Monday, May 11, 2009

Witz Pickz: Customs

Welp, against all odds I made it back to America. Not before I could have this little tete-a-tete with the barely english speaking Prague-ian guy sitting next to me:

Pilot: Coming up on the left of the plane, you'll see the famous San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge...(the guy leans to look out the window)
Me: That's not it-- it's directly under the wing.
Guy: Oh...
Me: That's the Bay Bridge.
Guy: Ah...
Me: Which I guess is still a pretty cool bridge.
Guy: Mm...
Me: It's supposed to be the world's biggest suspension bridge or something.
Guy: Ahh...
Me: Are you interested in bridges?
Guy: No, not really.

See what happens when I'm silent for 11 hours? After the flight, I had a couple of fun little encounters with the good people at customs. The first of which took place with the actual customs agent:

Customs Lady: And did you bring back any food items?
Witz: No. Well, I did-- but I ate them on the was two croissants...**
Customs Lady: (Awkward silent stare) You can go ahead.

This was immediately followed by this exchange with the customs security woman while she looked at my passport:

Witz: Hi, how are you? (Terrorists wouldn't ask that, right?)
Her: (mimicking my deep voice) Good. You a DJ or something?
Witz: (I paused for a second, only making it more awkward when I replied) Yes, actually, at Stanford.
Her: Hm. (Looking up and scoping me out) Alright, go ahead.

Could I possibly have sounded like more of a terrorist sneaking into the United States for the first time and trying too hard to sound American?? "Yes, I am a radio disc jockey at Stanford University, which is, of course in Palo Alto, and is home to the Stanford Cardinal. How is the weather today? Is it of the seasonal average 65 degrees? I hope there are no droughts or earthquakes, as those are two of California's most problematic natural disasters! Mmm, do I smell hot dogs?"

Finally, I think we are all a little surprised that I've seemingly made it back into the country without the swine flu. Maybe it's because the swine flu is the most flagrantly racist flu ever. "Oh, you're American-- sorry, I'll stay away-- I only kill Mexicans..."

While I might be back in the US, I need to address two cultural issues that I noticed while in France.

The Over-Abundance of Cripples:
The fact that I was seeing people with EUROPEAN CRUTCHES (like ski poles that remind the person just how incapable of skiing they are) distracted me enough that it took me a while to realize HOW MANY people I was seeing with crutches. They were EVERYWHERE! France must give out crutches the way we give out A.D.D. medication (or school nurses give out cough drops), because I simply do not see that many people on crutches here in America. "Broken leg? Crutches! Twisted ankle? Crutches! Foot fell asleep? Crutches! Poor? Crutches!"

Blind People:
I don't know what it is, but the french are TERRIBLE at being blind! At first, I thought I'd witnessed an isolated incident; a guy wandering down the sidewalk, running into every patio chair that was in the way. Every few feet, someone walking by him would turn him in the right direction and off he'd go, careening to the side and slamming into the next outdoor table that came along (which was just as funny to watch as you'd think). It was actually a lot like this video that Euro-Trip told me about:

Only, it wasn't an isolated incident.

As I started paying more attention, I saw numerous blind people just doing an awful awful job of being without sight. One guy was stumped by an alcove and needed the help of a passing woman to get him back on track. Another blind guy (I swear) clipped his shoulder on a passing street sign and barely managed not to tumble to the ground. The champion of all blind people (and I promise these weren't just drunks with sunglasses) was caught in the phenomenal predicament of being stuck between the bumpers of two cars-- unable to figure out the direction he needed to move to set himself free from the hell he had stumbled into. Thankfully, a construction worker guided him back to the sidewalk, to the chagrin of patio tables everywhere.

Now I know you're wondering why I didn't help any of these blind people out, but here's the thing-- I don't speak french. So to go over and try talking to these blind people seemed like a bad idea. It seemed like I might be saying, "Hey, not only are you blind and trapped between two cars, but not even your heightened sense of hearing is gonna help you out with the fact that I'm speaking English." Besides, it seems to me that everybody helping these blind people might be the very reason they are so entirely disastrous at being blind.

"Maybe That Translates Funnier In French...",

**Possibly the shortest distance between Witz and a cavity search.

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