Things I’ve Forgotten How to Do


I’ve learned a lot of new things in the Peace Corps (how to kill mice, how to speak Albanian, how to speak Macedonian, how to wear high heels all winter long – well, maybe not the last) but sometimes I feel as though I’m mostly forgetting things. Tonight I tried to use paypal to pay $3 to download a magazine to read on my laptop, only it turns out that all my banking information has changed since I’ve entered the Peace Corps. My parents have moved, changing my home address; my credit card has changed; my checking account has changed. This is the sort of thing that sends up a red flag at paypal headquarters, so they froze my purchase. In America I probably would have straightened this out but here I just stared at my “frozen account” email for a minute before closing the screen and finding some chocolate, because I no longer have any idea how to solve even the most minor of banking problems.

In January, when I was about to leave for my trip to Egypt, Jordan and Israel, I had to call my bank to tell them that I’d be on a trip and to please not freeze my account while I was traveling. Only, my parents had just moved and I couldn’t remember their address, but I tried and failed to give it to the woman anyway; then I tried to give her my family’s old address but couldn’t remember either the street name or zip code of the address I lived at for roughly seventeen years, and then I tried to give her my old address in Philadelphia but I couldn’t remember that either, and when I tried to sell her my sob story about how I was in the Peace Corps and hadn’t even spoken English in months she told me to call back when I could offer some information that I actually, you know, had ever banked with them. (I got my mom to call them for me.)

Other things I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten how to do: write cover letters; write resumes; use craigslist to find apartments that aren’t so creepy they make me want to cry; order coffee from a Starbucks imitator; drive; use the self-checkout at a supermarket; use any part of a supermarket; cross streets; ride a bicycle; buy train tickets; use gym equipment.

I’ve got six or seven months left so it’s a good time to think about these things. But one day soon I’ll write something about all the things I’ve learned here – and man, I bet you are looking forward to that!


6 responses »

  1. As a serial mover, here is my tip for remembering long-forgotten addresses: Amazon. I log in and look at all my old mailing addresses. P.S. Things I’ve forgotten how to do: leave a voicemail, walk and drink coffee, use a dryer, and recycle.

    • sweet, that’s a great idea. I’ll need to remember that next time I’m gearing up for a traumatizing conversation with my bank.

      I think I’ve forgotten how to walk and drink coffee too…also walk and eat, which I used to love. I feel a little panicked every time I think about doing these basic things like going to post office. I know how to go to the post office here but that’s a different thing from going in America since the postal workers here immediately know why I’m paying a visit.

  2. The post office doesn’t work that way in Bitola and I will gladly return to organized lines where I don’t have to stand with my legs and arms spread out so nobody cuts in front of me and I don’t have to stand in 3 separate lines just to get a package.

    • ahh, at last, something’s that better here. i walk in, the guy behind the counter says, “you have a package!” (which I always know because they tell my host dad to tell me). I have to hit three counters too, but usually with no wait time. I imagine that the first time I need to pick something up from the post office in America (do you even do that in America? I guess if you get a package at a PO Box) I’ll walk in and stand there, waiting for them to hand my package over without me saying a word.

      It does get a little confusing here though, because the post office will tend to get my mail to me wherever they think I’m most likely to be, not where the mail is addressed. So PC had mailed some medicines to my home address but the post office gave the package to one of the guys at my school, only I was sick and at home and thought the package never came…until I walked into school three days later and the janitor gave it to me.

  3. I’ve had similar thoughts about a number of things, but I think I can still access a shadow of how to do things in my buried memory banks. When I was home for a week in December I thought I wouldn’t have any slip-ups. But then I went to the supermarket. Here I’m used to just putting my shopping basket on the conveyor belt, and the check-out person will unload it and scan everything. When I did this in America the check-out guy said, with a note of incredulity, “you have to take everything out and put it on the belt.” I contemplated explaining my denseness but didn’t in deference to expediency. Then I tried paying by credit card, and stumbled a little there, so the guy came around and worked the keypad for me. I think I could have figured that one out though.

    • I’d forgotten about unloading the basket…I’m sure I’ll be getting some dirty looks when I expect check-out people to unload the basket and bag my groceries as I stand there twiddling my thumbs.

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