To-do-To-day: … Read 200 pages

In my travels, invariably, I met the disgruntled American expat who believed, without a doubt, that life was more efficient in the United States. I commiserated with this person. I scorned this person. I was this person. There’s a little part of me that thought, “oh, I’m not like that, I’m an anthropologist, I take all life at face value and roll with it.”


Now that I’ve been solidly living in the U.S., the land of mythological efficiency, customer service and transparent bureaucracy for 2 months, I realize how much I internalized this myth.  I make “to do” lists like I’m superwoman:


  • Doctors appointment
  • Make dentist appointment
    • Call insurance people
    • Set up insurance
    • Wait a month
  • Buy printer
    • Buy ink
    • Print readings
    • Return printer when it runs out of ink after printing 2 articles
    • Buy new printer (repeat above)
  • Get computer fixed
    • Drop off computer
    • Pick up computer
    • Test computer
    • Return computer to get fixed again
    • Pick up new computer
    • Reformat and reinstall all things on new computer
  • Pay electricity bill
    • Figure out electricity bill
    • Why isn’t my bank account letting me pay the electricity bill?
    • Call bank
  • Sort out loan payments
    • Call lenders
    • Call university
    • Fax form (really? I’m sorry, is this 1995? And where, pray tell, do you expect me to find a fax machine?)
    • Find a fax machine
    • Fail at faxing
    • Scan and email forms
  • Go to class
  • Read 200 pages

That’s just one day. Think about the follow up on a day like that.

So the next time I’m abroad and hear some expat whining about having to have tea with their banker and setting aside a solid afternoon to withdraw cash or how the people who set up the internet don’t seem to know which house we live in, I’m going to smile and remember how inconvenient and inefficient (and often rude) this small globalized world is.


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