Lost in Translation


Sometimes in life, we are misunderstood for whatever reason and the results can be disastrous…or hilarious.  Even the best intentions can be misconstrued and the end game can often times mean an unintended conflict.  We are so caught up in the day to day distractions, especially the invasive home invader called the cell phone, that often times we only hear half of a question asked or the conversation going on around you.  Some folks get quite offended when your response is somewhat different from what was expected because we just didn’t listen.

Unfortunately, this is familiar grounds for me these days.  I am completely deaf in my right ear due to an unwanted nemesis called Meniere’s Disease.  At times, depending on the noise level around me, I need to watch someone’s lips when they talk to aid in “hearing” what they are saying.  I DO want to know what they are trying to communicate or convey, so many times I have to ask the person to please repeat part or all of the question or conversation.  For instance, someone might say, “Have a good day” and I might hear and interpret, “I need a dozen eggs”…yep I know, it can be amusing to hear a response to a phrase lost in translation.

Recently, my wife and I experienced another type of miscommunication.  Jenny’s birthday was coming up and I wanted to get her something special to commemorate our move to North Carolina.  I jumped on Amazon and perused the possibilities and landed on a T-shirt that read, “I Love (it was actually a heart) North Carolina.  Her favorite color is purple so I ordered the T-shirt in the appropriate size and color, and took in account the lead time of two weeks to receive the precious surprise gift.

Periodically, I would go out to check on the progress of the shipment, and it always reflected the same “in transit” response.  I waited through the two week time frame and still no package OR any way to communicate to the company to inquire about shipment.  A couple of days later, the package was finally delivered.  I pulled the garment out of the plastic shipment bag and held it up for examination.  The T-shirt was two sizes smaller than ordered even though the tag reflected the appropriate size.  The white lettering bled into the purple background and now appeared a muddy gray.  Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

I began the arbitration process with the Chinese manufacturer, explained what we had actually received and communicated our displeasure with the product.  Their response was a lack of ownership and it was evident we were going nowhere fast.  The litany of e-mails back and forth went on for a week before I contacted Amazon concerning the situation and received a full refund within 24 hours.

Three days after the resolution by Amazon, I received another e-mail from the company reflected below, as copied directly from the e-mail: (It’s better to read this mentally using an Asian accent) “Dear buyer,   We are afraid that you are a little misunderstand us. We have figured out the problem,and we can resend you a new one. Of course ,this time you do not have to repay again. And we promise the image printed on the shirt will be better. To be frank ,our company is a new one,and we tried our best to improve the quality. Now the printed technology is much better than before. Hope you can reconsider it. Thank you so much!”

I relented and sent an approval response along with a suggestion that they send the product two sizes larger than requested earlier.  Six weeks later, we received another plastic shipping envelope from China with another purple T-shirt tucked inside.  When Jenny pulled out the fabric “treasure”, it was two sizes smaller than the one originally sent with the caption “I Love NY” emblazoned across the chest along with a silhouette of the Statue of Liberty and other snippets of the New York skyline.  Who doesn’t want or need an “I LOVE NY” shirt, right?  We both stared at each other and burst out laughing as we pondered whether to find a very petite lover of purple who just happened to have a desire to tour New York or just keep it back for our granddaughter as a sleep shirt.  Something was definitely lost in translation…

Sometimes I have a problem understanding the will of God and where He is leading me; it almost feels like I’m almost spiritually deaf; I just don’t seem to have an understanding or appreciation for where God has taken me so far or that He IS continuing to lead me on toward His will.  Proverbs 2:2-5 (ESV) states,  Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.  That gives me comfort as I continue praying for that understanding.  I definitely don’t want my spiritual life to be “lost in translation”.

I’m still waiting for an e-mail back from the manufacturer asking if we are satisfied with the awesome new replacement but I’m sure if they were to ask for a picture of their “improved quality product”, someone in China would have a face as red as the heart on that “special” shirt.  This is just a simple reminder that we are ALL fallible human beings.  Even those living on the other side of the world…

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