Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Thursday, August 26, 2004  


While I was in Yellowstone, we visited Mammoth Springs to view the features. There was one place called something like Orange Mound where I took a few pictures such as these:

I went there twice. The first time it was cloudy, but later in the day the sun came out.

The second time I was there, a group of Japanese tourists in their twenties and thirties spilled out of their car to take snapshots, also.

But then they had the young women walk over to the mineral feature to stand in front of it for the classic tourist-we-were-there waste of time photos.

This ticked me off, so as the man was about to snap away, I asked out loud to the group since I was close by, "Do any of you know how to read English?"

"Yes, we can read English," their photographer replied.

"Did you not read the sign over there which asks people not to walk on the mineral deposits?" (They flow out over the ground.)

"No, I'm sorry but we did not see the sign." The girls were gestured to come away from the site.

The man then said, "Thank you for telling us about the sign."

I replied, "You're welcome." As I did so, the girls giggled a little.

There may be a few people out there familiar with Japanese manners and culture like Bryan of JunkYardBlog who served in Japan and married a Japanese woman (I believe that's accurate). I only know a little myself, but I believe that the dialogue above needs to be fisked.

Let's replay the scene in slow motion.

Japanese tourists ignore the sign they passed by so that, like many people, they can have what they want; and there are no park rangers around to stop them.

They raise my patriotic ire for abusing my national park, and so I point out the folly of their ways.

Being Japanese, they do not swear at me and tell me to shut up and mind my own business, but like children caught with hands in the cookie jar comply with the rules and the rude American.

Now, many people believe the Japanese are especially polite and well mannered people, but the truth is that the Japanese are subtle (like the English can be) with their manners.

In fact, one way of sticking it to someone is for them to be over polite where it acts as a form of ridicule.

When the fellow said he was sorry for not seeing the sign forbidding his group's actions, I knew that was pro forma. He simply admitting being caught and no harm no foul, hey?

But when he humbly thanked me for correcting his misbehavior -- well, he was gilding the lily there, and didn't think I would notice or guess he was making fun of me.

He didn't know that when I said, "You're welcome." I was returning the favor. The girls thought I didn't catch the game and was so dumb as to respond in an American pro forma way. That's why they giggled. They believed that I really thought their guy was thanking me for messing with their fun.

Now, if anyone out there thinks I have somehow misinterpreted the whole cross cultural scene, I'd like to know about it, but I have to say, I think I have pretty good antennae for even foreign BS'ers.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:30 PM |