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Sunday, August 21, 2011

You Can't Say That Here

“You can’t say that here,” said the fellow in my office.

When I asked why, his reply was simply, “you just can’t.” And with that, he left.

First let me paint the scene. The temperature outside was 30 degrees Celsius. My office was about 35 degrees. My face was covered in perspiration. The clothing I had decided to wear was completely inappropriate for the heat. And, although I can handle soaring temperatures with little problem, this day was a definite exception. With hours left in my work day, I contemplating how I would both make it – and cool down.

That’s about when my visitor walked in and inquired if I was “cranky.” To which I replied, “No, I’m just really hot.”

A few days later while enjoying both a coffee and the blazing sunshine, I was once again feeling the heat. It seemed the perfect moment to ask my friend about my colleague's comment.

“You can’t say that,” was my friend’s quick comment. “Especially at work.”
For the most part, I know that I am forgiven the seeming misuse of statements and phrases. I may go so far as to say that my friends and colleagues are amused when I make them. But it also works both ways. Like the word “toilet.” Here in Austria people often excuse themselves to go to the “toilet.” When I rented my flat I told someone one I had one and a half bathrooms to which they replied “You have one bathroom and a toilet.”

At home we do not say this word in polite conversation. In fact, many would say it is more acceptable to swear, than use the word “toilet.” I literally cringe every time I hear it. To even write it in this blog makes me feel uncomfortable. I keep thinking ‘I sure hope my mother doesn’t read this one.’ I know my discomfort with this word is a source of amusement to those close to me here.

But so it goes. I’m learning. By trial and error. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to the pool. It’s another beautiful 30 degree day and I am, well, you know…

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