We’re Waiting for Godot

Some of the brightest people we meet are those foreigners that come across as being short of all their marbles.

As I am fast learning, when you first live in a foreign country you quickly realize that everything you know at home most likely has a slightly different definition abroad. I’ve already touched on this in previous blogs, noting specifics like the pharmacy not quite being a drugstore and the flat sheet not quite being there at all.

So, one adapts and starts each task by first building up a new, distinctly Irish glossary with help from the locals. In doing so, I am beginning to recognize that there is one expression that crosses the face of almost every Irish person with whom I interact lately. It is a look that, unfortunately, is not entirely forgien to me even in the States, although here it seems to occur with exponentially more frequency. It is a look that begs the question, “Are you daft?”

At the Post Office today, for example, I had to start by first asking the question, “Can I mail my letters from here?” as, upon initial inspection, I was not so sure. There were signs for an investment office to my left and a long line of folks leading to a counter under signs that read “Bank here with AIB (Allied Irish Bank)” and which was covered with money wire forms. These visual clues are what lead me to doubt my initial conviction the the Post Office in Ireland was in fact the place to go to mail letters. Then the “Ah, perhaps there is no top sheet” lightbulb went off. Just about that time, I spotted one counter that did appear to belong in a post office and this is where I asked my question and got my first (not to be last), “Are you daft?” look of the day.

The Samuel Becket inspired conversation that ensued is captured below:

[Enter Daft Foreigner (me) stage left and approaches counter. 5 minutes pass. Enter Irish Postal Employee center stage behind counter.]

DF: Can I mail my letters from here?
IPE: (Gives obvious ‘Are you Daft?’ expression) Yes.
DF: Can I buy some stamps from you, please?
IPE: No. This is the parcel post counter.
DF: And what counts as a parcel, again?
IPE: (Repeats obvious ‘Are you Daft?’ expression.) More than 2 kg.
DF: Okay, and can I buy a large envelope for these papers here?
IPE: No. You get envelopes at the corner store down the street.
DF: So, I can mail my letters from here but I can’t buy envelopes?
IPE: No. You mail at that counter over there. (Gestures towards long line and counter stage right.)
DF:So, that’s not a bank service?
IPE: (Repeats obvious ‘Are you Daft?’ expression.) No.
DF: Ok. So, I can mail my letters and buy stamps, but not envelopes, over there.
IPE: Yes.

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