Bio Note: I love meeting people and hearing their stories and people love telling them. I had many fascinating encounters with tourists from all over the world during the years that I spent standing behind my cash register at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. My poetry has been published in Verse-Virtual, MacQueens Quinterly, and ONE ART among others, and has been nominated for The Best of the Net.
Do you have a sitting room?
You could never describe the years I spent working at the Getty Museum as boring. Have you ever seen a credit card signed in Japanese, Korean or Chinese? Or seen a driver’s license from Vladivostok, Kazakhstan or Jakarta? Or explained to a Japanese speaker the photo she wants to see is in storage? Or showed off your Swedish, only to confuse Goodbye and Hello? Many days as the lone English speaker at my cash register, I became an expert at accents— the one that stumped me was Belgian. It’s not French and it’s not Dutch. I enjoyed the challenge of interpreting the requests— I worked out that the beautifully dressed Italian woman who asked for mark books, meant bookmarks, and not pens, and the man looking for the garden tower meant the garden tour, but I couldn’t help the Filipino guy who said, Do you have a sitting room? Are you looking for a place to eat lunch? I said. No. I want a sitting room, he said A sitting room? I said. No! he said. And repeated, Sitting room. If you want to sit down, there are tables and chairs outside in the courtyard, I said. No! his friend said pointing to the ground. Emphatically. Ah, I said, You want a map of Los Angeles. No! No! he said still pointing to the ground. I’m so sorry, I said, I don’t understand. I think they’re asking for a CD-ROM of the Museum, said a man standing in the line. Yes! Yes! That’s what I’m wanting, he said, A sitting room!
Where’s the Museum?
Do you work here? said an old lady, Could you direct me to the Getty Museum? This is the Getty Museum. I said from behind my cash register. Oh thank you, she said, Can I ask you another question? Last time I was in Jerusalem I went on a walking tour and we saw two cemeteries. Can you explain the difference to me?
©2022 Roseanne Freed
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