A Quiet Breakfast  

Posted by Brock Booher

Have you ever had to order food in a foreign country where you didn't speak the language and they didn't speak English? Here's a short segment I wrote for an exercise that shows how much you can communicate without talking. Please feel free to share any similar experiences, or explain some other nonverbal ways of communication. Just keep it clean : ).

A Quiet Breakfast

It was our first day in Brazil, and after a long sleep, Mike and I were starving. “I hope somebody speaks English in the restaurant. I’m starved,” I said as the elevator door closed.

“Who cares if anyone speaks English? You can get by without words in most places,” answered Mike. He had traveled all over the world, and this was my on-the-job training. “In fact, I’ll bet you breakfast that I can get us in and out of the restaurant without saying a word,” he said with clever smile.

I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, “You’re on.” We shook on it.

The bell rang and the door opened. Mike looked at me, winked, motioned with his head, and led the way to the hotel restaurant. As we approached the restaurant a young woman smiled and asked us something in Brazilian. Mike smiled in return and held up two fingers.

She nodded, grabbed two menus, and ushered us to a table with a motion of her hand. I took a seat across from Mike as the waitress served up a menu to each of us. Mike held up his coffee cup and smiled. The waitress nodded and looked at me. A little unsure, I hesitated in surprise, but then realized why she was looking at me and turned over my coffee mug. I’m not a coffee drinker. She nodded and scurried off in search of coffee.

Mike looked over the menu with the furrowed brow of a librarian and pursed his lips. I looked at the menu and saw the reason for his intense focus – the menu was all in Brazilian. He brought a finger to his lips and looked up as if he was searching for a translation to appear somewhere in the air above his head.

Just then the waitress appeared with a pot of coffee and began filling his cup. When the cup was two-thirds full he motioned horizontally with his hand, and she stopped filling. She held up a small ceramic pitcher with her left hand and motioned with her right hand. Mike smiled and gave a big nod. The waitress poured cream until the mug was almost full. Mike gave her a thumbs-up, took a sip, and let out a satisfied sigh. The waitress smiled and held up a pitcher of water to me. I raised my glass with a smile and she filled it with ice water.

Mike rotated the menu on the table towards the waitress and pointed to one of the dishes listed. He put his thumbs in his armpits and flapped his arms like wings. Then he made an oval shape with his fingers and nodded with questioning eyes. The waitress let out a chuckle, and nodded. Mike tapped the dish listed on the menu definitively, and gave a coordinated nod. The waitress wrote it down and looked at me with questioning eyes and pencil poised. I simply tapped the menu on the same dish hoping Mike was ordering us eggs.

The waitress took our menus and orders and headed for the kitchen. We sat like two kids playing the silent game as we waited for our food.

About ten minutes later the waitress brought two plates loaded with thin sliced ham, scrambled eggs, and some rolls with cheese melted on top. Mike gave her a big toothless grin and rubbed his hands together in anticipation, and then readied his silverware and napkin. Getting into the spirit, I motioned to my glass for more water. She nodded and filled my glass with water and recharged Mike’s coffee cup.

We ate in quiet satisfaction, only breaking our silence with the tinkling of silverware. Mike finished before me and placed his silverware on his almost empty plate, put his napkin next to his plate, and pushed his chair back slightly. He slouched his posture and sipped at the remainder of his coffee looking like the cat that ate the canary. I just shook my head and finished my breakfast.

When I tossed my napkin on the table, the waitress approached with the bill. I reluctantly reached for my wallet, but Mike held up his hand in protest and smirked. He pulled out some Brazilian money and paid. You could tell from the waitress’s eyes that the tip was more than sufficient.

Advice to Graduates  

Posted by Brock Booher

In honor of my son graduating from high school next week, I want to share a some gems of wisdom I stumbled upon.

This list is the work of Charles J. Sykes, author of the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, Or Add, and the 2007 book 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education.

Here are fourteen of those rules.

Rule 1
Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 2
The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3
You will not make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school.You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you *earn* both.

Rule 4
If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5
Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping; they called it opportunity.

Rule 6
If you screw up, it's not your parents' fault so don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them.

Rule 7
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning your room, and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. So before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8
Your school may have done away with winners and losers but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This, of course, bears no resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9
Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10
Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You're welcome.

Good advice to both high school and college graduates.

Feel free to add a few rules of your own.