I have recently become interested in reading about the ordinary (extraordinary) lives of expatriates through their blogs. Daily experiences, joys and frustrations of other major world cities are very fascinating to me which got me thinking. When I lived in Saigon and Tokyo I only blogged when some event left a deep impression be it cultural, political or just an event I had never experienced before. The daily, monotonous routine however was deemed not interesting enough to write about. However, now that I look back I wish I had kept more of a journal so I could go back and read what my life was like back then.
It then occurred to me that I am currently living in San Francisco but will not be here forever. Thus, it might be a good idea to write about my daily experiences which may be interesting for those living in other countries or even cities even though it is not interesting for me at present. Yet, in time I would like to come back to these posts to further understand where I had been and what my experiences were.
So without further delay, here is my ordinary day starting with a frustrating event.
After work, I often like to hit the gym across the street. It is rather small and unlike my other gym experiences I do not relate or even talk to the other members of the gym. Here in SF, people are generally friendly but at a distance. I really do not feel that close connection that came to other gym members in Tokyo or Saigon. Here I put on my headphones, work out, steam bath and shower then go home.
Yesterday, I did have an unpleasant interaction as I was on the elliptical doing my hour routine. A young blond woman came up to me and asked how much time I had left. I told her about twenty minutes. She told me I had already been on for thirty minutes and there was a time limit. I replied that there were other machines available and that I was not getting off. So she went to a young staff member who came over and told me I had to get off the machine. I replied that there were other machines available but the blond chick said this one was a “little different.” So, realizing I could not win this round I did get off but then asked to see Tony the manager.
I explained that the intent of the rule was if all machines were occupied then out of courtesy one needs to limit their time but not if 90% of the other machines are open. I also told him this was the second time this woman has asked me to get off the machine.
He agreed with me and said he would talk to the bimbo and his staff member. Apparently I had won but am wondering if this chick will come up to me again. If this happens then my strategy is to have a sit down discussion with her and the manager to sort this thing out.
I am amazed by my capacity to resolve a dispute while keeping my emotions under control. Sure, I would like to express that “this bitch is pissing me off,” but realize that in order to win I simply have to outsmart them and use reason to get a desired outcome.
I also am trying to fight the urge to compare this situation to Asia. In Japan and Saigon this had never happened because the people are more respectful of each other and I have never experienced someone taking advantage of a rule for their own personal benefit. This also could be another “culture shock” as perhaps in this culture (big city life) people are quite selfish.
After the gym I tried to put it out of my mind by watching the Wizard of Oz in preparation for the musical Wicked. It has been quite difficult to forget about it as the battle might not be through but if I am trying to adjust my mindset and think of it as an opportunity for growth.
After the movie was over I went to bed only to be awakened by a car alarm at 3:00am. This alarm went off three times for a total of 15 minutes. At that moment I was thinking about going out to flatten the tires of this car or at least hoping someone would call the police which odds are probably did happen. A car alarm going off at 3am in this neighborhood has effectively awoken at least 600 people. Odds are someone called the cops. And, if I flattened the tires it would probably just set off the alarm again.
This morning I had a very important meeting with a large customer whose sales have tanked quite badly. I went with an upper level colleague of mine so we could strategize together. The meeting went well and we did identify a few areas where we could be a great resource helping the customer save time and money but the issue is this “boss” cannot mandate to the four buildings. I do have a great relationship with these buildings but the challenge will be getting them to cooperate, standardize and allow us to take over some of their existing business.
The weather is uncharacteristically cold and wet. A perfect opportunity to clear out a bit of the administration/follow up work which I have just completed.
Today is also Friday yet working from home I never have that feeling of Friday elation. I do my work, wait on 5:00 but at five no joy magically appears. I then try to decide what to do as it is Friday but even though there are a lot of options I find myself very indecisive. When you live in the city, even though there are many things to do, they have all been done before. On one hand I want to be productive or at least do something that will bring joy. Yet, I cannot shake this feeling of melancholy.
It at this moment I think of Saigon and the wonderful expatriate crowd there. I had a complete list of contacts that were most likely already out and about and nothing could be better than having a few drinks and conversing with them and their distinct points of view.
I tried to replicate that here by going to a bar down the street that is full of Asian barmaids and they even have a dart board. Yet, nobody plays darts and the conversation is very boring. The last conversation I heard was someone discussing movies and how “Bad Santa” was the best movie ever made. These guys just get drunk and have a dumb conversation. No other way to put it really.
I did join a few language clubs which did seem interesting and it is fun to speak another language but the fact is these people are strangers. Again, one just cannot connect with others as easily as in Asia.
So what to do with myself tonight? Go to the gym and pick a fight with the blond bitch,, er, I mean, young woman? Go to the bar and listen to boring conversation? Maybe just watch a movie, read, or play an online game? Go out to a restaurant which I have done 1000 times before?
It would seem that my batteries are drained and I could use a vacation. City life does wear on you and I rarely escape. Tomorrow I am going golfing with my ex-colleagues which should be fun but unfortunately there is rain in the forecast.
I’ll leave it at that since writing does not seem to be dissipating the melancholy. At least I’ll always have a record of the last 48 hours.
Until the next adventure I remain,