Thursday, October 08, 2009

Noticeable Changes

After I came home from Saudi, I discovered many small changes in American daily life that amused me - I never would have noticed them before, or I wouldn't have been as tickled by them. I went to the bank the day after I got home to cash a check for US dollars (I didn't use my debit card while overseas and had forgotten my PIN). I asked for a mixture of bills, and I was shocked to see the crisp, new fives and tens I received. What the hell happened to the greenback, and why is my money peach and purple now?!

Once I returned to DC, my first day of work at FSI was an orientation for the thousand or so (!) people beginning language training that day. We were told, in no uncertain terms and almost before the welcomes and platitudes were completed, that if we experienced flu-like symptoms we were to stay at home, and that flu vaccines would be available for free at the earliest opportunity. This is significant - when you're in training at FSI you aren't supposed to take leave, as missing a week of a language course there is like missing five weeks of a college course. There are now automatic hand sanitizer dispensers in every bathroom and at every hallway junction at FSI, and at the lunch tables in the cafeteria, small bottles of sanitizer now sit next to every set of salt and pepper shakers.

Bizarre. I'm still adjusting to normalcy here, such as being able to throw my beer bottles into the regular trash can (we had separate alcohol-product trash cans in Riyadh, as a fig leaf), but the hand sanitizer thing is still tripping me out.

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