweetly. By the time I got to the counter, I was ready to stand on a podium and let them know exactly why I was stocking up on the spherical blue fruit! I remembered that I had left the seventies sit-com in the post office, and the audience were not the same, so proceeded to stand in the queue smiling and nodding to each suggestion. I declined the offer of purchasing a bag to carry my (evidently) excessive amount of cartons to the car, and replied, that I was 'fine''. It appeared that this word had lodged itself in my throat, and was on a repeat key! Despite the reluctance to continue with the comedy routine, I realised that I was in fact the star, and not those employed by the post office. As I packed the boxes back into the trolley, the young cashier cautioned me. As she said, "Be careful not to open them!", one of the boxes did just that, and a pound of blueberries fell to the ground, and dispersed along the floor. The repeat key in my mouth dislodged, and all I could say was "Oops". I stood in astonishment for a moment, and then went to move the cart. Immediately, screams from two janitors hit my ears, and I obeyed the order, "Don't move!" Standing to attention, I waited for them to sweep around my feet. They lifted the cart and continued to sweep away the residue. My apologies were profuse, but obviously not enough, as the cashier was shaking her teenage head in disapproval at the old lady who could not control her blueberries, despite the fact she thought she was 'fine'! Eventually, the 'All clear' was sounded, and I was given permission to go on my way. What had not been taken into consideration was that the original box was still laying upside down in the cart, and there were several pellets still loose on the little trays below the handlebar. As I attempted to regain composure, and sophistication, I waked out of the store, leaving a trail of blueberries as I went. The shouts soon stopped, and the sweeping noises behind me sounded like I was in a game of curling!
Returning to the office was perhaps the safest place I could be. Despite having been totally misinterpreted in the ladies room, I was among those who understood, and were patient with my inability to behave with decorum!
Eventually, the weekend came around again, and I went to soak off the woes of my past by swimming a few more laps, and regaining confidence. My neighbour's daughter had recently returned from spending a year with her sister in Spain, and we greeted each other like long lost friends. She started to tell me about her 'gap' year, and how, although she could speak, and write, Spanish fluently, having been born in Mexico, and having spent a good few years in that country, both as a child, and being married to a native, her language was not always understood, and she realised that she did not speak Spanish Spanish! Eureka! I nodded, sympathised, empathised and generally thised with everything she said! At last, a fellow sufferer!
I enjoyed the rest of my weekend, which was truly fine! I enjoyed the pool, and the company! The usual suspects were all gathered together as is normal for this time of year. We chat about nothing in particular, and then all go our separate ways. All is fine! Being an Englishwoman abroad will presumably never get dull! When boredom sets in and the sun sets on this English English, then I shall have to hang up my hat, and think about another blog, rather than simply writing .......... another story!