Tuesday, April 18, 2017

n Wrongs Don't Make a Right – Erich

Obviously the title is a play on the idiom "Two wrongs don't make a right." But in recording my wrongs, there are far more than two, and they don't seem to have yet made a right. So as a good mathematician, I posit that for any natural number n, that n wrongs don't make a right.

When I say I am recording my wrongs, please understand, I am not talking about major crimes. One of our goals in our journeys was this: Don't become an international incident. And we have done well in avoiding that.

Instead, I am talking about what we might call a faux pas or two or three or n. I was reminded of them today when I made one of the smaller ones.

You see we took a train today from Glasgow to Edinburgh, then from Edinburgh to Darlington, and then from Darlington to Derby. Note: Derby is pronounced Darby, rhymes with Barbie the blonde headed doll. It is not Derby as would be said after the word Kentucky when not being followed by Fried Chicken.

Though we were on the same train from Darlington to Derby, I had "split tickets." So I had a ticket from Darlington to York, then from York to Sheffield, and then from Sheffield to Derby. At Darlington, I displayed my tickets from Darlington to York. The conductor bid me "cheers" and stamped them. Then after leaving York, I displayed my tickets from York to Sheffield. The conductor recognized us, of course, a family of four with quite obvious American accents. There was another set of stamps and another "cheers."

Now, after we left the station at Sheffield I displayed the tickets from Sheffield to Derby. And now the conductor said "Are you going any further than Derby?" I answered in the negative. He stamped them and told me that I could have just given him more than one set of tickets at once. Oops.

Minor faux pas. He wasn't too mad, and he still bid us "cheers." So that's a good sign, right?

But it made me reflect on the various places in the world where I just clearly didn't do things the right way. In India, I couldn't seem to do anything right. I never understood the expectations of tipping. When someone is doing a service and you offer to pay and they say "No, it's included," you aren't really prepared for them to be mad at you later when you don't pay them enough for the included service.

At one hotel, we were supposed to turn in our keys when we left each day. They don't clean your room if you don't turn in your keys. Another oops.

In the UAE, while at the hospital waiting to take Syarra home after she hurt her leg ice skating, I sat in the waiting area specified for women. The guard was very friendly about moving me. Of course, I was so apparently a Westerner. But had I been paying better attention, there were signs which would have warned me.

In South Africa I was riding a train, and entered the car set aside for a group of school children. Maybe there were going on a field trip. I'm not sure. But I was ushered into another car.

In a variety of Asian countries, I failed to always remember to remove my shoes upon entering a home or place of business. In Bangkok, I had a very difficult time understanding that I had to go through a security check to enter a hotel, complete with sending my bags through the scanner.

And probably most scandalous of all, I have often said, "No thank you," when I was offered tea. In my defense, for a man who does not like tea, I have accepted a lot of it in a variety of countries. But I do occasionally decline, and that may not be the appropriate choice. However, accepting tea and not drinking it is probably just as bad. (Hence my ingestion of more tea in the past year and a half than in the entire previous portion of my life.)

So to everyone on the globe to whom I have offered offense or embarrassment, I humbly say, "I'm sorry." And I do this in the hope that even though n wrongs don't make a right, maybe n + 1 apologies do.

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