Saturday, July 20, 2013

Culture Shock

So we've reached the point where two months ago, I left for Europe on a two-week vacation. It was quite an experience to say the least, especially going on the trip alone for the majority. Almost felt like a pilgrimage at points. As part of this trip, there were a few moments where I felt rather awkward, or made the worst of the situation. Three I can point out.

Street Vendors
While walking through London, I found out exactly how pushy some folks can be. There was a woman attempting to sell me some rosary while I walked around town. She says to me "would you care for a rosary in the name of the Lord" and walks directly up to in trying to shove the rosary into my hand. My friend who was giving me a tour of the city tried to get me out of the way, but in the ensuing confusion I ended up dropping the rosary that she had tried to place in my hand. She then says "that's not a polite thing to do!" Of course, we kept walking on, but I still could not escape a major sensory overload. It turns out that vendors around England's major cities will really push products on you, which I never would have assumed before. It's a different country in a different continent.

The Bus Fare
When I first arrived in Scotland, I needed a bus from the town center to my flat. When I went to pay the bus driver, I attempted to get a day pass but somehow had dropped a 50 pence coin and no longer had the exact change. Of course, I could have bought a return ticket and had enough change, but I really planned on a day pass so I was frustrated at the missing piece to get me to the 3.50 necessary. So of course, I decided to suck it up and ask the patrons on the bus if anyone had 50 pence, without any shame whatsoever. Ridiculous of me, maybe, but it reinforces my own principle about having a plan in mind. Not my best moment in holding up a bus over change.

Airport Security
This one is more like two moments: when I attempted to board flights to Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. With Edinburgh, I had forgotten that my luggage was strictly carry-on, and thus my toiletries contained full-size items. One of them was my aftershave, which I nearly had a conniption about when security informed me that it would have to be disposed of. I will say that my deodorant was what I cared about more, and nearly freaking out and becoming a flight risk for a matter of seconds likely led to them allowing me to at least keep the deodorant. The aftershave was already two-thirds gone, so it wasn't a terrible loss. I could handle that in retrospect, but in my mind I did not expect to lose anything. I was kicking myself for not thinking.
The other one was something many people have gone through, almost missing a flight. I barely made my plane from Birmingham to Belfast after not giving myself enough time to get between places. So when I was in the security line, my way of getting attention was to jump up and down as if I had to go to the bathroom. I didn't really know how to get someone's attention. In this case, I did not have a conniption, but I did get someone's attention, and explained where I had to go. At most, I only sounded like a stressed out patron. There wasn't much to report. I thanked everyone at the airport for helping me get to my flight right on time before closing. It was only the attention moment that was likely decisively Aspie in nature.

The trip was indescribable, but spectrum people like myself will take notice of the ticks that can occur anywhere one goes, abroad or local. I have many an everyday moment, but sometimes these happen when traveling.