Wear your colors

This week celebrated Valentine’s Day, and as it turns out, I’m still on business in another country. I wondered how they celebrated the pink and red heart holiday in the Philippines, and was able to experience it firsthand. The work that brings me half way around the world is training. My current class consists of 24 team members and decided to bring each one a small bag of chocolates from the U.S. in honor of the holiday.

Since I’m working the overnight shift, it was February 13th when I brought the chocolates to the office. The hotel is close enough of a walk to and from the office each day, and this particular night the streets were mayhem. Traffic was crazy and almost got hit by a van while crossing the street. My colleague and I were perplexed at the amount of cars and people in the city, on what we thought was a random Tuesday night.

When we arrived at the office, we inquired about the chaos, and were told it was because of Valentine’s Day. Everyone was busy in preparation of their celebrations; making plans, dinner reservations and buying gifts. Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated, I was told they love, love……except, maybe the guy that almost ran me over….HA!

During the early morning, of February 14th, we placed the chocolates by their seats. Upon return, one by one, they were genuinely surprised and pleased by the little bag of love we shared from our homeland. They actually started comparing the bag as if it was part of the curriculum, which made us laugh. Before leaving work an email was sent to us that was entitled: Don’t forget to wear your colors.  WHAT? I opened the email to find four pictures of shirts and the meaning: green (for single), red (in a relationship), yellow (don’t ask, it’s complicated) and black (what status? AKA bitter). Again……WHAT? I thought these people must take their holiday very serious.

The same day my colleague and I walked to a local shopping area and found dozens of booths that went up overnight selling Valentine’s Day candy, flowers and gifts. People were rushing into the mall as well as the street vendors to buy their sweetheart’s something special.

The night of the 14th, we arrived at the office just as if it was a normal workday and received several gifts from the class as well as other new friends. We were showered in love. As I looked around the room, several team members were wearing their colors, in all shades of green, red, yellow and of course black.

It was a fun couple of days celebrating Valentine’s Day in Manila. I didn’t have many things I could wear, but managed to come up with something to play along. From the front I was single and from the back I was all black….people must have thought I was bitter….LOL. Really I wasn’t. I did manage to buy a pair of crazy green glasses and green headband to show my single colors…..haha! Next time someone asks you to wear your colors…..wear em loud, wear em proud!!!

Happy Heart Day, my friends!

xoxox…..Sheryl

Super Bowl Monday

I’ve loved football since I was a little girl and would watch the games together with my Dad. This past weekend happened to be the Super Bowl, which is something I never miss. Even if I’m invited to a party, I’m usually the girl that’s focused on every play of the game while hootin’ and a hollerin’ at the TV. When I realized I was going to be out of the country for this year’s event, I assumed I wouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to watch the game.

Not so fast…..it was a problem, however some local friends were hunting down a few options. The hotel I was staying at didn’t regularly offer the channel needed, but could call the provider if there was enough notice and could temporarily deliver the programming to my room. OK, this was good, there were options.

There were exactly two options we knew about, staying in the hotel room, or buying reserved tickets at Skinny Mike’s; a sports bar about a fifteen minute walk from the hotel…haha. A few days prior to the game, my friend and I decided we wanted to experience the game with the locals and fellow Americans,  walked to the bar and bought two reserved seat tickets for Monday morning at 7:00 AM, local time (due to the fourteen hour time difference from the U.S.). That just didn’t seem right! Our work week schedule started Monday night at 9 pm to 6 am, so we would have plenty of time to watch the game, get some shut-eye and make it to work on time……perfect!

Super Bowl Monday arrived as we headed out early in the morning. Upon arrival they were handing out flags for your favorite team and ushered us to our assigned table. As my friend and I were watching the pregame show, the TV was hesitating and the connection wasn’t good. We looked at each other like this could be bad. The TVs continued to have connection issues as well as the lips and voiced not matching up. Then the TVs would randomly go black…..OH, for the love of!

My friend and I were surprised to see so many locals and few Americans. The local fans seem to love football as much as we did. The crowd was just about split down the middle for who they wanted to win. Our team was considered the underdogs. It ended up being a great close scoring game, even though part of the fun of the Super Bowl are the commercial ads which happened to be only local……drat. At one point a U.S. ad came on and everyone roared, however, no one could hear it over the loud cheers…..that was short lived, since it was the only American ad that aired….HA!

There was a couple at our table who seemed to be a little out of place. It was like they were watching the game as an after thought and it was the people watching they came to Skinny Mike’s to see. The woman would pan the room taking videos on her phone of the ruckus the fans caused during exciting plays.

What a great game and fun experience it was to watch an iconic American sporting event with people of another land and culture. Super Bowl Monday was definitely different than the normal American Super Bowl Sunday night extravaganza, but one thing was for sure, they were just as loud and passionate as back in the states…..haha!

xoxox…..Sheryl

Declined

Recently, while traveling for business half way around the world to another land and culture, I wanted to trust things would go smoothly. However, when they didn’t, I tried not to panic. I traveled to Manila, Philippines last fall so I felt comfortable to return. I knew the area well, was staying at the same hotel and felt confident using the currency. Last fall, the hotel was able to exchange my US dollars for Philippine pesos and planned to do the same this time around.

I arrived at the hotel late in the evening and was meeting a colleague early in the morning since we had arranged to have a driver take us on a tour of the city. Before meeting the driver, I stopped by the desk to exchange dollars for pesos. The hotel was no longer able to exchange currency but it was necessary for us to leave for the tour before the banks opened. It was vital to find an ATM and as luck would have it, there was one right across the street…..hip hip hooray! I put in my card, followed the directions, waited for my money and…………nothing happened. My card was returned but didn’t dispense the money I requested. Hmmm…..I wondered if they charged my card and decided I needed to call my bank immediately.

We ran back to the hotel and up to my room to make the call. The woman on the other end could see my request was declined. “Thanks, gotta run and catch the tour.” At the moment all I cared about was my card wasn’t charged, I would figure it out later. Thankfully, my colleague had enough to cover the cost until I could get to a bank. Unfortunately, we arrived back to the hotel after the banks were closed for the day and weren’t opened on Sundays.

No problem, we were determined to find another ATM. Again, followed the directions, waited for my money and…………nothing happened. WHAT THE? For the love of, what was going on? We ran back to the hotel and up to my room to call my credit card company…..again. For the second time, the woman on the other end could tell my card was declined. Ummm….”Can you tell me why?” She wasn’t able to figure it out and needed to call her manager.

OK, she explained……I must admit, it was user error. I was acting like I was using my debit card and not my credit card. She gave me instructions on what I needed to select. At the ATM select one of the following: Cash Advance, credit or line of credit. Awesome, I had it all down now and was confident I knew what I was doing.

I had a corporate card that I could use for business purposes, but needed cash for my personal use. I made a plan and would find another ATM directly after work, since the hotel desk attendant told me the bank/currency exchange was a far distance and could wait until the weekend. I left work that day feeling confident I would soon have pesos in my possession. It’s a little disarming not to have any cash, especially in a foreign country.

I located my third ATM, followed the new and improved directions, waited for my money and…………nothing happened. My card was returned AGAIN and didn’t dispense the money I requested. What the FREAK? Needless to say, the same thing happened at the fourth, fifth and sixth ATM……DECLINED…….I had no words! I swear, there must be a conspiracy going on………”Someone please tell me, why I can’t get my money?” LOL. At the time I’m writing this blog post, I’m getting ready to call the credit card company for the third time. Lord, give me strength and maybe just a peso or two.

xoxox…..Sheryl