Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Wrong Turn

If you are following my posts about China you know that I have jumped around a bit, so this goes back to an event upon our arrival in Shanghai. I had been in China, O, let's say 15 minutes. I needed to find the Men's room -- quickly.

In China, the restrooms are set up differently than in the United States. I thought it was just in the airports, but in general, they were all nearly identical. The biggest difference being that both men and women use the same sinks, which are outside the bathrooms, to wash their hands, etc.

As fast as my feet could carry me, without running, I started down the long, long hallways looking for that familiar, small, blue sign with the outline of a man and a woman. Finally, to my left about 25-yards away and 15 feet above the floor, I saw it! What a relief -- well actually it would be another minute or two before I found relief, but I had made it! When I threw open the door, two things surprised me. First, there were no urinals (sorry, how else do I describe it), and second, a short, stout, Chinese, with a Beatles style haircut, began excitedly waving at me, and jabbering something in a tone that sounded angry. Immediately, I opened my eyes as wide as I could, pulled down the corners of my mouth, raised my arms with my palms up, shrugged my shoulders, and said, Ma, ma, hoo, hoo (incorrect spelling). Which in Chinese can mean, "I don't understand" or, "I am confused."

What we had was a failure to communicate. My bi-lingual abilities were not working -- my new acquaintances voice became louder and his arms flailed more demonstrably.

"What does he want?" I began to think. So I studied my situation more closely. Once again, I scanned all four walls looking for urinals -- there were no urinals in that bathroom. Then I looked more closely at the the short, stout, Chinese guy with the Beatles hair style. He-was a she.


Believe it or not, for a few seconds, using hand signals and gestures, (don't ask "What kind of hand signals and gestures) I tried to explain to her how I had mistakenly chosen the wrong door -- she wasn't in the mood to talk.

I turned, left, and chose door number-two.

1 comment:

  1. I have a similar story in China, except I wasn't the one who made the wrong turn. Without going any further let me just say that it was a Chinese woman who ducked in to the men's bathroom by mistake, and the outcome was one of the most embarrassing experiences in my life...