Monday, July 30, 2012

the push and shove

Have I ever mentioned to you that pushing and shoving are a way of life in my new world? In a country with over 1 billion people, it's no wonder you have to be a little aggressive to accomplish tasks. It's not rude, it's just asian.

I've learned not to be offended with that sweet elderly auntie shoves past me in the grocery store or when my kind hearted neighbor throws her groceries on the cashier stand ahead of me. I just keep telling myself, "This isn't rude, it's culturally different." And sometimes, more often than I used to, I get kind of pushy myself.

The concept is reflected in everything from the traffic "rules" to the way you buy your pineapple.  It's a communal culture, there is a flux and give to the shove.  It is a way to stream 1.2 billion people through the streets, in and out of restaurants, stores and doctor's offices. It's better not to analyze it, just go with it.

But sometimes I get all American right in the midst of a shove.

That never works out well.

On Sunday, we were at the store to buy food for the 3rd round of guests for the weekend. Life was feeling busy.  We were in a crowded shop. And all I wanted was to weigh my corn and potatoes and get out of there.

But when I finally got to the head of the shove-line, a smiling asian approached and thrust her vegetables ahead of me.  The little clerk, being as asian as the rest, assented and took hers instead.

I lost my patience. My face turned red. My heart started pumping.  And anger burst forth.  In broken dialect I explained the concept of a "Que" to the still-smiling lady. She kept smiling.  My blood pressure kept rising.  And finally, I reached over and threw my bags of vegetables onto the weigh machine until she took hers off and the clerk accepted mine.

She was not at all flustered.  I was undone.

By the time I got home, it was funny. But I was ashamed.  Why let such a little thing, 2 extra minutes of my time, provoke me to anger? I felt, in my western outlook, that I was right.  I was in front.  It was my a country where people don't, and likely never will, 'take turns.'

It brought to mind this little tidbit I have often read in Prentiss's Stepping Heavenward.  Hope you find it as gospel-orienting as I have.  

4 Steps that Lead to Peace: 

  • Be desirous of doing the will of another, rather than thine own.
  • Choose always to have less, rather than more.
  • Seek always the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one. 
  • Wish always, and pray, that the will of God may be wholly fulfilled in thee. 


Annie said...

Wow. I honestly never knew this was a cultural thing. So hard to wrap my mind around!

Reminds me of going to Austria with my choir from the University of Memphis. We sang at the International Choir Olympics. Well lunch and dinner was provided for all the participants for 5 days. There were thousands of participants. I knew the food "line" would be chaotic. But NOTHING could have prepared me for that! People were pushing, shoving, and screaming in a million different languages. After about 30 minutes of unsuccessful attempts to get food, a friend pushed me the crowds and told me "fight like your in the food stamp line!" Yet another cultural situation I didn't understand.

After 5 days, I finally got the hang of it, but it was absolutely crazy. Still hard for me to think that some cultures do not consider that rude?!

staceyb said...

I'm laughing but not laughing. I know the shame of letting seemingly little things produce anger in my heart. What a challenge to not be offended by behavior that so blatantly seems selfish and offensive!

Anonymous said...

i know my comment is unrelated to the topic, but rather the picture of silas. david, is this not the exact expression that laura gave us both during the funniest moment of our lives?! Silas wears it well.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

PS - When you had the picture of Silas with that title, I thought perhaps you were going to encourage me by saying Jude won't stop being overly "loving" to his little brother. I may or may not have that situation going on right now with my fellas :).
- Kristie