July 5, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Readjustment Diary Part One: The First 60 Days

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Estonia: The Peace Corps in Estonia: July 5, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Readjustment Diary Part One: The First 60 Days

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 11:56 am: Edit Post

Readjustment Diary Part One: The First 60 Days

Readjustment Diary Part One: The First 60 Days

Readjustment Diary Part One: The First 60 Days
Scott Diel (Estonia 92-94)

Editorís Note: Scott Diel, RPCV Estonia Ď92-í94, has only recently begun to recover from the reverse culture shock we all experienced. As part of his healing process he maintained a diary and has chosen to share with us his odyssey of re-entry into the mainstream of American life.

Day 1: Just off the plane. Iím an American FOB (Fresh Off the Boat) with, as Walker Percy would say, "all his papers in order." I visit a Quik Shop and, in honor of an old Peace Corps buddy, swill down a Bud. Tall Boy, of course. I run my fingers over the smooth purple finish of a souped-up Dodge Charger as I move through the parking lot to my car and a young man dressed in black with an earring yells at me to keep my hands off. I cock my head like a dog that does not understand. He continues to yell.

Day 2: They have something called scanners in all the supermarkets and after spending two hours sorting through two thousand varieties of beer I get to see one work. They tell me I can pay with a debit card, which I donít have. "Whatís that?" and again I cock my head like a dog. Young people give me angry stares in the parking lot. Old people smile. There are no dogs to be seen but I know they would speak to me if present.

Day 3: The handgun I purchased yesterday afternoon to protect myself from the angry young people does not work. My readjustment allowance does not afford me a proper firearm. My constitution guarantees me a gun (or at least the rights to one) but my government cannot pay me enough to get anything more than a cheap piece. The local gunsmith says he can fix it. Something simple, apparently. A clogged barrel.

Day 15: With my firearm securely in its shoulder holster I feel the confidence to eavesdrop on conversations of others in restaurants. I dine alone, the rest of the world unaware that I am a spy. I understand completely what they are saying. I speak their language with no accent whatsoever. I am undetectable. And I am packing.

Day 17: I have discovered a local coffee shop which is populated in the late evenings by mis-spent youth. I would not think to turn my piece on them but a fire hose is not out of the question. What have they done to earn their goatees and pierced nipples? They have rebelled against their 42-room homes in the suburbs. They are wimps in Doc Martens. Their music is too loud. I sneer as I walk by. A couple in their seventies does the same.

Day 21: Socially, I am lonely. I attended a local Peace Corps recruiting seminar in hopes of meeting some friends or, even better, girls. The other returned volunteer who is there to speak is also freshly back--from Ghana--and he is more screwed up than I. At least I can still construct a complete sentence. Did they have hooch in Ghana? Certainly agriculture was a more creative industry in his country than mine. The women in attendance are mostly youthful moondoggies in Berkenstocks. This is fine with me and I sense the fire in my loins. They are, unfortunately, more interested in the rasta man back from Ghana.

Day 30: The Man called today. There is a position in The System and I am invited to interview for the opportunity to churn the wheels of industry. To once again participate in the economy. (Life in the gravel yard is hard, they say. Makiní little rocks outta big rocks all day). I must get a haircut. Or go the other direction and get my nipples pierced. I will opt for the haircut.

Day 35: The interview went well. Or, at least, I think it did. Seems there is a nice position with the Acme advertising firm and they are looking for a proactive candidate who can think integrated while feeling specialized in the cohesive team atmosphere of the work unit. I donít know what this means. I give them my dog look.

Day 42: I receive a nice letter from the kind man who interviewed me. Unfortunately, he says, my skills and the skills required for the position are not a perfect match. He wishes me luck. I donít think Iíll need it, really. I own a handgun.

Day 48: I meet a man from Russia who plays chess in the park. I use my best Russian and shout "Hello my comrade" when I hear him speaking to his wife. He finds this only half funny. But I have a bottle so we are fast friends. He wipes the mouth of the bottle before passing it back and I know at once he has lived in this country a long time. We stumble back to his place and shoot cans with my handgun. It fires quite nicely after the trip to the gunsmith.

Day 52: Another representative of The Man calls. I am too busy with my new friend to take the call.

Day 53: We are out of ammunition. We are out of bottles. Suddenly, a meeting with The Man does not sound like such a bad idea.

Day 55: I am smiling so much I can hardly stand myself. I am practicing perfect posture in my interview with The Man. Yes, I love to work in teams. I love to work, period. I am Captain Correct. I am reeeeeallly glad to meetcha. No, the fact that the money is right only for someone right out of school doesnít bother me; here they offer free parking.

Day 58: The Man calls to say heíd like to see me again. I am completely sober. See me again? Unfortunately, I have set that particular date to have my nipples pierced.

Day 59: My mom calls to say the fish are biting on the White River. Fish, The Man. Fish, The Man. I mull over the choices in my mind.

Day 60: My modest little automobile is enthusiastic about the journey. She is not knocking as usual. The young citizen who takes my money at the filling station has a pierced nose. It does not hurt, he says.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Estonia; Humor; Reverse Cultural Shock



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