Wednesday, September 10, 2008
New Perspective on the Midwest
I have been home for nearly two months and had some time to write up stuff that I started but never finished. While home, I've noticed a few bizarre things about Americans as a whole and the Midwest in general.
As I drug my dehydrated sleep deprived body into the Chicago airport, the first thing I noticed was that people were sitting on the ground! In China, the ground is considered dirty. Inside or outside, no one pretends that it’s clean. If you put your purse or bag on floor in a restaurant, there are is immediately a server there to help you move it to a chair or hook. In China everyone squats instead of sitting, or if they must sit, they grab a newspaper or a plastic bag to place below them. And, most importantly, Chinese remove their shoes before entering anyone’s home. I became sensitive to these standards and also feared whatever it was that the locals feared about the ground.
People were not just sitting on the floor, well dressed business men were sprawled out taking a snooze on the floor - where thousands of shoes had passed that day! Outside was no different. A mother was allowing her daughter to sit on the sidewalk while she ate an ice-cream cone! Unimaginable!
While I will be the first to recognize that the ground is cleaner in the U.S. than China, it has made me second guess our comfort with the urban surfaces. It has also made me reconsider our custom of wearing shoes all day, in parking lots, public restrooms, through the yard, through the garage and then into our homes where we eat, sit, lay, and play on our own floors. Just a thought.
Other cultural things to note: We eat raw vegetables that taste like nothing and expect children to like them. I think more children and adults alike would eat more veggies if we fixed them as in Chinese cuisine style.
We stop at red lights regardless of if there is anyone around.
We stop for pedestrians. A woman rolled over the crosswalk line as I was crossing the street, saw me, backed up, rolled down her window and gave me a big Midwestern, "Sorry!" I'm not complaining about this one. Just caught me off guard after the daily battle crossing streets in China.