Monday, June 03, 2019

Story Time: The Joy&Frustration of Cross-Cultural Communication

Lydia - 3 years old
Mastiff Marley,
quite old at that time
Living cross-culturally means that we are entertained half the time - and enraged the other half of the time and the good folks we live among and work with feel the exact same way about us. 

It's good times, I tell you. GOOD TIMES.

I am keenly aware of my bent toward ethnocentric thinking. I call that out here and now and I say to you this:  I know there is more than one way to skin a cat.  (That's a weird expression.)

I know that because I VERY MUCH think driving in an orderly fashion with rules and systems is FAR better.  However, that does not mean it is the only way.  Obviously.  People are doing the opposite thing here every damn day.  Generally, they get where they are going.  (They are much much angrier than if there had been just SOME rule, but I digress.) 
So, I know ... There are two or more ways to do most things.  

Okay.  That is established.

Friday afternoon the security guard that works at our house 6 of 7 nights per week had a big emergency.  We know him, he has been with us a year.  He was responsible and awesome and he called the security company we contract with, that he works for. Then he called us, he called Geronne too. He made sure we all knew he could not make it to cover the night at our house.  

Troy called the contact we have right away too.  They said they would bring out another guard.  That was around 4pm.  The shift begins at 6pm.  This is a service we pay for and want. We love that we know our two guards and it gives us a sense of security to know the man walking around our yard all night. If it is false security, we don't want to know that.   Shhhh. 

Back in the days of TWO Mastiffs, Peanut has gone on to a better place.
Hazelnut on the left.

Around 9:30pm a bunch of noise was happening at the gate.  Troy went to answer.  It was a group of guys saying that they were dropping off the agent to cover the night. The dog was mad and barking. (She has never bit anyone except a goat but she sounds mean.) 

The temporary security agent was too afraid of our large Mastiff, Hazelnut to enter our yard.  Troy said to the men, (In Creole)  "You know what, it really does not do me any good if you are afraid of the dog and won't move around the yard.  Why don't we just forget tonight. Also, it is 9:30 now and it is dark and I don't know you and it doesn't really help anyone here feel safer for you to come in at this time. You're late! Thanks but no thanks, as the customer we will decline your services this evening."   

To our American way of thinking, this is perfectly reasonable.  The dude fears our dog. We don't know him from Adam (that's an expression too) and he has annoyed us by coming 3.5 hours late.  

We set off a bit of a storm with this decision. Phones were ringing all over town and the guys would not leave our area and everyone was arguing about whether or not Troy could just decide that - Boom, just like that. 

To our host culture Troy was being unreasonable and inflexible and they wanted a compromise.  They wanted Troy to accept that they were late and let that go and then to agree to lock our dog up for the night inside the house.

This went on for a good hour or two. Troy dug in, they dug in.

I just stayed in my room reading and relaxing and laughing at it all. (That is where entertained half the time comes in. Laughing at Troy.)

Living cross-culturally means that we are entertained half the time - and enraged the other half of the time and the good folks we live among and work with feel the exact same way about us.