Museum Musings: It’s August so the summer tourists are here…

It’s August, so the Europeans are here. I’ve been speaking so much French I feel as if I’m in la belle France. I love it 🙂

They're from Paris.

Of course not only Europeans are visiting the museum right now. A few days ago I asked everyone, “Where are you from?”

  • Holland
  • Canada
  • S. Korea
  • Pakistan
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Denmark
  • Russia
  • England
  • Germany
  • Mongolia
  • Taiwan
  • Ireland
  • Sweden
  • Mexico
  • India
  • Israel
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Italy
  • Scotland
  • Australia
  • Qatar
  • New Zealand
  • Argentina
  • Spain
  • Japan
  • Chile
  • South Africa
  • and of course the US of A

I just got Lucky!

Even though most of our products are made in China, it seems no one wants to buy them. I’m asked every day whether we have anything not made in China, and even Chinese tourists will hold up an item, “Made in what country?” they ask,  and if it’s made in China, they don’t buy it.

A few of the people I met recently:

  • Barry from Brooklyn.
    “Where are you from?” I asked.
    “Guess.” he said.
    I looked at his credit card and said, “New York.”
    He grabbed the card back. “Where does it say New York?” he wanted to know. It doesn’t. I just guessed. He told me he was going to have dinner with a Holocaust survivor who’d hidden in a hole in the ground for two years.
  • “Do you know if these books are available elsewhere?” a middle aged woman asked me, pointing to some books on the shelf
    “I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t understand your question.”
    “Are these books available in Minnesota?”
    Good gracious, how on earth would I know…
  • a friendly French family from Dijon. I had no idea there was such a town. Imagine being able to eat all that mustard fresh from the fields! They invited me to visit. “I’m coming on the next plane!” I told them. I wish.
  • Eight year old Peregrine from Minnesota. I was surprised when he didn’t show the slightest interest in any of the books I showed him. “I wish my boys read more, ” his mother told me.
  • When her companion signed the credit slip she said to her, “I didn’t know you were left-handed!” The two middle-aged women are cousins who’ve known each other since they were small kids.
  • Peter from Perth. We discussed the rioting in London, what it’s like to live in Australia, and for some reason went on to talk about Zimbabwe, so I recommended the book, “When the Crocodile eats the Sun” by Peter Godwin. He promised to email me when he’d read it.
  •  The nice man thought I was French.
  • I loved her Prada bag, but didn’t photograph it.

Another full cup of coffee in my trash

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About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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20 Responses to Museum Musings: It’s August so the summer tourists are here…

  1. Reuben says:

    I’m sure those books aren’t available in any other place on earth! What a question! And Peregrine? If he doesn’t read he’d better be an artist and live up to that name… As Barnett Newman said: “Aesthetics is for artists what ornithology is for birds”. Funny, I recommended “When A Crocodile Eats the Sun” to a friend today as well!

    • dearrosie says:

      Well as I mentioned before, it’s easier to blame the silliness on jetlag…

      I hope I’ll meet Peregrine at my cash register next summer, so I’ll be able to find out whether his mom managed to get him to read!
      Love the Barnett Newman quote Reuben.

      Funny that we both recommended the book “When a Crocodile eats the sun”. If any of my readers are interested to know just what’s going on in Southern Africa, I suggest you read the memoir.

  2. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    How great that you get to talk to people from all over, I noticed you even had a visit from an Aussie. I had to laugh when you were asked if the book could be brought elsewhere. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Mags
      Los Angeles is one of the stop off points for planes flying to and from Australia so we get a lot of Ozzies and folks from New Zealand popping into the museum.

      I also wanted to laugh at the woman’s silly question. I wonder what she would’ve done if I didn’t answer, but doubled over laughing 🙂

  3. E fullstop says:

    J and I enjoy visiting national parks, and there are certain times of the year when you rarely hear English spoken on the trails. This is one of those times. August — when all of Europe is on vacation.

    I have a project idea for you (provided you don’t get in trouble with those friendly supervisors at the museum). Get a folded map of the world and every time you ask where someone is from, ask them to locate their hometown on the map and write their name by it. Another idea is to have them sign a small notebook with their names and hometown/home country…and maybe the translation to a common phrase, like “Where’s the bathroom?” or “Are these books available in Minnesota?”

    • dearrosie says:

      Interesting that you’ve notice the Europeans on the hiking trails e.

      I thought of your great suggestion yesterday when I worked good old Register 4 (ie the busiest register in the main store) and was so busy with line ups all day that I barely had time to get a hankey to blow my nose. If I had asked folks to mark their hometowns on a map I’d still be at work dealing with the long lines, and as for asking them to sign their names and hometowns in a small book I can only do that if they speak English. I’ve had some hilarious answers to the question: “Where are you from?” heh heh

  4. Priya says:

    The name Peregrine reminds me of Peregrine Took from The Lord of Rings. Poor museum-visiting Peregrine will probably never know Mister Took.

    Barry from Brooklyn must’ve had an interesting, intense, sad evening! And a happy one, too, I am sure.

    Keep telling us about these experiences, Rosie, we learn a lot from them, too.

    • dearrosie says:

      I wonder whether my young friend was named after Peregrine Took from the Lord of the RIngs or a Peregrine Falcon? I didn’t ask.

      Yes, I’m sure Barry from Brooklyn’s evening must’ve been intense and interesting. What a shame that I didn’t meet him the day after…! He told me he’s writing a book, but I didn’t ask him to send me a copy.

  5. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Wow! I hadn’t realized that people from so many different countries come here as tourists! It does seem kind of unauthentic to come to America only to buy an “American” souvenir made in China. I think I’d be a little picky about where things are made, too. It would help our economy if we insisted on having the option to buy products made in America, even if they are more expensive.

