The Christmas chicken, the floor pig and other random disasters of miscommunication

. July 16, 2013.
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I had the pleasure of working as an I.D.C. This acronym stands for “International Destination Consultant” but at times “Insane Demented Caregiver” would pretty much sum things up. I was responsible for relocating professionals moving to this area from all parts of the world. I could give you a laundry list of my diverse and serious-sounding duties, but getting to the gist of things, being an I.D.C. was like being a mom for grownups in a strange new playground called the United States.

I quickly discovered that even when my clients shared my language, things could get interesting. I once had my daughter play with my Australian client’s child. When I “rang her up” to see how things were going she said, “Oh beautifully! She has been playing with my #$@@!* all day!” I quickly informed her that here in the USA we call them “cats”. This same woman was very upset with me for sending her to what she thought was an offensive salon. I inquired what had happened and she informed me with great disgust, that the stylist kept asking her about her bangs! I now know that the proper term in her version of English for the hair that lies on your forehead is “fringe”. Apparently, “How do you like your bangs?” is not an appropriate question in her neck of the woods.

Miguel, my client from Mexico, once called me quite peeved that I did not tell him about the “floor pig” especially since it was part of my job to educate him on all American holidays. I said “What floor pig?” “You know, the one who comesout of the floor and looks for something,”  he said. From that moment on, my family still chuckles when Groundhog Day rolls around.

Miguel was included in our family’s holiday celebration. We played cards after dinner with my Gram, Noni and the three girls. Holding his cards, Miguel leaned back in his chair and glanced at my teenage child’s cards and said, “Laaaaaaaaaaauren…. I can see your ***!” I said, “Miguel, I think you mean ace.”

 I have come to realize that it’s better to take the time to clearly explain a given situation, even though at times continually having to translate can be a bit tiring. Enrica, from Italy, noticed my absurd buddy that sits on my kitchen table. He is a fat wooden chicken with wire feet. He is smirking as if he has been up to something naughty, and has a wreath around his neck. He was meant to be a holiday decoration, but I keep him out all year because you go to a happy place when you see the little guy. She said, “I don’t understand this”, to which I replied, “few people do”. It was that “Cinderella” time of night, when you are so whooped that you know at any given moment you could turn into a pumpkin, so I curtly said, “He is the Christmas Chicken.” A week later, we were walking through the children’s department at a store when she spotted an array of stuffed barnyard critters. She went right for the foul, held it up and proudly proclaimed,” Look! I have found the Christmas Chicken.” Somewhere, in Ferrara, Italy, there is a Christmas Chicken sitting on a kitchen table smiling while an Italian family wonders about the sanity of those crazy Americans.