I remember my first cup of coffee in Canada. I was so excited to take my first sip and I was so ready to be amazed! Yet I was trying to make that moment before my taste buds would be blown away last a bit longer. I wanted to be amazed, not because I can’t live without a good cup of coffee, but because I wanted to be reassured that I made the right choice leaving my family and friends behind. At that moment, the way that coffee tasted was of critical importance and I was not ready yet for it Trying to drag that moment before a bit longer,  I started reading the writing on the sleeve of the cup.  “Caution! Hot beverage!” I read it again and again…  Were they making fun of me? They must have realized I was new in the country. It must have been my accent when I asked for the coffee. No, it can’t be… The lady in front of me had troubles with her English too. Hmm… my head started spinning and all the emotions before and the excitement were gone now making room for a new bunch of feelings… none of them on the happy, positive note. It must have been my dress. They all told me that I should give away my beautiful lilac suit and the skirt with big red roses that I loved so much but I never listened. I loved my colourful wardrobe, with floral patterns and ruffles. I used to get only compliments on the way I dressed. My students, my colleagues, my neighbours were all so full of compliments. Even the old lady selling Turkish  pretzels glazed with honey and covered with  poppy seeds  smiled at me every time I wore this purple skirt with big lace ruffles.

I swiftly turned and left the coffee shop, embarrassed with the way I thought I must have looked, but not before glancing with regret to the comfortable chair on which I was planning to enjoy my first sip of Canadian coffee.  Under normal circumstances, It was a 30 minutes walk back to the rented apartment. It took me only 10 that day.  It was a feeling of helplessness, mixed with embarrassment and fury that fuelled my run back.

Once back in the apartment and out of the once pretty skirt my old, sometimes reliable common sense returned. My mind started making sense too. It was the last time I wore my beautiful purple skirt with lace ruffles as although I knew it did not make any sense, and against my strong logics, I continued to blame the ruffles of my skirt for the way these simple “Caution! Hot beverage!” words made me feel.

Of course a coffee is hot; unless you ask for an ice coffee. Ice coffees are cold, as cold as ice, therefore we call them  ice coffee… right?  But taking the time to spell the obvious out was such a new concept for me! Where I came from, you spill your (hot) coffee and burn your hands, the maximum you get is a “Well done, dumb ass!”

In all these years since that happened I learnt that there are people that ask for coffee without realizing that you need hot water to brew it and in the 2 minutes between you putting in the order and the coffee resting comfortably in your hand there is no enough time to bring that hot coffee to a more comfortable temperature: not too hot to burn you but not too cold to impede on your pleasure of sipping out a hot coffee. And then there is the issue of a 3rd party accidentally grabbing your coffee  without knowing that a coffee cup might contain hot coffee. It all makes sense to me now!
For the last almost 20 years now I have considerably enriched my knowledge with extremely useful information. For example:

  • A curling iron is “For external use only” ; I am a bit  uncertain if it refers to a cold iron or a hot one. I mean, the warning is a bit confusing here.
  • I found out that I should not use my hair dryer while sleeping and cannot feed  the shampoo for dogs to the fish. Interesting, eh?
  • I was a bit disappointed when I read in the microwave manual “Do not use for drying pets.” I was hoping for a faster way to  dry Roscoe, my adorable Jack Russell.
  • My disappointment gave way to pure joy when I found out the Christmas lights I bought were “For indoor or outdoor use only”. What a relief!
  • Last year I decided to give Midol a try as I was having a bit of a tough time. Well, lucky me, I had no other health concerns as the warning on the box was quite clear: “Warning: do not use if you have prostate problems.”