I had a memory today of when I first moved to Bahrain. I had only been driving for a month or two, and I took a solo trip to the mall, where I was to meet some teachers for lunch. I was told the restaurant, Yellow Chile, was on the first floor. I wandered around the mall for 15-20 minutes or so looking for the restaurant. I was early, so I didn’t have to be in a hurry. I was just enjoying the mall, assuming I’d get to it eventually.
Finally, I realized I needed to find it since I began worrying that maybe I went to the wrong mall. I asked someone, and she told me, “It’s on the first floor by the cinema.”
From the confused look on my face, she may have realized I was speaking American English. She pointed UP the escalator.
When I got to the restaurant, I asked my friends about it, “I thought you said the Yellow Chile was on the first floor!”
“It is!” they said.
I just thought that was weird to be sitting on the second floor and have them calling it the first floor. I don’t know that I said that, though. There were lots of cultural differences back then that kept my thinking off-kilter, and I usually didn’t ask as many questions as I really had.
Fast forward three years, and today I was walking in the hall in my building. I use the stairs and elevators all the time, and I know which floor I’m on at any given time.
I live on the fifth floor, but it literally is the sixth level. When I stop to think that my building is a six-story building, like I did today, I’m reminded that is unusual. For the most part, however, I don’t think about it anymore, it’s just become what I’m used to now.
I wonder if when I go back home someday, I will think the way floors are named in the U.S. is weird and have to get used to that again.