April 07, 2004

The Captain Has Turned Off the No Pollyanna Sign...

This morning I got up just after 4 am and hurled myself down the London M4 to Heathrow. Late Tuesday afternoon I got the request from my manager to attend a one day meeting in Belfast, and since I have not only never been to Belfast, it was also urgent that someone from my team attend, I got nominated.

Belfast it is.

My colleagues told me to pack my flack jacket, but going to Belfast didn't scare me-not only have things calmed down a lot there, but come on-I lived in Oak Cliff, in Dallas. The roughest neighborhood in town. My Rottweiler was armed, for god's sake.

So this morning I was screaming down the motorway to catch a 6:50 flight. I was bone weary tired (having only just concluded the argument with Y the night before), and trying to be positive. I was off to Belfast, a place I had never been. The motorway was empty. Y and I had made up. The sky was lightening on the horizon, and I was looking forward to getting to the weekend-Y and I are off to Scotland for the weekend.

But pulling into Heathrow, I struggled to hold on to the happy thoughts. Traffic got messy. Police patrols were obvious. The radio was only advertisements, and as I tried to look at the sky and be positive about the colors, it came to me. For fuck's sake, Helen...it's five fucking thirty in the morning and you would commit random acts of violence for a cup of coffee. Give up on the touchy feely happy shit, ok?

I gave up.

But Belfast was cool, the little that I saw of it. It was cold and windy, and my meeting wouldn't start for an hour, so I asked the cab driver to drop me off in the city center and then give me directions to the local Dream Job building. He turned to me, speaking through the partition.

"Hubbly bubbly wee bridge bubbly. OK?" he asked.

Oh God. I'd clearly had a language bypass on the airplane without my knowledge.

"Er...could you repeat that?" I asked hesitantly.

"Bibbidy bobbity wee bridge boo." he replied, with a big smile.

Nope. It was just noise.

"I'm so sorry- I'm not used to the gorgeous Irish accent you have. Could you repeat it again?" I asked, worried that he would explode (I really do love the Irish accent. Mmmmmm....)

After another 5 minutes, some exaggerated charades, the sale of my first born child and some finger puppetry, I figured out he was giving me directions to continue straight down the street, and turn right at the wee bridge.

I am going to be saying wee a lot now. I love it.

Walking up the street, I had a short conversation with Y, but it was too windy so I stepped into an enormous community hall type building, and it was like falling into a whole new world-young girls raced about the place with wildly curly, thick Texas style hair, great quantities of makeup, and kicking their legs about while holding arms fully in place.

It was an Irish dancing festival.
I had stepped out of reality and into Riverdance.
Very cool.

When my meeting began, I was (as usual) the only Yankee, and I tried to start it off well. When I stood to begin my part of the presentation, I decided to ease in with a bit of light humor.

"Right. My presentation today should be short, but please do let me know if I am going too fast, or if I am boring. But say it nicely, since I have a fragile ego."

You could hear the crickets chirp.
Tough room.
I tried a few more jokes.
They just looked confused.
I gave up, and have decided that the men I met with were not representative of the Irish peoples.

I am home now and full of Lebanese food, gym visit done, and looking forward to relaxing. And I am going to try out some of my earlier meeting room humor on Mr. Y, see if he laughs.

Then again, I suck a clown's ass at telling jokes, perhaps I'd better turn the Pollyanna sign back on.


PS-Kaetchen, you are wonderful. I got my presents and I love them madly. Thank you, dearest. I can't wait to start laughing with Sedaris!

PPS-Melanie, you too are fabulous. I had no idea you made jewelry! A pic with me wearing the gorgeous necklace coming soon. And believe me-your necklace is much better than the three diamond one.

Posted by Everydaystranger at April 7, 2004 09:19 PM | TrackBack

Hee - I'm glad you liked Belfast. But having lived here my whole life, I *still* can't figure out what the taxi drivers are saying!

Posted by: joanne at April 20, 2004 04:34 PM

You're welcome, H! Have to stick together, we (gulp) 30-somethings! Save me on April 21!

Posted by: Kaetchen at April 9, 2004 12:35 AM

Jim, I am stunningly funny. Surely that's true :)

Angel-haven't heard that one yet. The one that annoys me the most is how they pronounce "privacy"-as "PRIV-issy." I have no idea what that bugs me-I chalk it up to being fussy.

Solomon-no pics, sorry-I would've felt like a dick taking my digital camera to a business meeting!

Melanie-please do advertise-and I will host an ad for you, too!

Posted by: Helen at April 8, 2004 10:22 AM

I have never been to Ireland, i would love a visit, of course only if they find their sense of humour again. I would have laughed at the ego joke ; )

Abs x

Posted by: abs at April 8, 2004 10:12 AM

My heart goes out for women in the male-dominated Corporate World... or most worlds for that matter. Things haven't changed much.

That's a shame.

Posted by: Curator at April 8, 2004 08:39 AM

probably what simon says
(hee hee hee I said "simon says")

What an adventure you're having. When things are rough, think of those of us who've never lived more than 500 miles from home.

Though, heaven knows, enough happens around here too ...

Posted by: Frances at April 8, 2004 06:56 AM

"I just flew in from from Heathrow, boy my arms are tired"

You can see why I would never advise on humor. =)


Posted by: Dane at April 8, 2004 06:54 AM

Perhaps the people in the meeting couldn't understand you, just like you couldn't understand the cab driver?

Posted by: Simon at April 8, 2004 04:02 AM

Oh how I love hearing about your travels. I miss traveling : ) I lived in Ireland although southwest; county kerry.

Posted by: Laura at April 8, 2004 02:40 AM

Angel, it's not "haytch", it's "haitch". More nose and less glottal. And yeah, it's one of the few bits of the accent that rubs the wrong way for me.

I'm with Melanie - I think your Mics were defective, Helen. I've got lots of them in my family and they appreciate a good joke to the last man. Are you sure you were being funny? ;-)

Posted by: Jim at April 8, 2004 12:26 AM

my uncle was from belfast. I can't imagine Irish people not getting a joke! you must have got duds ;)

glad you like the necklace :) (should I advertise?)

Posted by: melanie at April 7, 2004 11:14 PM

Speaking of language differences, have you been in England long enough to hear people pronouncing the letter "h" as "haytch"? It's incredibly off-putting, and I want to rip the tongue out of the mouth of every person I hear doing it.

Posted by: angel at April 7, 2004 10:59 PM

Did you take pictures of Belfast? I'd love to see some.

Posted by: Solomon at April 7, 2004 10:10 PM

You lived in Oak Cliff? Then I'm sure Belfast ain't got nuthin'.

FYI - I lived in Carrolton, & worked in Addison for a while, until I moved to Denton. (1983-92) I used to miss TX a lot more before they started selling Shiner Bock here in MO.

Joke telling is an art, but timing is everything. If they weren't expecting it, they may have just thought you'd gone insane, and were hoping you didn't start shooting.

Posted by: Easy at April 7, 2004 09:36 PM
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