I have shared these on Facebook, but realized I haven’t really blogged about any of it. Call it “third world problems” because, really, in the first world, we’re nowhere near the right income to be able to afford staff!
So here are a few recovered gems, thanks to my Facebook’s timeline…
My driver said I look sexy today. FML.
So after I posted that, I was told that it turns out here in the Philippines, sexy means pretty – who knew? Even then, having my 60+ year old driver telling me I looks sexy still creeped me out.
And another senseless conversation in the Philippines:
Me: “ugh, traffic”
Me: “I don’t know, the driver of the bus next to us got out and is smoking a cigarette. He can probably see something we can’t.”
Driver: “Buses here are diesel, ma’am”
The Philippines is really an interesting place. Because people here speak English, but yet, they don’t. A lot of the local expressions make no sense in English, or just annoys us. (Like using “wait a while” anytime they want you to wait a bit. Or saying “enjoying” even when there’s nothing joyful about it, such as “you’re currently enjoying a one hour delay on your flight.” Or using avail for everything “Are you going to avail of this promo?” Or starting every sentence with “Actually…”) I think it makes it specially frustrating for English speaking expats, more so than if you go to a country where English is not widely spoken – at least then you’re expecting some communication issues.
Here, people will rarely tell you “what, I don’t understand, can you repeat that?” They’ll either give a reply for something totally random – like my driver above – or most often they will laugh. Yep, just laugh in your face. Now I know that when my driver starts laughing and I wasn’t telling a joke is that he has no clue what I said, so I just repeat it.
Ah, life in the Philippines…. Conversation w my driver:
“On my way back from (working in) Libya I stopped in Thailand. But the women came to my room!”
“Rudy, I don’t need to know this!”
“Only U$24! But I don’t like. Afraid of AIDS”
No excuses for the conversation above. Totally inappropriate if he was talking like that to Karl, much less to his female employer! But Filipinos have no filter sometimes of what is really a boundary that you do not cross in the workplace.
I guess you realize your driver is too old for the job when at least once a week he totally forgets where you’re going. Less than 5 minutes after you told him and he repeated it back to you. Good thing I know my way around enough to go “uh, which way are you going?” “Hahahaha” “Rudy, it’s not funny, did you forget?” “Yes, ma’am, I forget!” *sigh*
Ok, so obviously my driver IS getting too old for the job (a friend even wondered if he ever gets somewhere then thinks “why am I here again?”), but the laughing as a reply? A very very very Filipino reaction to avoid conflict. It got to the point that I started saying “it’s not funny” or “do you see me laughing?” when I encounter that. You can say I’m over this avoiding conflict thing, I just need to get things done!
Now those are my driver’s gems. Our maid hasn’t had as many of those, thankfully.
“Ma’am, my husband complains I’m not sweet anymore, but it hurts! I just do kissy-kissy now. I told him to find a young girl instead.”
I totally nipped that one in the bud, and change the subject. I’m so not going to be having a sex talk with my 56-year old maid!
My maid asked me today if milk comes out when I squeeze my boobs. What is wrong with our staff? I guess I should at least be relieved it wasn’t our male driver who asked the question?
A friend even commented “my doctor asked me that when I was pregnant, you’d be surprised!” But my point was not the question that was asked, but who asked it – crossing a boundary here again, no?
Nothing like having the 3rd world slap you in the face, by ordering a coconut shake and having it arrive with a straw that has red lipstick marks on it. The straw that was already in my drink! Not only are they reusing straws but not even washing it first? So grossed out.
Yeah, it still grosses me out thinking about it.