Physicians Across Borders: Episode 11

Bart is waiting for the train that will take him back to Donor training school. He just spent several days at a Sime Center filling in for a Donor who had to be absent on urgent family business.

Bart enjoyed the experience, even thought the work was pretty routine -- mostly helping a pre-turnover channel in the Collectorium, with very experienced donors.

Bart has a half hour to wait for the train, and is tired of sitting. He gets up and strolls towards the tourist information kiosk.

Leenil is peering at a large map, and comparing it to a guidebook. She's a middle-aged Gen woman dressed in traveling clothes that were not designed for Simes.

Olvard is standing behind his wife, shuffling his camera from one hand to the other. He addresses her in English.

Olvard: Leenil, I'm sure I can find the museum.

Bart wonders if he should get a snack from the trin cart at the other end of the station.

Leenil: You couldn't find your screwdriver if it was in your hand, Olvard. Now, it looks like the museum is this dot here, with the squiggle that looks like a snake in a pothole.

Leenil is overlooking for the moment that she doesn't have any idea where on the map the information kiosk is.

Olvard: I don't think they call it a "snake in a pothole", Leenil.

Leenil: Of course they don't, Olvard. Now hush. We wouldn't be lost if you'd let me get directions from the hotel desk.

Olvard shuffles his feet in a ~~ sheepish ~~ fashion, and looks around for a distraction.

Leenil shakes her head in ~~ frustration ~~, and flips to the page of useful phrases in the back of her guidebook.

Leenil looks around for a suitable victim, and settles on a harmless-looking Gen boy who doesn't seem particularly busy. She waves the boy down, and tries out the phonetic Simelan in the guidebook.

Leenil: Please. Where is the... police station...

Leenil shakes her head and tries again.

Leenil:, [English] No, here it is, [Simelan] mooseem.

Bart: Uh. The museum?

Bart has only been in town for a few days, and hasn't had much time to be a tourist. He has no idea where the museum is.

Leenil: [English] Well, I guess that's close enough. [Simelan] Yes, yes. Mooseum.

Leenil shows Bart the book, pointing to the word.

Bart: [English] Sorry, I don't live in this town. I don't know where it is.

Bart is a little embarrassed, but keeps his nager smooth by reflex.

Leenil: Oh, thank goodness you speak English. This book is almost worthless.

Olvard comes closer.

Olvard: She's right. It tells you how to ask questions, but it's not much help in understanding the answers.

Olvard holds out a hand.

Olvard: Olvard Maggsin, and this is my wife Leenil.

Bart isn't sure whether to shake hands or brush fingertips, but offers his hand to let the other Gen decide.

Bart: Pleased to meet you. I'm Bart Mullins.

Olvard: Bart Mullins. That's a nice, sensible name. Not from around here, are you?

Bart: Uh, no. I'm from New Washington territory. But I'm going to school near here.

Leenil: An exchange student, are you?

Bart isn't sure what an exchange student is. There have never been any in Gumgeeville.

Bart: I'm at Donor school.

Leenil: They've got a school to teach you how to do it right?

Bart: To learn to be the kind of Donors who work with channels.

Olvard: He means like that fellow who was with the lady we saw, I think, Leenil.

Leenil: I guess it can't be too hard. The fellow just sat there. Didn't have much to say for himself.

Bart smiles. A familiar attitude from back home.

Bart: It's a good job, here in Nivet.

Olvard: I guess it must be, if you're going to this kind of trouble to study it.

Bart nods. He really doesn't want to have to try to explain.

Bart: Uh. Is that a map? Maybe I can find the museum for you. I can read Simelan.

Leenil: You can? All I can do is try to match those squiggles with the ones in the guidebook.

Bart: I can try.

Leenil ushers Bart over to the kiosk and its map.

Bart looks at the map.

Bart: This red arrow says "You are here". The train station.

Olvard: Is that what it means? I told Leenil that guide book was useless.

Leenil: It's worked out so far. Pretty much. Well, sometimes.

Bart continues to study the map, wondering how to find a museum on it.

Bart: What does the guidebook say?

Leenil consults that compendium of useful information.

Leenil: It's near the big park.

Bart: Does it say what street?

Leenil hands Bart the guide, pointing to the entry on the museum.

Bart: The park is Unity Park.

Bart has heard that most Nivet towns that expanded after Unity have a Unity Park.

Bart: The museum is on Unity Park Road North.

Olvard: Which direction is that?

Olvard is a practical sort: he can't read Simelan street signs.

Bart locates the park on the map and traces Unity Park Road north.

Bart: It's up there.

Bart points.

Bart: The park is on the south slope of the ridge and then Unity Park Road continues north over and down the other side.

Bart studies the map again, reluctant to add "I think".

Olvard has an "aha" moment. He's glad that Bart has described the direction in terms the non-Simelan-literate can understand.

Leenil: Are you sure?

Leenil tries to peer over Bart's shoulder at the map.

Bart: But you have to go west a kilometer or so first.

Bart traces the route with a finger, hoping he won't be directing the tourists through an area they really would rather not walk through.

Leenil: That looks a bit complicated. ~~ doubtful ~~

Bart: If you follow Railroad Street west from here to... uh... Well, I think you can either go west on Railroad Street to Unity Park Road South, and then turn right and go up the hill, or you can go straight north from here, up Main Street, and cut over to Unity Park Road South somewhere before you get to the top of the ridge. I guess.

Bart studies the map some more.

Leenil: I don't suppose you could come along with us, to make sure we don't get lost again? It's so hard to find somebody who speaks English out here.

Bart: No, I have to catch a train soon. But if you go halfway up the hill and then cut over west, you'll hit the park, and the road alongside it is Unity Park Road. So you won't need to read signs.

Bart feels a little strange using the English word need.

Olvard: Thank you, young man.

Bart assumes that's what Olvard said. He was drowned out by a loudspeaker announcing something. He wonders if a native Simelan speaker could have understood the announcement without a script.

Leenil: Yes, indeed. And good luck in studying to be, well, a guy who sits in the corner.

Bart: Thanks. Enjoy the museum.

Bart has never been to a museum, and hopes that bidding somebody to enjoy it is appropriate.

Leenil: Thank you, dear. You've been very helpful.

Bart: You're welcome.

Bart really really hopes he hasn't guided the poor Gens astray.

Leenil: Take a picture of me with the nice young man, Olvard.

Olvard is well-trained by this point of the trip, and obediently lifts his camera.

Olvard: Get a little closer to each other.

Bart complies, hoping he won't look too stupid.

Olvard adjusts the focus.

Olvard: Smile, now.

Leenil grins hugely, and lifts a hand to wave at the camera.

Olvard snaps the picture.

Olvard: There we are.

Leenil: Good. Thank you again, young man. Olvard, let's go. We've got a long walk, it sounds like, and the museum won't stay open forever.

Olvard gives Bart his patented, "Womenfolks: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" look.

Bart watches them leave, then glances at the station clock. He still has time to get a cup of trin before his train.

Return to Table of Contents