2.09.2007

Surprised I haven't grown a mustache by now...

When you're a foreigner living in a foreign country, it's easy to make obvious mistakes. Once while visiting the town pool in Clermont, I realized that everyone in the locker room around me was male. And yet it didn't occur to me what the problem was until I went back into the men's locker room post-swim. Even after realizing it, I had to retrieve my clothes from a locker. That was the worst part- the knowing that you're doing something embarrassing but can't avoid it because you left your underwear in a locker surrounded by penises.

This morning I went into the company where I normally teach and waved at the woman at the welcome desk. "I'm just running to the bathroom, then I'll come right back for the visitor badge," I said. "Wait, here's the key!" she called out and I stopped in my tracks.

Key?

I've been working in this company since October. I have, on occasion, frequented the toilets on the ground floor (the very toilets I was headed to this morning). I have noticed that one toilet is always locked and one is always open. The one that is always open is usually pretty gross.

I should say that the women who work at the welcome desk are all extremely nice, yet also very thin and pale and sort of look like drug addicts. Though I never took the time to think it through, I think that there is some part of me that believed that the women that work at the welcome desk were doing drugs in the locked bathroom. It is absolutely illogical, but there it is.

And so today, when she offered me the key to the locked bathroom, I didn't know how to react.

Me: What do you mean, key?
Welcome Woman: For the ladies' bathroom.
Me: I've never used a key before...
WW: Well how did you get it? It's always locked- we keep it locked because the men make such a mess of theirs.
Me: Um. Not quite sure how to say this and keep any dignity intact, but... I suppose I've been using the men's bathroom all this time.
WW howls with laughter. I take the key and slink off to the "ladies' room" (see: former drug lair). For the first time, I notice pictures of a lady and a man on each door.

All goes to prove that living in a foreign country really throws off your ability to read pictograms.

1 comment:

Hortense said...

Oh this one is GREAT!
Loving it.