No matter how I try to make it work OR force it, humor just doesn’t translate well to other cultures. Although I know this, I still haven’t learned my lesson. My story is about such a situation and called Lost in Translation.
It starts off on a summer Saturday in Duabi. It’s blazing hot and I decide to take a break and go to the pool. As I’m sitting at the pool bar, I notice how incredibly short the chairs are compared to the bar.
As I am sitting there, I’m reminded of what a toddler must feel like when he has just graduated from the highchair and is now sitting at the table like a “big boy”. After bartender, Peter from Nigeria, fills my order, he asks me, “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mr. Larry? Everyone here calls me Mr. Larry and I love it! I’m seriously thinking about getting my boys to stop using “dad” and start calling me Mr. Larry.
So I jokingly tell Bartender Peter, “In fact yes, there is something else you can do for me. Would you please have them raise the concrete so my chair can be higher up to the bar.” Immediately, the whole bar staff comes over and wants to get involved. It’s problem-solving time and they all urgently talk about how the floor needs to be higher. “Yes! Many people comment about that.”, says the one of the bartenders.
Another one who has clearly become the leader and self-proclaimed spokesman says, “It’s time something is done!”. The leader goes on to tell me that the staff doesn’t seen to have enough stroke to get anything done, although they have tried many times. “But if you say something to the management, they will surely listen”, he tells me. They go on explaining that there is a box downstairs in which comments and suggestions can be submitted. “All you have to do is simply write down your suggestion (that concrete needs to be poured), put it in the box and it will surely be done.” They all emphatically agree and ensure that a simple suggestion in the box will raise such a project.
I’m thinking about how these guys just don’t understand simple humor and how this would be a great story. Then, about three paragraphs in on writing this story, it hits me that the joke is on me!!! I’m the one who failed to get THEIR humor!! Well played boys!