Simple things made complicated

I was supposed to meet some people at an unfamiliar bowling alley.  I walked into the alley and saw no one there yet from the group.  Feeling shy, I found the bathroom and freshened my appearance in order to privately kill time.  I was relieved to emerge after a couple of minutes and find my group.  Though I'm no longer so shy to be the first one somewhere, I'm keenly aware of my foreignness, which can make me equally hesitant (though not always visibly so) as I encounter new things in the Czech Republic, be they bureaucratic offices or phone conversations in Czech.

I've lived here over five years.  In percentages, that's about 18% of my life that's been lived here.  Yet I'll always have those 23 years lived in the USA, and I'll always be a foreigner.  Customs and norms are more and more natural for me here, and I'm sometimes a bit stilted now when I interact in the US.  My Czech is more fluent, but I still struggle with declension, word order, accent, and sometimes proper conjugation.

I hope that I am making some advances.  I still have that bit of hesitation inside of me as I go into unfamiliar situations.  Visiting a bureaucratic office, making a phone call, interacting at an insurance office, or sometimes navigating websites in a foreign language and culture can be intimidating.

I've had friends here mention offhand about selling or buying things of theirs secondhand and I wondered, "how?"  Finally I asked, and I was directed to a couple of selling/swapping websites. I took a look, and after mounting annoyance at some lightly used clothing and shoes that were simply taking up space in my wardrobe, I established an account on one selling/swapping website about 9 months ago.  This month I finally started to post things to sell and sold my first item.

The being-a-mom-of-an-infant element meant that catching the time and opportunity to photograph clothes and shoes in daylight was a struggle.  The all-in-Czech element made me want to cop out and advertise my items in English.  Yet through trial and error, I managed to get clear photos with accurate colour and detail and I then painstakingly posted item descriptions (in Czech), trying to put the hooks and accent marks in the proper places.

I priced things with fair prices, considering purchasing cost and wear, causing a couple of cheaply priced pairs of glittery shoes to gain a lot of attention.  Messages came in and suddenly I had to dialogue in Czech. Somehow I did, politely deferring some questions of specifics until I had the items in front of me in my flat again.  I also fumbled around trying to navigate the website properly and keep track of who had contacted me first and had dibs on the items.

Finally I had confirmed interest.  I gave her a billing, she transferred the money, and I mailed some shiny shoes to her.  I even used the special mailing option of requiring a signature on delivery.  I proudly went to mark the item online as sold . . . only to accidentally mark it as sold to the wrong person.  Disappointed in myself (especially as I felt that I'd lose my opportunity to get my first rating on my profile), I emailed tech support (feeling weak, I used English), who only told me that I could delete the item.  Delete I did (after apologizing to the person that I'd accidentally marked the item as sold to--an extra disappointment since the last of our dialogue had been over her disappointment to not acquire shoes in a difficult size to come by).

Feeling a bit stupid, but yet being wiser for the mistake, I went on with my day.  Today I was happy to hear that she'd received the package without incident.  Moreover, I had a notification that she'd evaluated me (and positively!).  Apparently there's still the possibility to do so even outside of a confirmed sale.  It's often through discomfort that progress is made, and with this first sale behind me, hopefully I'll have more courage the next go-around.


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