It’s Not You. It’s THEM!

Posted: 21st January 2010 by admin in Uncategorized

😉 Okay, maybe not entirely, but you know what I mean. Originally, I wrote this in a letter to a friend this morning. But later, after I thought it over, it’s a perfect illustration of the difference between a TCK and their adult ex-pat parents. So to “ease your pain”, I want you to know I really do get it. Sometimes, it’s really hard to talk to our parents. Their way of seeing the world, and functioning in it, is entirely different. Here’s something that happened between me and my mom just this week. Two days ago to be exact.

My parents are on a cruise in Mexico right now. So, I send my mom an email asking if she would mind picking up 2 boxes of contact lenses for me, and I type out the prescription, brand, etc. She was really happy to do this for me, because she knows I don’t have the money right now to spend on another eye exam and prescription in the States and I will just reimburse her when she gets back. It easily costs double to triple what it is in Mexico and I don’t have vision insurance. She knows she can buy these contacts for me, much cheaper than in the States, with no Rx. She’s the “family nurse”, so she loves to be involved in our “health care.”

So in the email I advise her to ask her cabin steward to find out where the cheapest “farmacia optica” is in Puerto Vallarta and to just buy them from there. I’ve always gotten the best deals that way, by coming off the high horse, and talking to “real people” — they always know the right place to go, where you’ll get the best service, the best prices, and all that. All good, right?

Here, she has a great opportunity to get off the beaten track and go hang with local medical people in beautiful paradise, Puerto Vallarta. So what does she do???? She gets off the ship in a FANTASTIC colonial Mexican city, with all kinds of interesting places to go….she wanders down the pier and finds a taxi and tells the taxi driver to take her to Walmart!!! That’s right!!! WALMART!!! She’s in a city that has a 600 year history of Spanish conquistadores, museums, and fantastic places…AND SHE GOES TO WALMART.

She ended up spending TWICE per box of contacts. She spent MORE at Walmart in Puerto Vallarta, than she would have if she had just gone to a local farmacia optica.

That’s the difference between the adult ex-pat and the lifelong TCK. The adult expat heads for the expat community (other Americans/westerners). The TCK heads straight for the “heart” of any community and wants to “blend in” and do “as the natives”. True story! ROFL!

As an aside I asked her what Walmart was like. I was really curious to hear about this excursion. What would Walmart be like in a developing country like Mexico??? Here’s her response via e-mail. I have not edited it. Note the wording she uses very carefully. 😛
From her e-mail:
“WM is just like home, except 1) has 2 rows of Mexican souvenirs, and 2) slightly smaller.
Wherever Americans live, WM is there!”

That’s it??? That’s all you noticed?? If it were me (or any other TCK), they would have noted the brand names sold, whether lines were long, what kind of people shop there, did they have any outside vendors, etc. A TCK would probably have looked at the souvenirs and would be able to describe them.

So yeah. It’s not you. It’s THEM. ;P

My question: Do I tell her she got “taken” by Walmart and spent double what she should have paid? Or do I just keep my mouth shut and laugh quietly, while I reimburse her the money? I have no problem either way, I ‘m just curious to know how you would handle this?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Konglish (Korean English)-American English
    hotchkiss (Konglish and UK)-stapler (U.S.)
    apart-apartment (U.S.)
    real (re-ahl: read it in Spanish pronounciation)-real
    [this is a widespread Internet slang in Korea]
    sharp-mechanical pencil
    handle-steering wheel
    leemocon-remote control
    morning call-wake-up call
    arbeit (German)-part-time job

  2. Anonymous says:

    Suzanne, this story gave me a good laugh. I newly joined this network and stumbled upon this story. I understand your situation. While I grew up as a TCK, my parents grew-up in the rural midwest where all my relatives still live within an hour of eachother. Yes – everyone. It’s about as small-town, white America as you can get.

    So, my parents and I have very different viewpoints and ways of dealing with things. Even though I’m an adult, I still get frustrated when we can’t understand eachother. I like your approach to try and help. I say, you can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, right? There’s only so much ‘help’ and opinions you can give to someone else. It’s definitely not you, but them. lol

    Anyways, I just thought I’d comment b/c your story was very entertaining to me. =)