Friday, July 11, 2008

Kate Does Cali (With a Little Help)

In case you missed it, everyone's favorite Suburban Sweetheart has spent most of this week in the Golden State working with a group of high schoolers who are spending a month in San Francisco doing volunteer work.

Today was a light day, so I met up with my old college roommate for dinner at Spiazzo in West Portal (very nice); afterwards, she sent me on my way back to the San Fran State dorms via muni, this city's snazzy term for public transportation that's part bus, part train & wholly unMetro. She told me which stop to get off at, & I successfully un-boarded, at which time I realized I had a bigger problem -- I had no idea how to get back to my building. No one I stopped for directions seemed to have ever set foot in the city before, so I wandered the SFSU campus aimlessly for a bit before asked three Asian tourists for help.

"Strangers!" the one man said, indicating his inability to direct me. "Me, too," I sighed, turning to leave. But then one of the men turned back to me -- "You need map?" he asked, & I must have looked either very grateful or very, very lost, because the men conversed in their native tongue for a sec & then assigned one of the three to Directional Duty. He motioned for me to follow him, & we set off across the quad, him quite determined & me quite embarrassed/grateful/hoping not to be abducted/etc.

He spoke approximately a dozen words of English, including (& probably limited to) the following:

  • "You American?" -- To determine my ethnicity (& he was Korean, for the record)
  • "Two weeks" -- The amount of time he was staying at SFSU
  • "Mechanical engineering" -- His course of study
  • "Very cold" -- Pretty self-explanatory
  • "More clothes?" -- Following the previous statement, while offering his sweatshirt to me (I declined)
  • "I'm OK" -- When I thanked him repeatedly for his help; I think he meant "It's OK!" but it's unclear
In other foreigner news, earlier in the day I verbally battled a small gang of somewhat agrressive Austrian swimmers aged approximately 12-15 as they begged to climb out my dorm window to retrieve a ball they'd thrown onto the roof outside it. My answer, of course, was no; instead, a teammate scaled the side of the building, Spiderman-style, & successfully obtained said ball.

Over all, quite the international day for me. Who needs a passport when you can conjur up awkward interactions with strangers from abroad?


Michael said...

Too funny. Good luck surviving the rest of your trip.

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