Slide Rules

August 1, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 13 Comments
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There’s a saying in Romania. Asta e. That’s the way it is.

Because everything was horrible and nothing ever changed under Communism, people here tend to be stoic, resigned, apathetic even. Even as they feel their way through democracy and membership in the EU, they shrug their shoulders at problems big and small, from corruption to potholes.

They don’t think much about how to make things better. Because asta e. That’s the way it is.

I found myself smack in the middle of this mindset the other day. We discovered a new playground, and I took Lollipop and Giggles to explore. It had horse swings! And a super-tall, super-twisty slide! And parking places! (Okay, that last part was my favorite.) It also had lots of asphalt, something our usual haunts lack, which had turned them into goopy, muddy messes after a few days of solid rain.

The kiddos chased pigeons and frolicked on the swings for a while before trying out the slide. I showed them the semi-hidden ladder, and they headed up. One of the dads there touched my shoulder and pointed. “Nu,” he said, “apă.” No. Water. I followed his finger and saw about a gallon (two? three? a lot!) of rain pooled at the bottom of the slide.

I hollered up at Lollipop and Giggles to hold on a minute. I got down and scooped out the water with my hands. Then I took off my jacket and used the sleeve to soak up what was left. “Okaaaaay,” I yelled up at the kids. (Did I mention this slide was really, really tall?) “You can come on dooooown!”

And suddenly kids came from everywhere. They abandoned their swings, their seesaws, their snacks. They dashed for the ladder. Up they went, down they slid, again and again. Taking turns. Going head first. Cheering each other on.

I looked around at the moms, dads, nannies, and grandparents. They sat on park benches. They stood watch on the sidewalk. They smoked in the corner. And, soon, they were cheering, too. “Bravo!” one grandfather with the cutest beanie cap ever said to Giggles after a particularly rough landing. “Bravo!”

I stood there kind of stupefied, holding my sopping jacket and blinking a lot. Surely it had occurred to someone else to clean off the slide before we got there? Right? Surely?

But no. Because it’s summer. And it’s the rainy season. And the slides get wet. And asta e.

That’s the way it is. Except when you don’t know it.

Have you ever encountered a cultural mindset that goes against your own? How did you handle it? And would you have cleaned off the slide?


Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
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  1. Can I just say how much I love discovering Romania with you? My jacket would have been sopping, too.

  2. What wonderful insight you have!

    And yes, I would’ve cleaned off the slide, too. What’s a wet jacket compared to the FUN all of those kids obviously had?!

  3. Yes, I would’ve cleaned off the slide. Or, even, let my kids dry it out on the way down! 🙂

    As for cultural mindsets: both my international trips (Paris; and Florence, Rome, and Abruzzo/Sulmona in Italy) were interesting experiences, to say the least!

  4. This is so dear. I love getting sogging in this story. I love that your favorite part was the parking spot. I love overcoming asta e. I love slides.

  5. This is so surprising to me, despite having witnessed similar moments in Japan! I think I’d have cleaned the slide off, but . . . there’s definitely a mood component. There’s a good 3-5% of the time I might leave it uncleaned because I just really wanted a few minutes out.

    I feel guilty having just written that, though, so maybe I’ll work on changing that. 😉

  6. The left me weepy inside. From happiness. I love walking with you in your Romanian adventure.

  7. You were like a Wizard! 🙂

  8. Maybe a super absorbant disposable diaper… that is if it even occured to me to clean it off. I probably would have thanked the man and told my kids to get down, then later thought to myself, why didnt I just wipe the slide off?

    I love reading about your adventures! You are such a gifted writer!

    • A diaper! Now wouldn’t that have been a whole lot smarter!

  9. After all that rain? I totally would’ve let them get wet (while staying dry myself). Here in my neighborhood when there’s water on the slide? We stick to the swings.

    I am loving you in Romania!

  10. Like everyone else, I am thrilled to be discovering Romania with you. What a mindset–probably very similar to Russia. Maybe you will spark a change of attitude in a few people!

  11. […] the bright color and durability. (Quality is often lacking in Romanian goods, we’ve noticed. Asta e.) But these? Perfect for my rompin’, racin’ exclamation […]

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