Define “Awkward”: two female cleaning ladies having a spirited argument in Cantonese right in front of the men’s bathroom door, completely ignoring my pleas to get past.
Now you might say to yourself, “what’s the big deal? Just ask them to move out of the way.”
Believe me my friend, I tried, but these ladies were having it out and were not having any of my interruptions.
For those unfamiliar with the sheer power of old Chinese ladies in full out argument mode, check this article from the SCMP out.
I know that was in Mainland China, not Hong Kong, but those ladies argued for 8 hours straight until they passed out on the street.
The two aunties in front of me didn’t seem to have the same reckless abandon, but in a place where “face” means everything, no one goes down without a spirited verbal fight.
So just to give a little background to my own situation, it was right before the holidays. I was doing some last minute running around. Extra long lines had me holding it in for a while. Once checked out and bagged, I ran upstairs to the luxury section of stores. The bathrooms there tend to be clearer and less lines, but of course more hidden from plain sight.
After finally a bit of maze deciphering, I finally discover the entrance to the bathrooms, only to be confronted by this obstacle; two old Chinese cleaning ladies in a full on argument.
Using my observational skills and very rough Cantonese, I could only surmise that they must have been arguing about wash clothes, of all topics. Now they could have been arguing about a man, about politics, or post-brexit economic strategies for all I knew, but they were waving around wash clothes like you wouldn’t believe.
And there I was, arms full of packages and desperate to go through to relieve myself. I tried saying “excuse me”. I even tried an “Mm goi!” I was ready to try in Italian, Spanish, and even throw in a “sacre bleu!” if I thought it would help, but these two ladies didn’t seem ready to hear me in any language.
Plow through them? Yeah I could have tried that, but two things to keep in mind.
1. I was using much of my reserve energy to “hold it in” if you know what I mean. Afterall, I’m too old to get away with the pee pee dance. So I had to keep my cool and that takes some effort to look like you’re not making effort.
2. If there’s one thing you never want to do, it’s arbitrarily step in the middle of any fight, regardless if it’s about a man or owed money or wash clothes, as this one seemed.
I later came across this article about strategies and tactics to use when trying to break up a fight.
Regardless, I had to deal with this situation as best as I could muster. The next washroom was a long pee pee dance away.
So I calculated how much reserve energy to redirect without wetting myself, fired the vocal thrusters and let out a last chance “Mm Goi Siu je”.
The two ladies heard this time. They turned to me and looked at me with a combination of “stupid Gwalio” and who are you calling “young lady?”
They parted out of the way and I rushed through into the bathroom, just in the nick of time. So crisis averted and I was soon back on my way to getting ready for the holidays.
I hope all your holidays were as least awkward as possible. Happy new year everyone!