Halloween is just around the corner, and I thought I'd share with you something rather funny that happened to me during my very first Halloween in America! The following story occurred in 1990 just a few month after my arrival to America in order to start my surgical training.
My first Halloween story is a reflection of that lack of knowledge about traditions. Halloween day arrived and one of my resident colleagues asked me if I was ready for Halloween. He asked, "Are you ready for Trick or Treat?” I assured him I was because I didn't want people to realize I didn’t know anything about the culture. I was trying to just blend in. The reality was that I had no idea of what “Trick or Treat" meant.
I went home that evening and soon enough, a bunch of kids were knocking at the door. I opened it and saw many children with beautiful costumes and bags full of candy singing "Trick or Treat." I thought How nice! Children are welcoming the new neighbor, a foreigner. Thrilled by their action, I proceeded to look at their bags and picked the nicest candy bars: Milky Way, Snickers and any other chocolate bars I liked. I told them, "Thank you, SO MUCH! It's so nice of you." Strangely enough there was no You are welcome reply. Instead, they left quietly.
The following day, I shared the story about the nice children bringing candy to the door. The chief resident's expression was a clear indication I'd done something wrong, then a loud “WHAT? You took their candies?"
"Only the Milky Way and Snickers. Those are my favorites. I really didn’t care for the other lollipops and peppermints."
"Jose! You were supposed to give them candies."
I never saw any Trick or Treaters in the years to follow. Lesson learned!