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Category Archives: Conversations

August Break “Red” Epilogue:

Conversation between Kim and her roommate A, August 9th, Approximately 7:45 pm

(“A” lets herself in, Kim is on the couch with feet up.)

Kim: Hey…sorry, I’m gonna be a bit lazy tonight.

A: Lazy? How?

Kim: I haven’t been treating my feet well, and so now I have these big blisters and callouses on my feet and they hurt.

A: ….Well, I just learned I’m probably going to need a root canal, because that crown I got when I broke my tooth got infected, so…

Kim: (pause) ….You win.

Conversation From Work, May 10th, about 4:35 pm

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(An explanation first: my job involves a lot of data-entry for the human resources office of a non-profit.  The data is fed over to payroll, and often I will need to, er, “translate” between what’s on the form and how I know payroll would need to see it.  But my work has to be approved by a manager, and sometimes they don’t quite get what I’ve done; especially if it’s someone new.  One such new manager is there now, and came to check something with me.)

C:  So…something about the way you entered the salary for this person seemed odd; it doesn’t match what’s on the form.

Me: Yeah, payroll would pro-rate what they requested based on a full-time annual salary, so I had to annualize it based on her schedule and based on her only working half a year.

C: I’m still not seeing how you did the math, though.

Me: Okay, I’ll show you – wait, remind me what they wanted to pay her for the total job?

C: …I’d….rather not just blurt it out –

Me: Eh, it doesn’t matter – let’s call it “florg”.

C: ….”florg”?

Me: It’s a nonsense word I pulled out of my butt.

C:  ….Okay.

Me: Okay.  So.  If we put down “florg”, they would assume that that’s the annual salary.  But she’s only working for six months, and she’s also working only part time.  So the figure we have to put down in the system – uh, let’s call that figure…

(My coworker, who’s been listening)…”Gelb”?

Me: Yes, thank you.  Gelb has to be whatever her full-time salary would be if she were getting one, and if she were working for a full year. So if we want her to ultimately be paid florg, we need to figure out what gelb would be, and put that down instead.  So first what we need to know is, what is florg times two.

C: …Okay, but what you put down in the system isn’t…florg times two.

Me: Right, because she also is only working part time.  Since she’s only working 40% of a full-time schedule, they will also cut whatever we put down as her annual salary by 40%.

C: So…40% of gelb is florg?

Me: No – 40% of gelb is two florgs.

(C hesitates, then his eyes grow wide with understanding, and he runs back to his office so as not to lose his concentration and confirm I did the math right.  N and I watch him go.)

N: That was possibly the most memorable way you could have explained one of the stupider problems you’ve had to solve.

Conversation With My Roommate, March 19th, about 10 pm

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(My current roommate is in New York doing a post-doctoral study. English is not her first language, so she sometimes asks me to proofread cover letters or research grant proposals as a native-speaker.)

K:  Okay, I just finished this one.

R: Thanks!  How was it?

K: Nothing major, really I only had one or two comments on tenses and a couple of random words here and there.

R: Words? Like how?

K: Well….okay, you know how you talk about how something “peeks” at some point?  ….You actually used the wrong one; it should have been “peaks”.

R: (gasps) Oh, God, where did I do that?….(scans file)  ….Oh, there.  Oh, God.  Yeah, you’re right.

K: Don’t worry about it!  That’s actually pretty common….

R: Yeah, but still.

K: (shrugging) Hey, English is weird, yo.

Conversation between Kim and Co-worker N, September 15, about 12:30 pm

Kim: (chuckling to self)

N: What’s so funny?

Kim: I just sent an email to someone telling them they “rocked the casbah.”

N: ….I don’t get it.

Kim: (stares) Okay, read this. (emails Wikipedia link)

N: Oh, okay.  (reads) Oh, it came out in 1982?

Kim: Yeah.  I was in seventh grade.

N: That was about four years before I was born.

Kim: (stares again, gets up to get tea) Just….don’t talk to me for a few minutes.

Conversation Between Kim and A Cabbie, Philadelphia, February 13, about 8:30 pm

(I have run off to Philadelphia for the long weekend, and am en route to my home stay.)

Cabbie: (in thick Slavic accent) excuse me – do you know when is this Valentine’s Day?

Kim: tomorrow.

Cabbie: Ah. So tomorrow everywhere is chocolate and flowers and love and sweethearts.

Kim: Yup.


Cabbie: And what should other people do?

Kim: …We can still go out and have fun for no reason at all.

(The cabbie laughs uproariously at that for the remaining five blocks of my ride .)

Conversation Between Kim and a Cab Driver, November 3, about 6:45 pm

(On an earlier blog, I would sometimes re-print amusing conversations I’d had.  Just had one today which seems a good way to inaugurate the habit here.

(Tonight, as I was getting into a cab to take me one of my legs home, I gave my head a nasty bump on the inner frame of the door.  The driver didn’t notice however, and has already begun taking me on my way.)

Kim: Do you have any ice in a drink at all?…

Cabbie:  ….No, why?

Kim: I bumped my head pretty bad.

Cabbie:  Oooh, sorry about that.

Kim: Eh, I’ll be okay…actually, could you do something for me?

Cabbie:  Okay?

Kim: Could you ask me questions about, like, who the president is and stuff to make sure?

Cabbie:  (gives me a look in the mirror) Really?  I’m sure you’re okay.

Kim: Probably, but just in case.

Cabbie:  (starting to grin)…Okay….okay, um, who’s the Vice President?

Kim: Joe Biden.

Cabbie:  Very good.  What’s the date?

Kim: November 3rd.

Cabbie:  Good.  ….Okay, who’s the Secretary of Health and Human Services?

Kim: (laughing) Okay, that’s just not fair.