Imagine this. You are visiting friends and they invite you to play a game. The only trouble is that you are not familiar with the game. They say that isn’t a problem. They will explain the rules as you go. As you continue to lose round after round, you have the distinct feeling that they are simply making up the rules as they go and that they are purposely stacking the deck against you so that you are guaranteed to lose.
As a foreigner entering another country, that is often the feeling you have. There are definite rules, but you have no idea what they are. I have to admit that this last month of transitioning to Florida, I have experienced similar emotions our students have as they move overseas. In fact, one of the residents here said that Central Florida in a lot of respects is like living in a foreign country. There are a lot of nationalities here and the crime rate in Sanford is much higher than rural Missouri. So I have been feeling a little bit like a fish out of water.
A few weeks ago I went to the DMV in Seminole county to get my driver’s license and the plates on my vehicle changed to Florida. After waiting 15 minutes in line I found out that I had the correct paperwork for my vehicle but lacked proof of residency in order to get my driver’s license changed. So I had to drive all the way back to my apartment in order to get a document verifying that I was actually residing in Florida. Then I drove back and waited another 15 minutes to get my new Florida driver’s license.
On my way home, I thought I would stop off at the bank where I opened a checking account. Since I don’t know Sanford very well, I used my Garmin GPS to navigate to the bank. Garmin decided that the shortest route to the bank involved driving about a mile on a toll road. When I got to the toll booth there was no one there to take my money. Not knowing what to do I started to pull ahead. Then I saw the sign in front of me saying, “Pay the toll, you idiot!” Well actually the sign didn’t say, “You idiot.” But if there was a security camera monitoring the toll booth, I am sure that is what they were thinking. I looked behind me in order to back up, but by this time another vehicle had pulled up. So I got out and hurriedly walked back to read the instructions. As I was walking back, I simply shrugged my shoulders and mouthed the words to the truck behind me, “I have no idea what I am doing!!!” There was a sign next to this plastic thing that looked like a funnel. The sign said, “Pay 75 cents.” What? You’re going to charge me 75 cents to drive a mile on a toll road? Are you kidding me? So I fumbled with my wallet and pulled out a dollar bill only to read “exact change ONLY” on the sign. I put my wallet back and dug into my pocket. Of course I did not have 75 cents on me. But I did have a bunch of loose change in my Jeep. So I ran back to my Jeep and grabbed 75 cents. Then I ran back to the funnel to deposit the exact amount. By this time more cars began to pile up behind me as I apologetically mouthed the words to them, “I’m sorry! I’m an idiot! I don’t know what I am doing!”
Well, I am pretty sure that I will be appearing on some Funniest Videos TV show in the near future.
The other day I went to pick up groceries at Aldis. To my dismay all the shopping carts were chained together with no apparent way to use one for shopping. As I was fumbling with the chain, someone noticed the perplexed look on my face and took pity on me. He explained that you had to insert a quarter in order to unlock a shopping cart from the rest. And of course I did not have a quarter on me so I had to run back to my Jeep. By this time I was totally miffed at the idea that I had to pay a quarter just to use a stupid shopping cart. Well, come to find out that you do get your quarter back when you return the shopping cart. Too funny! Well I have to admit the “Quarter Shopping Cart” idea is genius. Most stores pay some kid minimum wage to round up shopping carts all day long. But Aldis figured out a way to get their customers to round up the shopping carts for them. Whoever came up with that idea should get a raise. But Aldis ought to tell their new customers what is going on.
Some of the gas stations down here make you pay for your gas BEFORE you fill up. So if you want a full tank you need to estimate how much gas you need, and multiply that times the price per gallon. It takes a math whiz or a calculator just to get a full tank of gas. Well actually you can pay for more than what you need, go back outside, fill up, then go back inside to get your change. Some gas stations only demand that you jump through all those hoops if you are paying with cash. Others make you go through that whole process even if you are paying with a credit card. Tell me again, which third world country I just landed in!!!
And don’t even get me going on driving in Florida! Before coming down here, I was told that Florida drivers are crazy. But honestly, they didn’t tell me the half of it!!
I am sure that in a few months all these things will seem pretty normal to me. I will probably be passing cars just like they do at the Daytona 500. But in the meantime I would appreciate your prayers for my adjustments to Florida.
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Satan is never so completely defeated as in his apparent victories.