The Wrong Right

We get a lot of tourists here in York and they all seem to want to walk on the wrong side of the pavement; just like they drive on the wrong side of the road in their own countries. I’m forced to weave from one side of the path to the other. It’s rather annoying and it makes me want to have a t-shirt printed that says You’re on the Wrong Side of the Path!

Of course, they think they’re walking on the right side, but in a country where the right side is the left side – they’re simply walking on the wrong right side.

You’d think that Japanese tourists wouldn’t have any problem walking on the right side of the path – the left side that is. This is because they actually drive on the right side of the road back home – the left side. But no, they have a different system altogether. They walk on all the sides of the path.

In fact, they form so large a group that they blithely occupy the road too. When walking, they form an amorphous mass, roughly heading in one direction – towards the next building. When they reach the building they spread out and begin the time-honoured ritual of photographing it from all possible angles.

I imagine that when they return to Japan they organise all day events at which they show the barest highlights of their photographic feast. Just the best of the best snaps.

I can picture the scene … ‘and here’s a series of images I took of a particularly interesting window.’ Fourteen identical shots of the left casement of Mrs Geary’s house appear – one by one. Thirteen of these will clearly show the aforementioned lady peering out of the window with a frightened look on her face.

The audience won’t even notice.

In fact, tourists, on the whole, seem completely oblivious to the fact that there are already people living in the places they visit. Perhaps the visitors think that they are moving through a living museum and that the people sharing the path are merely actors hired to give the streets a more authentic feel. Or perhaps that these ‘locals’ are just holograms that they can walk through at will.

Next time you’re in York, try talking to a local person to hear what they have to say. You might even have an interesting conversation.

Unless you happen to meet me, that is.

I took a break on the way to work the other morning and sat down on a bench. I was enjoying the sunshine and half-listening to the angelic sounds of the choir practising in the York Minster when I noticed someone approaching the bench.

An elderly, but sprightly lady stuck her face into mine forcing me to look up from my book. I dimly perceived at that point that there were two people standing there.

“You don’t mind if we share your bench do you?” she said with an American drawl as they sat down without waiting for my reply.

I could tell that they were American simply because of how loud she spoke. I distinctly heard the choir pause as her voice erupted into the quiet of the morning. Her mouth was three inches away from my face.

“No, not at all, so long as you’re very quiet,” I replied politely as I returned my eyes to the book.

“Well, that’s not going to … ” she began. And then, perhaps registering that she was not on home territory, she lapsed into what seemed like an unnatural silence.

I tried to concentrate on my book, but it was no good. Goshdarnit, I could still hear her. I could hear the thoughts bouncing around in her mind. She was still too loud for me, even when her mouth was closed.

Defeated, I put away my book, stood, and departed the bench without a word or a backwards glance.

And yet, even now I can hear her thoughts.

‘But why? What did I do wrong?! I was being soooo quiet!!!!’


43 thoughts on “The Wrong Right

  1. No comment on the last part. When I had the pleasure of visiting Yosemite National Park, I would say that the wildlife were employees of the park, birds, squirrels, marmots, deer and bear all on the payroll for the visitor’s pleasure

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  2. A funny, entertaining post – I always appreciate your quirky sense of humour. Next time a mass of Japanese tourists obstruct your path, try this: take a deep breath, head straight into the middle of the mass and say with a loud, authoritative voice, “Sumimasen!” That should work wonders. 😁

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  3. When I got back to the U.S. after being abroad, my ears rang for about a month. I went to this restaurant with my aunt, and people were so loud it was painful. Americans really are insanely loud–take it from this American. I still have a problem with how loud we can get…it’s like we are all genetically disposed to deafness and have to yell at each other as a result. No argument here, on that point.

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  4. We are a loud bunch. That seems to be a ubiquitous observation that I can’t deny hehe, but this person sounds like she didn’t understand personal space. I’m always hesitant to sit down if it’s too close to other people (unless invited), plus since I’m a larger lady I take up quite a bit of room! The sound of breathing or God forbid *chewing* is grounds for forceful removal 😡😋

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      • I’m a hyper socially aware introvert who is VERY conscious of the amount of space she takes up and what’s going on in the social sphere because I’m always worried about awkwardness. Unfortunately, I’ve heard some less than stellar things about Americans in foreign nations. I have a theory that a lot of the reasons we act like we do is because our nation is like the popular, but new jock. There’s a good heart in there once you get past the bluster :p

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      • Oh yes, I totally agree with you about the good heart. I don’t remember ever meeting a mean hearted American.
        Being hyper socially aware sounds like an interesting character trait. Does it slow you down?
        Kindness – Robert.

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      • Well…we tend to smile and laugh a lot because it eases social tension…at least here.

        Oh gosh, a bit. I’m hyper sensitive and I have social anxiety among other things. I’m always terrified I’m going to say the wrong thing, and since my brain works faster than my mouth, I’ll fumble over words. I’m MUCH better at expressing myself through writing. With speaking in the moment, you often have to formulate the thought and then get it out quickly. I can do the former, but then I’ll stumble when it comes to getting it out or making people understand what the hell I’m talking about. Tis a bit frustrating.

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      • We are very alike in this way – I find it much easier to write than to speak. I seem to stumble and mumble when I don’t have the luxury of being able to think it through, type it out and edit it at my leisure. Having said that – I am amazing (as are you) and this makes up for much of my (our) stuff. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Territory | robertcday

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