Still too tall


Bethany and I had decided to go in to the Orgil on the way home from school. There were a few items we wanted to grab for our desks at school, and this particular Orgil had a pretty good selection of things to choose from (Orgils are supermarkets with additional things like cookware and office supplies). One of the items we wanted to grab was a folder organizer, one for Bethany and one for me so we could clean the papers off our desk and organize them by subject.

We had grabbed most of the other things on the list, and finally got to getting the organizers. They stand a bit over 12 inches tall and probably 10-12 inches wide. There was an aisle that had a number of office supplies on one side, but there were also a few people stocking things in that aisle, so we skirted around them and got to where the organizers stood, nicely arranged on the top shelf.

Both Bethany and I hummed and hawed over which one we wanted, and finally settled on the right ones – a grey one with a drawer for Bethany and a black one for myself. I grabbed them and we went over to the cashier, set our items on the belt, and watched as the cashier started scanning things. Almost as soon as she started scanning, another gal came over and grabbed the organizers, speaking quite a bit to the cashier as she did. This seemed most curious to us – why on earth would another cashier come from a different checkstand just to grab our organizers? She looked at them, set them down and walked away, came back with someone else and grabbed them again, set them back down, walked away, and finally came back with two boxes containing organizers just like ours.

We had grabbed the display models. The ones for sale were “assembly required” and were definitely not where the display models were. This was fortunate, as I wasn’t sure how we’d be able to carry those already assembled models home and back to school without it being a huge hassle; the boxed up version fit much nicer into our packs. It was only after we had grabbed our bags from the check counter and made our way upstairs that I realized…

The top shelf is out of reach for nearly everyone in this country. A normal person would’ve had to ask for help.

Yep. Still too tall.


Crazy white guy


I sat down on the stool and immediately second-guessed myself. Duma, the wonderful office assistant who had accompanied me to translate, had asked me earlier to peek in the room and see if it was the same eye doctor as last time; I had removed my contacts, but when I peeked in it looked like the same doctor. Now, sitting on the stool, I wasn’t so sure – the doctor last time hadn’t cracked a smile the entire visit, and really didn’t say much at all, yet this doctor was smiling from ear to ear and was talking Duma’s ear off as soon as I sat.

I was really hoping it would be the same doctor as last time. She was good, very direct and to-the-point even if she wasn’t very talkative or, seemingly, very happy. She definitely knew her stuff, and didn’t dilly-dally. I had been in to get my eyes checked because I have a blind spot just off-center in my right eye and, naturally, was concerned to┬ábe overseas and potentially losing my vision.

So when the gal I was seated across from, whom I couldn’t see well because I didn’t have my contacts in, started chatting with Duma with a huge grin, I seriously doubted myself and wondered if I would need to explain (through Duma, of course) all over again what the problem was. Interestingly, she didn’t even bother to start checking my eyes until after her conversation with Duma. I was a bit miffed. It was my appointment after all, not chat-with-the-interpreter-because-the-big-white-guy-can’t-understand hour.

Finally, the nice gal stopped smiling and turned to check a few notes. Then Duma explained what the conversation was about.


From what I understand, my beard and big frame stick out a bit in Mongolia. What perhaps has stuck out more, apparently, is my resistance┬áto the cold. The reason the gal (who indeed was the same doctor from last time – she resumed her stoic antisocial nature promptly after the conversation) had been smiling and chatting was because she had recognized me; she lives in the same neighborhood as us, and she had taken note of the big white guy who stood at the bus stop without a jacket or coat in the morning when it was 14 degrees out as she rode the bus the opposite direction in to work. It is sorely out of place for a person not to be wearing a coat, let alone a foreigner, and she was entirely amused that this insane foreigner was now sitting in front of her for an examination.

I laughed. I’ve become famous in a city of over 1 million because I’m crazy, even by Mongolian standards.