Cultural Shock – A Ratchet and Wrenches


“Sat-ya, can you get me 9/16 and 5/8 wrenches from the workshop and a set of sockets and a ratchet from my office desk?” asked my boss thirteen years ago. Many English speakers get my name wrong. I guess it is easier for them to parse my name that way. Whatever! That day, I was helping him with fixing a snow plowing truck. It was my first week at work in the campus maintenance department. My wife, who was then working in the library, asked me if I wanted to join her as a librarian. I thought that my experience as a librarian would not come handy when I move back to Nepal. So, I decided to take a “dirty” job in fixing stuffs. I like to get my hands dirty. Besides, the skills I would learn from working there would be more useful when it comes to fixing certain things while living in the States. I went to the tool shop to get them. I was overwhelmed as I started looking for the them. There were many more than what I first saw when I joined the crew. I was dumbfounded that I could not find a couple of wrenches! It took me forever to find them. I had to call my boss to find the exact location of those tools. What a bummer in the first week

I, however, had a hard time believing what I just saw on the tools. The engraving on the tools shocked my two senses of seeing and touching. I flipped the wrenches not once but twice, or maybe even thrice. I was not hallucinating or daydreaming. I went back to the same spot where I found those wrenches and picked some more to see if they contained the same impression. At this point, many people might be able to relate to my story. It was a “Made in China” impression on almost all the tools I had my hands on on the racks. Some came from Taiwan. A few others came from Mexico. Barely a few of them were made in America. It was a surprising revelation that the United States import that many things from other countries when they could have easily made them here!

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