Thursday, May 1, 2008

Various Quirks

  • If, for instance, you are sitting having dinner at a restaurant and you ask the server for something and they don't understand you, they will nod and say, "yeah, yeah, okay okay" and do a little bow. Then they will walk away and completely ignore you from then on out, pretending you don't exist.

  • Muzak in China is worse than in America, if that is possible. In my mind, if you're in China you want to hear something remotely Oriental sounding. Maybe not Taeko drumming pounding a rythym through your meal exactly, but something a little more Asian for background music. But no. At the moment I can't think of all the names of songs we got to hear in ways I absolutely guarantee they were never intended (4 hours of sleep will do that to you). But two that come immediately to mind are "How sweet is your love" and "Like a Virgin" by Madonna.

  • People love to stare at us...but only if they think we're not watching them. I'm not exactly sure whether people like to stare at us because we're Americans, we dwarf them (on our inner-country flight Jason looked like the main character from the Incredibles, wedged into his seat with shoulders/arms scrunched in), or we wear Boston Red Sox hats while climbing on things we're supposed to stay off of. Jason has pulled a couple fast ones on a few people he knew were watching us; he acted like he had no idea they were there, then he'd whip his head around and stare straight at them. Pretty fun to watch them pretend we're invisible.

  • Asian people don't pull any punches. I mean that literally. On our flight from Beijing to Xi'an yesterday I thought Jason was going to have to go jujitsu on everybody. It was a very FULL flight and we were almost the only non-Asian folks on it. The guy who came to sit down next to Jason was extremely friendly initially. "Ni hao" this and "shei shei" that and all smiles and happy nodding. But as soon as he put his seat in the reclining position, the man behind him made some sort of comment. I'm not sure what he said (since it was Mandarin) but there were plenty of nonverbal cues that whatever it was, it was unpleasant; probably a suggestion that the man in front please put his seat in the upright position. Well the formerly friendly neighbor exploded, punctuating the airspace between them (and all the rest of us) with a frightening vitriolic spew of verbage. Back and forth it went between the two of them. When eventually the Friendly-Neighbor-Turned-Cage-Fighter settled back down, the Rear Guard would mutter some disparaging comment under his breath, and up shot Cage Fighter once again. On and on it went. I thought Cage Fighter was going to take out the flight attendant when she intervened, but eventually the storm settled.

  • Everyone on that flight ignored the flight attendants. Wouldn't turn off their cell phones if they didn't want to, would argue, pester, not put their seatbacks up when told. And of course, nearly break into fist fights. Always a pleasure.


Angel said...

Oh my goodness!!! :0) I am going to have to get tougher huh? I'll just put on my dumb blonde routine and get ignored. I like that better than cage fighting! Angel

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't think we're all that different; they ignore the person asking them to turn of their phones, Emily ignores the "Keep Off" signs. All of us are unfit company, deep down. :P

Anonymous said...

This was hilarious to read! Just imagine flying in China and being the only person of color on the flight! Now that makes for some great funny pictures of people trying not to stare. LOL!