• Mike

The Popcorn Button


Living in a foreign country is a series of one humbling experience after another. You don't know any of the rules. People watch you constantly, and you are always trying to figure out the customs. Even something as simple as what you do with your shopping cart once you unload it at the store is something you have to figure it out. I anticipated a lot of the things that we would have to learn as a family here and I knew that there would be a learning curve, but I didn't anticipate that we would have to learn some of the things that we do. I also didn't anticipate the things that I take for granted.

Some of you might not remember a time when we didn't have microwaves. I remember the first one my family got in the 80's. I bet it cost like $600 and it was terrible. There weren't any buttons on it. It just had a knob that you turned to increase and decrease the minutes. That's it. We didn't have any of these fancy schmancy buttons.

Soon after getting a microwave, my parents bought microwave popcorn. I read the instructions and it said to pop it until the pops were 5 seconds apart. This has been knowledge that served me well and I have used it ever since. Even when microwaves started to have the popcorn button, I never used it. I just assumed that microwaves weren't smart enough to know the difference between brands and sizes of popcorn. In fact, I didn't think anyone ever used the popcorn button, except for that scumbag who kept burning his popcorn at my old job.

Sidenote: If I ever own my own business, one thing that will get anyone fired, regardless of their value to my company, is burning popcorn or cooking fish. NO warnings, NO second chances. You burn popcorn, you are gone. I think this is the most reasonable rule any business could have.

Anyway, we arrived here and I bought the family microwave popcorn. The microwave buttons are in Spanish. My kids weren't eating the popcorn. Finally, I asked why no one was eating the popcorn. They told me because they didn't know how. I brought up the fact that we have a microwave. They told me that they don't know which button is the popcorn button.

I just stared at them with my mouth open. My kids couldn't make popcorn because they couldn't read Spanish and they had grown up in a popcorn button world. I never knew they used the popcorn button because I assumed it didn't work anyway. I had never taught my kids the 5 second popcorn rule. When it came to popcorn, we lived in the same house but we lived in different worlds. I proceeded to show them the popcorn button, and I taught them the 5 second rule in case we ever move to France and none of us know how to say popcorn a francais.

The other day we were going to visit a friend from an aftercare center we work with. She has been rescued from human trafficking and she is being taught how to sew and make jewelry so she can leave that life. She invited us to her house to meet her family. She lives in the country and so she hiked out to the main road to meet us in our car so she could take us to her house. When she got in the car, I asked her to put on her seat belt. She had no idea what I was talking about. I showed it to her and she literally didn't know what to do with it. I had to pull it across her and buckle it for her. Then when we got to her house, I had to unbuckle it for her.

She is the same age as Marisa. She rides in public transport every day but has never used a seat belt. Same world but different worlds.

What's the point of all this rambling? Maybe I should let you figure it out. Maybe my non linear thought ramblings can help you learn what you need to learn for now. Maybe you have a lack of popcorn button knowledge or a seat belt knowledge issue and you would be better served figuring out what you want to learn.

I guess what I get from the popcorn & seat belt discussion is that our lives are all built on our experiences and backgrounds. Rather than think everyone should know what we know, we can rejoice in our differences. I can teach you the 5 second popcorn rule, you can show me how to use public transportation, we can buckle each others seat belts and we are all better for it because we can help each other , and learn from each other, or at the very least appreciate the experiences we have had that have make us who we are. We can agree that a lot of life and knowledge is about perspective, and a lot of what we think everyone else knows, or should know might be based on our own set of experiences that got us to this point. Maybe this knowledge will help us get along better and understand that a lot of the things that drive us apart are arbitrary and pointless.........

except burning popcorn and cooking fish in an office microwave. Those are obvious "no no's" for everyone.

Other than that, let's rejoice in our differences and how they allow us to teach each other and grow together.

Michael

Living a Good Story

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