Miss Money, that is. She runs a little kiosk in the Central Market of Phnom Penh. And, she takes Visa/MasterCard. I give these vendors props for showing up to their workplace day-in-and-day-out. I treat them with respect.
This trip I want to get all of my shopping completed during the front half. It seems I am always rushing around on the last day gathering items for friends and family.
Miss Money sells cheap jewelry, but it is some of the best fake stuff I have seen. I like a fair deal. I dislike trying to rip off the vendors. They need to earn a living; they have families to support and bills to pay. Miss Money is a fair trader. Yet, a little bargaining was in order. It would not be proper to pay face value.
It took about 45 minutes to decide what I wanted and to negotiate the final price. The deal was fair to us both. She made a profit because after we settled on the price, she threw in for free, two leather wristbands and two woven ankle bracelets.
I verified with Miss Money if she took credit cards. Visa to be exact. I wanted to save my cash. Her business card indicated she did. She confirmed with a head shake “Yes” she did take Visa (Miss Money doesn’t speak English, but Chantha was with me to help translate).
She told me she would take me to the “Bank” to use my card. We walked through the market to a little bank located inside. But it wasn’t a bank, it was an ATM. I asked, “You mean you want me to get cash out of my account?” She shook her head yes. I laughed and replied, “I have cash, I want to charge it!” I did not want to use my ATM.
I opened my wallet and pulled out $83. She smacked me on the arm as if to say, You made me walk all the way over here and you are giving me cash from your wallet? Why didn’t you give me cash back at my shop! Another communication break down. No big deal…I wanted to save my cash.
After the transaction everyone was happy and laughing about our clumsy communication. Miss Money is now my friend.
Treat others as you would want to be treated. That is my approach with everyone I meet in Cambodia. I will buy from Miss Money again, but not with a credit card.
One my favorite things is to meet with men. To share laughs, tears, joys, and sorrows. There is nothing more rewarding than to open the Word of God and find strength for the dark days of our lives. God’s Word brings hope, not only for this life, but for everlasting life.
Today I met with five wonderful men. Men who are not perfect; men who struggle. These men face challenges more than others. They have left the people they love and the places familiar to them. It was their own decisions that got them here. They look at their past and wish they had made different choices. But life goes on; each of them are learning to cope with the challenges of living in a foreign land. They are learning to adopt it as their own land—it is difficult.
Accents liven up the the human race. Think how boring life would be if we were all the same and did not have to decipher a sentence or phrase spoken by someone. Deep southern drawls, the dropped “r” of New Englanders, e.g. Pahk yah cah (park your car), or Great Lakes English where “top” sounds like “tap.” Accents are cool. I will bet you did not even know you had one. I found out I do.
My flight to Phnom Penh was late. I arrived at midnight, safe and sound. My pre-arranged taxi driver was waiting for me. Meng is a nice young man, around 30 years old. He is handsome, slim, has coal black hair and a polite demeanor. He drives a Lexus SUV. It is a 2004 model which he bought for $12,000 dollars. He had $4,000 saved and financed $8,000. His payments are $284.37 per month. I learned a lot in our 20 minute drive from the airport to my hotel.
Meng is the father of two, a 7-month-old boy and a 1 year 9-month-old little girl. He works hard to make his car payment and put food on the table for his little family. His wife does not work since their children are so small, she stays home to care for them. His little boy was born by caesarean section. The hospital bill came to more than usual, $800. He had $400 in savings but his wife and baby could not leave until it he paid the bill in full. Fortunately, a man hired him to drive him to Siem Reap, which gave him enough money to pay the balance. Because he was working he didn’t see his son immediately after his birth, but viewed his picture on his phone. The loan on his car is for 36 months, and he is halfway through that obligation with the bank. I asked Meng if he had car insurance and he said no, it is too expensive.
Meng speaks in broken, halting English. His word order is mixed up, but I understood him (what does that say of me?). I figured out what he was saying by the context of our conversation and his intonation. I asked Meng if he could understand me. He said, “Yes, a little, but you speak very fast.”
Californian’s do speak fast and have a distinct accent. This morning I was in the corner market next to my hotel, buying bottled water (While many do it, it is not safe to drink or even brush your teeth with tap water). A young man was at the counter and I struck up a conversation with him. “You are very tall” I said. He replied, “Especially Cambodia, I’m Japanese.” I asked him if he played basketball and he said, “No, baseball is my sport.” Baseball? “I’m a Dodgers fan” I said. “Kenta Maeda!” he responded (Maeda is a Dodgers starting pitcher and he is from Japan). This guy was a Dodgers fan too.
He asked me where I was from, “California” I said. “I can tell” he replied. “Really?” I looked at him, smiled and said, “How can you tell? Do I sound like a movie star?” He said, “Yes!”. Years ago I was in a coffee shop in Zurich, Switzerland. The waiter asked me if I was from California. “Why yes, how did you know?”. His answer, “You sound like a movie star.”
So I do speak with an accent, and a famous one at that! Yes, accents make for conversation and livens up lives. Your accent will too.
[Today was a rest day. I am going to bed early since I got in at 1:00 AM this morning and got up at 5:55 AM. I am looking forward to a good day tomorrow.]