Thanks to everyone who helped me choose a photo for the Museum staff bi-annual art exhibition called “The Underground” (in the post Excuse me, have you said thank you?)
The top three were:
Early One Morning which received nine votes
Old Man and the Horse received six votes
and four votes each for You never walk alone and Edge of the known World
This is what’s hanging on the wall in the museum.
I’m not sure whether I explained that concurrent with the Underground Show are a couple of “Sub-Text” evenings where staff can read from their poetry/fiction/non-fiction in the Museum Lecture theater. I read two weeks ago.
I started with an Etheree, called Rain
wind whips my brolly
water pours down my back
my shoes sing squish-squish as I
step into deep pools, I wonder
how to slow water’s rush to the sea
a biblical deluge in our desert
An Etheree is a little-known poetry format ten lines long, uncomplicated, unpretentious, and non-rhyming. It starts with a line of one syllable, then adds one syllable per line, until the last line of ten syllables, for an overall syllable count of 55.
I followed the etheree with a poem about my mother and went straight to the Museum stories which I introduced thus:
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work in the Bookstore where we serve people from all over the world, many of whom can’t speak English, here are a few snippets of conversations
“Do you have a sitting room?” a Filipino tourist asked me
“Are you looking for somewhere to eat lunch?” I asked.
“No, I want a sitting room,” he said
“A sitting room?” I said.
“No,” he said, but then he repeated, “Sitting room.”
“If you want to sit down, there are tables and chairs outside, with umbrellas…”
“No,” his friend said, and pointed to the ground. Emphatically.
“Ah, I understand,” I said, “You want a map of Los Angeles!” and I showed him a selection of maps.
“No! No!” he said still pointing to the ground
“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t understand what you’re looking for.”
“I think they’re asking for a CD-ROM of this museum,” said the man standing behind him in the line.
“Yes yes that’s what I‘m wanting,” he said, “A sitting room”.
After all that I had to tell the poor man we don’t sell CD-ROMs
Man: “Is there a Museum here?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
Man: “You know, pictures and so on…”
Man at the Pacific Standard Time store: “Where’s the Museum?”
Me: “You’re in the Museum,”
“Do you have the scarf I saw here last week?
” a woman asked me.
“What did it look like?” I asked
”I don’t know. But I saw it here last week,” she said
“So the photography is upstairs?” said a woman pointing up ↑
“It’s downstairs,” I said, pointing ↓
“Upstairs?” she said pointing up ↑ again
“Good afternoon Madame. The photography is downstairs.” I said pointing down ↓
“The Chinese photos…?” she said
“You will find all the photos, including the Chinese photos, downstairs,” I said pointing down again ↓
“Are you sure?” said the woman
And I ended with a few stories from the Children’s shop:
“Hello,” I said to Harry aged four.
“What do you say?” said his Mum
“Thank you!” said Harry.
“Good afternoon,” I said to Nathan aged six
“What do you say?” said his Dad
“I’m having a good time,” said Nathan
It’s unfortunate, but true that a large percentage of American kids visiting the Museum on a school trip don’t know how to be polite. They’ll either shout “How much is this?” across the store, or come up to me when I’m busy serving someone else, and wave the item in my face while saying, “How much is this?” repeatedly until they get my attention. It’s infuriating and unnecessary because the price is marked either on the item, or on the side of the container.
“Two dollars please,” I told a nine-year-old girl visiting with a large school group.
“How much is this?” a boy interrupted by waving a smencil (a pencil chemically enhanced with scents like bubblegum, watermelon or coconut) in my face.
The girl took such a long time to count out her change that I turned to answer the boy, “One dollar-sixty-five,” I said giving him the price with tax.
The girl looked up at me with a hopeful smile, and said, “One dollar-sixty-five?”
“No, I already told you that you owe me two dollars.” I said looking at the girl.
To which the boy said, “Two dollars?”
I’m not making this up.
”Stop interrupting, and listen when I speak. You,” I pointed to the girl, “You must pay me $2 for the crayons and the clay. You,” I pointed to the boy, “the price of one smencil is one dollar-sixty-five.”