Foreigner’s Woes

By Helvi Oosterman.

Foreigner’s Woes…

Years ago you actually had to go to ‘The Office of Births and Deaths’ to get your certificates, no on-line quick fixes in those days. So off I went to town, by bus and in my best attire.

Before setting my foot in the office, I whispered a little prayer: Dear God let the nice young apprentice clerk to be there today. No such luck; it was the dragon herself manning the boot; the fat lady that is. The word obese had not yet crept in our vocabulary or collected on our hips or thighs.

She was a large stern looking woman with equally forbidding looking glasses. As fairly new to the country I had practised what to say and how to say it: Could I have a birth certificate for my child, XXXX  Oosterman;  I added  Oosterman with double ‘o’…

That was a mistake; she thought I was talking about double ‘w’. Those were kept close to the floor at the bottom of her huge filing cabinets, and she would have to bend down and she wasn’t very bendable. I could see that this could get very unpleasant, so I quickly uttered:  Oosterman with two o’s, o, o…

Oh, oh, Oosterman, she muttered relieved. This was much better as the o’s were housed quite high in cabinet hierarchy, no unnecessary unsightly bending needed. Still, heart in my throat fearing further problems, I squeaked: It’s Oosterman with one ‘n’, not with two…like in German.

I don’t think she heard or understood me. Thank God

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