Friday, January 22, 2016

Fresh Off the Boat

   When I arrived in the US, my husband immediately got us a joint account and got me a credit card aside from the $20 a month he gave me which he called “walking around money”.   So, coming from a third world country, I knew there’s a hundred ways one can get ripped off.   I compiled all my ticker tape receipts from my credit card purchases, checked each item purchased, checked all totals against the monthly bank statements and then checked the bank statements for mistakes.  I was afraid the cashier or the machine or the bank might be overcharging me.  I did this till after a year and a half, I got tired of it, plus I learned it doesn’t happen.  

   Then I heard about identity theft.  So, I took home every receipt, bought a shredder to shred them.  I was afraid anyone who finds my receipt could use the data in it to purchase items using my credit card data.  I did this until I realized there would be no point in hacking if hackers only needed a Walmart receipt to grab money. 

   I applied for a driver’s license and flunked the first driving test.  The policeman who tested me commented that I was “totally accustomed to the equipment” (I've been driving in the Philippines since I was 26 years old.)  However, it’s the traffic rules in America that I needed to learn.  I have read the licensing booklet from cover to cover and back again.  I was still driving like a Filipina in the Philippines. 

   I passed the second driving test and the rest is history which includes two accidents in Louisville, Kentucky.  One, during a snow storm, I mounted a traffic island all covered in snow.  Another was a fender bender with a semi which crushed my left rear fender like biscuit.

   I got lost a lot.  I did not have a TomTom or any GPS device.  I still don’t trust them.  I Googled my destination and printed a map and direction every time.  Once in a while, in the middle of the journey, I found a road block for road repair and I got rerouted to a place not in my map.  Those times I had to find a place to park and call a friend.  My husband refused to give me any direction after I asked him several times, he yelled “Ah! You figure it out!”  As soon as I could afford it, I got myself a Blackberry with a data plan so I can Google map my directions should I get a road block again.

   Being the new kid on the street is nerve wracking but that should not be a reason to stop running.  If there is anything Filipinos can do better than any other nation, it’s adapting to a new situation.

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