Leaving Beijing to fly to Cambodia (via Seoul) I found myself in “game on travel mode.” Elbows out, I approached boarding the plane as if I were a defensive lineman and I was trying take anyone in my path out.

Parking lot attendant at the Beijing botanic gardens

Parking lot attendant at the Beijing botanic gardens

Plopping in my seat, I reflected for a bit on my less than gentle approach. A bit too quickly my thinking went to “well that’s life in China.” Public transportation does require a certain amount of aggressiveness or you’ll never get on the subway or off the bus or hail a taxi. It does.

If I had a nickel for every time over the years that I have heard, “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” I wouldn’t need to take public transportation.  And it’s appropriate to adjust to an environment. What I’m getting at isn’t about transportation at all, it’s about how I shifted the blame and justified to myself the (in that context) unnecessarily aggressive approach I had.

Here’s what I texted a friend: I want to blame China, but they are my elbows.

What’s one thing you tell yourself to shift the blame and justify acting in ways you know you shouldn’t.

Categories: China, Cross cultural, Faith



Leave A Comment

  1. Mia February 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Hi dear Any
    I stand corrected, but didn’t this blaming game start at the beginning of time with our first parents? Ha, I had to pull this one….
    Much love and I hope you are keeping well XX

    • Avatar photo
      Amy February 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Indeed! And it’s kind of sad how it comes so naturally to us all :)

  2. Cynthia February 1, 2013 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    Good insights my friend. You will need to remind yourself of that at the grocery store too! I remember almost taking someone out at the grocery store after I returned to Canada. I too, had to recalibrate my thinking.

  3. Mike February 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Before our recent 3-year hiatus from the Middle Kingdom, I guess I got used to the lack of personal space in China because I wasn’t really affected by its absence. After living in the U.S. for 3 years, though, I discovered, much to my chagrin, that after we returned I found myself getting upset every time a local cut in front of me on the sidewalk or suddenly stopped in their tracks, requiring me to modify my trajectory and actually detour around them! The nerve! Oops! I don’t know how many times in the past year and a half that I’ve had to remind myself, “Mike, you’re not in the U.S. anymore! Get over it!” But for some reason, even though I have the benefit of my previous experience, I’ve found it more difficult this time around to re-acculturate myself to this difference.

  4. Connie Gibson February 2, 2013 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Good one Amy!!

  5. Debbie Marshall February 2, 2013 at 9:24 am - Reply

    God must be sending you my thot-mail, cuz this is SOOOOOOOOOOOO where I’m at, for the last few days (weeks/months). Thanks

  6. Debbie Marshall February 2, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Sorry, I should say ……. “You must be getting my thot-mail…” Hope all is well with you. Lots of love, Debbie

  7. 马春梅 February 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    When I was back to Chengdu after staying one year in USA, I hesitated to cross the street running with cars. My American friend said: we are in China now. My American friends are more Chinese than I am now. Funny?

    • Avatar photo
      Amy February 3, 2013 at 8:07 am - Reply

      :) … yes!

  8. Mark Allman February 5, 2013 at 5:27 am - Reply

    I have to remind myself that it was my horn that was blowing and my lights that got went high beam and my eyes staring down the other driver. Don’t know how they happened but they did.

Related Posts