Friday, April 16, 2010

On not taking "no" for an answer

In Russia, you often get a "no" answer, but it doesn't always mean No.

Yesterday after reading Ruth, I kept thinking of the verse where Naomi says, "Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens." (3:18)

Meanwhile, I had to call Immigration to see if they would change my appointment to next Friday, when I'll have my last document. Well, I wasn't going to ask, more like request...or plead...

I called them yesterday and they said to call back today during a specific time window. I would have to call them between class and the orphanage.

After class, I realized that I hadn't taken the phone number with me. Uh-oh. I got in touch with my friend from Canada and she was able to send me the number in a text.

Phone calls are a big deal for me... I feel more comfortable now in Russian, but it is still a big ordeal each time, if it's an important call.

After a few tries, I got through to Immigration and they transferred me to the referent, or "reference desk," which actually means secretary, but referent sounds much more intimidating. continue/-

She asked me to hold on while she directed people to different counters, then I told her I wanted to sign up for next Friday.

"Let's see...next Friday is full..."

Ummmm, no. How was this matter going to turn out? She couldn't see me opening my mouth in protest, but suddenly changed her mind.

"Although...well, fine. What country are you from?"

"The U.S."

"Okay, let's make it next Friday. Last name?"

I gave her my info.

"Okay, next Friday, the 23rd it is."


My apostilled FBI report is now in en route. It should be here by Monday and then I'll have a few days to get it translated before my appointment...

4 comments:

  1. A young Russian friend of ours from CC learned an important cultural lesson about the word “no”. She said that while visiting a person in a Russian home, the host will offer one something to eat or drink. The polite thing to do is say, “no” and they will ask again. On the second time you also should say “no” and they will ask again. On the third time it is OK to say “yes”. She tried this in America and quickly learned that after the second offer, there was not a third chance. So this is another example of when “no” really doesn't mean “no” in Russia. Have you experienced this? She also noted that in Russia when one is invited for dinner the family puts out their very best serving dishes and china. She is amazed that in America some people use paper or plastic plates when guests are invited. I have not experienced this, except where take out food has been ordered, but maybe it is a younger generation thing. Raining in western Mass. for the next few days.

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  2. Definitely experienced that, and wrote about it here: http://lizinstpete.blogspot.com/2007/10/russian-communication-no-means-yes.html

    I've yet to assimilate: I still accept a second helping right away, yet only offer help to someone once. :)

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  3. P.S. There is definitely a difference in what is served guests, but I would disagree that the "best china" is always pulled out here... maybe it depends on the relationship or occasion?

    We're expecting rain here, too. Hopefully we're done with snow!

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