TALENTED TOILET TIGERS
I have seen the future of travel. It’s not exactly pretty and is going to require some kind of a hack or work around. American travelers come from the land of the free, home of the brave. Our “Can do, rambunctious cowboy ethic” once served us well.
What’s different now?
We view ourselves as exceptional and slightly entitled. The Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and overseas Chinese see themselves the same way, only there are more than 5 of them to each of us. From that population perspective, we are less exceptional and more like small potatoes. Nobody thought about this when we were the only rich travelers and all the rest stayed home.
But today the wide open cowboy spaces are filling up. The Lone Ranger riding Silver no longer fits in the interdependent, Web World. What is coming are hundreds of millions of Asians and Chinese who want to have their own peek at the world. You and I will have to adapt to this. I from a recent experience at the “loo”. I was at a world class tourist site that attracts global travelers. A dozen packed busses arrived shortly afterwards. We had purchased “line skipper tickets” so as to beat the crowd. What we failed to purchase were line skipper passes to the public wash rooms.
I lined up early and occupied a secure position towards the front of the toilet line. But mysteriously, after standing five minutes or more I had not advanced at all, and seemed to be further back in the line. Some of the late arriving Chinese were now ahead of me.
The explanation was simple-I grew up in the wide open spaces, totally unschooled in the art of line waiting. That skill was not even in my vocabulary. The Lone Ranger never waited in line because he never relieved himself. The rest of us cowpokes seldom saw any need to wait.
Now things were different. With a weak bladder in a large crowd, I was required to focus on my circumstances. The line was gender neutral, so we all bided our time equally. But I noticed some bided their time more equally than others. Specifically, three elderly Chinese women began their bathroom expedition far behind, and now, attracting no attention, were just in back of me. Each was a master of restroom route racing. The maneuver included:
- Intense involvement in their own conversation. No eye contact with those around them
- Fits of mutual laughter when they became animated and stepped back and forth.
- At the end of a laughing bout, one lady ended up standing sidewise touching my left shoulder.
- One more convulsion of laughter and her elbow was slightly ahead of mine. From there it was a simple move to lean/stumble so that her elbow and arm were full frontal across my chest.
- Then presto, with one last ebullient outburst her back was in front of me and her friends stepped further ahead to face her.
I had been carried along by their infectious merriment but now the joke was on me and they were on their way to jump the next chump.
Some of you cowpokes with a strong bladder could learn a lot by joining such a line. You could find out what’s coming to the wide open spaces near you.
Yes, that happened to me waiting to purchase passage between Italy and Greece some years ago. Only it was the Greeks eager to return to Greece, not Chinese. After standing in line for over two hours and never advancing I gave up. Then it happened again waiting to board a bus in Yugoslavia. The bus pulled up, I was about 5th in line and never made it in. I have found that the Americans and the British are far too polite to survive in some circumstances. Sometimes one has to be far more assertive than one is accustomed to being.