Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My mission for the next three days is to learn a reservation program called “Amadeus,” that will make out of me a super-genius wizard fact book of airport codes, flightpaths, time zones and the social mannerisms of every country in the world.

Isn’t that cool? It feels like spy training. I was told to go to a class that started at 10am at Kterio (building) 157, Syngrou Avenue where the class was held. I struck out early enough to walk, headphones stuffed in my ears and singing my heart out to Neko Case and Abba, not even lowering my voice when my path crossed with another, just pleased to have something a little fresh on the itinerary. Something new. When I found the building I went up to the fourth floor and saw a spray of girls more or less my age sitting and waiting so I joined ranks.

9:50 we were ushered into a very average training room, white walls and laminate desks, by a lovely lady in a flowered dress, matching little black sweater, pleasant smile. Everything was altogether familiar with the exception that she was speaking in Greek. An unsettling revelation washed over me like dirty mopwater dumped from above; I tentatively took a desk, daring to look inside the handbook placed on top.

“Υπογρἀφοντας στο σὐστημα AMADEUS...”

Dashed out, “Beep bop bo beep, ring ring!!” Mimis, owner of Eve travel and the man who signed me up for the course answers.

“Mimis the class is in Greek! The book is in Greek! Everything is in Greek!”

He stuttered but the unsettling truth was that he had been aware from the start and failed to inform me. Just stay in a few hours, he recommended. See what you can get out of it.

It’s not that the thought hadn’t occurred to me for the program itself is in English, the international language of the travel business. From what I understood of Amadeus it is just a series of simple codes and likely I would just have to follow along, but I have this baggage from my childhood of being the girl in class without so much as an inkling of what is going on around her, always being lost and behind, desperate to just get back to the fresh air, books, and drawings. I developed a fear of raising my hand, completely ashamed of how thick the cloud of misunderstanding was and not wanting it to be revealed to anyone. Over the years I have overcome this but I’m afraid  a six hour course, three days in a row, based on technical jargon all in a language I have a limp, Southern Belle grip on was going to be Herculean for my bruised ego and artistic attention span. I had a flashback of sixth grade Pre Algebra. I panicked a bit. I confess, I wanted to cry.

Went back inside, flushed with embarrassment, and told the instructor the situation, starting in Greek: “Is it a problem that I speak English...”
She, (in Greek) But the lesson is in Greek!
Me (in my nervousness had not understood what she said so I repeated the same thing again)
She (Also repeated the same thing SHE had said)
me (in English after a deeeep breath) I may not understand everything but I will try as best as I can to follow.
She (sympathetically in English) You understand, I must teach in Greek...

Well yes, obviously, I mean we are in Greece after all and these girls, unlike me, even the Indian girl sitting next to me, spoke the language, which didn’t do anything to help my confidence.

Six hours later, I had what I will call an elementary grasp of the subject. Sure enough I’d panicked without due cause. Sometimes I forget I’m a smart girl and sometimes I don’t give other people enough credit either. The instructor, now aware of the situation, took a gentle approach to knowing whether or not I was following by on occasion checking in with me in a discreet way.

The amusing thing about a Greek lecture on a computer program is that inevitably, some English gets mixed in. Click, Line 1, availability, sign out... one day there will be a new language called “Computer Greek.” It will make a good t shirt.

In a way, it was even better that the lecture was in Greek because as I mentioned the program itself was simple. If it had been in English I surely would have gotten arrogant, drifted off into the nether regions of my own private solar system and browsed the system as I was so inclined. In Greek, my mind’s eye was batting away the “POOR ME” thoughts, slaying them without mercy to serve as an example for the rest, all so I could focus on every word she said. Let’s say I caught four of ten. Maybe four of twelve.

STILL, afterward, the wave of self-pity reclaimed me and I found myself cursing Mimis, the class, the stupid world... by the time I met up with G later I told him I didn’t think I would return for day two.
“I’ll just figure it out on my own. It’s what a help file is for.”
But after he dug a little, the truth came out. That it had been an interesting challenge for myself I maybe even enjoyed. That I really liked the instructor and I find the program interesting. 
“So why don’t you go back tomorrow? Who cares if you don’t catch everything. Just do it, stay on top.”

It’s so annoying when your still, small, inner voice finds its way into someone else’s mouth. You start to feel like a real brat if you continue to ignore it when it’s gone to so much trouble to give you wisdom.