Blame it on being foreign

Sometimes it's nice being a foreigner, because you have an excuse for all the times you're unintentionally rude.

This afternoon, Miriam and I were on our way out the door when we were ambushed by our next-door neighbor (now I see why landlords tout a 'private entrance' as an asset when they're trying to get you interested in renting their apartment). You can hear everything in the stairwell from the apartment, so it's impossible to come or go without everyone knowing about it.

It was this lady's sister, Jamila. Their little granddaughter (Jamila's grandniece, I guess) was over for the afternoon and they wanted Miriam to come over and play. I had nothing against that plan except that we were just then walking out the door to go to campus to bring Jeremy his office key. It was not an engagement that could be put off.

So I explained that unfortunately, we were just leaving. Then Jamila insisted that we come over as soon as we got back. I agreed, but was careful to say that I couldn't say for sure when exactly we'd be home. I thought we might stay on campus for a while so Miriam could play, and I knew it was possible that we'd run errands after that. I told her this, saying that if we came back soon, we'd come over, but if not, we'd see her another time.

We ended up not coming home until almost 8 o'clock, and I considered that too late to bother going over to her apartment.

Fast forward to about 10 minutes ago. Our doorbell rang (it's 10 o'clock at night!) and it was Jamila, with a plate full of food (with an extra helping of GUILT). She told me that they waited for me earlier and she wondered why I didn't show up.

Well, because I wasn't home. I told her this.

She said again that she was disappointed I didn't come over and that they saved the food for me and now she was bringing it over. And then she said that I should come over tomorrow (as penance, perhaps?).

I'm sure she'll just chalk up the offense I caused to my being an insensitive and culturally unaware foreigner. And perhaps there is a bit of truth in that - in my culture, if I say I might not come over later, that's exactly what will happen. No big deal. With Jamila, though, I got the feeling that I should have adjusted my plans to accept her impromptu, given-on-the-doorstep-on-my-way-out-the-door invitation.

Live and learn, I guess.

Going to church naked

The glass ceiling