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New-Environment Blindness

August 13, 2012

As I was saying in a comment last night, when I’m new to a place, I completely miss obvious things.  They’re right there in front of my face, but I can’t see them because I don’t know what they look like yet.  I may have this condition worse than most, but I don’t think I’m the only one.

The night I first got here, as I was standing directly across the street from my hostel, which was clearly marked with the name and the number, I called to ask for directions.  That was a failure because of my inability to speak even a toddler’s level of Czech.  But I was able to convey the word INTERSPAR, because I was standing right next to a huge red sign, sticking out of the ground, that said INTERSPAR.  I could tell by the change in the receptionists’s voice that I must be close, because he was repeating INTERSPAR in a way that indicated both frustration and significance.  I walked a quarter mile past my hostel, then doubled back until I accidentally got so close that I couldn’t possibly miss it.  I checked in and they gave me a little information sheet.

That information sheet mentions that there is a supermarket right across the street.   But when I walked over there, it didn’t look like a supermarket, it just looked like a fabric store.  It says textil and there are rolls of cloth stacked up in the windows.  I peered inside; nothing but cloth as far as the eye can see.  Clearly not really a supermarket.  So I’ve been peering in all these little shop windows for various things I need, just ordinary things like a pair of scissors.  There are several little items like that that I’ve had trouble finding.

Let’s have a look outside the window of my room, shall we?

Nope, no telephoto lens, no enhancement, no trickery. Just point and shoot, right outside my window.

Well, today I needed to find a bankomat so I could get some cash to pay for another week at my hostel.  I decided I would try to find that supermarket again.  I would go in that fabric store if I had to.  Maybe Czechs just really like fabric, so they put it in the front of their supermarkets, I don’t know.  So I walked over there.  And then, in a flash of genius, I glanced around me a bit.  See that row of cars to the right?  There’s a huge parking lot there. Oh, and look… lots of people going into some huge… place…

Hey, what’s that thing I see over there when I turn my head 90°?

Notice the hugeness.

That’s right, INTERSPAR is like the Czech Target.  You know how Target is always set off the street, beyond a parking lot, marked by a huge red sign?  What do you know?  They do that, here, too.  It was right there in front of me.  All I had to do was stop peering into the fabric store like an idiot and look at my environment.  But I couldn’t see it, because I just didn’t expect something like that in this neighborhood, with all its dusty little mom & pops.  So I went in, got some cash, and finally bought a pair of scissors, for under $2.

I’ll still shop mostly at the little places with the local character, but it is nice to know there’s a huge store full of everything I could possibly need, not 50 meters from my front door.

Except pants.  I don’t think they have any pants.  I looked pretty thoroughly and I just don’t think they have any men’s pants.

Unless they do, and I can’t see them.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Nrbrt Bvr permalink
    August 13, 2012 9:13 am

    You could always buy some fabric from the fabric shop and make your own pants. You already have some scissors, I’m sure there’s not much more to it.

    Also, I notice that the building across for you has trees on the roof. Weird. But good weird.

    • August 13, 2012 9:39 am

      You’re obviously a lot more observant than I am, which is kind of like saying you’re better looking than Gene Simmons, but still, I didn’t notice that until you pointed it out. Feel free to let me know if a tramvaj is bearing down on me.

      Oh, and sewing pants, how hard could it be? It only took me 30 years to learn to make spaghetti.

      • ErosLane permalink
        August 13, 2012 11:52 am

        Two words: spaghetti pants. 😉

      • Norb permalink
        August 13, 2012 3:50 pm

        I like my spaghetti the same way I like my underpants. Warm and ready to use straight out of the pack.

      • August 13, 2012 3:54 pm

        I like my underpants like I like my spaghetti. Reheated in the microwave all by myself in the middle of the night.

    • ErosLane permalink
      August 13, 2012 11:53 am

      I noticed the trees as well! Some of the high rise apartments do that here in the midwest as well. A little shade, a nice pine scent….and triple the rent for the landlord! 😀

      • August 13, 2012 3:34 pm

        Maybe, I don’t know if it works that way here. I don’t know how anything works here. I can barely ask if there’s a bathroom.

  2. August 13, 2012 1:57 pm

    Just a bit of online research for men’s pants and it looks to me like some thrift store shopping on this end and shipping them to you might be an option. Hope you have at least one pair on hand though I didn’t see it listed in your bag stuff. Please advise.

    • August 13, 2012 3:33 pm

      Aw, thanks, mom, but I need them much faster than you can get them to me. Like tomorrow. I have a pair of pants but they’re really not suitable for job hunting. I’ll get some in the morning.

  3. Sibyl White permalink
    August 13, 2012 3:45 pm

    The offer shall remain open.

    • August 13, 2012 3:47 pm

      Thank you! There may be other things you can send me. I’ll let you know!

      • Sibyl White permalink
        August 13, 2012 4:03 pm

        Coffee filter supplies? Oh wait, INTERSPAR!

      • August 13, 2012 4:16 pm

        Ha! You’re practically a local already.

  4. August 13, 2012 5:08 pm

    You could probably make a kilt. Americans wear kilts. It’s very masculine. Come to think of it, make me one, too.

    • August 13, 2012 5:28 pm

      Funny you should mention kilts. I was having a Black Russian at the Air Cafe in Brno this evening, and I got to talking with the bartenders. I pointed out that the rolled r’s in Czech are just like those in a good Scottish brogue, which I thought I illustrated quite nicely with my usually party-enlivening impersonation of a comically overbearing Glaswegian, when I noticed that I was all alone at the bar there. They had all suddenly found something important to do elsewhere. Czechs are a rather more retiring lot than my usual American drinking partners. I quietly paid up. I believe they were relieved to find that I knew I had overstepped some bound of propriety.

      • August 13, 2012 5:38 pm

        What? Racist jokes are offensive?

      • August 13, 2012 5:44 pm

        I guess not. They didn’t know I’m a quarter Scottish, and thus allowed to poke fun at Scots 1/4 of the time. The Old World is so complicated. Le sigh. Oh, wait, did I just offend the French?

  5. Louis permalink
    August 13, 2012 7:15 pm

    I was going to suggest that you go to the Textil store, buy some fabric, and make your own pants. I guess you couldn’t do it fast enough.

    • August 13, 2012 7:56 pm

      This idea has come up already. While I love the spirit of it, the reality is that sewing a pair of pants is not feasible. I’d wager not one in a thousand men could actually sew a pair of pants that would pass even casual inspection.

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