Deal Breakers & Concessions
Since I’ve been in Cambodia, there are many days where I find myself doing something I never thought I would. We all have deal-breakers, right? Well, what about those things that aren’t deal-breakers but are still not preferable?
Wearing harem pants is an absolute “cannot impossible.” I am enraged by the look of them. I am annoyed by the hippie backpacker aesthetic and the carelessness often exhibited by this group of travelers. Yet, I did find myself purchasing a North Face backpack in the Russian Market (a smaller version of the bag preferred by the harem-pants-wearing, granola, dream-catcher types who I kind of despise). As the strap of one of my tote bags broke during a trip to Phnom Penh, I had to get real with myself. I might love tote and messenger bags, but a backpack is necessary here. I need something that can close. I want to be able to distribute the weight of my bag over both shoulders when riding along the bumpy roads of Cambodge on a moto.
If you’ve been reading here for a little while, then you know that I agreed to be treated with an IV in a rural village. (If you don’t know the story, scroll down, it’s a good one!) I’m no stranger to at home IV treatments (thanks to a particularly gnarly bout of pneumonia when I was in high school), but never did I think I’d accept that kind of care in a developing country. Necessity changes everything.
Today, in my ongoing quest to communicate effectively with Sokchea, I found myself dusting off a tool that I have never used. One that I refused to use prior to this moment as I’ve always associated it with DARE’s 8 Ways To Say No, Weight Watchers meetings and Dungeons & Dragons. That’s right, I made Sokchea engage in a role playing scenario. As soon as I thought of it, my insides started laughing. I didn’t burst out in giggles as that probably would have alarmed Sokchea, but I thought of myself a few months or years ago. I thought of the way I would cringe when role playing came up. I thought about how much I detested it. Then, I thought about how ludicrous and ironic it was that I was going to have to embrace this tool.
I thanked the universe for giving me the lightening-bulb, aha moment, even though it came in the form of role playing. I hunkered down and started,
“Sokchea, we are going to pretend that I am Mr. Sophea. Okay? So, today I sent you the new pattern for feedback. Now you must call me and give me the feedback. You must pretend that I am Mr. Sophea and tell me what I should do. Okay? Okay… Ring. Ring… Hello? … Oh, hello Mr. Sokchea. What do you think about the new pattern?… Okay, now it’s your turn. Tell me what you’d tell Mr. Sophea.”
This was approximately twenty-five minutes of my afternoon. We role played the conversation, then I’d remind Sokchea that he forgot a piece of information or mixed up the directions or wasn’t clear. Then we’d start again. I’d make a ring ring sound and repeat the exercise.
One of my biggest hurdles (which I’ve expressed to him) is that I can’t tell when “yes” is a means of appeasing me and when it actually signifies understanding. It seems like role playing might offer a way to differentiate between these two shades of “yes”.
As I walked back to my desk, I resigned myself to the fact that I will probably have to role play often. And when that realization hit, I finally let all the laughter out. Since no one else was privy to these internal thought processes, I must have looked like a lunatic laughing completely unprovoked.
But just so we’re clear, I’m embracing role playing in an extremely limited way. Dungeons and dragons is still a deal-breaker.