Thursday, May 22, 2008

And that, حبيبي, is the Difference Between a 2+ and a 3

Every day in class we're supposed to give a short synopsis of the things we did the evening before. After 13 weeks of this, my classmates and I have come to the realization that we are essentially very boring people.

I've heard that in other language classes (where you can presumably learn more quickly to speak at a higher level than "I ate chicken. I read a book.") the realization you come to is that you are all very odd people.

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

In the Presence of the Voucher

Having utilized my newly developed GTD skills, it was with no small sense of personal pride that I presented myself to the voucher office, forms and receipts in hand. I laid it all out at the voucher lady's feet in a supplication to her power and wisdom. Oh, great voucher lady, please reimburse me my rent and return to me copies of this form in triplicate which I must keep forever upon threat of document misplacement on your office's part and subsequent monetary woes on my own. I was glowing with the pure light of bureaucracy. Eyes cast down in reverence, I offered up to her... my first thirty day voucher.

"What's this? Where's your travel voucher?" The heavenly choir hit a sour note. I opened my eyes to realize I was kneeling rather inelegantly on her coat. I got up and sat in the chair by her desk. "Travel voucher..?" I ventured.

"Yes, this is the voucher for your first thirty days of training, but before this you need to fill out a voucher for your travel days. Do you have your ticket stub?"

"No, I don't have my ticket stub."

"A baggage claim receipt?"

Deep breaths. I reached for my hipster PDA for comfort. "No, I don't have any of that. Sorry, I didn't think I'd need it." She was highly unimpressed.

"Well then, how do we know that you used that ticket to get here?"

I considered this. I think I may have actually opened and closed my mouth a few times while searching for the best reply. Several answers presented themselves, including a Christ-like proffering of the scars in my hands. In the end, I went with what I thought best captured the spirit of the moment: "Well... I didn't swim here from Japan."

This may not have been the most politic response.

"Look," I told her. "This travel voucher is, what, $48 for M&IE? That's okay, I just won't claim that. I don't mind."

"Oh no, you can't file any other voucher until you've filed the travel one."

"Really?" At this point I was gripping the hipster PDA with such force that it was cutting in to my palm. "So, what you're saying is that if I don't find my ticket stub, I'm out $37,000? There's nothing else I can do?"

She hesitated. I could see she wanted to be helpful. I waited for her to send me off for permit A-38.

"Do you have your itinerary?"

Ah, a glimmer of hope! "Maybe... maybe I can find a copy archived in my email."

"Try that; it might work."