The Hayes Zoo

Our Purpose

- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.

- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.

- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.

- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock....take 5,976,543,210

I have my moments.

Culture Clash is more than a noun. It can be more frighteningly so, a VERB.

I remember the first time we set foot back on US soil after 6 months of very fast and rushing 'immersion' into another country and oh my word, it was unbelievable.

Our first 'reward' to our children (yes, it was for the kids...really) was as soon as we crossed the border, having been through the long wait, paperwork, inspections, and questions from both sides - we drove straight to a Wendy's. Thankfully there was one within about 30 minutes of the border. It was part of a truck stop, which is kind of a study in cultures itself, and we almost cried over a double stack and a Dr. Pepper. The kids just looked at Alan and I as if we'd lost it, but whatever.

Mind you, this was back when my Spanish consisted of about 1st year level (and that was an improvement!) high school and we were living on rice and beans - because I knew those words and could identify those at the grocery store, so a hamburger was a big deal.

After the reward system we would make our way to friends' house for the mandatory 72 hours 'till we could go back down with new visas, si Dios permite, and start the process all over again.

We would come to the US armed with a list. One I'd been working on for the last 6 months. Jotting down every little thing that we would need for the next season that we couldn't find in Madera. Everyone had grown so socks and underwear and some shoes were a high priority on said list along with the other major food group we'd been living on. Peanut Butter. The town we were living in was pretty small and their stock and my ability to 'live off the land' was not as honed as it would become in subsequent years so Walmart was a HAVE TO trip.

So one day into our US stay - I made the trek to Walmart.

Now - I think I may have written about this before but I can't find it and since I'm getting this out before the youngsters rise and need to be fed and educated I'm going give you the short version.

A Walmart trip ALONE after 6 months in a teeny, weeny Mexican town in the mountains where you are the only one who speaks English and doesn't understand a lick of Spanish past 'frijoles y arroz' is plain ol' stupid. At that point I was ignorant of this little, albeit very important fact though, so alone I went. "I'm a competent adult and heck - I can speak this language so this will be a piece of cake!", she said confidently.

Pride goeth before a fall.

Did I mention I went for socks, underwear and peanut butter? I swear I walked in, looked around, panicked a bit - "Egads the lights are bright in here! Egads there are a million people in here! Egads there are shelves FULL of 5 zillion options! AAACCCKKK!" - and saw the HAIR PLACE. I did not realize that Walmart had hair places. I don't think I'm a horribly vain person but I'd been having my husband cut my hair for the last six months and the thought of someone professional (snort) cutting my hair shot across my mind faster than all get out and I could not remember WHY I was there. Not kidding.

Again - I swear I went in for sock and underwear. I came out with a PERM. No socks or underwear mind you, but a PERM. I hadn't had a perm since the 80s - but by golly I wound up with one then. It was surreal. I might add that you don't get great perms at WALMART HAIR PLACES either....not that it could've been improved on much anyway. It was a PERM for goodness' sake.

IF I'd had a friend with me - she could have coaxed me away from the WALMART HAIR PLACE and led me back to the underwear aisle and gently helped me decide boxers or briefs out of the 5 million options but alas, I hadn't thought to pack one of those in my arsenal of defense mechanisms against reverse culture shock. Heck, at that point I hadn't even heard of reverse culture shock.

I must be a person who has to learn through natural consequences. My poor husband had to live through them as well as he was the one who had to look at that permed head of mine (think white girl with afro) for the next six months (we didn't have any mirrors) and survive rags for underwear. My kids have blocked it I'm sure.

Oh well - he never let me go to a Walmart alone again. My natural consequences were not only for my benefit.

TO. THIS. DAY. I have yet to darken a Walmart door. I need a few more years before I venture there.

Apparently - this is not just a cross cultural phenomenon though. Who knew? I guess misery loves company.

Faith - who is a little bit wiser than she used to be. At least where Walmart is concerned.


Lincoln and Jenny said...

Oh the promised land that is Wal-Mart! In Bible study just this morning we were talking about how Wal-Mart will be buying some existing stores in South Africa. When I first heard about is I was so excited, although the closest would be about 2 hours away, but it turns out that they will just be keeping the stores the same as they are now, and they will not actually be anything like a Wal-Mart, they will keep their old names and not even be called Wal-Mart.

NotaSupermom said...

Love it!
Yes, I did not get a perm. Small mercies.
Thanks for the link and your story.

Susan in the Boonies said...

A PERM!!! And no socks, and no underwear.

Babe! You had it BAD!!!