When we first came to the U.S, I would take a notebook with me to school to write down my observations. I found out, recently, via blogs that some other kids did the same thing (high-five if you were a nerdy immigrant kid!). Over the years, I’ve accumulated many observations that I’d like to share here. They’re for laughs, but if I offend your sensibilities, let me apologize right now. Maybe one day, you can write ’10 things I learned from living in Togo” and we can laugh about it…hopefully. So, here goes:
1. Faster is good. Faster and Cheaper is better. Faster, cheaper and better quality is best. If we can’t have Better Quality, we’ll take Faster and Cheaper.
2. In school, Unique is bad. Especially in 7th grade, where unique is dangerous. Get rid of unique. Hide it. Modify it. Is it an accent, an uncommon name, an atypical family history? Don’t reveal it. Until you get to College, where unique is good. really good. cool even. Unique is desired, cultivated, envied. Flaunt the Unique. Start every conversation with the Unique. In fact, make sure you mention the Unique every time you’re applying for jobs.
3. Politics is personal. Religion is personal. Politics + Religion is really personal. It’s either Personal Choice or Personal Responsibility. Either way, it’s personal.
4. Someone makes fun of the president. Another one criticizes his policies. And nobody dies.
5. Knowing your neighbors? That is so last century. In fact, the less you know about your neighbors, the better. If you do have to have a word with them, you may write a strongly worded passive aggressive note and stick it on their door. Like these.
6. One’s job/career/education level plays a great role in identity determination. “What do you do?” is a perfectly acceptable question when first meeting someone.
7. Why take the teacher’s words for it when you have TV and the Internet? Google first. Wikipedia Second. Class notes third.
8.The Written Word is King. If it’s not written, it doesn’t exist.
9. The American Dream is possible. If you can afford it.
10. To be known is important. However, it does not matter what one is known for.
And bonus #11: One word: Efficient. If it’s not efficient, something’s wrong with it.