    Smithsonian Opens Made-in-America Gift Shop
    http://vtdigger.org/2011/06/08/smithsonian-opens-made-in-america-gift-shop/

    That was funny how the middle-aged woman just noticed that her cousin was left-handed! 🙂 I agree with Priya, please keep these experiences coming!

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for the Smithsonian link Barbara. I quote from the article:
      “Some 50,000 manufacturing plants in the U.S. were closed over the past decade, and more than 5.4 million good-paying manufacturing jobs were lost as companies took advantage of cheap labor overseas”

      Ouch!

      Most folks want to buy stuff made in the USA, but they want to pay the “made in China” prices.
      We sell both the original Italian handblown glass from Venice, and the cheap Chinese imitations. Guess which ones most people buy…

  6. souldipper says:

    Hi Rosie, I’ve missed you! I’m not sure who has been busier, but remember, there’s no law about one-a-day posting. Thank goodness. I like the breaks.

    Je t’adore the little conversations you write. People certainly do engage mouth before brain! 😀

    I had a good cackle over the Parisiennes. I loved their naturalness with being the antithesis of Paris’ reputation! When I visited there, I didn’t waste time looking at people who looked like us. I watched for glamour, fashion and pizzazz!

    Thoroughly enjoyable post once again, my friend.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Amy,
      Nice to know I’ve been missed. I’m finding it very hard to come back to earth…

      And nice to know you enjoy my museum stories. Merci boucoup.

      I look at people walking past my cash register and before I hear them speak I have fun guessing their country. It’s easy to spot a French or Italian woman from a distance. They wear their clothes so well.

  7. Reggie says:

    I love reading these stories too, Rosie, you have an interesting job – though challenging sometimes, I should think!

    I see that South Africa is on that list too – yayy! 😉

    You know, I hate buying stuff made in the East (here, it’s mainly from China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, India, etc.) and imported into South Africa.

    Our country’s clothing industry had a proud history once – and it has all gone down the drain with all these cheap imports. What upsets me even more is not just the local job losses, but the fact that the clothes are just not the same quality any more; you wash them a couple of times, and they look OLD, like you’ve worn them for years! Their buttons keep falling off, their zips break, they’re the wrong shape for South Africans (we tend to be a bit more, how shall we say, voluptuous?), you can feel that the material is cheap… Our clothes definitely lasted much longer and were much more robust when I was growing up – despite being exposed to the elements all the time because we were rather rough on our clothes!

    Even our more expensive shops (like Woolworths, where you can buy everything from clothes and food to home related stuff) seem to source almost all their stuff overseas. It drives me BATTY!

    I want to BUY LOCAL and SUPPORT LOCAL! I don’t mind paying a reasonable amount for good quality, locally created items, that don’t have a huge carbon footprint and aren’t made by slave labour. We have something like 40% unemployment in this country, which is absolutely appalling – we should be ENCOURAGING and SUPPORTING local businesses. Instead, we outsource everything to the East. It is positively infuriating.

    Sorry about that little rant. It’s just something I feel rather strongly about. Hope you don’t mind, Rosie? :-}

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Reggie,
      I think all of us bloggers are thrilled when something we write sparks emotions and debates like your comment.

      I’m shocked and dismayed to discover that South Africa’s unemployment rate is so high, and that even with your cheap labour, your clothing industry has gone down the drain.

      I agree with you 100%.

      I won’t buy shoes made in China. I stand on hard marble floors all day and need footwear made by professionals. Chinese products “look” the same, but put it on your feet and your feet will ache in no time. Same with the zips that stick and buttons that fall off…

      I too don’t mind paying extra for something made in the States, but I can tell you that most of the tourists do mind. We sell clocks and compasses made by an old reputable firm in Scotland, and folks ask to see them, but put them back when they check the price.

      How does one teach people that it’s not necessary to buy gifts for Christmas, Valentines, Mother’s/Father’s day, birthdays, anniversaries, each and every year when our homes are overflowing with the stuff we don’t want in the first place? How to explain that all those gifts don’t equate love, that there’s a difference between quality and quantity?

  8. Reggie says:

    Yes, Rosie, you make a very good point there. (And I totally agree with the comment about the shoes – finding a good, solid, comfortable pair of shoes is so difficult. Yes, they may look the same on the outside, but man, do the feet hurt after just a short while!)

    I much prefer giving and receiving a present of time, or experience, or friendship, rather than yet another thing to put on a shelf or in a cupboard. Going on a weekend break with your loved ones, or having a picnic with your friends, or going to see a play at the theatre with your folks, or giving someone a voucher for a relaxing body treatment, like an aromatherapy or a day at a spa – those are much better presents.

    • dearrosie says:

      I love your list of gifts. What a great idea to give a present of time, experience, or friendship, rather than something that sits on a shelf.

      To make a good pair of shoes one has to be an apprentice for several years.

  9. bronxboy55 says:

    Either you have the world’s greatest memory or you’re taking notes while you work. Either way, your posts are a joy to read. Thank you, Rosie, for your wonderful insights and humor. The balance is perfect.

  10. “Are these books available in Minnesota?” LOL! My father’s family were Norwegians who settled there, then made their way to Fargo, North Dakota. People from that part of the country are so nice, and sometimes a little naive … like my Aunt Dorothy. Loved her to pieces, but whenever something didn’t make sense to her, she’d say “That’s different.” Like any time my family and I went on a vacation that involved venturing to another country. She just couldn’t grasp that concept for some reason.

    Your blog is wonderful, Rosie!

    • dearrosie says:

      I really appreciate your comments and appreciation Amiable Amiable. Thank you.

      It seems to me that your father’s family are waiting for you to write a post about them. Your Aunt Dorothy sounds like a wonderful character.

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