The Most Awkward Places on Earth.

Urinals in public restrooms can be such places. 

Humans have always survived as a group, a tribe, a society surrounding themselves with people they like, dislike but found a way to co-exist, co-serve and collaborate together to live this thing called life. As populations have expanded and technology has basically brought down the barriers between individual and public spaces around the world, these same sapiens have had to interact with people they never knew existed, in situations where mingling, talking or even just standing can be very very awkward. 

Such are the places we are going to explore today on this blog. It's an A-list of physical dimensions that takes quite a while to get used to, can be mentally challenging at times and where time dials down into infinity. Let's start out with perhaps, hands-down, THE most awkward place on earth, the daunting elevator.

The Elevator

A public confined space that takes you between different stories. Also a place where it practically forces you to talk to people you see every so often but you have never had the pleasure of saying "Hey." I will never forget the time I went into the Administrative Building at my previous university and on my way down, the elevator door opened allowing the President of the school to mark his presence inside Faraday's cage. 

"We have a foreigner here."
"Yep, that's right."
"Are you a PhD. student?"
"Nope." *fake laugh*
"Oh my bad, how's your masters"
"I am in undergraduate school."
*Slow elevator going down sound*
*More Silence*
For a country that advanced, the elevator was going on internet explorer speed. 

The Urinal

Everybody, during their day time, has to hit the urinal at some point. During those critical moments, there are times when that time might overlap and you cross with path a friend, a colleague or even that time with the Professori. 

Look, I was trained in South Korea to treat my Professors as Kings. I think "trained" would be a nice way to say it, I would have prefer to reword them as "hammered", "forced" or even "brainwashed" but I still smile with all my 32 bright contrasting teeth and say trained. That's how bad it is. So you can only imagine what happened when my Prof. shows up one day next to me at the urinal.

I went into full blown panic mode. Everything in my body literally hit the pause button while my mind tried to process whether to bow, to say hello, to move to the next urinal or to simply faint. I can safely say that after months of deliberate practice, I don't pause no more but also I cannot say that I feel entirely comfortable at the urinal.

The Sauna

If you have ever been to Asian spa/sauna, you will notice that whatever society has taught you to do with all clothing yourself and never showing your naked self to other same-sex friends/strangers  goes straight and utterly out of the window. My first response of going into saunas have been a cocktail of shock and awe, followed by thoughts of why people can't just hide their junk to eventually taking my glasses off and having some space to breathe. Because, thankfully, when I take my additional eyes off, I am completely and truly blind.

Like me, if you live in Japan though, that's part of everyday/weekly life. People here have habituated "exposure to heat being naked" habits.  The country is specially known for hot outdoor springs, and I happened to be right at the mix of it. I even have a membership card to the nearest spa. Yeah!

Obviously what makes it especially difficult in Japan is that they use khanji, Chinese that was imported to Japan (besides using the two other alphabet systems hiragana and katakana). And that can create some very very difficult situations.

Like that other time where I barged in confidently into the changing room only to find out half naked elderly Japanese women all looking at me with their mouths wide open. I literally had to bow while apologizing and moon walk back. You wouldn't believe the face of the women right outside in the counter when I walked out of the women's changing room. I blame her for not stopping me.

All this without having to see other naked men. That day was just starting.

The Subway

Most of time in Korea was spent at the dormitory, expect that one time that I got kicked out and had to live outside. That outside was five minute walk from my school, so I never that to take the - what the locals loved to call- "hell" subway in the morning. That quickly changed when I graduated.

Between the void of me finding a proper job, I was teaching this girl who hated (with a capital H) physics, physics. The only time she had was in the morning at 8 and the only place she could study was at Gangnam, the busiest business district in Seoul. Initially I thought -no biggy. Then I realized I had to take the same hellish way,

I soon found out why the subway was called what it was called. Packed underneath a jungle of suited up male and female of all ages, I was crushed between to old ladies who had, for some reason, decided to take their quite verbose argument inside that train. There were loud exchange of words, exchange of mouth fluids, cursing and a loud sneeze that nearly made my hair go static. Wonderful way to start your early day.

Thankfully, I haven't had to talk the train here to go to my university. Very glad I dodged that bullet here.

That's about it for today. There's ton of other awkward places and their connected stories but I need to get the trash out before it purifies my room air. Downside of summer.


Popular Posts