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Friday, June 26, 2009

An ID Card for a Vacuum Cleaner

Communication and trust. Those are two things that I highly value, which is why I get upset when I feel like I'm not getting that. Today I had an interesting experience. It's Friday, cleaning day, right? Since I'm only paying $100 a week for my room, I figured that cleaning wasn't included, so this morning I headed down to the front desk to ask the RA if there was a vacuum cleaner I could use to vacuum my room. I had attempted to find one on my floor, but with no luck as the doors which looked the most likely were firmly locked. The RA was helpful enough, she said she had no idea if there was a vacuum cleaner I could use, but she would ask the dean. Fifteen minutes later, after sitting not-so-patiently on the brown fake-leather couch in the lobby area, I looked up to see the RA wheeling an ancient dusty commercial machine towards me while she asked, "do you have your ID with you?" I replied in the affirmative, thinking she needed to know my student ID number, but no, that wasn't enough, she had to have my student ID card so she could hold it until I returned the vacuum cleaner. Of course that would be one of the things I wasn't told about, or given instructions on how to get, so I asked hopefully (and slightly frustrated) if my state ID would do. She nodded so I rushed up to the third floor to retrieve my precious ID, rushed back down to claim the dinosaur, and then lugged it up to my room to vacuum the tiny patch of carpet that had collected a week's worth of dust and dirt. Exactly eight minutes later I was back down in the lobby, handing the vacuum cleaner back to the RA while I claimed my ID. Then it was off to lunch.

As I reflected on why this particular incident upset me so much, I realized it came down to what I began this post with. I didn't feel trusted. At home, everyone knows me and my friends can give me the keys to their house and trust that when they can come back everything will still be where it was when they left it (maybe missing a chocolate chip cookie or two!). Not only that, but I will have cleaned up after myself, as I was raised by a very Dutch-German mother who taught us the value of leaving things better than when you found them, particularly when visiting others. (Sorry Mom, I'm still trying to learn that lesson when it comes to my home. . .and yours!) So here I was, in a place where no one knew me and obviously, no one trusted me very much either. I mean, it wasn't like there were 50 people clamouring for vacuum cleaners all at the same time, all determined to rush out and stash them in their cars and drive off with machines that could have been displayed in the Smithsonian with pride! They knew what room I was in, I was going to take it upstairs and bring it right back down again, surely they could trust me?

Needless to say, I did not dare ask for a dust cloth or cleaning supplies for our little sink, afraid I might have to give them my passport or some other valuable item in collateral. Hey, maybe next time I should leave my laptop down there! (NOT!) I improvised with one of the cleaning cloths I'd bought at Shaws earlier this week, and discovered that dishwashing liquid can do double duty to clean sinks as well, even though it doesn't smell as nice as lemon Soft Scrub!

Communication is my other pet peeve. I have realized that is one of the reasons why I feel frustrated here, and more determined to work on my communication skills when I return. If nothing else, at least this experience has helped me see what it is like to be a student in a place where you can't easily get away or go to a nearby store to pick up some personal items, where you don't know what's going on or who knows what is going on, where if you want something, you'll jolly well have to figure it out on your own, and where basically, while a few people are happy you are here, the general population couldn't care less. I'm learning what it feels like to be part of the minority, while ironically enough, I have always been in the minority, but this time around it isn't as comfortable. Anyhow, as I was saying, if people communicated more, I wouldn't feel as frustrated, I think. I mean, I'm trying to reach out, to ask questions, but even to basic questions, the general reply is "I don't know." which is extremely annoying!

Okay, enough of the pet peeves. I'm grateful that I was able to buy a loaf of Squirrelly bread at the caf today, for $3.50 and I bet it's a Mr. Beaton recipe because it doesn't have any oil in it and it tastes and looks just like poppyseed bread from Weimar, tehehehe! Lunch was white jasmine rice with teriyaki tofu "beef," yum yum! and I have finished my homework that is due Monday. I'm trying to pace myself and not do my homework too soon, otherwise I shall be bored! The rain came last night, so it is cooler again, thankfully, but the humidity is still very prevalent.

By the way, if you're bored, check out You can create your own music station(s) based on your favourite musicians. I discovered Heritage Singers is on here, so I'm excited and listening to all kinds of fun gospel music now :)

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