Friday, September 29, 2006

Things I Really Want to Know How to Say in Slovak

I have a bruise on my butt.

No, I don’t want to know how to say that, but I do have one the size of an orange and because of it I wish I could say some other choice words.

I can’t shake the feeling sometimes that the elevator at the mall is some sort of amusement park ride for people. There are two elevators, side-by-side. From this part of the mall, the elevators are the quickest way down to the parking garage. Normally, I think that unless you have a baby stroller, the only people who ought to be allowed to ride DOWN in the elevators should be those of us who are going to our cars. Further, although the elevators indicate, with clever little arrows above the doors, which direction they are currently headed so that you can see before you enter if this is one for you, many people just hop on and then realize that they are headed away from their destination.

Yesterday, I was leaving the gym (3rd floor) with my big, heavy gym bag full of shoes and reading material, hair dryer, cosmetics, wet towels, soggy workout clothing, and all the assorted lotions and potions I need to make myself and my unruly, frizzy hair presentable to the public. I know it is my choice to haul all this stuff around. But I can just get in the elevator, go down to the parking garage, deposit the bag in the trunk of my car, and return to the mall for grocery shopping or lunch or the post office or whatever else I have to do there.

I call the elevator. A couple of adolescent boys were also standing near me waiting for it. I don’t know what they were doing in a mall during a school day (I have not yet decoded the mysteries of the Slovak work- or school-day hours), but this was one of the first things I wanted to ask.

Why aren’t you in school?

The elevator takes a very long time to arrive. When it does, there are among other passengers, two people in the back with strollers. Prams, really. Those big, Cadillac-sized beds on wheels that seem to be so popular here. I don’t get it as my kids grew so fast that I couldn’t justify one of those. I know, I know, I did have the million dollar Italian, convertible stroller. But it never had a detachable bed option. Meanwhile, these nice people probably got on at the 2nd floor because they need to go down a floor (there isn’t much besides the gym on the 3rd floor) and it is difficult to navigate the stairs with any stroller.

The boys enter the elevator and press the 2 button. They had eschewed the stairs (big, wide, lovely, and RIGHT NEXT to the elevator) to ride the elevator down ONE LEVEL.

Now I need to know how to say

You, able-bodied lads, are riding down ONE level?

Or better

They don’t have these crazy, newfangled glasses boxes out in your village yet, do they?

So we cram in like sardines, and I try to make my bag and myself as small as possible because I know the pram people will want to get off soon. At the first floor they make their intentions clear, and because there is a crowd outside the door on the first floor waiting for this amusement park ride, I can’t do the right thing, which is exit the elevator, allow pram people to get out, and then re-enter the elevator.

Instead, I am forced to raise my bag above pram level, try to press myself into the elevator wall, and slide to the back as pram people try to swim forward like spawning salmon.

At which point I slammed my left southern cheek into the hand railing that begins just past the panel with the floor buttons.

Here I said a lot of words that I thought the teenage boys might find amusing to know how to say in English. But they were gone, lost in the crowd at the food court.

“Seeing stars” is an expression normally reserved for bumps on the head, but let me tell you, I saw stars when the stainless steel rail connected with my pelvis. In fact, I doubled over and dropped my gym bag. No one remaining in the elevator even bothered to look my way or give a sympathetic nod. We had arrived at the parking garage level, the doors opened, and they all pushed past me on their way out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


i like your blog. actually am looking for someone to exchange emails about life in bratislava. Am considering moving with my family in a few months. If you are willing to talk to me, pls email me at

1:33 AM  
Blogger Macko Usko said...

oh dear :(

8:27 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home