Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bad things come in three’s

There is this saying in the US: Bad things come in three’s. In my case, I have had bad luck two times since I arrived in the US: in my second week, my notebook broke down. In my third week, I bought this huge lemon (which completely broke down in the fourth week). So, what was about to happen next?

Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night by a loud noise and streaming water. Still half-asleep, I walked to the bathroom where I found a huge hole in the ceiling, two layers of the ceiling had crashed on my toilet, and gallons of water covered the floor. After reviewing this for a minute and wondering why this had to happen to me (instead of one of the 240 other apartments in this building), I walked to the concierge to close the water supply in the apartments above me. Everything got fixed within a few days; all that’s left is a hole in my ceiling. And the damage wasn’t that bad, which is the benefit of renting a furnished place: all I brought is clothes and a notebook.

Last Saturday, I was ready for another try to buy a car. This time the search focused on guarantee instead of a nice looking car. After founding one (a strong Mazda), it seemed as if moving to PA wasn’t a good idea: you can’t register a car without a driver’s license from PA, and because I don’t have a social security number yet, I can’t get a driver’s license. Welcome to the bureaucracy.

Sometimes, on moments like this, with all the bad luck, you wish to be back in the Netherlands where you know everything: make a Dutch meal, watch a movie on my own TV set, negotiate with car dealers in my own language, and go to a local club, without all the trouble: next to the full time job, I have to speak in a different language 24/7, I have new people around me, live in a new city, in a new apartment, and hundreds of other small differences between the US and the Netherlands. But then, I realize the amazing experience I’m enjoying, which will stick with me the rest of my life. Laughing about this bad luck is the best solution, it can always get worse. Last Friday, I had lunch with a colleague from another office. When I met him, he said: “Someone told me you should tell me two stories: something about your car, and something about your ceiling!” After a short summary of my first month we laughed about it and had a nice lunch.